World Challenge – Iceland 2023

10 Night Expedition in Iceland

In July, six teams set off to experience the spectacular sights of Iceland. This adventure of a lifetime saw our students discover geysers and thundering waterfalls in the Golden Circle, trek past volcanic peaks in Kerlingarfjoll, get hands-on with a conservation initiative (beach clean-up) and visit the Westman Islands and the South Coast.  The students were driven along Europe’s biggest ice cap, Vatnajokull. This national park is an extraordinary sight, with 30 glaciers flowing out from the ice cap. The students even had the opportunity to strap on some crampons and walk on a glacier. We are very proud of our students who worked well in their teams, stepped out of their comfort zones and learnt a wealth of invaluable new skills while making some extraordinary memories.

Here are some wonderful photos from this amazing trip …

Year 8 French Trip to the Opal Coast

After 3 years of not being able to participate in school trips, 100 Year 8 pupils and 12 members of staff took part in a very successful and extremely enjoyable four-day French Trip to the Opal Coast.

Two coaches of pupils and teachers left Presdales School early on Monday morning and, after taking the ferry from Dover to Calais, arrived safely at their destination in Boulogne-sur-mer. They made their first visit of the trip to ‘Nausicaa’, which is the largest aquarium in Europe specialising in scientific discovery of the marine environment. Students enjoyed taking selfies next to the sharks and rays and they were also inspired by Mrs Harmer to create a photographic alphabet spelling the word “FRANCE”.

We then made our way to our accommodation and it was already time for dinner. We shared the large dining hall with a group of older French tourists who were keen to stop me and comment on several occasions on our students’ excellent manners at the table. Later in the evening, the students grouped together to do some language work in preparation for the next day’s activities.

They were very excited about the planned activities for the second day which began with a trip to the sophisticated coastal town of Le Touquet. After spending some time running down the sandy dunes of the beautiful beach, we all enjoyed wandering around the town. Students could finally put all their classroom role-play activities into practice ordering food and doing a bit of shopping. I was so impressed with the positive and enthusiastic attitude of so many of them and I thoroughly enjoyed walking around town meeting students who would ask me: “Miss, how do you say…?” and who would then go on to tell me in great details everything they had just said in French!

The afternoon entailed a visit to ‘Les Escargots du Bocage’, a snail farm, situated in the nearby countryside. Students were firstly given a presentation followed by a tour of the farm and were then invited to sit and taste snails prepared in garlic butter in a pastry shell as well as a homemade jam, made from a variety of fruit grown on the farm. Despite initial reservations, many tasted the snails and most were pleasantly surprised, with some even going back for seconds!

On the third day, students enjoyed swimming and going down the huge slide at the Hélicéa aquatic centre before an afternoon visit to ‘Auchan’, a hypermarket and shopping arcade, where they were each given some Euros to complete a shopping task. This involved buying something typically French to take home and share with their families. That evening, students were keen to take part in a ‘show and tell’ about their shopping task purchases and finish completing their trip booklets.

The staff at the accommodation commented on our students’ excellent behaviour and their efforts to ask questions in French. They were particularly impressed with their pronunciation!

Such a successful trip would not be possible without the proactive and positive attitude of a dream team of school staff and the meticulous organisation of Mme Rowe. As well as a fantastic eye opener for the 100 Year 8 students, it was also a unique opportunity for them to shine outside of the classroom.

A l’année prochaine!

Mme Ainge

Some feedback from parents and students regarding the Year 8 Opal Coast French trip 2023

Lovely trip, she really enjoyed the experience and it has given her confidence with her studies, especially speaking French. Thanks so much to all the staff who made this such an enjoyable trip.

The trip was well planned and there was a good balance of work, free time and activities.

The preparation was very good. All of the information on the slide presentation was excellent. If we couldn’t have come in to the school, it would still have contained everything needed. The trip itself was well organised and all of the arranged excursions were very enjoyable. The hotel was nice. The food, on the whole was good, but the options for vegetarians were quite limited. Overall a very good trip and would definitely recommend it to next years’ Year 8.

The best part of the trip was water park visit. Snail farm was an interesting experience. Accommodation was all right. Food was good.

Opal coast was a great trip. It was an amazing chance for me to discover the French speaking world and participate by speaking to shop assistants/workers when shopping. The accommodation was really nice and I enjoyed the activities we did.

Thank you to all of the staff that organised and went on the trip – it was well organised before and during the trip with good communication. We are glad that these experiences are now available again. R reported back that she liked the accommodation, although she wished she had taken a full sized pillow from home! She enjoyed the activities also – and she had a good amount of free time. She can’t think of anything that could be improved (except perhaps the meal on the last day!). Thank you once again.

I found that it was a good trip, very windy though, the aquarium was really interesting seeing all the different types of fish and the coral too. The snails were really tasty and the shopping centres were fun. The accommodation was very nice too and the meals there were very nice from the breakfast to the packed lunch to the dinner.

The French trip was an amazing experience that I loved. I especially liked the aquarium.

I really liked all the activities, especially the waterpark, aquarium and visiting the town. I like getting to use French. Sometimes I didn’t like the food at the house but it was OK. I really liked the whole trip, it was a great experience. Thank you to all the teachers who gave up their time! It was a brilliant way to end the year! Thank you!

Year 10 History Trip to Berlin

We left school for Berlin at 2pm on Wednesday and arrived at our hotel at midnight.

Our trip began with a tour around some of Berlin’s most famous sights, led by Mr Spurgeon. We visited the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Night of the Long Knives Memorial, the Roma Sinti memorial, the Holocaust memorial, Hitler’s bunker and the Topography of Terror. These are all things that we learnt about during our history lessons and in Holocaust memorial assemblies, but visiting the memorials and the Topography of Terror really instilled it in me how the Nazis believed that they were a superior race and what they were doing was justified. Seeing the memorials and about how many different groups were persecuted reminded me how this happened in the not-so-distant past, and the risks of it happening again. Our day continued with a tour by TCBC guides, we visited more places including the Tiergarten to see the T4 and homosexual memorials, Gendarmenmarkt, Bebelplatz, Lustgarten, and the reconstructed palace. We had an amazing tour guide who taught about us lots of different aspects of Germany in the 20th Century e.g., the book burning that took place at Bebelplatz in 1933 where Nazi students burnt around 20,000 books by authors that the Nazis didn’t like. We finished the day with a trip to a lovely Italian restaurant and a round of bowling.

On Friday, we went to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Plötzensee Prison, and had a tour around the Jewish quarters of Berlin. These were all led by the TCBC guides, who were very highly knowledgeable about everything that we visited. At Sachsenhausen, we saw the rooms where prisoners would have to stay, learnt about the jobs they had to do and the different methods the Nazis had for killing people, not just the gas chambers. In our tour of the Jewish Quarters with visited the Hackeschen Höfe and saw the workshop owned by Otto Weidt, who mainly employed deaf and blind Jews and did everything he could to protect them against the anti-Jewish measures. One of my highlights from the tour were the Stumbling Stones, they are all around Europe and they are to remember people who were persecuted by the Nazis. The stones have the person’s name, birth year, what happened to them e.g., deportation to Theresienstadt, and when they died. I had heard of them before but never realised how many they were. Although there are lots of memorials to the groups persecuted, I like the Stumbling Stones as although they are little, they tell the stories of thousands of people. In the evening, we had time to go shopping and then went to see the new Spiderman film – Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse.

On Saturday, we finished our trip by visiting Hohenschönhausen which is a former Stasi-Prison so linked to our Cold War topic. We then went to Berlin Olympic Park and got a tour of the stadium. I found it interesting to see how they have removed the Nazi paraphernalia but still embrace the history of what happened in the 1936 Olympics. They have done this by having the Jesse Owens Lounge and the coloured stones that were Swastikas have been rotated to create different patterns; they are still shadows of what was there. After this we headed to deportation track 17, which has stone slabs to commemorate how many Jews were deported each day.

It was an amazing trip and will be very helpful as we continue our studies on Weimar and Nazi Germany and then move onto the Cold War. The thing I found most interesting was how they have embraced the history without making memorial sights neo-Nazi pilgrimages or completely ignoring the horrific events that happened in Germany during the 20th Century.

Isla Threlfall

News from Art and Photography

Presdales Mosaic Pergola Project 2023

I am delighted to finally be able to achieve a long-awaited mosaic project. It began with putting a proposal together to ‘The Arts Society East Herts’ for funding to decorate a very old wooden pergola outside the art rooms.

We were delighted when this was accepted and we could begin our journey of enhancing the school environment with vibrant colourful mosaics based on elements adding splashes of colour.

Thanks must go to the fantastic local Mosaic Artist, Claire Costello, whom I had the pleasure of working with at her home studio a few years ago. We discussed the idea of artist-in-residence at Presdales and now it’s a reality.

The students have been totally absorbed and committed to this project, developing self-confidence, team-building skills and pure enjoyment creating designs. They have said how the project has helped with their well-being and self-esteem.

We are so proud of all the students involved and look forward to being able to share and celebrate their artwork with the whole school. We are five weeks in and very close to finishing – we just need to grout and then put the tiles up in place.

A huge thank you to Claire for her support and enthusiasm. And a big thank you to all involved at Presdales for making my idea a reality.

Finally, thank you to the fabulous students – you have done an amazing job, truly inspiring!

A wonderful end to the summer term.

Ashley Page, Art Teacher / Project leader

Year 12 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Trip 

We had such a lovely day on 12th July at the Summer Exhibition with our Year 12 Students. The inspiring collection of work has provided lots of exciting ideas for their personal investigations. Do go and see the exhibition if you get a chance over the summer holidays.

Mrs Page and Mrs Harmer