On Monday 9th July, able and talented students from years 7, 8 and 9 were invited to go on an academic trip to the Hucknall Sixth Form Centre, to get a taste of post 16 life.

Miss Jones and Miss Bickerstaffe hosted the students from years 7 and 8 in the morning, which was really lively and interesting. Students were treated to a tour of the centre and the facilities, and then taken to one of the sixth form teaching spaces to engage in some key problem solving activities, including trying to build the tallest tower using spaghetti strands and marshmallows (which was not entirely successful) and protecting an egg from smashing when dropped, by using restricted materials. Some of the teams came up with some really great ideas, and engaged in very impressive team working processed to get their best results.

The students then worked with Mrs Morris, who runs the Debating Society at the sixth form, on key debating and presentational techniques, and then they had a go at competing in their own debates in front of an audience. Topics ranged from discussion on school uniform and homework, to restrictions on TV watching for under 16s and whether dog owners should be trained. The students were very impressive with their opinion-based techniques, backing them up with reasons, and many of them showed real skill in eye contact and good physicality.

The last activity of the morning was a Q&A session with some current year 12 students about their experiences and how they feel they have changed over the last few years, which the KS3 students found very useful and interesting.

The year 7 and 8 group returned to Holgate, and then some year 9 students were able to come and engage in the same activities. There wasn’t time for the spaghetti test, but the students showed real innovation in their egg-protecting designs, employing some reverse engineering techniques and one team thinking completely outside the box by making a parachute for their egg. The debates for this group were a little more controversial, discussing topics ranging from the advantages of same-sex schooling to the abolition of the death penalty – which are both topics that the sixth form students have discussed during competitive debates.

Following another interesting Q&A session, the year 9s left the sixth form, knowing that in under two short years, they will be making some key decisions about their future education. We hope very much that our taster days give them lots to think about.