ERASMUS visit to Dortmund

Back in November a group of Year 7-10 students took part in the Erasmus programme called Humans First. The aim of the programme was to look at sustainability and in particular, renewable energy, whilst working with students in Spain, Italy and Germany. You can read about the experience here: ERASMUS ‘Humans First’ – a project on Sustainability and Renewable Energy | Northgate High School. This project was held online and whilst it was a really valuable experience, it was not the same as doing it in person.

In April, however, some of the team had the opportunity to travel to Dortmund, with Miss Brooks and Miss Lynn to work with some of the students again (from Italy, Germany and Spain).

Here, we have a day by day account of what they all got up to, with contributions from a few of the team.


Day One 

Travelling is tiring!

Minibus to Stansted then a flight to Cologne. Finally, a train journey to Dortmund. 11 hours in total, after a delayed plane and waiting for the train!

The youth hostel is way better than some of us thought! They prepared a meal for us, even though we were an hour late.

Miss Brooks brought dessert to our rooms!!

Tomorrow we will meet the other students from Italy, Germany and Spain.

Just off the plane, waiting for a train in Cologne to take us to Dortmund.

A mural we saw on our daily walk to the school – there are lots of things like this in the area.

The community football pitch and surrounding houses which are decorated with Dortmund football players.

Day Two 

Early start with breakfast then walk to School.

We were introduced to the teachers and then the project. The Ruhr area was dominated by coal mining. Also steel manufacturing.

We formed groups to research different topics including: miner’s housing, environment damage, renaturalisation of industrial areas, immigration to the Ruhr area, formation of coal and more!

(Each group has a mix of students from each of the four countries: 1 English student, 1 German student, 1 Spanish student and 2 Italian students)

After lunch we walked to the underground station to get the train to Phoenix Park. It was an area once used for steel manufacturing; now it is a large lake and grassed area where people walk their dogs and cyclists and walkers enjoy the path round the lake. Surrounding the lake are very expensive houses; many footballers and managers like Jurgen Klopp have property there.

We were all very tired and glad we got a train back to our hotel that evening!


Day Three 

After breakfast, all the students and teachers met up outside the hostel and we walked to Leopold Strasse to meet our tour guide, Martin; he took us round Leopold to see all the art and graffiti on the walls. Along the way, he talked to us about the particular locations of the city!

During the tour, we saw a playground which previously wasn’t a safe place for children until a super team of unemployed adults were given jobs to look after the area! Their jobs included cutting grass, supervising, removing litter and just keeping the place safe for young children.

Later, we arrived at blocks of flats that had been decorated and had Dortmund football team players painted on. There was also a community football pitch built. Around midway through our guided adventure, we stopped at a Turkish food shop. They were nice enough to let us try some of their bread and baklava which was really good!

After an hour, we left the school to return to the hostel to complete any work or catch up with our families!

Day Four

We had a very early start today!

We got a train and a bus to the Hydrogen Research Centre. On one side of the road was the remains of an old coal mine and the other side had the new Hydrogen lab!

We split into two groups and had a lecture about the production and use of hydrogen and how this can be applied to scenarios in the future. We also learnt about fuel cells and how hydrogen is stored in a compressed canister.

We went on a tour to see how wind energy is used to create the hydrogen (taken from water) and stored.

They are also looking into using magnesium as a way of storing heat that can be used when solar energy is not available. They have an electric car that creates electricity through the hydrogen fuel cell. Some of us got to have a ride in it!

Later, we completed an experiment with distilled water. We separated the hydrogen from the oxygen, collected it in a container then used the hydrogen we produced to power cars.

We had some time off in the afternoon before all of the students and teachers went bowling!

The Hydrogen powered car.

Experiment at the Hydrogen Research Centre – to create a hydrogen powered model car.

Day Five

Thursday started at school working on our presentations and Kahoot quizzes.

After lunch we headed to a training mine; this was made underneath the coal spoil heap.

We got to experience some of the smells and noise that the coal miners had to work with. The conveyors and cutting machines were very loud!

We had to wear white cotton jackets, this is so others could see us and because cotton does not create friction. Friction is very dangerous as coal mining produces methane which will burn.

Day Six

Friday! Today we had a short time to refine our presentations and then we went to 2 different English classes to present our work and involve the students in our Kahoot Quiz. The first time we were nervous but we settled in and gave incredible presentations!

The school in Dortmund is a digital school and each student has an iPad so it made playing the quiz easier.

After our time at the school, we went for lunch at the hostel then had time to pack, explore and shop!!!

In the evening we went back to school for a barbeque. As it was still Ramadan we all waited until 9pm so we could all eat together.

We all had a great week and it was such an amazing experience! We are all incredibly grateful for the opportunity and have made friends for life!

Our students before going down the mine – they had to wear white coats and hard hats.

In the training mine.

Students travel to Sweden for Earth Summit

At the end of March, after a two year wait, our Earth Summit Team finally had the opportunity to head to Sweden and meet up with the schools they’d previously met virtually.

Milo, Year 10, is one of the team and he’s written about his experience.

After what felt like a lifetime in lockdown, it really felt nice to get out and be part of a group and try to help save the world. More than anything, I would love to highlight how welcoming and inclusive everyone was. Saving the world, or having any impact is practically impossible to do on your own or in a group of people you can’t work with. However, having a group of people that all have the same goal and are passionate about the same thing made it a really fun experience. We learned about the ‘4Fs’ whilst we were there from a lady in America through a zoom call. They were friends, fun, food and free. It shocked me how true this was. If we really want to make a difference then you need to be happy and have fun, to have friends and people to talk to, to have food because food just makes everything better, and for everything to be free both price wise and how any opinion is not wrong.

Even though being separated from your friends for the day may seem scary, I was also really excited to meet these new people in real life and not just a zoom call. I learned so much whilst I was there, as environmental science is something that I am very interested in. Northgate has done so much towards promoting how precious our planet really is, and being with other schools who had different ideas inspired all of us. We can use these ideas and put them to use at Northgate. That sense of working together and learning was what the Earth Summit was all about, and it worked. For example, the idea about doing an environmental survey about what other students at Northgate feel about what we do as a school was an idea from one of the other schools. The results we got were honestly really interesting, and helped us know what we had to do as a next step. That’s another thing the Earth Summit was about, it acted as a stepping stone or a battery to boost our ideas.

Interesting looking rooms in the science centre where different activities took place

The 3 days were full of different activities, all based around the theme of sustainability. We went to the science centre in Malmö and were split into 6 groups. The gulf stream, food, mining, questions about sustainability and what we can do, coding, history of the planet. These were the 6 activities at the science centre. We had a science show, where we had reactions with liquid nitrogen and a dancing robot appeared! There was also this fantastic sustainability-based wall activity, where we had to get the correct balance between too much carbon dioxide and too little. This was really fun and engaging. On the next day, everyone went to different places including: the botanic gardens, the recycling centre and a trip to Lund University. I went to the university, where we interviewed a selection of masters in sustainability science. For example, we learned that one of them went to a greenhouse and used the carbon dioxide produced from fermentation as carbon dioxide for the greenhouse.

On the final day, we had our presentation of everything we’ve done at school and anything we learned over the last few days. We received positive feedback from the guests from Lund University.

Lastly, Sweden is a really nice country with incredible architecture. We also walked through Lund, which was amazing.

A plastic sculpture in Copenhagen

Inside the cathedral in Lund

I am really proud of the Earth Summit Team and how we have brought our ideas together and I believe it is a very positive thing. Everyone was welcoming and very kind. It was an impeccable experience.

Freya, Year 11, also attended and said, ‘We learnt how different schools combat different issues to do with climate change and sustainability. I went to the recycling centre and I learnt how much waste we produce and annually (the statistics were horrific) then we got a tour of the site and they had built a man-made island attached to the site for extra room. We all learnt a lot, overall the experience was amazing and I left feeling inspired and motivated to charge ahead with our green projects!’



Everest Author visits Northgate

Everest Author visits Northgate

We were delighted to have successfully won a competition to host a day visit by intrepid Everest mountaineer, filmmaker and author Matt Dickinson.

Mrs Gill, Head Librarian, said, ‘Year 10 were given an informative and engaging insight into the dangers and euphoria of climbing such a perilous mountain accompanied by slides and footage from one of Matt’s expeditions. The presentation was ideally timed to link with their current AQA English GCSE non-fiction comparison text which contains an extract from his book, The Death Zone.’

‘Later Year 7s enjoyed a similar talk provoking a multitude of interesting questions relating to the climbing conditions, ecological impact and career opportunities as a writer/author. A creative writing workshop was also included for many of our Eco teams, proving that Northgate has an abundance of talented authors and were highly commended by Matt who was astounded at the level of work produced- along with myself and Miss Theobald!’

All of Matt’s books are available to borrow from the school library – although there may be a waiting list as they are proving very popular!

The competition was organised through our upcoming new Library Management System, Accessit – more details to follow shortly about this exciting move and added benefits to our school community.

Miss Theobald had the chance to step out of the Maths classroom and attend the workshop. She commented, ‘Members of the Environment Team, Earth Summit Team and Green Influencers were invited to a special workshop hosted by Matt. Some students were set a challenging task – creating a short story which had a different emotion for each part, the start, middle and end. The only element they needed to include was a high mountain environment and being lost in a storm. Students were completely engrossed in their writing, making use of dialogue, flashbacks and several literary devices, suggested by Matt. Mrs Gill and myself were on hand to hear some of the amazing pieces, as students read them out. We have some incredibly talented writers at Northgate, which can be seen from their pieces below.’

The remaining students were given the challenge of completing the sentence ‘If I went to Everest, the thing I would miss the most is …’. There were all sorts of ideas given and again, Matt was extremely impressed with their writing skills and use of language to convey what they wanted to the reader. He gave constructive feedback, tips and advice on how pieces could be improved even further.

The final task was an environmental one. Matt displayed a shocking photo of Mount Everest with a huge pile of plastic waste that had been left behind. The challenge was to create a short, snappy piece of writing (less than 50 words) to go on a poster to compel and persuade climbers and trekkers to stop leaving their litter on Everest. Our writers found this particular task more challenging than the first due to having to be concise with their words.

Matt ended by explaining that even if you are not a confident writer, you can become a better writer. The key is good, powerful descriptions and never think that your world is boring.

A truly inspiring workshop – a big thank you to Matt for working with our students.


Seren was one of the lucky students who attended the workshop and has written about her experience.

‘The author visit was really inspiring, because we got to meet someone who had been up Everest, taken pictures, and written about it! We got an opportunity to get tips from an author and we got to write a creative writing piece to share with him. We later got to create a poster, and Matt Dickinson gave us advice on how to make our writing on it appealing to the reader, as well as making them listen to the poster. We were shown a picture of a mound of rubbish on the mountain, which inspired lots of us to create our posters about the litter, as well as making us think about how to make it really effective. It was a fun visit, and we definitely learned a lot of new writing techniques, as well as being inspired to create more excellent pieces of writing. He gave us lots of advice on how to write a good story and has encouraged us to form more texts, posters and stories about things that are important to us or about Climate Change. It was a very fun and inspirational author visit.’

Below you can read the amazing short stories by some of our Year 8 and 10 students.



Northgate triumph in Institution of Engineering and Technology Faraday Challenge

Northgate triumph in Institution of Engineering and Technology Faraday Challenge

On Thursday 5th May, a strong team of Year 8 students (Amilie, Wyn, Esme, Kyra, Seren and Oscar) participated in an IET Faraday Challenge Day, hosted by Neatherd High School.

There were 4 schools from around Norfolk competing in the challenge. They arrived, eagerly anticipating what their challenge would be. Each team was given an outline of the task and then had to design, develop and construct a working prototype followed with a presentation.

All the teams throughout the challenge were exceptionally good and we are extremely pleased to announce that Northgate came out as the overall winners!

Congratulations to the whole team as they worked extremely hard and are a credit to our school.

Seren, one of the team members said of the day, ‘The STEM competition was really fun and exciting. We were given a task, which was to create something which could distract unwell or scared children from the things going on around them. We all instantly agreed on the idea of a sensory board, and so we began to build on and develop that idea. We tried to make it as accessible and as inclusive as we could! We were given ‘money’ to spend in the shop, and so we had an accountant, a project manager, someone in charge of the paperwork, and others who built our sensory board. Together, we managed to create a sensory board, which fitted the criteria and was what we had designed it to be. It was a really good experience, and was amazing to win.

Esme also enjoyed taking part in the challenge, learning new skills along the way. She commented, ‘At first, I was really nervous and stressed out about the actual making of our project. It had only just begun and we already knew what we wanted to make, but making that was really difficult. We had to make our own circuits, which I had never done before, and it wasn’t easy.’

‘Our project was all about helping children in hospital, and how to improve their stay on the ward. We came up with the idea of a sensory board, to help keep children calm and able to concentrate on that, rather than the scary things they might be going through in the hospital. We thought it was important that our invention was accessible to everyone. It included brail, lights, sound and many other features. Overall, this was an amazing experience and I enjoyed it so much. The day was really fun and it was even more fun when we won the competition!’




Kyra was a keen member of the team and said of the experience, ‘For the Faraday Challenge, not only did we need to work as a cohesive team but we also needed to come up with a design that no engineer had ever seen before. Although we didn’t have all the components to create our full creative design we managed to create a bright and colourful prototype of our sensory board. Initially, we all came up with different aspects of the project but in the end, we combined our ideas of bright LEDs, a calming buzzing sound and a cheerful nature design with flowers and bees. The actual shape of the board was a honeycomb fragment to give it a more engaging and appealing aesthetic but also to follow our theme. The biggest contributor to our winning score was our organisation of recording our development of the sensory board and we even got the first full score on paperwork in the history of the competition! We were only one point away from getting to the finals in Liverpool where the Alder Hay Hospital was constructed with the design of a small group of school children like ourselves. Working with IET for their Faraday Challenge was a truly inspiring experience and has made me really interested in engineering.’

Environmental themed Art Competition – Winners announced!

The Earth summit team set Northgate and Dereham Sixth Form students an environment and climate change themed art competition earlier in the year. We were delighted to receive some lovely submissions with all sorts of inspiration behind them.

It was very tough for Miss Theobald and Mrs Mottley to whittle down the entries to the top four, with Mrs Galley having the difficult task of announcing the winner, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. Congratulations to all those who entered.

Winner: Amelie C (Year 9)

2nd Place: Dana H (Year 7)

3rd Place: Kyra T (Year 8)

4th Place: Bella B (Year 9)

Here are some of the amazing entries:

Pictured are the winner, Amelie (left) and 2nd place, Dana (right) with their submissions.

Breckland Councillors receive special recycled plastic plaque

Breckland Councillors receive special recycled plastic plaque

In July 2021 Northgate High School were awarded a £10,000 Breckland grant to purchase a plastic recycling machine. Breckland Council Leader, Sam Chapman-Allen, Ian Sherwood, Member Champion for Breckland Sustainable Strategy and Councillor Hilary Bushell recently visited Northgate to see the machine in action.

Year 8 students, Amilie, Esme and Kyra were on hand to demonstrate how the machine works – shredding plastic, such as milk bottles and yoghurt pots into plastic shavings and then melting into plastic sheets. These sheets are being used in various Design Technology projects by students and this is allowing the Design department to promote the recycling and reusing message.

Mr Mottley, who is in charge of Design Technology commented, ‘We are asking pupils and staff to bring in various types of plastics like milk bottles to recycle in our plastic shredder/sheet maker. In lessons, students will be able to shred the plastic and make new reusable plastic to make products like bird houses, speaker casings and clocks. We want our department to be as sustainable and carbon neutral as possible and recycling plastic is a fantastic way to achieve this goal.’  A group of committed students regularly sort and process the items, with support from the Technology Department.

Kyra, who has been involved with the scheme said, ‘Having the opportunity to help the environment is always fulfilling. One of the many great environmental benefits of our plastic recycling machine is that we are doing three helpful things without taking much extra effort. Firstly, we are reducing waste, secondly, we can make new items to be used around school and finally we are saving money by using recycled plastic sheets in our Design Technology lessons. Recycling plastic is also a great way to get involved in practising with machinery and learning to manufacture a flexible material.’ 

Esme, also Year 8, who is part of the School Environment Team commented, ‘Having the plastic machine is really great, we can reuse all the old plastic we don’t need and make really cool projects using the bright coloured plastic. Talking to the councillors was exciting as we got to share our progress and what we have accomplished using the machine. We demonstrated the machine and what we can make using the shredded plastic. Hopefully in the near future they can come back and see just how much we have done and how hard we have worked to save our environment.’

The Councillors were presented with a special plaque, featuring the town’s deer head, made from recycled plastic.