During the Long October Exeat, eight of Oundle’s Upper Sixth form Germanists, along with Frau Davidson and Herr Röhrborn, embarked on an educational and thoroughly enjoyable study trip to Germany and the Czech Republic.
Divided into three clear sections, the visit began with a two-night stay in Prague, which centred around the famous writer Franz Kafka and included an afternoon’s treasure hunting, looking for all the houses, museums and other locations with which he had an affiliation during his lifetime. The group enjoyed a meal with Professor Weinberg from Charles University, which gave them the opportunity to learn and speak about Kafka in German.
Upper Sixth Form pupil, Matthew Gibson (17) commented, “Although short, this section of the trip was very rewarding in more ways than one, with plenty of opportunities to sample the local cuisine!”
The next leg of the trip had pupils meeting and speaking to German Upper Sixth Form pupils at Schulpforte, a state boarding school with architecture akin to Oundle’s, tucked away in the beautiful countryside near to the city of Weimar.
Matthew added, “Staying with these pupils in their houses gave us plenty of time to compare our respective educations; we were all shocked to learn that German pupils have to take more than ten subjects at A-Level!”
As well as meeting new people, and spending some time looking around Weimar, the home of Goethe and Schiller, the party were given a tour of the Bauhaus Museum and visited Leipzig, where they traced the footsteps of the peaceful revolution of 1989 which led to a reunified Germany.
The final part of the trip was spent in Berlin, with a visit to the house of Bertolt Brecht, a German playwright of the 20th century, being the intellectual highlight. Having also gone to see an improvised play using Brechtian techniques, the theme for this last leg of the journey was set, in direct correlation to pupils’ studies of Brecht’s play The Good Person of Szechuan in class for their forthcoming Pre-U exam. As well as more tourist-like viewing of the Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Memorial, pupils took further opportunities to improve their German speaking skills with hour-long sessions with a criminologist and former Youth-Crime Commissioner, Greenpeace Berlin and two politicians, during a visit to the Berlin State Parliament Building – the Abgeoordetenhaus. They also spent four hours with a Turkish-German guide investigating the current and controversial theme of Immigration in Kreuzberg, a multi-cultural area of Berlin, which included visiting a mosque and having a Turkish lunch.
Matthew concluded, “All in all, our trip was well balanced between work and leisure, and resulted in fond memories and fun the likes of which will be difficult to forget!”
Head of Modern Languages. Sara Davidson commented, “Language pupils need to be inspired and motivated by direct contact with the culture that they are studying. Language immersion trips are a fantastic way of bringing a language to life and giving pupils a chance to practice in a less structured and free environment where language is acquired more through necessity and pupil interest. Internationalism is important to Oundle; today’s pupils will be competing for jobs in a highly competitive and global world. Our aim is not only to be at the cutting edge of teaching and learning, but ultimately to enable Oundelians to learn and appreciate any language of their choosing.”
Background information on Oundle’s Adamson Centre
The opening of Oundle School’s Adamson Centre in 2013 marked a new and exciting phase for the Modern Languages Department and is the latest completed project in Oundle’s comprehensive and ongoing development plan. A stunning blend of traditional architecture and contemporary glass features, the Adamson Centre, formerly the Sir Peter Scott Building, has been redesigned specifically with the teaching of foreign languages in mind. In addition to welcoming over 900 pupils a week, the Centre will also provide a hub of excellence within the wider community of teaching, with staff hosting conferences and lectures to promote the development of languages.
The Modern Foreign Languages Department is one of the largest in the School, with seven languages being timetabled: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. More pupils than ever are learning two or more languages, with many more taking advantage of the breadth of clubs, societies and lectures on offer outside the curriculum. A Level and Pre-U results continue to rise; last summer saw pupils gain 45 A* and A grades at A2, with 20 Oundelians going on to read one or more languages at university.
The building is named after major benefactor and former pupil David Frederic Dobell Adamson who left the School in 1937. He requested that “this bequest be used to improve facilities for and give opportunities to students to learn to speak and communicate in foreign languages.”
The Adamson Centre facilities include:
• 14 Teaching Rooms: Each classroom focuses on a single language and culture and is equipped with high quality audio speakers, an interactive whiteboard and projector.
• 2 Sony Language Laboratories: Two dedicated PC suites combine all the features of a traditional laboratory with the latest multimedia technology, including Sony Virtuoso language software.
• 6 Language Assistant Pods: Fully equipped with touch screen computers, these modern glass fronted rooms are designated specifically for conversation classes and oral examinations.
• The Raymond Lee International Suite: The centre-piece and ‘hub’ of the Department, this Suite provides a perfect venue for language conferences, films, lectures from visiting speakers and competitions. It is equipped with the latest Skype technology, blu-ray cinema system, projector and blackout blinds.
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion due to open April 2015.
There are currently 1110 pupils are on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11.