Northgate Council – September Bulletin

Northgate Council – September Bulletin

We are pleased to introduce our September bulletin. In our bumper edition bulletin this month you will find out all sorts of information and updates including links to recent blogs, upcoming events, photos, merit and house competition updates. There’s news about our Year 7 transition days and Summer School, curriculum enhancement days, sports day and much more.

We hope that you are able to take some time to read our bulletin and enjoy seeing what we got up to at Northgate in July and August. Please share with your friends and family via our Facebook and twitter pages.

Miss Theobald (School Council Coordinator) + Northgate School Council.

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Brilliant Club Graduation

Brilliant Club Graduation

A small group of Year 9 students have been following the Brilliant Club course throughout this year, in partnership with John Innes Centre, UEA and University of Cambridge.

The project, which is delivered by The Scholars Programme, has allowed the students to develop their academic research and essay writing skills. It also encourages students to consider university as an option for the future. It involves tutorials with a PhD research student, writing a challenging final assignment, which is marked using university-style grading, and a visit to a university.

Blake, one of the Year 9s who took part in the programme, explains what the process was like, including the very special graduation day.

Our Study:

‘The Brilliant Club is an extracurricular activity in which students study a topic and write a university style thesis based on their research and several sessions spent with a tutor. This year, we were studying how the structure and morphology of the English landscape has changed since the mediaeval times. Over the course of 7 weeks, we studied social, environmental and economic factors of mediaeval life and the mediaeval landscape. We then compiled this information into an essay which was then marked by Tom, our tutor. I think the most challenging part of the Brilliant Club experience for me was compiling all of my knowledge into a formal essay. It was difficult because every single factor of SPAG, presentation and facts had to be correct to achieve maximum marks. I think it was a great learning experience, not only because it educates you on non-curricular ‘subjects’, but because it is a challenge, and challenges are what push you to try your hardest and perform your best.’

Graduation Day:

‘We arrived at Fitzwilliam College at around 1:30pm and got off the coach after a sweltering 2-hour journey. We were all very excited to be visiting and to celebrate our achievements and efforts. Fitzwilliam College is one of the 31 colleges that make up Cambridge University. When we were all ready and off the coach, we were let in and were around an hour early, so we took a wander through the entrance of Fitzwilliam. The day began at 2:30pm, and we were introduced to the three other schools that would be joining us at the graduation. We were given an overview of the Brilliant Club, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and the activities the day would contain. Some students of Fitzwilliam then did a Q+A and answered questions about the college, personal life, loans/paying for Cambridge and workload.

We then had a tour of Fitzwilliam and took in the amazing greenery and structures that the college had to offer. Then it was time for the Graduation Ceremony. School by school, we were all called up onto the stage and received our certificates and a big round of applause from everyone. It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad we got to celebrate our hard work!’

Well done to everyone who took part in the programme, completing this alongside their normal school lessons and homework, in particular to Isma-Daisy who gained a 1st and Blake and Dominic who gained a 2.1.


Teams take on the Primary Maths Challenge

Teams take on the Primary Maths Challenge

On Tuesday 12th July, Northgate played host to pupils from Toftwood Junior, Garvestone Primary, Thomas Bullock, Dereham Church of England Junior Academy and Scarning Primary for a Primary Maths Challenge. It was the first time since 2019 that the event was able to go ahead, so it was great to have some enthusiastic and competitive mathematicians, ready to take on the challenge. Teams were made up of 4 Year 5 pupils who faced 3 rounds of competition before the winners were announced.

As pupils arrived they started on the warm-up questions to get their brains in gear ready for the competition. Mrs Smith, Head of Maths, welcomed everyone and explained the plan for the morning before handing over to Miss Theobald for instructions of the first round. This was the Group Round – pupils faced 10 problems in 30 minutes and could choose their strategy – all work on the same question at once or split the team to tackle more questions at a time. There were some tough questions here that made pupils think and dig deep into their mathematical knowledge. It was great to hear the conversations and discussions about the questions. There was some excellent team work on display and good mathematical language being used. 

Next up Mrs Smith introduced the Logic Round – 50 points were up for grabs here. Information about 5 families was given and pupils had to sort this and identify where information went in a grid. This was a popular round and a successful one for a number of the teams who scored full marks. Then it was time for a quick break and a chance to re-group and get ready for the final round. The scores were close so it was all to play for. At this point, in 3rd place was Toftwood, 2nd place was Dereham Juniors and 1st place was Thomas Bullock.

The final round was the Relay Round – pupils were split into pairs within their teams and sat in different part of the room. Teachers were at the head of the room. Pair A had to run to the teacher to get their question – they had two chances to answer it correctly, running back to the teacher to check. If it was correct they were given the next question for pair B and had to take it to them. This continued with both pairs facing up to 10 questions each in the allotted time. This round was very frantic with pairs running to and fro, checking their answers and gaining those valuable points. It was clear for most that this was their favourite round – there was lots of encouragement and cheering of team mates.

Year 8 Maths Ambassadors, Kyra, Mia and Keisha, who had been helping with the proceedings and marking the rounds throughout the morning, gathered the final answer sheets and scores were checked. Before the results were revealed, there was a fiercely competitive game of fizz buzz, with Holly from Toftwood Juniors being the ultimate champion! Mrs Smith then had the great pleasure to announce the results. In joint 2nd place – Thomas Bullock and Toftwood Junior and then it came to announce the winner. Just 4 points ahead and winners of the Northgate Primary Team Maths Challenge – Dereham Church of England Junior Academy. A jubilant team received their medals and trophy and posed for a winner’s photo.


Miss Theobald and Mrs Smith said of the day, ‘It was great to have pupils from our local primary schools back at Northgate to take part in the Primary Team Maths Challenge. All the teams impressed us with their confidence and determination throughout the rounds. We look forward to welcoming them back to Northgate’s open evening in September.’

A big thank you to everyone who helped make the event a huge success, to the primary school teachers, pupils, Maths ambassadors, Mr Logan, Mr MacDonald and Mr Lound for chauffeuring students to and from Northgate, Mr Lane for setting up the sportshall and Alan in Café North for the yummy snacks!


Science show back with a Big Bang

Science show back with a Big Bang

The Big Bang Fair was back for 2022 – we were excited to take a coach load of Year 8 and 9 students to the NEC in Birmingham to join the UK’s biggest celebration of STEM for young people. The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair was full of exciting, interactive activities designed specifically for 11 to 14 year olds in mind, to provide the best careers inspiration, advice and opportunities to meet with real scientists and engineers.

Some of our trip goers and Science enthusiasts wrote about the day:

First up, Nathan H in Year 9. ‘I found the trip to the NEC very interesting because I found out some interesting facts about certain jobs people are doing. While I was at the NEC I saw some interesting apprenticeship/career paths to do with STEM subjects.’

‘At the NEC there were all sorts of big companies such as Specsavers, Network Rail, National Highways, Royal Air Force and NHS. Every stand I went to I learnt more and more about how science is involved in their jobs.’

‘Most of the stands had interactive tasks and challenges to do. We built bridges for National Highways, took a reaction eye test with Specsavers and did some Scratch Coding amongst other things. There were also MAN trucks, an ambulance, a military double decker bus and a National Highways car that you could get in and have a look around, even turning the emergency lights on.’

‘I am glad that I had this opportunity to go to the NEC and to see the interesting Science fair which taught me quite a lot about how much science is behind jobs’.

Kyra, Year 8, said ‘t was a very exciting experience for me. Everybody was so passionate and engaged in teaching people about the new technologies that have been created in our world, to not only help us economically and environmentally, but general simplicity in our day to day lives. The arena was absolutely filled with fun activities and events. There were so many prizes and stickers that we got to collect as souvenirs. We even got some thermal camera pictures of us to take home. The opportunities and resources on offer were very inspiring. There were many apprenticeships to look into in engineering, biology, hospitality, renewable energy, technology and more. My favourite part was getting to speak with large companies (such as Network Rail) and business owners who were invested into making a sustainability change by even just switching energy sources, or planting trees. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I would love to do it again!’

Chris, Year 9, said, ‘I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity  to see uses of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) in the modern day world. The activities were highly engaging and interactive. These activities consisted of, shooting a nerf gun through a board at someone to represent radiation travelling through different elements, making your own railway track from a marker pen where a small robot would then travel across it, building your own Lego creation to be displayed amongst all the others and many, many more! Jack and I were even interviewed about our experience at the big bang fair and why we would recommend it to others. Despite how long it took to get there, what we got to experience was 100% worth it!’

Green Influencers venture to Gressenhall

Green Influencers venture to Gressenhall

Northgate’s Green Influencers have been meeting since January, with Alex Day (project mentor), Ben Earle (from Gressenhall Environment Hub) and Miss Theobald. After securing a grant of over £5000 to develop outside spaces at school to be more environmentally friendly, increase biodiversity and attract pollinators, it was time to take a trip to Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse to see how they are putting some of these ideas into practice and to gather more ideas and advice.

The day started with a really informative session with Gemma Walker from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. She came to the wildflower area and no mow area the students have set up on the far side of the field to help identify some of the plants and grasses that have already established. We just looked at the ‘no mow’ area and at first glance it just looked like there were a few different grasses and a couple of flowers. On closer inspection, students managed to find over 17 different species. Gemma, enthusiastically named the plants and flowers, giving everyone an insight into where the name had come from. There was so much to learn!

It was then time to head to Gressenhall, however rather than taking the minibus, the group walked. Most of the journey was via a public footpath which took in the Wendling Beck Environment project, which had been discussed in a number of the sessions in school. Some of the goals and objectives of the project (taken from include:

Allowing nature to thrive: Create the right conditions and reintroduce species that have declined and disappeared through time, then trust nature to do what nature does.

Bringing Back Wildlife: Create and restore habitats to support native and historical species.

Ensuring wellbeing: Help reconnect nature back to society and allow people to experience a wilder landscape and become closer to nature.

Building resilience for the future: Support nature-driven processes, at scale. Allow nature to heal biodiversity, water and soil and help reverse biodiversity loss and limit climate change.

Walking along the route gave students the opportunity to see how the land was being used, from woodland to heathland, wildflower meadows and woods. It was a long, but interesting walk, seeing lots of different species of plants.

When the group arrived at Gressenhall, they were greeted by Rachel Kidd, Curator of Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse. She gave a whistlestop tour of the workhouse, pointing out various different ways they have managed to get information across to visitors, including signage, descriptions next to exhibits, projectors and videos, hands on elements and more. This was to give students an idea as to how they can document the Green Influencer project work – with the potential to use some of the gallery space at Gressenhall. Students videoed aspects of the day on tablets with the view to editing it all together.

Before lunch, there was time to go on a tractor ride round Gressenhall Farm. This gave a unique opportunity to see what Gressenhall are doing on their grounds. It turns out, they planted a wildflower meadow a few weeks before we did at school. Theirs looks much more established, so we are hoping ours will go that way too. There was also the chance to do some bug and insect sweeping in one of the wildflower meadows. Sweeping white nets gently across the flowers and grasses, we were able to see some of the bugs and insects that had been attracted to the area. We hope the wildflower meadow at Northgate will have the same impact and increase the biodiversity of the school site. It was an interesting experiment to carry out and there were also plenty of bees and butterflies to sport amongst the flowers.

After lunch, students ventured down to the tree nursery. Run by the project manager, Emma, and supported by tree officers, the aim is to help with all stages of growing trees from collecting seeds and processing them, to taking cuttings, planting saplings and preparing the grown trees. The trees, once a certain age or height will then be sold locally to those who want to plant trees, whether this be in their own gardens or for community projects. There is a target in Norfolk to grow and establish one million trees over the next few years and this is going some way to help with this target. They are also trialling some new tree guards made from cardboard, some from biodegradable plastic and some from sheep’s wool. It was great to see them thinking about the environmental impact as well with their project. The Green Influencers got to work, split into three groups. The first group were preparing raised beds ready for compost and seeds, with card and then lining. The second group got involved in watering the many raised beds, with sweet chestnut, horse chestnut and sycamore trees already growing in them. The trees will grow for 1-2 years in the nursery, depending on their type, before leaving the nursery. The final group were preparing small planting crates and were planting Scots pine, alder and elder cuttings. They rotated around all three tasks and before we knew it, it was time to leave.

A brisk walk back to Northgate (in the heat) finished off the day. There was plenty of time to chat a long the route about what we had seen and done and definitely a lot of inspiration for the projects on the school site moving forward.

Rebecca said, ‘I learnt not to water the leaves of plants because they can burn the leaves when it is hot. I really enjoyed riding in the tractor and looking at the different trees.’

Kyra said, ‘It was a great learning experience. I loved learning about how I can help prevent destruction of habitats and plants.’

Bryn said, ‘I liked the tractor ride because I was able to see lots of things that Gressenhall is doing to help the environment.’

A big thank you to everyone at Gressenhall who were so accommodating and helpful.

You can see plenty more photos of the activities on the trip below.


George’s Norfolk Show Success

George’s Norfolk Show Success

We have students with hidden talents or unusual interests outside of school – it’s always great to hear about them. George, Year 7, is a young farmer. He exhibited some of his cows at the Royal Norfolk Show recently. We are proud to hear that he came away with prizes too. He came 2nd in beef young handlers category and 1st in the diary young handlers category. His dairy calf was also awarded 1st place – well done!

George has taken the time to tell us a bit about his farming background. ‘My name is George. My family and I are first generation livestock farmers. On the farm, we have Beef Shorthorn cattle and Southdown sheep. We chose these breeds because they both originate from the UK. We run them as pedigrees and commercially (for meat). Altogether we have 40 cattle, 60 sheep and one donkey. We see pedigrees for breeding and the ones that don’t have the characteristics for breeding go into meat boxes which we sell direct to customers. We also set up a catering stand, where we sell lamb and beef burgers.’

‘During the pandemic, farming never stopped – feeding the animals, checking on them and attending to them. For us, the pandemic didn’t change anything, although the roads were a lot quieter! The only thing that I thought was good about the pandemic was that I could spend more time with the animals. Every day I learn something new! My whole family enjoy every aspect of farming, the ups and the downs. My best/favourite time of the year is March because it is lambing and calving season. Farming is always very busy and long hours and it is not a 9 til 5 job. It is all worth it in the end though!’