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Extracurricular News

Merchant Taylors' Company Photography Competition 2016

Many thanks to the Merchant Taylors' Company for their annual School Photography Competition. Our students were asked to submit photographs under the theme of "Community".

There were a number of good entries, shown below. The winner was Sophie, Year 11, with her photograph, "Community Spirit".

(Click images to view larger.)

Community Spirit

Winner - Sophie - Year 11

Community Spirit

St Irene's children's community and friendship, Nasio Trust Charity, Kenya - October 2016

Outside the Box Our Growing Community

Albert - Year 7

Outside the Box

A community café employing people with learning disabilities in Ilkley, Yorkshire

Grace - Year 7

Our Growing Community

This represents a community supporting each other throughout life. As should we.

Nature's Family Rainbow Tortoises

Sophia - Year 7

Nature's Family

Community is nature's greatest defence!

Harriet - Year 9

Rainbow Tortoises

Hand-crafted tortoises found at local craft fair.

Believe The Girl

Rosanna - Year 10


You don't need a reason to help people.

Dan - Year 12

The Girl

Popular places induce a harmonious community of races.

Community of Birds Merchant Taylors

Genna - Year 13

Community of Birds



BBC South Today interviews Wallingford School Nasio Students

We are delighted to present a short clip from Adina Campbell's Nasio Trust documentary on BBC South Today, 21st December 2015. Adina interviews three of our students, who describe their experience with The Nasio Trust in Kenya, October 2015.

Copyright BBC South Today. Used with permission.

3rd Report on Nasio Students

Oxfordshire teens help support Kenyan communities

Teenagers from Oxfordshire have travelled more than 6,000 miles to help a charity project which supports poor communities in Kenya. As our reporter Adina Campbell discovered, Healthcare is one of the biggest problems. You may find some of the imagaes upsetting

Posted by BBC South Today on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2nd Report on Nasio Students

BBC South Today's second report:

Teenagers helping orphans in Kenya

A group of teenagers from Oxfordshire have travelled to Kenya to support hundreds of orphans living in poverty. They were helping the Abingdon-based charity The Nasio Trust which provides a lifeline to rural communities. Our reporter Adina Campbell traveled with them

Posted by BBC South Today on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

News Report on our Nasio Students

BBC South Today are running a series of reports on our Year 11 Nasio students this week. Here's the first:

Kenya aid trip

It's been a chance for pupils from different backgrounds to work together to help children from Africa. In the first of three reports this week on South Today, we've followed a school group from Oxfordshire as they prepared for a charity trip to Kenya.

Posted by BBC South Today on Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Documenting Kenya with The Nasio Trust

A big thank you to our Year 11 Nasio students who presented this wonderful video documentation to their Year 11 peers this morning.

The video maps out the students full experience in Kenya with The Nasio Trust​ from start to finish. A particular highlight being the slideshow of photographs at the end.

"Thank you to everyone who helped and supported us. We wouldn't have gone without you."


- Video produced by Morgan, Year 11

Be friendly, be sympathetic and above all smile

Beatrice at St Irenes Day Care School

"Smile Mum, everybody smiles over there" - was one of the first few things I said once I had landed back home. I suppose the effects of an eight hour flight and very little sleep was still taking their toll on me. Arriving back in the UK everybody seemed so much more serious. You see, in Musanda, Western Kenya people do take their jobs seriously but they also make time to smile.

On arriving in this country, as a Mzungu it might have just been my skin tone that made everybody so happy to see me, and it is true there are very few white people in Kenya. However, it felt like these people were just genuinely happy to have others there, no matter who they were or what they looked like. The lingo was easy enough to pick up on once you understood the gist, the people were refreshingly kind, the landscape was stunning and nothing like we have in the UK. But there was something which wasn't quite right, something I struggled to understand. Although these people had very little, they were incredibly thankful for what they did have, and tried to share anything they could.

There was one instance when I was playing with one of the children, Beatrice, whilst at St. Irene's Day Care School, when she offered me a grasshopper one of a few which she had been carrying round, and a bit of unripe fruit. The blatant thing to me was she was hungry, and quite obviously treasuring the little she could find, yet she still was there lifting her hand out to me and placing her grasshopper into mine. That's the thing I take back the most from this trip; in the UK we sometimes forget ourselves, we think "Oh well I bought it, or found it, so surely it's mine", the people I met in Musanda and Mumias weren't concerned with property values, but with what they could do to help somebody else.

This wasn't the only thing though. Something that had been bugging me a few days into the visit was that they always would apologise, and more often than not for something that they couldn't control. So whilst in conversation with Bobby, a new good friend I made there, I asked "Why does everybody apologise when they haven't done anything wrong?" he replied "Because a good person always feels sorry for other's misfortunes, no matter whether they can control them or not". I felt foolish at that point for asking such a silly question because living in England I'd gained the mind-set of always thinking "Well if that person is apologising they have done something wrong", but the truth is you don't have to have done something wrong to be sympathetic.

children at St. Irene's fascinated by the guitar donated by Mrs Monaghan

Another Kenyan tradition is the handshake. In the UK we say our handshake derives from showing friendship and trust from when people used to open the palm of their hands out to show that they didn't have a weapon, and yet now it seems like a competition; the stronger the handshake the stronger the man, so to speak. Kenyans, however, shake hands much more loosely, it was a hard concept to get used to at first, but over time I realised it was better because it truly made people feel more at ease and friendly, it wasn't a competition.

So, this is all very interesting, I hear you say, but what did you actually do? Well, where to start? At the beginning I suppose: first things first, we went on an eight hour flight from Heathrow to Nairobi. On arriving we all felt a little on edge, this was only natural we had been told we expect it. After about an hour and a half between checking out at the airport and arriving at the hotel we'd done much waiting about, sitting in cars (myself, Alfie and Will in a state of near hysterics, our imaginations wandering at many points waiting to be transported). Once we had arrived at the hotel we moved into our designated rooms for the night, it was 1am Nairobi time. I had three hours sleep that night, even though I could blame humidity or paranoia, I put it down to the 'rubbishy' Kenyan soap opera that was on the television. I say 'rubbishy', it was actually quite transfixing. We were woken up at five in the morning, I had to jump out of bed and be out of the room within five minutes, I was tired and dazed but I managed it. We narrowly made our transit flight to Kisumu. Flying with Jambo Jet was unnerving, they weirdly made a stop like a bus would to drop off passengers and pick up more at Eldoret. Nevertheless we arrived at Musanda, and the Chief's Guesthouse for midday.

Altogether within the first 40 hours I calculated I only had three hours sleep, it was more than anything, exhilarating. Once we were there the days went quickly. In our time there we did many things – we harvested some fish, started building a new fish pond, milked a cow, started building a cow shed, played with, taught and fed the children and went on many home visits to see just what it was like to live in a situation many of these children have to go through day in and day out.

Chris, standing outside the front of his house.

The thing which struck us the most when we went on our home visits were the lives of Chris and his siblings. Orphaned early on Chris and his siblings had been outcast by their family who had also tried to steal their land and any possessions they had. Neighbours tried to help but only to receive threats from those relatives. At one point Chris took a year out of school at the age of 14 so he could do casual jobs just to make sure his family could eat. It was at this time that NASIO had been told about Justice, Chris' youngest sibling, because he was so very hungry. We were so moved by this story that we decided to do something about it. Whilst we were out there we used any money we could spare, and in fact some we couldn't, to raise sixty thousand Kenyan Shillings, equivalent to £423. With this money NASIO was able to buy Chris and his family extra beds so that they didn't have to share the one mattress and bed which were breaking, a stove so that they could cook, a new door, and windows, their roof was mended and painted, their walls and floors re-plastered, a table to work on, water butt, guttering, a plough ready for rainy season, seeds to plant and food to keep them going.

We knew when we signed up for this trip, that we were going to have our lives changed, but we didn't realise just how much we could change the lives of others. Five people now live so much better off than they did before and all because of £423. It was amazing to see just how NASIO changed the lives of these children for the better. I know that I want to go back. However, before I start to fundraise for that My primary concern will be raising awareness of what is going on there, and raising money for those children in the similar situations as Chris and his family but who haven't yet been given enough to change their lives.

I will never forget my first trip to Kenya. It taught me to always; be friendly, be sympathetic to other people's situations and appreciate what I have, and above all smile.

- Olly, Year 11

Rome, Italy 2015

Rome student group photograph 2015 Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy 2015

At the start of this adventure, we were just 19 students and 2 teachers going on a school trip; by the end of it, we were a family that had experienced some pretty incredible things, from hilarious journeys 12 miles out to visit a closed catacomb, to the selfie stick sellers, and of course the beautiful monuments: the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Vatican...and the list just goes on and on.

On the first day we left school very promptly, all excited for the trip that lay ahead; we left school at 10.45 and were on our way for an incredible four days. After a few hours of travelling we got to the hotel at 7.30pm. We excitedly got the keys to our hotel rooms, were given an hour to get ready (which some of us struggled with), and we jetted off to have dinner as a group. After our evening meal we decided to take a walk and ended up seeing the Colosseum in all its glory; you know, the usual Friday evening. The first day of our trip was truly fantastic.

Rome architecture 2015 Students in an Art Gallery, Rome 2015

After going to bed at a rather late hour we were overwhelmed by the early alarm at 7am; however, we were all sprightly within an hour as we set out to go into the Colosseum. After spending about two hours in this amazing and ancient piece of architecture, we set off to see the beautiful Trevi Fountain which unfortunately was under restoration during the time we were there so we couldn't see it in all its glory. However, this just gives us all an excuse to go back to beautiful Rome! We all headed off to the Spanish Steps and had some Gelato. After Gelato on the Spanish Steps, we went to go see a local church, had lunch, and ended up heading to go see the local catacombs. However, after an hour of walking decided it was too far away and headed to a park for half an hour, before we walked back to the Spanish steps to go see a truly incredible sunset. We were given the privilege to have dinner in our own group on Saturday night and as it was Valentine's Day it was quite suited. It was a truly incredible day!

Day three. In the morning we went and saw two beautiful churches, both of which had services going on which was a wonderful experience. We set off to the catacombs in the late hours of the morning and we were all so enthusiastic about it. After two hours we decided to have lunch in a beautiful square, which had an accordion player, and it was as though we were on the main set of a traditional Italian film. After our lovely lunch we set out once more and headed to the Catacombs; after 12 miles and 42 agonising feet we made it...only to find out it was closed... This resulted in a good laugh and in the end we found another catacomb no more than a mile further away and we spent an hour in those chilling catacombs, before heading back for our final evening meal in Rome.

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy 2015 Mural, Rome, Italy 2015

We woke up at 7am once more for our final day in Rome. Although we were all shattered, and our feet were becoming more and more painful, we ventured on to our final journey across Rome to the Vatican. We spent the day exploring this beautiful Renaissance place. The famous views were incredible, from the Sistine Chapel to St Peter's Basilica, and although it was a very sad goodbye, it was also a superb adventure. 21 people went to Rome; a family returned.

Architecture, Rome, Italy 2015 Student looking at a statue, Rome 2015

"It was really nice to interact with people outside the school environment, and talk to people we wouldn't normally have the chance to speak to." – Georgia, Year 11

"It was amazing that the teachers trusted us enough to go out for lunches and dinner on our own; we even took the metro without supervision!!" – Bella, Year 11

- Rachel, Georgia and Bella, Year 11

Grease Auditions

Girls auditioningThe first auditions took place this week for our school production of Grease the musical. We wait on tenterhooks for the big reveal of this year's cast list...

Good luck to all that took part in the auditions.

Singing auditionsActing auditions

Ridgeway Walk Challenge

Ridgeway Challenge students with Mr Conyers and Mr Willis

On the RidgewayOn Friday May 16th 2014, Mr Willis, Mr Conyers and 10 students (Yrs 8-10) embarked on a tough challenge. They were hoping to walk the entire length of the Ridgeway Path, camping overnight and hopefully completing the walk on Wednesday 21st May.

The Ridgeway Path is 87 miles long, beginning at Overton Hill in Wiltshire and finishing at Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, crossing the Chilterns and the North Wessex Downs, following a route used for over 5,000 years by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers.

The 12 strong group needed to walk at least 15 miles (24km) a day, and then pitch their tents most evenings at different campsites. The week they chose to complete the walk happened to have a heatwave! Clear blue skies and the sun beating down meant that temperatures reached 32°C (90°F), making the walk even more challenging.

Setting up campAfter lots of difficult moments and very hard work the challenge was succesfully completed by 9 of the 10 students – AND Mr Willis and Mr Conyers! The experience was tough but unforgettable for all involved and proved that you can achieve anything when you put your mind to it.






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