Sixth Form

Apr 17

Bouldering Triumph

The final round the TCA South West Schools Bouldering League was held on Monday March 11th and we are very proud to announce that the St Mary Redcliffe 6th form team won the Y10-13 Male category in our first year of entry. The league consists of 4 rounds run over 5 months and attracted over 70 students from 12 different schools. In the past the event has been dominated by the local private schools, and the standard this year was reportedly very high, but in the end our team of Laurie Sinclair-Emerson, Jacob Day and Tom Barber came out convincingly ahead of QEH, Bristol Grammar and Bristol Cathedral School, due to a very consistent performance by all three boys. We wish we could claim any credit for this triumph, but the all credit lies with the boys, who took the initiative in approaching us to see if we would support and sponsor their entry.


Rather like our rowing club, which started five years ago now as a student initiative, we very much hope that this is something that can be sustained into future years. Our prize was a free training session at The Climbing Academy for 10 students, which should hopefully give it some momentum. What we hope it shows is that where students want to go for something there is no reason why it shouldn't happen.



Feb 27

Physics trip to CERN 2012

Physics trip to CERN 2012


On Monday 16th July 21 students and two staff met at Bristol Temple Meads station for the first stage of our journey to Geneva. On arrival at the hostel we were given and promptly lost our room keys, and settled into our rooms. The first activity was a treasure hunt around Geneva, which involved around four hours of pleasant strolling around the city, discovering treasures all over the place, from the four giants of the Protestant Reformation in the old town to the Geneva flower clock and the golden onions of the Russian Orthodox Church.


The first activity on Tuesday was to negotiate the breakfast buffet, after which we took a tram up to the UN, the second largest of its headquarters in the world (only New York is bigger). We all went through airport style security and walked across the site (complete with resident peacocks) to meet our guide. He took us to the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room, decorated by famous artist Miquel Barcelò, the Salle des Pas Perdus, from which you can see the monument commemorating the conquest of outer space, the Assembly Hall and the Council Chamber, where many important historical negotiations have taken place. We found out about the current activities of the United Nations and the history of the Palais des Nations, formerly the headquarters of the League of Nations. Outside we found the Broken Chair, symbolising opposition to land mines and cluster bombs acting as a reminder to politicians and others visiting Geneva. We then found some fountains, which were particularly useful for cooling off in the heat!, before our stunning boat ride on Lake Geneva.


Wednesday brought the long anticipated visit to CERN. We started off in the visitor centre, ’The Globe’, using the interactive displays to learn more about what goes on at CERN. From there we visited ‘Microcosm’ and learned more about the contributions that research at CERN has made to the wider world. We then sat among world class physicists as we ate our lunch in the CERN cafeteria (best lunch all week!). After lunch we met a contact of Miss Wales’ who took us on a behind the scenes tour including the office where he worked with Tim Berners Lee when he proposed the WWW in the late 1980s, with the original poster on the door. In the afternoon we had our official tour. This started with a video introduction to the history of CERN and a questions and answer session with an undergraduate researcher. Two of our students were quite satisfied to spot a mistake in the particle masses quoted on one of his slides! We then piled into the CERN minibus to take a ride to two of the experimental facilities. The first one was the newly built control centre where students were quick to spot the rows of champagne bottles (empty!) from celebrations of each milestone in the development of their research. The most awe-inspiring part of the trip was at the CMS facility. We were able to go underground (although not right into the tunnel as it was active and highly radioactive) and see the heart of the world’s largest physics experiment. A display of all the people involved (they looked normal and just like us!) in the CMS project hopefully inspired some of our students to be part of the CERN team in the future. In the evening we were treated to more of Mr Gregson’s games to keep us entertained.


At the CMS detector


After breakfast on Thursday morning (and a bit of a lie in following the excitement of Wednesday) we all walked along the bank of the lake to the History of Science Museum for a journey into the city’s scientific past. The museum displays an intriguing collection of scientific instruments from the 17th to the 19th century, including microscopes, telescopes, sundials, astrolabes and a vast collection of glass eyes! In the early afternoon we went off in small groups to do our souvenir shopping, or even to take a dip in the lake, whose water has just melted and run off a mountain and so was still pretty cold! In the evening we went to Hotel Eidelweiss for a traditional Swiss meal. Most of us had fondue of some sort, accompanied by a local alpine horn player and yodeller! Back at the hostel we gave prizes and gifts for people achievements and contributions, Miss Wales receiving a ‘real’ Higgs Boson from the whole group as a thank you for organising everything. We departed early the next morning, retracing our steps to Geneva airport and back to Bristol, where after much frantic phoning, everyone was met and taken off home to continue their summer.


Many thanks to all who came and made the trip so enjoyable.

Oct 23

A Vision for Change

A Vision for Change


At the beginning of year 12 students are given the oppurtunity to volunteer with the youth charity Envision. In previous years groups have worked on local projects to encourage cycling and wider-scale campaigns to protect endangered species. Last year a group of girls decided to base their work around the area of gender stereotypes and exploring the ways in which they could tackle these all too prevalent problems. What began as a weekly session with an Envision mentor soon evolved into something much bigger, as they decided the best way that they could make a difference was to target those closest to them and so chose to run a series of workshops for year 9 girls in St Mary Redcliffe school.  


Susannah Harvey writes -

"We wanted to pass on our own experience and the lessons we had learned to boost the girls confidence and self esteem. We ran 4 workshops on self-image, relationships, ambitions and talents with these aims in mind. Running the workshops was an incredibly rewarding experience, seeing the girls come out of their shells, particiapting enthustiastically in the activities we set and really considering the things we discussed with them was more than enough payment for the work we put in."

Envision logo


The team was to be rewarded even further however.


A month after all the workshops were over they were informed that they had won a nationally prestigous Diana award for their work. Two members of the group were chosen to attend the award ceremonies where they had an amazing time and had the oppurtunity to meet other inspirational young people from up and down the country. Seannah Calladine, shown at the awards ceremony remarked that "It was a privilege to work with the girls and to watch  their confidence develop, and to have our work rewarded on such a scale was something completely unexpected but a real honour". The other members of the core team were Natalie Devalba, Alice Trickey and Robyn Samuels.

Diana Award

Jul 10

Redcliffe Debating Team in national finals

Redcliffe 6th Form Debating Team Success

The Redcliffe 6th Form debating team did outstandingly well in achieving equal third place in the Institute of Ideas 'Debating Matters' competition, which attracts 200 schools from across the UK. Having battled through a local and regional round to become 'Wales & the South West' champions, the team went to London for the finals at the start of July. Over an exhausting and challenging weekend the teams were put through their paces by top-name judges including: broadcaster and BBC Today programme presenter, Justin Webb; chairman of Unilever UK &Ireland, Amanda Sourry; Chief executive of the British Council, Martin Davidson and The Times' Associate Editor & Chief Leader Writer, Camilla Cavendish.

During the course of the weekend the eight competing teams grappled with a wide range of contemporary debates. In our first round Jake Dowse and Ana Ryan-Flinn showed their coolness under pressure and understanding of the issues in debating the question of whether social media is rejuvenating politics. The semi-final debate on the impact of neuroscience on our understanding of criminal responsibility was especially challenging, with a range of science, law and philosophy being argued under the scrutiny of specialist judges. Alice Thomson and James Nash put up an impressive fight, but the approach to the motion that Beckfoot School from Bradford chose to take was tough to bring down, and Beckfoot won through on a split decision from the judges. The rest of our team included Dominic Dee, who helped get us through the Bristol heat, and Jo Hawkins and Ally Glennie, who were lined up to represent us in the final, which was eventually won by Graveney School in London.

Debating team

Speaking after judging our semi-final debate, journalist Camilla Cavendish said:

"This was my first time judging for Debating Matters and it was brilliant. An enormous amount of work had been done by the teams and they withstood a great deal of pressure from the judges and the audience. Debating Matters really takes students forward. It is very different from conventional debate, and moves away from flashy rhetoric and towards substantial argument"

Across the three day final teams not only spoke in their hard-fought debates, but also made some excellent contributions during the numerous extra-curricular activities that were organised across the National Final weekend, including a panel discussion on the impact of the Leveson Inquiry on free speech, with top name speakers Ray Snoddy, presenter BBC Newswatch; Thais Portilho-Shrimpton, coordinator of the 'Hacked Off Campaign' and web editor for the Media Standards Trust, and Brendan O'Neill, editor of spiked; and at an Institute of Ideas 'Question Time' event, with speakers including Alex Deane, Head of Public Affairs at Weber Shandwick, Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Dr Ellie Lee, reader in Social Policy at the University of Kent. 

In addition to winning £1000 of books for the school, the Redcliffe team carried off 3 of the 12 individual awards – Jake Dowse receiving an 'honourable mention', Ana Ryan-Flinn the third prize for her individual contributions, and James Nash, the Gina Owens Memorial Prize for the passion, humour and quality of his contributions.

May 11

Rome trip in March

Rome trip in March

Students in Year 12 and 13 had a very successful trip to Rome in March. The sun was shinning, the ice cream was delicious and the city lived up to its reputation as being one of the most beautiful in Europe.

The trip was designed to support the studies of students studying Classical Civilisation  and History at A level. Year 12 students were wowed by the Greek statues in the Vatican Museum, Discobolos, the Trevi Fountain (see below) and Apoxymenos, comparing them with the pictures they had up to this point seen only in their textbooks back at school. Year 13 focused on the ancient Roman sites; the Forae, the Pantheon and the Ara Pacis. These are set sources for the exam syllabus so they merited careful perusal! Other students particularly enjoyed the visit to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican City. All this was interspersed with frequent visits to piazzas, gelateria and the occasional café.

The Trevi  Fountain
As well as being particularly useful for our studies, the trip was also a great social opportunity and allowed us to make friends with students that we would not normally interact with. We were granted plenty of free time where we could experience Rome for ourselves, including its markets and fountains. This was really great for enjoying the culture of Italy without restriction. If you are considering going on the Rome trip then you won't be disappointed. There is so much to see, one trip will not be enough.

Enjoying Rome!