14 November 2019

Politics students enjoy discussion with former FT editor Sir Geoffrey Owen

Peter Symonds College was delighted to welcome Sir Geoffrey Owen, former editor of the Financial Times and current head of the economic think tank, Policy Exchange, to the College for a lunchtime talk and question and answer session with students.

Speaking on the topic ‘From Thatcher through Blair to Boris Johnson: a journalist’s view of British politics since the 1980s’ Sir Geoffrey gave an analysis of three key periods of economic change in the UK – 1949, 1979 and 2008 – and an insight into how these periods have impacted on the current economic policies of the two main parties.

Sir Geoffrey’s talk was followed by a lively question and answer session with questions from students covering a wide range of topics, including the upcoming UK election, strengths and weaknesses of capitalism and US politics, among others.

7 November 2019

Peter Symonds student raises over £3000 for charity with nightclub event

EPQ student Ellice Esi Shields recently held an event celebrating African and Caribbean music, dance, fashion and food at Oceana nightclub to raise over £2000 for a charity supporting some of the world’s poorest children.

As part of her Extended Project Qualification Ellice organised an event, A Taste of Africa and the Caribbean, encouraging people with different backgrounds to celebrate diverse ethnicities and cultures. Ellice’s aim was to bring people together with the goal of raising money for charity.

A Taste of Africa and the Caribbean took place at Oceana nightclub in Southampton, showcasing the best of African and Caribbean culture. The event included dance performances, music and plenty of authentic African and Caribbean food, and a fashion show celebrating modern and traditional African and Caribbean dress featuring pieces by Grass Fields and Kross Generation.

Proceeds from the event were donated to Mary’s Meals, a charity providing daily meals in school for more than one million of the poorest children in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. Each ticket sold covered the cost of providing a child with food for five months.

Commenting after the event, Ellice said, ‘I wanted to do something to mark Black History Month, and what started as a small event grew and grew. It was really stressful at times, but I’m glad I did it and it was really satisfying to create something for students, run by students to celebrate the cultures of Africa and the Caribbean and to raise money for charity at the same time.

‘The event taught me a lot about interacting with people of all ages, professionalism, patience, creativity and the importance of planning – on the night itself we were on Plan C and as there was no Plan D I also learnt a lot about flexibility and thinking on my feet!

‘I had a supportive network of people around me and I’m very grateful for their help. We had an incredible response and raised enough money to feed more than 180 children for a year.’

So far, A Taste of Africa and the Caribbean has raised over £3000 for Mary’s Meals, with donations still being collected.

16 October 2019

BSO A level Music Concert

A level Music students at Peter Symonds College took part in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) Set Works LIVE! A Level concert. Peter Symonds College Head of Keyboard Samantha Carrasco, a BSO Associate Musician, co-ordinated the event. PSC students were joined by music teacher colleagues and A level Music students from across the region. The programme included two works by major female composers.

Designed around the Edexcel music syllabus and offering a highly interactive setting in which to analyse and dissect set works, the concert was presented by BSO Associate Musician Patrick Bailey. Siobhan Clough, violin and Lionel Handy, cello joined Sam Carrasco in the performances of set works by Clara Schumann and Debussy. The programme also included a rare chance to hear ‘Petals’ for solo cello and live electronics, by the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, with Drew Crawford, sound artist. Students had the chance to experience and engage in live musical analysis in great detail, aiding further understanding of these works.

Lucy Anderson, A level Music student on the Hampshire Specialist Music Course, said ‘the concert was very useful in helping me understand these set works, but also very enjoyable.’

Rachel Platt, Head of Music, said ‘what a pleasure to attend a 2-hour concert in a packed Varley Theatre, and to see so many students experience these live performances with such enjoyment and complete concentration.’

28 November 2019

Student Launches Physics Lecture Series

Peter Symonds College student Jessica Cragg has arranged a series of physics lectures featuring leading experts as part of a student led initiative new to Symonds this year. Jess describes the Physics Lecture series as a new initiative ‘set up to promote and encourage an interest in physics beyond the A-Level curriculum. Every Tuesday lunchtime, different lecturers from nearby universities are invited to come to the College and share their research with students, covering topics ranging from Higher Dimensions to Dark Matter.’

The most recent lecture featured Nick Evans, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Southampton, whose talk on ‘Dark Energy’ gave over 40 students an insight into current investigations of the enigmatic phenomenon and the opportunity to listen to the visiting professor speak about his specialist research.

Commenting on the talk, Professor Evans said ‘It was great to hear so many enthusiastic questions. Dark energy is a big problem area for physics and a very exciting future lies ahead.’

Other sessions in the Physics Lecture Series have featured Claudia Maraston, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Portsmouth Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, who spoke on ‘Galaxy Formation’; Matt Staniforth from Southampton University, who gave a talk on ‘4 Dimensional Topology’; and Professor Justin Read, Head of Physics at the University of Surrey, on the topic ‘Dark Matter’. Further sessions are planned for later in the term.

Jess said, ‘I really wanted to highlight the most fascinating areas of physics beyond the curriculum, in order to inspire a general interest in physics. I also wanted to create an interesting and stimulating enrichment activity for physics students who are hoping to take physics at a higher level.’

Supervising teacher Simon Hunt said ‘Jess has shown real dedication in setting up this programme of lectures from local scientists. It’s a fantastic opportunity for physics students to engage with cutting edge research. The lectures are fascinating and I always look forward to them.’

19 September 2019

College celebrates a year of achievements at Awards Evening

Peter Symonds College staged its annual Awards Evening to pay tribute to the achievements of 77 students. Staff, students and their friends and families were joined by guest speaker Alex Lewis to celebrate the talents, both academic and personal, of the whole 2019 year group.

Among the audience celebrating the successes of the students were sponsors from local businesses, schools and universities, together with parents, teachers and governors.

Chair of Governors Tim Rogerson welcomed the audience to the College and praised the efforts of students of 2017-2019 and the staff who had supported them. Principal Sara Russell then gave an overview of the year, noting some of the highlights, including their excellent exam results but also their impressive accomplishments which went far wider than just the academic and included sport, activities and the arts.

Sara welcomed guest speaker Alex Lewis, saying: “We are enormously privileged and honoured that you have given up your time so freely to help us celebrate the enormous successes of so many young people, each and every one of them a member of the Peter Symonds Family.”

Alex Lewis, who was a student at Symonds just over 20 years ago, returned as the guest speaker and gave an inspirational, moving and witty account of his experience living with quadruple amputation after contracting Strep A.

Discussing the highs and lows of his rehabilitation, Alex explained that his illness and recovery sparked a desire to help people, and described how he now spends much of his time working with universities to develop prosthetics and technologies to help disabled people. He talked about his achievements since his illness, including raising £50,000 to establish a wheelchair manufacturing facility in Ethiopia, which will manufacture affordable wheelchairs and employ local people living with disabilities.

Alex told the audience “You just don’t get second chances – I am an anomaly. I’m very privileged to get a second chance and I intend to grab it. You guys going on to university, work, travel, just take every and any opportunity. Grab it, no matter how ridiculous.”

Alex concluded his talk by saying “This is a fantastic grounding, a foundation to build on. For you moving forward, you’ve had one of the best educations in the UK, and I’ve no doubt you will go on to do some incredible things.”

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