I seem to be spending a lot of time at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy recently, but with good reason.
In the last few weeks I have attended one of their assemblies during Holocaust Memorial Week, taken part in a careers speed-dating event and been invited to see some of the amazing projects they are undertaking as one of only four Institute for Research in Schools regional science hubs in the country.
Two of their projects were shortlisted to present at the prestigious Royal Society recently and having being unable to attend due to votes in the Commons I was keen to see what all the fuss was about.
I must admit that science was not one of my strengths at school, but I listened to fascinating presentations from two groups of students.
One of them is working on something called Monitoring Our Environment Learning for Tomorrow, identifying the carbon footprint of the school and taking measures to reduce it.
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The other team are contributing to an international genome decoder’s project, studying the whipworm parasite to help develop drugs with international pharmaceutical companies to combat tropical diseases.
Both teams have now been invited to showcase their work at an event at the Crick Institute in London next month.
All very technical and very impressive and no wonder Sir Robert Woodard Academy is now looking to be oversubscribed and very much on the up.
Not surprisingly, a number of constituents have expressed their outrage at the case of Shamima Begum, who thinks British taxpayers should not be fazed at welcoming her and her child back to the comfort of life in the UK.
I agree with the gut instinct of most whose advice is ‘you’ve made your bed now lie in it’. Clearly considerations of international law need to be applied and if she does come back then she should be subject to the full rigours of UK law, her liberty scrutinised and her child subject to the family courts for the risk of being radicalised.
Interestingly a few years ago, after she did a flit to Syria with two other East London schoolgirls, we interviewed members of their respective families in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee to try to discover why they had taken the course they had. All the family members professed complete shock and ignorance. I distinctly remember the cousin of one saying that she had been a typical teenager who enjoyed watching Keeping up with the Kardashians on television each week.
If being addicted to Keeping up with the Kardashians is a marker of being a normal teenager in the UK today then it’s amazing more have not left!
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