St Peter's School
St Peter's Sixth Form students have many opportunities to hear from visiting speakers, but we also have a wealth of talent and experience amongst our pupils. In this new lunchtime series, our Sixth Formers address our staff and students on some of their own experiences.
Health Literacy and It's Importance to the NHS
Upper Sixth student Piyush spoke to us about Health Literacy and its importance to the NHS.
Concerns about Health Literacy have recently been moving up the public agenda. Piyush explained, with examples, how a lack of health literacy can have life-threatening consequences for individual patients. He told us that estimates suggest that poor health literacy contributes to wasting of up to 5% of the NHS budget and showed us some of the ways in which the NHS is trying to improve health literacy – although there is still much more to be done.
Piyush’ s talk was very well researched and his presentation as a public speaker was excellent, continuing the high standard for these occasional talks this term.
Micro Expressions and Body Language
Upper Sixth Form pupil Will gave the first lecture of the Christmas Term on 'Micro Expressions and Body Language'. Having successfully completed a high scoring EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) on this topic in the Lower Sixth Form, Will was well placed to explain how the human body reacts, consciously and unconsciously, at times of danger, particularly when telling untruths.
Will told us that micro-expressions are unconscious, facial signs which last for less than half a second. He took us through four news videos, including Lance Armstrong, Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon demonstrating their micro-expressions, which to the careful observer gave them away.
There were lots of questions afterwards, with discussion including his and the audience’s observation of others’ micro-expressions and body language and whether it was possible to train the human brain to overcome subconscious micro-expression.
This was a really high quality start to the new term’s programme and we look forward to further talks this term.
Epigenetics - The Future of Cancer Treatment?
Our latest Sixth Form Speaks, in which one of our Sixth Form presents a talk to staff and their fellow pupils, saw Ethan speaking on the question: Epigenetics - The Future of Cancer Treatment?
This is the area Ethan studied for his EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) during his Lower Sixth year, a project which he recently completed successfully and for which he has been awarded an A*.
Ethan succeeded both in taking us through the biomedical science involved and explaining the concepts clearly for a broad general audience of staff and members of the Lower and Upper Sixth Form. His talk began with the use of chemotherapy as a cancer treatment and the consequences and side effects of that for patients, before looking at the prospects of epigenetics and some data on methylation patterns in lung cancer.
Epigenetic research on cancers in mice has yielded very positive results – so there is considerable optimism that this research can be further developed for humans.
We are looking forward to hearing from further members of Ethan’s year group when the series resumes in the Christmas Term.
By Arrangement Only – One Song Many Styles
We continued our occasional series of ‘Sixth Form Speaks’ lunchtime lectures with a lively and entertaining presentation from Upper Sixth pupil Daniel: ‘By Arrangement Only – One Song Many Styles’.
Daniel moved effortlessly from his talk and slides to the keyboard, giving us a live demonstration of the points he was making, with a little help from James when more than one pair of hands was needed.
Daniel explained how he went about arranging music, with a clear flow diagram to demonstrate the process. ‘Heart & Soul’, originally written by ‘Hoagy’ Carmichael in the 1930s, is a much rearranged piece and Daniel showed the various steps which could be taken to rearrange it with a quick keyboard performance as he layered in the elements of the rearrangement one by one.
In all, it was a virtuoso demonstration in words, pictures and music of the skills and tricks of musical arrangement.
Daniel will be putting his extensive musical skills to good use next academic year as a Cathedral Choral Scholar at Blackburn and has the offer of a place to read Music at Durham for autumn 2020.
We’re looking forward to a couple more talks before revision and exams take over and to continuing the series in the autumn.
You can find out more about the opportunities offered by St Peter’s Music School here.
Tales of Tanzania - Volunteering in Africa
Our latest ‘Sixth Form Speaks’ lunchtime lecture was from David with his ‘Tales of Tanzania - volunteering in Africa’ following his Operation Raleigh trip there last summer. During his month long expedition David worked with a team of young people from around the world, as well as residents of the village where they were hosted, to complete the building of a new lavatory block at the village primary school.
Despite the initial language and cultural barriers, David quickly became accustomed to life with his host family, through games of Jenga, and watching Chinese TV with English subtitles and a Swahili dub. He also got to know the village in general through a universal love of football, and ‘Why is the the white guy so fast?’ is still his favourite quote of the trip.
David and the team worked to decorate and fit out the lavatory block as well as teaching in a local school about the need for good hygiene and hand washing. They also helped educate teenage women on menstrual health. The new block was colourfully decorated and also included women’s hygiene facilities.
David took the initiative to undertake Operation Raleigh in a summer holiday and provided us with inspiration about making good use of gap years and long holidays – and the value of reaching across cultural barriers.
We’re looking forward to continuing our series of talks in the remaining weeks before revision and exams dominate.
You can find out more about Operation Raleigh opportunities here: https://raleighinternational.org/volunteer/
Over eighty people turned out in the Memorial Hall to hear from two of our boarders. Fatima spoke about Islam and its importance to her as a young woman in 2019. She set out to disabuse us of some of the misconceptions about her faith, which she said had been brought home to her through the false stories she’d read in the UK media since coming to Britain. Fatima explained the part Islam played in her life and the value of it to her and her family.
Pierre’s parents have worked around the world, most recently in Saudi Arabia. Returning to Riyadh during school holidays has enabled him to observe and understand Saudi life. He explained the liberalisation of Saudi society in recent years, symbolised by a lifting of some restrictions on women’s dress codes and the introduction of driving licenses for women – with social media and especially snapchat driving Saudi people’s desire for more freedom, especially in terms of music and entertainment.
Pierre and Fatima spoke from their own knowledge and experience giving staff and students insights we would not have gained just from reading about these topics. Following on from James Smith’s earlier talk there’s now great enthusiasm from students to develop this series and be the next to address their friends.
Lower Sixth pupil James has shared the journey of his remarkable trek to the Everest base camp, in a talk to pupils and staff at St Peter's. Here, James offers a brief account of his adventure:
"Over the Easter Break, my Dad and I walked to the Everest base camp, the site from which all full Everest expeditions are started. From Kathmandu I flew into the regional airport in a settlement called Lukla (2804m), one of the world’s most dangerous airports where the runway ends as it disappears over a cliff edge. Then, over the course of 7 days, we walked to Gorak Shep (5180m), one of the most elevated settlements in the world, gaining close to 4400 meters in elevation, from the altitude in Kathmandu, staying in Nepalese tea houses at night. The going got tougher as the atmosphere thinned - and some of the long but simply constructed swing bridges swung dramatically as we crossed them at the same time as ‘trains’ of heavily loaded Yaks approached."
Above: James addressing his audience in the Memorial Hall.
"From Gorak Shep, I pushed on to the basecamp (5300m), where we spent an hour, taking the obligatory photo with a banner to mark our achievement, before scaling Kala Pathar, a nearby peak, the following morning to catch the sunrise over Everest. It was an amazing experience and it’s now a lifetime goal to tackle Everest itself, but that’s an altogether more dangerous (and expensive) expedition."