Warning Over Literacy in Schools
Sir Michael Wilshaw has appeared in the news today for exposing the literacy rates which have stalled today since 2005. In an interview with Emily Maitlis he stated the lack of professional training that current primary school teachers have in teaching phonics to primary school children. He issued this literacy warning in an attempt to persuade the government to have stricter regulations that teachers must follow when teaching phonics to children. To this he was faced with the accusation of taking away freedom from teachers of phonics, but in reply said that he personally was brought up academically and that such systems work and should therefore be imposed.
In addition, during the interview Wilshaw was warning watchers about how Britain has fell in the Pisa table (a system in which countries are compared on literacy rates) from 7th to 23rd. Sir David has also expressed his hopes for an increase in the national average of literacy in Britain.
Belgian Bus Crash Remembered
The parents of some of the 22 primary school children in a bus crash in Belgium recently, have visited the site today. The bus carrying 52 adults and children that had been on a skiing trip to the Swiss Alps hit the wall of the tunnel they were driving through. The governments of both countries have organised a minutes silence to honour the deaths of the children killed. The other 24, that were injured, have returned to Belgium and the bodies of the deceased are being flown back there soon. This accident has been the most serious traffic accident in Switzerland for many years, and the children from Stekske Primary school that died will be remembered for this accident for years to come.
Police officer fitness
Jobs for new police men will be harder to gain as the government has decided to do annual fitness tests. The decision came after the discovery that 52% of the metropolitan police were overweight and a further percent were found to be morbidly obese. The opinion which many people have is that the fitter the police officer the more efficient they shall be. This would reduce the amount the government has to spend on the police force. The average individual wouldn’t care about this, however, people don’t realise that this may mean that council tax is reduced.
Once the news became public the former West Midlands chief constable Sir Edward Crew, who worked on the review, said: "We are not looking for supermen." This is seen as controversial comment by many as the force will ask for smarter employees. Starting salaries will fall from £23,000 to £19,000 - £21,000. This amount will vary on the skill level of the police officer. The salary of the officers hasn’t been change as the leaders are looking for cuts but because of the governments 20% cuts. The metropolitan police have already saved £1.9 billion over the past 6 years.
Dominic Bruce OBE MC AFM
Dominic Bruce, 7th June1915 – 12th February 2000, was once a pupil at St Cuthbert’s Catholic Grammar School as he grew up by the Tyne . He was adventurous as a student, regularly spending his lesson time visiting the Newcastle Law Courts, which was highly in his interest. He would have enjoyed perusing a career in law had his parents been able to pay for Law School . In 1935 however, Dominic joined the RAF and became a navigator, a position in which he was awarded with the Air Force Medal for courage and valour whilst flying.
On 9th June 1941 whilst navigating, Dominic was shot down over the North Sea . Despite not being able to swim, he heroically baled out of his plane only to be rescued by the German navy. He was first taken to the Spangenberg Castle , which was a German prisoner of war camp, where he joined the “Caterpillar Club” (an association for those who successfully parachuted out of a disabled aircraft). He was held in Spangenberg from 1939 to 1942.
On the 6th of March he was moved to Colditz Castle , another prisoner of war camp, which was built especially for those who had escaped other war camps. Dominic was moved to Colditz because of his previous attempts to escape from Spangenburg Castle . In one case he was in the disguise of a Red Cross doctor. He’s also well known for “The Tea Chest Escape” and another, on the 19th April 1944, where he cut bars on the north side of the castle and reached wire fence. He then tunneled through sewers on the 16th June 1944. The major events of Colditz castle were then depicted in the later BBC TV series “Colditz”, our very own Dominic Bruce’s character being portrayed as Simon Carter and played by David McCullum.
Dominic Bruce was released form Colditz Castle in 1945. He returned to England where he settled down and got a post war degree, at Oxford university and received an MA in 1953. During his later life he was the chairman of general commissions of income tax, as well as a council member of the association of principles of colleges. To compliment his academic career he was given an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II and a KSG from Pope John Paul II. Dominic died on 12th February 2000 in Richmond , Surrey , England , leaving his wife Mary Brigid and his nine children.
Dominic Bruce, an old boy of our school, is an inspiration to many of us now here at St Cuthbert’s and should be remembered as a hero.
By Tomos and Josh
15 March 10:30
After weeks of tension for Harry Redknapp and Milan Mandaric in Southwalk crown court, the Jury has come to decision. Harry, who had been accused of tax evasion, was delighted with the result of his case. After being cleared of all charges Harry Redknapp told the press “This was a case that should never have come to court”. In the opinion of some people this is a very controversial thing to say after making a bank account for your dog. Naming the account Rosie 47, he moved payments which he received here to avoid the high tax he would have to pay. Many people are delighted that the court came to this decision as he is the favourite to take the role of England manger after the Euro later this year.
The North-East takes pride in its exciting local music scene. There’s a strong history in music coming from this area, including Sting and half the Pet Shop Boys (Sting and Neil Tennant coming from this very school). There’s clearly something for Geordies to boast about.
Now our region is infested with vibrant bands and we’ve got something to be proud of again. From standing by one of many small venues you can see (or hear) some of this wonderfully talented bunch for a small fee.
Northern bands are making DIY recording cool again, with just small scale equipment, amateur bands are coming out with something that’s more than a match for major label contemporaries. Their recordings are buzzing with energy and life, making them even more impressive knowing they thrown together for about 50p. What’s more, indie labels by the Tyne are jumping up left, right and centre, making a career in music more achievable for these up and coming musicians.
Bands such as Air to Achillies, with their synth-heavy-hook-laiden-gripping-euphoric-pop are winning acclaim throughout the region. With the release of their EP, the band have cemented themselves a must see act in Newcastle, if not the region.
Tissue Culture, a group of youthful ne’er-do-wells you’d expect to find on a street corner, have focused their attentions on creating a wall of noise, stricken with shouty, melancholic vocals with multiple guitars. Coming from our humble St Cuthbert’s High School, Tissue Culture can be a demonstration and inspiration to our pupils. Overall, “TishCult” are a genuinely nice band.
Ones to watch are our third local mention, The Lake Poets, who play painfully beautiful semi-folk to warm your heart. Their launch show at The Sage Gateshead, a heavily hyped venue, is already sold out. 2012 is the year for The Lake Poets.
Anyone can see how the strength of the local scene is developing new things, which are heading the younger members of society for great and ambitious things.
As part of the Olympic movement, the Cultural Olympiad is taking place this year. From 2008, programmes have been run by the people of Britain and 2012 sees the programme go for gold. Inspired by the Olympics and Paralympics, the festival will run on a national scale, relating sport to cultural activities. The aim of the Olympiad is to give everyone throughout the UK the chance to get involved with the Olympics, with nearly 4,000,000 participants taking part in events since the programme began.
This year, the events have travelled north and Newcastle and Gateshead are running activities to marry arts and sport in true Geordie fashion.
Events to take part in the region include; the 150th anniversary of the Blaydon Races song, Bridges festival, Urban Games and even a floating water mill on the river Tyne, aptly christened ‘FLOW’.
What’s more, the Olympiad aims to involve young people from across the region in curating their own exhibitions, taking on leading roles in a unique experience, giving them the opportunity to expand their cultural horizons.
The peak of the festivities, Journeys of Discovery, at the Great North Museum, which sees young people delving into the Tyne and Wear archives and selecting their favourite objects from around the world. Join them for a marathon journey of discovery from the 18th May.
15 March 13:10
Dark Matter: Is it Real?
Most of us have heard about dark matter but many of us don’t know what it actually is. Dark matter is something which we can currently only see its indirect effect on its surroundings. Our understanding of dark matter is constantly changing as is excruciatingly hard to measure and detect, thus making it a phantom substance. However we can infer the presence of dark matter as it can create an effect of gravitational lensing on objects behind it. Such effects include the bending and distortion of light from galaxies and clusters behind it, compared to our relative position.
However, recently scientists believed that dark matter was in some way attached to galaxies but recent discoveries have proved otherwise as an apparent large mass of dark matter has been detected in the positioning of a previous collision between galaxies. This finding defies prior beliefs as it means that dark matter can act on its own.
By Thomas, 16:00
The “Space Sandwich”
According to new NASA research, some components vital in the creation of life has been found in meteorites. The evidence suggests that just like a sandwich, the components can be hot or cold, this would increase the likelihood that life started elsewhere in the universe as well as on our planet. Thanks for this recent discovery can be given to the Goddard team who have found amino acids within carbon-rich meteorites which have fallen to Earth. Amino acids are vital in the creation of life as they are used to make up proteins which are used by living things to speed up processes and used to build structures within bodies, such as hair, skin, muscle and etcetera.
The scientists involved with the investigation are certain that the amino acids found in the meteorites were created in space and are not a result of contamination. They think this because the amino acids found were not a part of a polymer (a chain of molecules). Almost all amino acids within biology and industry are parts of polymers. In addition, only a small proportion of amino acids found could be used to create proteins (proteinogenic amino acids); thus supporting the theory that the amino acids were not contaminated by terrestrial life.
By Thomas 15:30
Through The Geomagnetic Storm
Glowing bright green in the sky, the northern aurora is truly a sight to behold. The recent auroras which have mesmerised thousands in northern Britain are cause by solar activity. Gusts of solar wind clash against the Earth’s magnetic field, causing its protective magnetic shell to rattle. This allows charged particles to rain across the poles which light up the atmosphere, wherever the fall.
Recently, a few astronauts were lucky enough to experience this beautiful, natural lightshow close up in the International Space Station (ISS) as the ISS flew through a geomagnetic storm. This unforgettable experience was caused by the “auroral ovals” expanding, allowing the ISS to travel straight through. The “auroral ovals” are doughnut shaped holes in the Earth’s atmosphere which host the charged particles and can expand when there is more solar activity.
Above, a picture of the Northern aurora; taken in Greenland.
However, after the Sun experiencing many years of low activity, the Sun has started to reawaken and scientists predict that 2013 will hold more auroras than this year, which is already astonishing. This means the greatest lightshow on Earth, is about to get even better.
By Thomas 15:00