Each term, The Bicester School will be highlighting aspects of students’ personal development, showcasing their commitment to activities and interests both inside and outside of school. Many of our students achieve awards and medals in their chosen interests and this spotlight page is here to celebrate those successes.
Beatrice Robertson (Year 10) – DofE Ambassador
As a part of my DofE volunteering section, I am the school’s DofE ambassador. It started with a training day in Headington School on a Saturday which taught me about my role as ambassador and allowed me to help the Year 9 bronze award participants with two of my peers every Monday at their meetings.
The training day started with all the ambassadors in the Oxfordshire area meeting each other and our operation officers for our areas. The day consisted of team building activities, practising presentation skills and learning how to help our school’s participants through their awards. I learnt about my job as an ambassador, which includes: being a mentor, inspiring others to do the DofE and being available to answer any questions or concerns. They told us about how we can use this experience to improve our ability at public speaking and help the future of the charity. This day helped me come back to school feeling confident with assisting with the bronze DofE groups.
I believe my role is important as I can show and tell the students of my personal experiences and ideas, which they will be able to relate to.
Lillee and Jaymee Clifton (Year 8) – Christmas dinner with a difference
At Christmas our mum and a complete stranger (Stacy Irving,) met each other via a Facebook chat page and began talking about the homeless in Bicester. Between them they decided to host a Christmas Day dinner for the homeless, elderly and anyone who would be alone on Christmas day.
Our mum set up a Facebook group so that they could ask for food, gifts etc to be donated. The people of Bicester were amazing and so much was donated. Andy, one of Bicester’s postmen organised a Christmas jumper day at ‘the office’ and raised enough money to buy lots of warm blankets.
We think approximately 200 gifts were donated! Bicester Round table were keen to donate £500 but our mum and Stacy only spent around £200 so the money will be donated to another fantastic cause.
Everyone clubbed together to help out on the day: people drove to collect guests, others stayed to chat to them and some helped to serve food. It was a really lovely day – there were so many lovely people there – one was a Big Issue seller from Bicester who brought his family.
On Boxing Day, Jaymee, our mum, my-self and four others went into Oxford to give out more food, blankets, gifts and sleeping bags to the homeless there. Anything we had left we took to The Porch Day Centre for the homeless in Cowley.
Finally, the remaining meat was made into the Christmas ‘left overs’ meal of turkey curry and taken to the homeless people we had met.
Last weekend, I travelled up to Sunderland with my parents to compete in the U16 national Championships for Cyclocross. Cyclocross is a form of cycling that involves lots of mud, corners and often you need to get off and carry your bike. I really like the course, it was very challenging with a hard hill (part of which had to be ran) followed by a technical decent. Before the race I had won the national series so I was hoping to do well.
On the day of the race the conditions were mostly the same as the day before. It was muddy and cold with some parts of the course being windy. I was really looking forward to it, but was very nervous as well. Once we got going there was a group of around five of us that stayed together for the first two laps of the course. We kept changing positions with some people trying to attack off the front. It stayed like this until the final lap when I finally managed to get away and win the race although it ended up being very close! The race was really exciting – I enjoyed it a lot. I will now get to wear the national champions jersey for all of my races next year which I am looking forward to!
Grace (Year 8) – Climbing
I have been climbing for nearly a year now. I climb at Big Rock in Milton Keynes and I train every week and compete on various weekends.
I have completed 5 levels to date including Foundation level, Belayer (which trains you how to knot your own rope and support other climbers), Junior level and NICAS levels 1 and 2. I will be starting level 3 before Christmas with level 5 being the highest grade before instructor training.
I have already started competing in competitions with my last being an international event where I competed against other climbers from Germany, Poland and Spain. At my last event I ranked just outside the top 50 but in November I will compete again and hope to increase my ranking this time. During the competitions you have to show your ability to not only climb but also boulder, which is climbing without a harness or rope and if you fall you land on the padded mat.
I enjoy climbing because you can change the difficulty of your climb by changing the holds you use, include variations of moves, aim for certain holes and attempt to climb overhangs. Climbing is a good sport for anyone because it does not have to be a competitive sport unless you want it to be. It’s a very sociable sport and you can either climb with a rope or boulder without or both like me .
Adam Newman (Year 8) – Ballroom and Latin
I have been dancing for 2 years now, but have only been partnered with Abi Starkey for a year and a half. We have competed in many competitions and soon are of to blackpool to compete there in the biggest dance compition in the country. At our last competition we were lucky enough to come 2nd in Ballroom beginners.
We train 3 days a week, one of these (Saturday) we dance for 3-4 hours, we spend 3 hours in Bicester training then go to Banbury for a 1 hour dance lesson.
We learn many different dances. Some more energetic than others, we learn two different types of dance; ballroom and latin. Ballroom consists of dances including Waltz, Quickstep, Tango, Foxtrot and viennese waltz. All of these are very different, Waltz is slow and elegant and Quickstep is fast and jumpy. Latin is more lively and fun, It includes dances like Cha Cha Cha, Jive, samba, rumba and the paso doble.
My favourite dance is the paso doble, this is a sharp spanish dance. It is based on spanish bull fighting. The man is the matador and the girl the bull. We dance all of these dances in competitions.
Caitlin (13) – Bicester Blue Fins
No one understands the importance of a millisecond like swimmers do. In swimming, it’s not always about winning the race but in beating yourself. Beating your PB (personal best) is the just the best feeling – gaining a medal when you do so is just a bonus.
We all swim for Bicester Blue Fins our local swim club based at the leisure centre opposite TBS. The life of a swimmer is all about balance – between the many hours of training (some of us train for 16 hours every week plus land training), school work etc and still finding time to see friends and go out.
Four days a week my day begins at 4 45am so that I can be up and at the pool for 5 20am – I get a lie in on Saturday until 5 45am as training begins at 6 15am. We swim until 7am or 7 30am so that we have time to get sorted and ready for school. I also swim every weekday evening except Thursday – but we do double on Mondays to make up for that with an additional hour in the spin studio.
Training is always hard – even when our Coach says he’s being easy on us. Warm up is often up to 42 lengths. Following that we may do an individual medley set. IM sets are the toughest – 6 x 50m butterfly, 6 x 100m (50m ‘fly and 50m back), 6 x 150m (50m ‘fly, 50m back, 50m breast) and then 6 x 200m IM (all four strokes) unless our Coach loses count and makes us do more (he never seems to undercount though). It’s never just a chilled swim either Coach sets us targets throughout the session, generally around swimming faster or maintaining times (so we swim as fast after 20 lengths as we do after 2).
Just when we thought we were safe someone had the ingenious idea of underwater headsets so Coaches could talk to swimmers during lengths (we quickly learnt not to try to answer him – think about it!). And if we think of slacking there’s a device which attaches to our goggles and “beeps” so we can maintain stroke rate.
Our friends (and our mums) think that we are always eating, which we probably are, but most of those calories we burn off before you have even considered waking up. Our coach gives us daily targets sometimes to encourage us to eat healthily and frequently reminds us to stay hydrated (when your coach emails you all a wee chart so that you can check out hydration levels you know he’s serious).
When we compete, we are in heats with people who have similar PBs so we could be swimming against people a few years older or younger therefore until all heats have been swam we don’t know where we will be placed. But generally, it’s all about the PB and achieving goals – achieving a target we’ve been striving for is just the best feeling (remember those milliseconds) and we can’t help grinning all the way back to our Coach to get the low down on how he thinks we swam.
We have all completed both individually and in team galas for BBF– swimming at county meets, diddy leagues, arena leagues etc. Some have competed Nationally and internationally. We might travel for an hour warm up for 15mins, race for 30s and sit around for another two hours before we race again– a good time for socialising, supporting each other and eating.
Our individual squads consist of swimmers of different ages and from different schools – we probably wouldn’t befriend or even chat to students three years above us at school but our friends at BBF are from all year groups. We look out for each other at training and at galas and enjoy the social side of swimming poolside.
So, when we turn down the offer of a run (have you ever seen an aquatic mammal on land by the way? That’s us) or a night out it’s not because we don’t want to its because we have to be at the pool tomorrow and to succeed we need to train hard.
Daisy Cooper (Year 7) – Karate and dance
I have been doing karate since I was four years old. Karate isn’t just fighting skills, it’s a life skill that teaches you patience, self-discipline and self-defence. I also do BJJ (Brazilian Ju Jitsu) which is like wrestling with grappling, where you submit your opponent using chokes, armlocks and other submissions. We also do MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) which uses techniques from other combat sports and martial arts. I am currently a solid brown belt, hopefully soon to be a brown black strip belt which is one before a black belt. When I am 15, I will start working towards my black belt. I have always enjoyed Karate and only competed a couple of times, mainly as part of the junior squad team. I would like to compete more in the future. I train twice a week at Bure Park School and my sensai is Paul Wood who is the Chief Instructor for the Oxfordshire leading Karate training club: OSTMA (http://www.ostma.co.uk/)
I have been dancing with the Just Dance Company since I was five years old, starting with Street Dance and gradually adding: Gymnastic Dance, Cheerleading, Musical Theatre and Modern Dance. I have always loved watching dance and musicals and I love all different types of dance. I drive my mum crazy by constantly dancing and singing at home. The Dance Company have just had their biannual dance show at Leamington Spa Theatre and there were three shows over two days. I have two amazing dance teachers – Miss Katie and Miss Jeanette – who make dancing fun and teach us difference dance styles. They design and choreograph routines which build on our own skills and techniques, and they really are my inspiration. (http://www.thejustdancecompany.com/)
Matthew Porter (Year 10) – Archery
In the Summer I competed in the Archery GB Junior National Outdoor Championship 2 day event held at the Archery GB Headquarters Lilleshall Nr Telford where I finished 32nd in the Metric Rounds and 35th in the Imperial Rounds.
I also competed in the Junior National Indoor Championship Held At NAEC Stoneleigh Park Nr Warwick where I finished 26th in my age group.
Alice Hobbs (Year 10) – Ballet
Alice performed a lead flower in the nutcracker suite in Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. She was a soloist in etudes on the 23 and 25 of march, and received the senior ballet award as well as being invited to attend a ballet class with the principle dancers of the English youth ballet.
Very well done Alice!
Ella-Jai Britton (Year 7) – Trampolining
“I joined Bicester Trampoline Club when I was in Year 5 and I loved learning how to do the different moves and link them together to form routines. My coaches were brilliant and really inspired me to keep going and not to give up when things got challenging!
“When I first started I was a ‘garden’ trampolinist so needed to tidy up and perfect my skills. I have participated in several schools competitions, representing Bure Park Primary School, and last year came first in the Southern Regional Novice Competition for the U11s.
“In September 2016 I joined Ricochet Club in Banbury as Bicester Trampoline Club ended. I now train for 5 hours a week and I think that I am improving all the time! The move I am working on at the moment is a ‘Barani Ballout’, which I hope to have mastered by my next competition!
“On December 4th 2016 I was able to represent ‘The Bicester School’ at ‘The British Schools Novice Trampoline Championships’. I was nervous because I was moving up to the next age group…the U14s! In my group I was competing against another 84 girls! I was pleased to come 7th and look forward to the next Schools Competition but next time not only will I be in the older age group but I will also competing at a higher level…intermediate!”
Holly Batten (Year 7) – English Youth Ballet performance
“The performance took place at the New Theatre Oxford in October. There were four performances in total in front of an audience, two on Friday and two on Saturday.
“I attended lots of rehearsals beforehand which took up many of my weekends and evenings. As part of the rehearsals for the show, the professional dancers also taught us a lesson where I have learnt many new techniques to help with my ballet. I am currently grade 4 and I am hoping to get onto pointe shoes soon when I have done my next ballet exam.
“I made lots of friends at EYB and I hope to do another show with them soon.
“At my dance school (Elite Dance and Theatre Tuition) I also learn other dance techniques such as tap, modern, jazz and street, and I am part of the senior troupe where we perform at school fetes and recently at the mayors ball. I have also taken part in some dance competitions where I have won two gold medals.”
Gabrielle Smith (Year 13) – Law Summer School
“During the summer I participated in the ‘Life in Law’ summer school at Oxford Brookes University. Over the course of a week spent at this university I was able to explore some aspects of the legal system including basic criminal law, client interviewing, trial techniques and trial procedures.
“Through the basic criminal law workshop I developed an understanding of court proceedings. At the client interviewing workshop I learnt the importance of developing trust with your client, building a rapport and the emphasis on the first impression and your professional appearance to clients. I had the opportunity to visit Oxford Crown Court and visit Abingdon Police station to learn about the process of arrest charge and prosecution.
“I also participated in a mock trial in which I had to critically evaluate witness statements and work with my team to produce a cross examination, examination in chief, and an opening and closing statement. These activities helped to develop my teamwork skills, through listening and working together to produce a strong case. I acted as a prosecution lawyer in the mock trial which meant I had to conduct the cross examination and examination in chief. This role proved to be challenging as I had to speak in front of an audience and use my initiative to think on my feet during the interviewing of the witnesses. However, it was very enjoyable and as a result of my efforts I won an opportunity to take part in a mini-pupillage at Cornwall Street Chambers by having the best advocacy skills.”
Millie Couzens (Year 8) – Cycling
“My brother Tom and I cycle for Zappis cycling club. We mainly do cyclocross, which is a form of off-road bike racing. It includes cycling on grass, mud and sometimes you have to carry your bike over obstacles or particularly steep or muddy parts! This year we have competed in all five rounds of the National cyclocross series. We have travelled all over the country competing including Abergavenny and Hetton.
“Tom’s best result in the series was 13th place at Hetton out of around 60 riders. He has also won two rounds of the Wessex league. He is now ranked 16th nationally.
“I won four out of the five rounds (coming second in the last round) of the national series. This means that I won the overall title and wore the leader’s jersey throughout the series. I have also won numerous rounds of the Wessex league though we have missed some whilst away at nationals. I am currently ranked number one nationally.
“We both really enjoy all the cycling we do because of the challenge it presents and it is good fun.”
Ana-Maria Brichis (Year 7) – Ballroom and Latin dancing
“I was first introduced to Ballroom and Latin dancing watching my sister, who also practised it. The graceful movements and gorgeous costumes inspired me to join my sister in her hobby. Now, 4 years down the line, I have competed in a multitude of regional competitions, placing multiple times.
“We have only competed in one national competition so far, but we managed to place 11th in Latin and 14th in Ballroom.
“At the moment we are training 8 hours per week to prepare for our next national competition in Blackpool, which will be in January.”
Chloe Wood (Year 7) – Martial Arts
“I started doing karate when I was just 3 years old. My dad is the chief instructor for Oxford’s largest karate club so it was inevitable I would try it out. Right from that very young age, I absolutely loved it and have continued to train ever since, often training up to 4/5 times a week. In March of this year I graded to my brown/black stripe belt and this is the final belt before black. It will be quite some time now before I take the black belt grading as there is so much to learn and refine.
“I started competing nationally and internationally when I was 9 years old. Karate competitions offer the chance to participate in two disciplines, Kata (solo forms) and sparring (using punch, kick and takedown techniques in a controlled manner to outscore your opponent). Right now I am specialising in the sparring sections. One of my first major competitions was the London Open held at the Docklands, where I took gold and my training partner took silver as I beat her in the final. This competition was just a practice for the main nationals that were being held in Sheffield where I ended up taking bronze. My first international competition was a junior world cup event in Venice, Italy where I took bronze.
“I really enjoy participating in open seminars and have had the opportunity to train under former world and European champions. In July, I have been invited to take part in a four day training camp with a former multiple world and European champion in Senigalia, Italy.
“Aside of my training and competing, I also assist in classes where I help teach the junior grades.”
Rebecca Salt (Year 10) Air Cadet (Bicester Squadron)
“Air Cadets is a great organisation that isn’t only about flying. There is a wide range of activities that young people can do. Not only can you fly in gliders, which is really exciting, but there are also chances of flying in other aircraft owned by the RAF. Air Cadets can take you anywhere, literally! Germany is just one country I have been to with the Air Cadets, as well as UK camps at weekends, where we have participated in activities such as rock-climbing. Cadets can also compete in competitions such as sports or play in the military band, progressing from a squadron level all the way to the national finals.
“You can also pursue activities that can help you when you are older, such as DofE, and even achieve GCSEs in Aviation Studies.”
“I am 15 years old and 6ft 4 inches. I am a left footed striker and I’ve played for my school, local club, Yeovil town FC and also Rotherham United. My aim in the future is to become a successful professional football player. I am a team player and can play positions from left wing, right wing and centre forward.”
“I played at Yeovil Town who are in the Football League 2 for six months. I enjoyed a successful time there. I played seven matches and in those games I scored six goals. I also got the opportunity to play numerous times with the U18 team and also got to train with the first team before their match against Carlisle.”
“I only got one game for Rotherham United as it was a trial match which was set up by my agent. Unluckily, I broke my foot in the first 10 minutes, but I have got another opportunity to show my talent as they have asked me to go back for another trial.”
Launton Boys (local club)
“I joined Launton boys two years ago. In that time, I’ve won the league and the district cup. I also got to the semi-finals of the County Cup. Last season I scored 38 goals in 21 matches.”
The Bicester School team
“I’ve played for the school team in every year I’ve been at The Bicester School. I love playing football with the school team because there is a large group of talented football players. We all get along, so it’s a good team spirit when we play together.”