U5 making the most of opportunities

Aleena, head of U5 writes: Girls from the U5 at St Swithun’s were invited to come back to school after their GCSEs for a spectacular week of activities, organised and masterminded by the head of year, Mrs Anne Steer. A diary of the week follows:


The exciting day with the Young Film Academy began with a series of seminars consisting of fighting choreography and film history, where we learned about the first ever film, coloured film, and were shown a comparison between films then and now. We were then split up into groups to discover screenwriting and camera techniques. For example, we learned about wide, medium and close-up shots and when and how to use them. Following the lessons, we were given a chance to create our very own short film, which would be presented and judged at a final festival-like ceremony. The films ranged from comedies to thrillers, but the award for the best film went to My Name is Octavia, an emotional film about an isolated girl at school. 

Today we were introduced to public speaking and debating through workshops by the English Speaking Union. We started by engaging in activities and games to practise our speaking skills, for instance Just a Minute – where you have to speak about a topic for a minute without hesitating. We also improved our body language through Apples and Oranges, where we had to talk while only saying “apples” or “oranges”. After this, we prepared for debating by discussing many motions, such as This house believes all children should be given the vote. This helped us to learn more about the three main parts of a debating team, how to logically structure our arguments, and how to make our proposals persuasive to the floor. Finally, the day concluded with a debating competition which combined all of the skills we had discovered, with motions including This house believes medical professionals should be able to make decisions over a child’s health. Overall, the day was greatly beneficial due to the valuable speaking skills we had all acquired.


An adventurous day at the Marwell Outdoor Activity Centre helped many of us conquer our fears, either of heights or of water. We all took part in the aerial adventure in which we had to cross wires eight metres high over both land and water in various ways, such as by sliding on a swing, walking on planks of wood and with the help of a large net. We also did raft building that required us to build a successful raft with logs and barrels – the numbers of which depended on how well we had succeeded in previous games. We then had to trial our rafts in the lake. However, many rafts disintegrated during the test, leading most people to fall in! Raft building, along with another activity of Laser Tag, enabled us to learn about the importance of teamwork and the key skills that are essential to make a team work well, such as leadership and clear communication. 


The more practical day of the week gave us skills useful for every aspect of life. For instance, we learnt how to drive a car, along with what’s under the bonnet and how to check a tyre. We were introduced to money matters, including budgeting, through a seminar from NatWest Bank. 

We also gained an insight into the world of fashion and modelling from Storm Models. We managed to fit in Tai Chi tuition and also discovered how to make a CV stand out and appeal to employers. As well as this, we were given additional guidance on our career choices. 

Friday consisted of activity sessions to help with our U5 Gala Dinner preparations. Some of us started the day off with 'Life Drawing’. This activity went on until break and was surprisingly strenuous for a morning activity because we worked in silence and most went into a deep trance. Other activities later in the afternoon included nail art; flower arranging; searching for foliage for the flower arranging; silhouette art and many, many more. The wide variety of sessions meant that everyone's day went in different directions and we all gained some insight in some unexpected areas. The day ended in a spectacular Gala Dinner. We had made the canapés earlier in the day and, courtesy of the kitchen staff, ate an amazing dinner. The rest of the evening consisted of a dance performance from two of our year group and we were serenaded on the keyboard by another two. The night ended in quiz prizes and gifts given to our wonderful form tutors and head of year; a photo montage as a goodbye to the beloved Dr Susan Burt had us on the verge of tears. Lastly, the greatly anticipated yearbooks were distributed. 

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