GCSE Residential Trip to London
This year’s GCSE group along with Head of GCSE, Chris Young, Director of Studies Inga Morrissey and English Tutor Krystian Mazurkiewicz spent two great days in London. We visited the Warner Brothers Studio Tour (for the Harry Potter Experience), Maxwell’s Diner Covent Garden, ‘Thriller the Musical’, a tribute to the late Michael Jackson, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for a guided tour and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. A tight schedule with no time to relax!
As we set off from college at 08:30 hopes were high and excitement almost at fever pitch. Fortunately, the two hour drive managed to calm the atmosphere. This did not last too long as the first large billboard of Harry Potter came into sight. We enjoyed an excellent three hours in the complex entertained by such a diverse range as the miniature sets for Hogwarts, the magic of a Quidditch game against a TV green screen, the Ford Anglia in flight and numerous shops that were welcomed in particular by Inga.
After many picture opportunities and wonderful settings such as the Hogwarts Castle, Forbidden Forest and the Hogwarts Express Train, we boarded the bus for Bloomsbury and the hotel. After unpacking, we set off for an American Diner in Covent Garden for refreshments followed by an exhilarating performance of Thriller, the musical that charts the music and life of pop icon, Michael Jackson. It was great to hear some songs that you had forgotten or for the younger members never heard before!There were all the classics such as Beat It, Thriller, Billie Jean and Smooth Criminal that was an ear worm for the rest of the trip. Everyone agreed that the dancing was magnificent and so full of energy.
We had a restful night in the hotel after a hectic day with more walking than most students do in a week and after breakfast, with a few beginning to suffer, we set off for the tube and a short but entertaining journey to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. As part of the GCSE English Literature curriculum, Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a major part contributing 20% of the total marks. They are required to write in detail about an extract from the play and then to write about the play as a whole. This includes literal and inferential comprehension, which includes understanding a word, phrase or sentence in context; exploring aspects of plot, characterisation, events and settings; distinguishing between what is stated explicitly and what is implied; explaining motivation, sequence of events, and the relationships between actions or events. This develops the skill of critical reading and the students need to be able to identify the theme and distinguish between themes; support a point of view by referring to evidence in the text; recognise the possibility of and evaluate different responses to a text; using understanding of writers’ social, historical and cultural contexts to inform evaluation; make an informed personal response that derives from analysis and evaluation of the text. The guided tour with detailed explanations that our expert guide provided certainly helped with the students’ understanding of context and history, vital for the upcoming exam.
At this point we were joined by Markus Bernhardt, Principal, for the final leg of the journey by boat to Greenwich. Fortune smiled on us, as we had a rain free open air boat trip narrated by an authentic South London local. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of the river, especially how the economy of London had evolved as jobs had changed along the Thames. He also seemed to know all about the many pubs that lined the route!
On arrival in Greenwich, we climbed (rather slowly) the hill up to the Royal Observatory and stopped to get our breath and to enjoy one of the most loved views of London across Greenwich Royal Park and the river Thames. The visit gave us the chance to stand on the world-famous Meridian Line with one foot in the west and one foot in the east. We learned about the discoveries of great scientists and inventors based at or associated with the Royal Observatory. We explored how great scientists first mapped the seas and the stars in Charles II’s magnificent Christopher Wren-designed Octagon Room – dating from 1675. Then we Can you marvelled at the Great Equatorial Telescope, the UK’s largest historic telescope which gave astronomers new views of the universe over 100 years ago.
Finally, the journey home and with most people feeling the strain, we took the coach back to Cambridge. We had a competition running throughout the two days and the winners were Team London down to some excellent quiz knowledge and sense of direction getting around London!