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Two sixth formers have spoken of an emotional trip to Auschwitz.

Ella Gritton and George McVeigh visited the former Nazi extermination camp in a trip organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust as part of its Lessons from Auschwitz project.

The project is a four-part course which explores universal lessons of the Holocaust and its relevance to today.

Students took part in a preparation day, during which they met a Holocaust survivor and learnt about what life was like for the Jewish community before the Holocaust.

A few weeks later Ella and George made the journey to Auschwitz where they started the trip by visiting a pre-war Jewish site in a Polish town, where they learnt more about the victims’ lives. They also visited several barracks at Auschwitz 1 before going to Birkenau, where the vast majority of victims were murdered.

George, 16, said he thought it was important that people learnt from what happened at Auschwitz.

He said: “I enjoy History and going to Auschwitz is something that I’ve always wanted to do. It went beyond what I expected and it was a lot to take in. I think it is important that we learn from history and how people have still not really learnt from what happened.”

Ella, 16, said the trip was a life-changing experience for her.

She said: “We learnt about what happened at Auschwitz when we did our GCSEs but this gave us the opportunity to see the humanity, and the inhumanity, behind it.

“We visited different blocks at Auschwitz 1 and we saw rooms where they’d kept hair, shoes and belongings from the prisoners. There were also lots of pictures of them. We saw the gas chambers and the place where prisoners had to remove their clothes and were shaved. We also saw the book of names which was just massive sheets of paper filled with millions of names of people who had died.

“We took part in a memorial service where we lit candles and that was about how there is so much hate in the world but there is light. I think that made me realise that we were there for a reason, to make sure that more people understand what happened. It was definitely a life-changing trip.”

Mr Gritton said: “This is such a valuable experience for our students which helps them to come to terms with the reality of what actually happened at Auschwitz and hopefully they will be able to share their experience with fellow students.”

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Year 10 Business Studies students attended a ‘Question Time’ event at The Quad in Derby.

They participated along with students from other local schools and the panellists were Adam Buss, CEO at The Quad, Adam Tamsett, General Manager at INTU Derby, Heidi Barlow, Head of Marketing for East Midlands Airport, David Carlin, Training and Compliance Manager and Head of CSR GI Group and BBC radio presenter Devon Daley.

This was an event designed to inspire and provide first hand examples of responsible business practice for Business Studies students.

It was a Question Time style panel discussion where students asked representatives of different businesses how their organisations endeavoured to behave responsibly. This was followed by a networking session for the students, teachers and business people in attendance.

During the networking students were encouraged to share their ideas for improving the way businesses work, making workplaces better and helping communities thrive.

The overarching theme this year was ‘every company can make a difference place by place’.

Other themes which were explored included:

*The importance of building resilience and social and emotional competencies both in school and the workplace

*The impact that the changing nature of work could have on resilience and wellbeing

*Impact and perceptions of the impact of social media on health and wellbeing and importantly employability

*The NHS is 70 years old this year – what does a modern health service look like and how can it respond to the rising demands of mental health? What role does the community – schools and businesses have to play in easing these demands?


Ex-students returned to Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy to inspire Year 9 as part of a World of Work Day.

Former pupils talked to current students about their careers at a series of workshops organised by Future First.

They included Philip Visha-Mlot, who attends Welbeck Military College,  Nica Casandra, who is studying children’s nursing,  Donna Fitzgerald, from Capita Travel and Events, Rebecca Muir, from Bex Star Dance company, Christina Wilford, a specialist worker in child psychology and Rachael Stevenson, an events and entertainment manager.

They talked to students about their daily working lives, the reality of work, the skills they need, tackled misconceptions and answered questions.

Emily Clifton, from Future First, said: “We wanted to give Year 9 an understanding of what the world of work is really like.

“We looked at common misconceptions about work, what a typical working day entails and the kind of skills they need to be learning that are relevant to the jobs that they want to do. It’s a good time to do it as this is the year they choose their options.”

Donna said she was pleased to return to support the event.

She said: “I think a workshop like this really helps students to understand what work is really like and how different it is to school.

“I think one of the important messages to get across is that if they have a job that they don’t enjoy they can always change it, it’s never too late to do that.”

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Year 9 student Reuben Litherland has enjoyed a VIP tour of Rolls-Royce after he spoke of his desire to work for the company when he appeared on The One Show.

Reuben told the show’s presenters Alex Jones and Ore Oduba that working for Rolls-Royce was his ‘perfect dream’.

The 14-year-old is profoundly Deaf and was invited on to the BBC One programme to talk about how he copes with everyday life and footage of him filmed throughout the school day was also shown.

Bosses at Rolls-Royce were so impressed by Reuben’s interview that they invited him for a special behind the scenes tour.

He visited the company’s Derby site, touring the Apprenticeship Academy and Workshop, Heritage Centre, Engine Build and a Test Bed.

During his visit staff from Rolls-Royce stopped to shake his hand, describing him as an inspiration, and even asked for selfies with him.

Reuben said his visit had fuelled his dream of working for Rolls-Royce.

He said: “I was excited and nervous ahead of my visit.  We went to the apprentice workshop where I could see the basic machinery in action. We walked through the Heritage Centre which was really interesting because I got the chance to learn more about Rolls-Royce history.

“Then we visited Engine Build where we looked at engines being assembled. That was very exciting and I learnt that all engines are assembled by hand.

“I also received bags full of goodies from Rolls-Royce, I couldn’t believe it. I am very grateful and I would like to thank Rolls-Royce for an amazing experience which has made me more determined to work there one day.”

Paul Broadhead, Global Head of Community Investment and Education Outreach at Rolls-Royce, organised Reuben’s visit.

He said: “When Reuben appeared on The One Show he inspired the nation. When he mentioned he wanted to be a Rolls-Royce Aero Engineer we simply had to invite him in to see us up close.

“Having now met Reuben I have to say he is a fabulous young man who is a credit to Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy and his parents. He tells me that now he has met some of our people and seen our Trent engines he is doubly keen to turn his dream job into a reality.

“I think we might be seeing Reuben again in Rolls-Royce some day in the not too distant future.”

After being encouraged by well-wishers following his TV appearance, Reuben has also set up his own Facebook page called ‘Learn How To Do British Sign Language’ where he posts video tutorials and it has already amassed almost 5,000 likes and followers.

Mr Gritton said: “I’m sure that Reuben will never forget his visit to Rolls-Royce and we would like to thank everyone at the company for giving him such an incredible experience. Reuben is a fantastic ambassador for our school and we are proud to say that he is one of our students.”

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Year 9 student Reuben Litherland was awarded a Head’s Commendation by Mr Gritton this week for his work to raise awareness of the issues facing young Deaf people, which included an appearance on The One Show on the BBC. Well done Reuben – very well deserved!

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Employers, universities, apprenticeship and training providers offered students from Years 8 to 13 with advice about their futures at our annual Careers Fair.

Representatives from local universities attended along with Babington Business College, Bombardier, the Army, Derby City Council, Derby College, Derby Skillbuild, the Prince’s Trust, Tomlinson’s and the National Citizen Service. The event was opened up to younger students for the first time and there was an even wider range of providers than in previous years.We would like to thank everyone who came along to talk to our students, hopefully they went away feeling inspired!

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Students and staff celebrated World Book Day in style this week.

Teachers and staff dressed up as characters from their favourite books and students were treated to a series of literary themed activities throughout the day.

Students and staff were invited to take five minutes of their lessons to share extracts from popular teenage fiction. Titles were chosen specifically for each year group and were received with great enthusiasm, they included: Moondust by Gemma Fowler for Year 7; One by Sarah Crossan for Year 8; Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence for Year 9; THUG (The Hate U Give) by Angie Thomas; and Release by Patrick Ness for Year 11.

Our Year 9 text, Orangeboy, was deliberately selected to encourage participation in the Derby Book Festival competition and has now become a shared book in our Reading Club.

Dr Tracey Burrell, Librarian and Learning Centre Manager, said: “As part of our World Book Day celebrations we wanted to join in with the campaign to get the nation reading stories from breakfast until bedtime.

“Reading out loud can make a real difference to students’ outcomes and is something they really enjoy.  It also helps to expose them to stories that they may not have come across before and young adult fiction in particular deals with contemporary issues and challenges that our children face in today’s society.

“The books selected dealt with many of these issues and are all available in the school library.

“There were also displays of the collaborative initiatives that the library and English Department run, such as the Reading Competition for Years 7 and 8, ‘We Are Writers’, Book Club and the Poetry Recital.”

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