OBA Weekly Newsletter. Issue 116 - 3rd December 2017

Issue 116 - 3rd December 2017
Dear families and friends of OBA,

I am thrilled that as Christmas approaches, our school community was able to help those less fortunate with our shoebox appeal and students' efforts in Maths to raise funds for Halton Haven, our school charity this year. The newsletter also features group and individual examples of our commitment to enrichment and applied learning – please do take a read of some of the great things going on the academy this last week.

I would also draw your attention to this week’s e-safety update, and a particularly troubling app called Sarahah. If there are any concerns, parents can contact us anonymously or via the internet safety centre CEOP by using one of the report buttons that can be found at the very bottom of the home page on our school website.

Our recent Ofsted report is now published. We are already working hard on our action points to bring about the required improvements to consistency in terms of subject leadership, teaching and learning and student outcomes. We will be successful. The Ofsted report can be read here.  

Advanced notice that the school will close for Christmas at 12.30 on Friday 15th December and re-open on Wednesday 3rd January 2018. Naturally we expect full attendance up to and including the 15th which is a non-uniform day for students who may wear Christmas related attire (e.g. a Christmas jumper or other Christmas accessory) on the day. There will be a £1.00 contribution per family, with the money going to further our fund raising efforts for Halton Haven. Everyone is back with us, refreshed after Christmas on the 3rd January at the normal time. Before that, we do still have a small number of tickets left for this year’s performance of Annie (Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th December) and our Christmas Market will take place on the afternoon and evening of Tuesday 12th December  - everyone is more than welcome to join us for some festive fun!

Mr. E Wright

OBA Help to Create Smiles this Christmas

Shoe Box Appeal 2017

On Friday 17th November, a group of eight Year 7 and 8 students travelled with Miss McEvoy to Blythswood Care in Speke to deliver a fantastic 64 shoe boxes and a donation of £125 – all contributed by OBA staff and students. 

Inside the centre were lots of volunteers sorting through shoe boxes. One of the helpers, Annie, showed the children what happened to each shoe box before it is delivered to its destination – an orphanage in Hungary. Each and every one of the packages has to be checked carefully before it is sent, because if there is one object/piece of food that is not allowed then the whole shipment of boxes will be stopped from entering the country. This would be massively disappointing after all the hard work that is put into the creation of the shoe boxes!

Another delivery of over 500 boxes arrived at Blythswood Care while our students were there and they went straight outside to help the volunteers to unload the van.

Miss McEvoy said:

The children were a credit to the school! They were polite, compassionate and helpful throughout their whole visit.  One of the volunteers even stated that I was to inform the principal of how well behaved they all were. We were there for over an hour and even after that, the children did not want to leave. They were talking about wanting to come back to help another day and next year asking me if they can come all day. I was extremely proud of all eight of the students selected to come with me. 

Thank you to my student helpers, anybody who contributed to or made a shoe box, staff members for helping me carry/wrap/collect boxes and the school for their donation. Same again next year!

Anna Achieves Gold!

Year 11 student, Anna Ng, won gold in the junior Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) championships which were held in Wolverhampton on November 19th. She won each of her fights against Portugal with submission, (tap out). Anna has worked incredibly hard to reach this level and will continue to do so to prepare for the World Championships in July 2018.

Pauline Stitch, Head of Year 11, said:

It was a wonderful moment in assembly when I informed the year group of Anna's achievements. I am sure we have a future Olympian in our midst and we are all looking forward to watching her in the future. As a year team,  we are all incredibly proud of her and wish her every success in her chosen sport.

A fantastic achievement, well done Anna!

Ewan Takes On Parliament

On Friday 10th November, Year 10 student Ewan Jago visited Westminster in London in his esteemed position as Halton’s Member of UK Youth Parliament. Ewan joined his contemporaries from across the country to debate a range of topical issues, which included public transport and the need for a ‘curriculum for life’ inside the House of Commons.  Over 200 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK took part in the debate which also saw them mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality. 

UK Youth Parliament’s sitting was the eighth time that Members of Youth Parliament have debated on the green benches of the House of Commons. 

This year’s Make Your Mark ballot, which decided the topics of UK Youth Parliament’s debate, reached 954,766 young people. Make Your Mark continues to be the biggest youth consultation of its kind in UK history, with almost three million young people aged 11 to 18 taking part in the last three years.

The debates were streamed live on and live on UK Parliament’s Facebook page and are still available on the BBC iPlayer.

Following the debates in the House of Commons, UK Youth Parliament have chosen to focus on ‘lowering the voting age to 16’ and a ‘curriculum for life’ as their campaigns for the coming year. 

The session was chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, who said:

I am delighted to welcome the UK Youth Parliament to the House of Commons for their annual sitting, which is now firmly established as an important moment in the parliamentary calendar. The fact that almost a million young people voted for the motions to be debated by the Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) shows that young people are making their voices heard, and engaging enthusiastically with the democratic process.

Andrea Leadsom MP commented:

The UK Youth Parliament is an opportunity for Westminster to hear young people raising the issues they care about most. Both MPs in Parliament and ministers in Whitehall were listening to what MYPs have to say.


Ewan Jago, Year10 Student and UK Youth Parliament representative for Halton, said:

The beliefs and opinions of young people throughout the country were taken into consideration and their voices were accurately represented through the vote. It was an interesting experience. It was really useful to meet and network with other UKYP members to discuss policy ideas to help improve the lives of young people in Halton.  Sitting in the chamber in the House of Parliament felt really surreal – it’s definitely not something you get to do every day!  I felt really inspired by the experience and it’s made my drive to help create change even stronger.

Ewan said as a result of this experience he feels motivated to work on aspects of all five of the top campaigns as voted by the UK Youth Parliament and not just the two national campaigns!

Phil McClure from Addaction said:

It was a real pleasure to be able to support Ewan to attend the House of Commons sitting of the UK Youth Parliament.  Ewan is doing a great job of ensuring the young people of Halton are seen, heard and listened to on a local, regional and national level.  Earlier this year Ewan’s work with local councillors saw Halton Borough Council unanimously adopting a motion to support votes at 16 so it was especially pleasing to see that issue once again chosen as one of the UK Youth Parliament’s campaigns for the coming year.  With huge changes taking place across the world and with pressures on public resources being greater than ever, it is massively important that young people are listened to and made a part of the solution to the world’s problems.  Ewan and every young person at Halton Youth Cabinet and the UK Youth Parliament are working hard to make sure that happens.

Good Luck Ewan and the team at UKYP! 

Youth Summit Encourages Student Voice

Student Parliament representatives from Years 7 to 10 attended the first ever Halton Schools Youth Summit this week at Runcorn Town Hall.

The exciting event on Tuesday 21st November was chaired by Ewan Jago, Year 10 who is also Halton’s UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) representative for Halton. OBA students joined forces with other student council members from The Grange School, The Heath School and Cavendish High Academy to discuss key topics relating to Transition and Young People and Mental Health. 

Following an address from the Mayor of Halton, Councillor Allan Lowe, statistical information was given about the reality of mental health problems associated with young people and Ewan opened up the floor to debate a series of related questions.

What works well in your schools in terms of support for people with mental health problems?

What could schools do further to support young people with mental health problems

What could students do to support each other more effectively?

Ideas discussed included; raising awareness around the specifics of mental health, inviting ‘specialist’ visitors into school to share their knowledge and personal experiences, the training of ‘peer buddies’ and introducing stress-release activities, especially in the run-up to important exams. 

The second key topic of discussion was around teenage ‘transition’ which included the transition to secondary school, college and also the world of work. Students were invited to consult on the ‘Halton Vision for Good Transition’ where they considered different options for the vision statement for the Halton SEND strategy 2016-2020.

When the forum was opened up to other topics of significance, students discussed the issue of youth violence in the local area and suggested a higher police presence in parks across the town as being a possible deterrent. Councillor Tom McInerney, Portfolio Holder for Families and Children was present at the event and commented how “Impressed and enlightened” he was to hear from the young people. 

All OBA students participated in the discussion and gave considered and insightful contributions. Ewan kept everyone on task and encouraged further democracy involvement by saying, “If you use your voice, it will get heard!”

We echo Ewan’s sentiment. There are always lots of opportunities for young people to extend their voice across local, regional and national youth voice structures where they can gain experience of working with a wide range of decision-makers as well as training and accreditation in youth voice.  You can find more information at, and   

Lesson from Auschwitz Trip

On Thursday 2nd November, Mr Spencer and two 6th form students, John Boult and Olivia Royle, were given the life-changing opportunity to visit the former Nazi concentration and death camps of Auschwitz Birkenau in Poland. 

The trip was arranged by the Holocaust Education Trust (HET) and was part of the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ scheme, which looks to increase knowledge and understand of the Holocaust for young people and highlight what can happen if prejudice and racism become acceptable within society.

Prior to the trip, Mr Spencer, John and Olivia attended a seminar and had the privilege of listening to an eyewitness account from Holocaust survivor Rudi Oppenheimer. 

Mr Spencer said: 

His testimony was not only moving to the 200 students in attendance, but the strength and determination displayed by the 86 year old was truly inspiring. The seminar also included group discussions on Jewish life before the Nazis and how most Jewish Europeans lived a relatively normal life without prejudice or persecution.

Mr Spencer and our two students had an early start on the day of the trip, meeting at Manchester airport at 4.30 am! When they arrived in Krakow they were taken to a small town that was once a thriving and bustling Jewish community. A tour guide informed them that the Nazis had successfully removed that community in the 1940s and to this day, as a result, there were now no Jewish people living in the town.

After a short coach journey the OBA team at arrived at the first concentration camp, Auschwitz. 

Mr Spencer commented:

Having taught this topic to hundreds of students over many years I felt suitably prepared for what was to come, how wrong I was. We were greeted with the familiar site of the main gate and its misleading sign which read “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work sets you free). The weather was particularly gloomy and chilly but it is hard to imagine what this place would look like in any other climate. Mangled barbed wire and steel watchtowers engulfed the surrounding terrain. Within this were row upon row of large concrete buildings which were originally used as the living quarters for the prisoners and they had now been converted to display the various memories of those victims of the Holocaust. These included displays of mass hair, piles of shoes and suitcases that were stolen from the victims by the Nazis. Looking through the individual belongings helped put a story to each of the victims and not just see them as a number which we tend to do when we hear of horrific events in history.

The trip ended with a short journey to the death camp known as Birkenau, where the sombre remains of the gas chambers could be seen, despite the efforts of the Nazis to blow them up. The camp closed at 5pm to tourists but as part of the HET our group stayed inside for a memorial to the victims. 

Mr Spencer said:

All 200 of us students and teachers from various schools stood in silence, under candlelight and listened to the prayers of Rabbi Wooton. The experience was like no other and is something that will live with those present for a lifetime.

Upon leaving the camp, Mr Spencer, John and Olivia reflected on the day and what must be done following on from their experience. In January they will be looking to use their knowledge and to deliver assemblies throughout the school to help students understand the Holocaust and how prejudice and racism, no matter how small, must not be allowed to exist in our society.

Cubes for Christmas

A group of talented mathematicians from Years 7 and 8 have embarked on a charitable journey, exploring the aesthetics of three-dimensional shapes along the way! 

During the run-up to Christmas, the team will be designing and creating decorations inspired by the platonic solids – shapes like the cube that are made up of identical interconnected faces. Their inventive products will be on sale at the Academy’s Christmas Market on Tuesday 12th December and all proceeds will be donated to Halton Haven Hospice. 

Over the next few weeks, students will be carefully considering the pricing of their decorations (in the most mathematical way possible of course!) ensuring a great bargain for their customers and a fantastic donation for a cause close to the hearts of many at OBA.

If you have a flair for maths, and are a member of Year 7 or 8, why not join Mr Dixon and the team in F032 for a Thursday enrichment.

War Horse Theatre Trip

On Thursday 16th November the drama department took a group of Year 9 to 13 GCSE and A-Level students to watch the National Theatre production of ‘War Horse’. The story is based on the beloved novel by Michael Morpurgo. This powerfully moving and imaginative drama, filled with stirring music and songs, is a show of phenomenal inventiveness. At its heart are astonishing life-sized horses by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, who bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to thrilling life on stage.

Miss McKevitt, said:

From the first lighting cue all students were engrossed and sitting on the edge of their seat awaiting the next imaginative animal to grace the stage. Students will be making detailed notes on the play which will assist them with their up and coming examinations.

Girls Rugby Festival

On Thursday 16th November, the Year 7 and 8 Girl’s Rugby team attended the Girls Rugby Festival led by the Rugby Football Union. With their upper school peers (the Year 9 and 10 team) attending only the week before, the Year 7 and 8s turned up ready to brave the cold weather and muddy pitches, to give it their all and to show the local rival schools the high standard of rugby that they play… and they certainly did. With a total of 3 games played, the girls came away with 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss. 

For the first rugby fixture of this school year they played some brilliant rugby. The new Year 7s stepped up to the mark, and went out there and gave it their all and supported one another.  

Miss Roberts, Team Coach, shared some thoughts on the outstanding efforts from the competition:

The girls played exceptionally! Highlights of the game included Year 7 recruit; Erin Roberts. She was dodging and sidestepping everyone and she didn’t stop there. Once someone eventually made contact with her she did not stop running. Determined to reach the line to score a try, Erin continued to stomp down the pitch with at least 3 Wade Deacon girls hanging onto her, trying to stop her from scoring. Unfortunately she was taken down short of the line, however, with the support of her Year 8 teammate Chantelle Evans, (who was right on her shoulder) OBA marched over the try line to score.

Another highlight was watching another Year 7 recruit, Kiera Bradley step up to a very good and dominant player on the opposing team. Aware of the difference in size, Kiera did not step down and proved successful in stopping the player from storming right through our defence. This ‘give it your all moment’ encouraged and spurred the team on to produce some fabulous runs, super tackles and brilliant support play. Everyone played some great rugby. I am proud of them all and I hope they had fun and took something away from the competition.

The Year 7 and 8 team return to the competition on Thursday 22nd February 2018 at Widnes Rugby Club and Thursday 8th March 2018 at West Park Rugby Club, St Helens, for the remaining fixtures. 

Girl’s rugby training is on every Tuesday after school 3-4pm.

Thank you to the Rugby Football Union for organising the event. 

Language Students Learn About Linguist Opportunities at MI5

On Friday 24th November a group of students from Year 10 and 12 travelled across the bridge to Ormiston Chadwick Academy to meet an Intelligence Officer from The Government Communication Headquarters (GHCQ). 

The officer talked about the importance of learning languages and described the significant influence languages have had on her life. Students were especially inspired when she spoke about how languages are used within MI5!

Mr Wynne, Spanish teacher at OBA said:

The talk was a really interesting one and showed students the several doors that language learning can open for them. The speaker herself had worked as an interpreter, an analyst in a bank and as a journalist all off the back of her French skills. Furthermore, at GCHQ she has learned Mandarin and Persian.

E-Safety Update

What is Sarahah? 

Sarahah’ (which translates to ‘openness’ or ‘honesty’) has become popular with US teenagers and has been gaining popularity here in the UK and Ireland. 

Sarahah allows people to search for other users on the app and send anonymous text-based messages. The main difference with this app compared to others is that users can only send messages – they cannot respond to messages received.

Teens and young users can be especially vulnerable due to their prolific need for affirmation of their online identity on social networks. As with other anonymous apps we’ve highlighted in the past, there is always the potential for apps of this nature to be misused in relation to bullying, harassment or abuse. Trolling could also be another potential concern. Teenagers can also use the Snapchat ‘Paperclip’ feature to share links to their Sarahah profile, encouraging others to send them anonymous feedback.

We advise all parents to discuss technology with their children, we advise that Sarahah can be dangerous because of its anonymous element and do not recommend it as an app for young people to use. 

Remember, if you are concerned about something you have seen online you should report it to your parents/carers, or any member of OBA staff. Local police can be contacted on 101 if necessary. Please contact Mr Hussey, E-Safety Co-ordinator at OBA if you have any concerns over online safety. 

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