International Women’s Day March 8th

Growing up in the UK I was never bothered about International Women’s Day. It was only when I lived in South Italy in my early 20s that I ever even heard about it; and even then it didn’t really feel right, we were living in the EU where laws made sexual discrimination illegal. On a positive note, in South Italy in the early 00’s, it allowed women to spend an evening socialising together in the bars and restaurants when often they usually weren’t allowed out without a man, often a brother, accompanying them.

This caught my eye on the BBC today: the surfer who wasn’t pretty enough to get a sponsor. This wasn’t new to me: women being treated differently based on their aesthetic beauty. I wonder if it is the same for men? I have known intelligent female engineers who are treated rudely by their male colleagues who are all niceties and smiles to attractive women in Human Resource jobs or the like.

Do young people feel that girls and boys are both unfairly treated based on looks; or is it more of a problem for the female gender?



How timely: BBC report on secrets of British pilgrimage sites

Not quiet as freaky as mentioning that it’s unbelievable that Nelson Mandela is still alive, and the next day he dies, but check out the BBC article on British pilgrimages just when our Year 9 students are starting their homework project on… British pilgrimages!

There’s an interesting map where you can click on specific pilgrimages and see how they hide interesting histories. Then little videos show how in places like Lincoln there was a child’s murder and in Walsingham in Norfolk thousands of pilgrims still visit today.

Not sure I could manage St Oswald’s Way in one go; though maybe the D of E students in Year 9 might be able to do that?




Saudi Arabia – pilgrimage destination

In a couple of weeks Year 9 students will be studying about Hajj; the Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia which all Muslims hope to achieve at least once in their lifetime as part of the 5 Pillars. We also mention Saudi Arabia a couple of times in our GCSE classes when we talk about homosexuality, human rights, non-secular governments, women’s equality, capital punishment and prisons. So I thought it was time we had an in-depth study point here on our WordPress.

Here is where Saudi Arabia is located in the world:


Meanwhile this maps shows some of the important cities in Saudi Arabia:


On the Lonely Planet travel website it says its an amazing and beautiful country but incredibly difficult to get in to. Weather wise in November –March there are cooler temperatures make daytime weather bearable and nights surprisingly chilly. Whereas from April –October the daily temperatures are above 40°C and there is high humidity along the coast. This is when the month of Ramadan will fall which shows how tough it must be for Muslims to fast. All year round the Red Sea has excellent diving visibility but in the summer mornings dives are best.

Climatograph arabian leopard

Last week the British Prime Minister was making proud comments about the UK selling huge amounts of BAE defence equipment to Saudi Arabia on the same day that the EU Parliament voted for an arms embargo on the country. Embarrassing! Embargo means an official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular country. The reason the EU aren’t happy with the Saudis is their bombing of the Yemen, which is just to the south of the country. Why the Saudis are bombing the Yemen goes back to the divide which Year 8 students learnt about within Islam: the Sunni and Shia denominations. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni Muslim country whereas the Yemen has just been taken over by a Shia group called Houthi rebels. Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies believe that Iran (Shia) is behind what’s happening in the Yemen and so want to stop the rebels taking power and control.

That was all hitting the news last week and bubbling along without many people noticing but today there’s been more headlines created by Saudi Arabia. A Saudi man has been found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for proclaiming his atheism on social media. I think what has been most offensive to the Muslim government in Saudi Arabia has been his criticism of the prophets and Qur’an; unforgivable in Saudi law. If you are an atheist in Saudi Arabia you are seen as a terrorist as their law defines terrorism as “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based”.



Sport Relief 2016

It’s not a religious charity so isn’t very useful for us in our GCSE answers about charities which help community cohesion. Neither is it useful for Year 8 students who’ve learnt the Unit on Wealth and Poverty. However, it’s always interesting from a Humanities perspective when you learn about what a charity does and why. Our school will be raising money for Sport Relief a bit after the main event takes place so it coincides with the last day of term before the Easter holidays: Thursday 24th March.

sports relief

This year I first heard about Sport Relief when listening to Radio 1 on the way home and the DJ Greg James’ attempt at doing five triathlons over five days. His radio show for the whole week travelled around Britain following his sporting endeavours and played some interesting clips about where the money from Sports Relief goes.

You can read and watch clips of Gregathlon on the BBC pages, or watch a special iPlayer documentary about his Sport Relief efforts.

On TV there is also the Great Sport Relief Bake Off which you can watch that not only shows the comedy efforts of celebrities trying to cook but also has a clip part way through about parts of the world where poverty and war leave people needing the help of the more fortunate. On the Sport Relief website there is an interesting page which explains where your money goes and has real stories of individuals who Sport Relief has helped in the past.

So when it comes to the 24th March make sure you’ve got lots of sponsors for our mile run around the school field and get ready to bust some moves in the aerobics dance-off!



Joint Enterprise wrongly interpreted says Supreme Court

In a recent PSHE presentation at school, Year 9 students listened to an ex-prisoner describe the boredom he experienced whilst enduring a custodial sentence (in prison) for murder. At some stage the presenter described the law of joint enterprise, and explained to the students how dangerous this law was for people especially if they were parts of gangs.

So what is joint enterprise? 

Under the doctrine of joint enterprise, a person who assists or encourages the committing of a crime can be held as legally responsible as the person who actually carries it out.

In cases of murder, an individual can be convicted of murder if they foresaw that the person they were with would “possibly” kill or inflict serious harm.

In RS GCSE when we look at Section 4 Crime and Punishment in Unit 8, and in the History GCSE, we learn the case of Derek Bentley who was hanged for murder in 1953 even though he’d not fired the shot which killed Pc Miles. Bentley had been sentenced to death on 11 December for killing Pc Miles during a bungled break-in at a warehouse in Croydon, Surrey. The court was told his co-defendant, Christopher Craig, fired the fatal shot but because he was still a juvenile in the eyes of the law he escaped the death sentence and was ordered to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

supreme court

Well today the Supreme Court has stated that it was not right that someone could be convicted of murder if they merely foresaw that the person they were with might commit a crime. They have emphasised that they had to intend to help carry out, or encourage, the crime that actually resulted. This huge judgement by the Supreme Court basically means that in the coming weeks and months numerous people who are currently serving sentences in prison may try to launch appeals against their convictions. Keep your eyes out for more mention of Joint Enterprise in the news.


Pope Francis highly quotable in exams!

Perhaps Pope Francis is making it more difficult to pinpoint what Catholics think of different moral dilemmas but he’s certainly giving us lots of opinions to fill our exam answers with!


News story number one on this gloriously sunny Thursday in half-term is that the Pope Francis says birth control is not absolute evil… in areas hit by the Zuka virus. Ah, the last part of the sentence is pretty important here. Pope Francis has said artifical contraception should be viewed “as the lesser of two evils” for women with the Zika virus. Generally the Catholic Church has said that only abstinence (choosing not to have sex) is the acceptable form of contraception although in 1968 they also said the rhythm method is allowed too. The latter not being a great form of contraception: using this method, a woman learns to recognise the days she is fertile, and doesn’t have sex before and during those days.

This method does not work for all couples. Women who have regular menstrual cycles and who are very careful about when they have sex usually find it to be effective. Women who have irregular cycles and who are not so careful often end up becoming pregnant. Natural family planning is used by around 3% of women in most of the UK, but around 5% in Northern Ireland.

It’s great though that Pope Francis is commenting on the need for contraception to stop unnecessary suffering of babies and that he’s actually used a quote from the Bible which we learn for out GCSE: ‘the lesser of two evils”.

Not satisfied with one news story to his today Pope Francis also wades into the controversy around US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump. The Pope has said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian”. This is in reference to Trump’s immigration policy where he wants to erect a wall to keep Mexican migrants out of the USA.