Westbourne Weekly: IB students triumph at Cambridge

Posted: 12th February 2021

Another wonderful Westbourne week

What a week of achievement and celebration! We started on a high with the news that a group of our IB students had come third out of 42 schools competing in the University of Cambridge Chemistry Race 2021 – a hugely prestigious, national competition. This is an absolutely fantastic result of which we are all extremely proud.

Also this week, we’ve been continuing our initiatives in support of Children’s Mental Health Week 2021, all designed to uplift our pupils’ sense of wellbeing and to make sure they feel happy. Staff have embraced the opportunity to incorporate wellness themes and techniques into their lessons, resulting in creative, imaginative sessions that have also been lots of fun!

Many of these wellness activities have focused on moving our students away from the screen to take part in learning opportunities outdoors, as well as to enjoy creative time for themselves doing everything from reading, drawing, meditating, listening to music, visiting nearby landmarks, and even dressing up….

IB Chemistry champs reign supreme

A huge well done to IB students Nikita, Chelger, Minh, Anthony and Thai for coming third in the University of Cambridge Chemistry Race 2021 out of 42 teams! The team competed against sixth form pupils from all over the country, racing to solve complex, unusual chemistry problems against the clock, with real-time marking and a live leaderboard adding to the pressure! Our team showed incredible resilience and determination – not to mention impressive Chemistry knowledge – and it’s an outstanding achievement for the team to be recognised at a national level, beating off stiff competition from some of the UK’s best Chemistry brains.

Cambridge - Chemistry - Champs

IB Chemistry champs

IB WOW Words

IB English Literature students have been exploring WOW words this week as part of a wellness-themed lesson. By piecing together fragments of existing words, they invented their own WOW words that they then had to explain to the class. There were some truly weird and wonderful inventions (that made everyone laugh!), and the students were really inspired to think about how words make them feel and the moods they evoke.


English Literature - IB - Westbourne School

WOW words indeed!

Celebrating Chinese New Year

The Boarding House has been celebrating Chinese New Year this week, enjoying a breathtaking live gala show as well as tucking into some absolutely delicious Chinese delicacies. Needless to say, they didn’t last long!

Chinese New Year - Boarding School - UK

Happy Chinese New Year!

Snap happy

Year 10 Art students got stuck into a mini photography project this week, looking at the theme of ‘Natural Forms’. They enjoyed learning how to crop, edit and manipulate their photographs and took time to present them to the class. The standard was phenomenal and everyone relished sharing the results of their hard work.

photography - year 10 - Westbourne School

Year 10 photography

Did someone say 3D spaghetti?

After studying similarity and scale factors, and the relationship between surface areas and volumes, Year 10 were tasked this week with constructing two 3D shapes out of spaghetti and marshmallows, the larger one of which had to have a volume 27 times that of the smaller one! Not an easy challenge!

Westbourne school - year 10

Building with spaghetti and marshmallows!

Spanish comic strips

In a wellness-themed session, our Year 9 Spanish students enjoyed getting creative with comic strips this week, using them to present and describe their families to the class. Using fun illustration was a really engaging way to enliven the learning process.

Spanish Learning - Comic Book - Westbourne School

Learning Spanish - Year 9 - Westbourne School

Live Maths cook-along

We’re always thinking of new ways to make online lessons even more fun, and what better way than to take part in a live Maths cook-along with Mr Gubby! What could go wrong?! A very excited Year 8 rolled up their sleeves, dusted off their aprons and took on the challenge of baking “fork biscuits”, using their ratio and proportion skills to calculate the quantity of ingredients. And just look at the mouth-watering results…

Maths class - Westbourne School

A delicious Maths lesson

William Shakespeare… is that you?

As part of Children’s Mental Health Week, years 7 and 8 were encouraged to take some time away from their screens in History this week to: a) Dress up as their favourite historical figure; b) Visit a local place of historical interest; or c) Learn about a family heirloom or artefact. We present some fantastic photos of the results, including a very convincing Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Shakespeare!

History - Challenge - year 7

All hail King Henry!

Basquiat-inspired masterpieces

Our Year 7 artists have been learning all about the work of dynamic American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. After researching his work, they had to choose one of his abstract, colourful pieces to copy, using a range of materials including paint and collage. They certainly rose to the challenge and embraced working in a loose manner, in most cases using tricky mixed media too!

Art - Year 7 - Basquiat

Amazing work!

Wellbeing time for Years 6 and 7

Instead of their usual PSHE lesson, Year 6 took part in ‘Wellbeing Hour’ this week, in which students were instructed to choose a wellbeing activity from a list including guided meditation, yoga, drawing, reading, listening to music, spending time with a pet (yes – even chickens!), or going for a walk. The pupils enjoyed taking some much-needed time out to relax and focus on positive thoughts for the week ahead.

Year 7 English also enjoyed half an hour of ‘no screen time’ to make themselves comfortable with a book. They really enjoyed sharing their recommendations with the class.


Wellbeing - Students - Screen-free time

Everyone enjoyed their quiet time away from the screen

Getting creative with bird feeders

With spring promising to appear in all its glory any time now, our Prep School pupils joined in a special assembly this week to learn how to make bird feeders. We were really delighted to see parents and siblings joining in the challenge too – what a wonderful way to spend some fun, creative time together as families away from a screen.


Online keep fit!

As part of our ongoing Children’s Mental Health Week initiatives, Mr Murray hosted an energetic online keep fit class for the whole of the Prep School this week – no mean feat! – with over 50 pupils tuning in. It was fantastic to see so many familiar faces joining in so enthusiastically, and was testament to the power of Zoom to bring us all together and keep us smiling!

PE - Prep School - Zoom

Great job everyone for showing up with so much enthusiasm

A mindfulness art class

Mrs Edwards ran a much-anticipated mindfulness art class this week for the entire Prep School, with over 60 Prep pupils dialling in, in addition to our keyworker children in school. Starting with a story, the students were quickly entranced by examples of beautifully intricate mandala shapes and patterns. The session showed the children how art can be used for mindfulness, and they enjoyed taking time to focus on creating their own mandala drawings, showing excellent concentration skills and attention to detail. A wonderful session that really brought out the children’s creativity.

art class - westbourne school - mindfulness

Mindfulness art class

From dens to trees! Where’s your favourite reading spot?

In another wellness-inspired session, this week years 4 and 5 were tasked with reading their class book (There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar, and Pig Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman) in places that make them feel calm and happy. From duvet dens to bedroom nooks, staircases and even magical trees, our pupils used their imaginations to find the best place to help them relax, get settled and stuck into reading.


Another brilliant week at FaB School

It was the turn of years 4 and 5 to take part in our wonderful FaB School this week – and it was a great one! The class talked about capturing beauty in nature before learning how to tie a clove hitch knot – widely considered as one of the most important knots. All in a day’s work for our Westbourne forest and beach adventurers!

Forest school - Beach school - Penarth - Westbourne

Wonderful FaB School this week!

Mathematical teamworking

Year 4 enjoyed using breakout rooms on Google Meet for their Maths lesson this week, which was a real test of their communication and listening skills. They also had to use their reasoning skills and explain their methods. Some of the children stayed on after the class to work in pairs to try to solve some difficult Maths problems, and it was wonderful to see them engaging so well online and articulating their methods so clearly. Great work, everyone!

Maths - Westbourne School - Year 4 - Breakout Room

Great work, Year 4!

Stars of the week

We’ve seen great work across the Prep School this week and, as always, it is a huge challenge to choose just one star! Congratulations all on your achievements.

Early years: Jacob for moving on a whole new level with his online reading and doing his best with Seesaw tasks. Bravo, Jacob!

Year 1: Isaac for excellent work researching koala bears and making a great informative factfile. Well done, Isaac!

Year 2: Giulia for excellent writing in her comprehension tasks and using lots of detail in her answers. Brilliant effort, Giulia!

Year 3: Cadi for her incredible effort and enthusiasm in Maths this week. Well done, superstar!

Year 4: George for being a kind and supportive member of the class. He is amazing at making the other children feel valued and is great at getting everyone to work together. Well done, George!

Year 5: Emma for her excellent engagement during live Maths sessions. Fantastic effort, Emma!

Getting to know us

Dr Samantha Francis – Chemistry Teacher and Year 8 form tutor

1. How long have you worked at Westbourne?
I have been at Westbourne since April 2020.

2. What’s your background and experience?
I grew up in Cardiff, completed my undergraduate Chemistry degree and postgraduate teaching degree in Cardiff, then I taught secondary Science in Reading for a couple of years before taking on my MSc and my PhD back at Cardiff University. I completed my doctorate in the summer of 2020, a couple of months after starting at Westbourne.

3. What’s the best part of working at Westbourne?
The warmth and friendliness of the pupils makes working at the school an enjoyable experience. There is also a strong academic ethos at the school which makes my job more challenging and allows me to discuss the subject at an advanced level with students who have a keen interest in my subject.

4. What does being a Co-ordinator/ Form Tutor mean to you?
Seeing students outside of lessons gives me a different perspective. It allows me to develop my relationship with them beyond what they are like in lessons and their ability in science.

5. What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of completing my PhD. Leaving teaching to continue my education was not a straightforward decision, and it would have been easier to continue doing what I was doing. I am fortunate that I was able to make some of the changes I did to allow me to pursue opportunities within academia.

6. How do you relax when you’re not at school?
I enjoy spending time outside and surrounded by nature. I am very lucky to live near wooded areas and within easy access to the beach. Whilst not much of a sports person, I hike a lot with my dog Peggy, and that keeps me busy!

7. What’s the most challenging and the most rewarding part of teaching remotely?

The challenging thing about teaching online is keeping the students engaged. It’s difficult to instil enthusiasm in what is known to be a difficult but very practical subject like Chemistry when we are unable to do experiments.

However, teaching remotely has meant that technology has become even more important a tool in education. This has seen an explosion of different technologies to help explore the sciences, with many companies jumping on board to support students with new and interesting content.

Get to know us - Westbourne School - Teacher profile

Dr Samantha Francis – Chemistry Teacher and Year 8 tutor

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