John O’Gaunt School News – July 2021

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End of Year Events 2021

Visual Arts Week

Determined not to let this year go out with a whimper, John O’Gaunt School’s penultimate week was a celebration of Visual Arts and Technology. The whole school got involved in a different sort of bubble – one of industry, excitement & innovation!

The week got off to an explosive start with the sparks of invention literally flying. Year 7s used their STEM skills to design, build and race rocket cars, inspired and assisted by Teaching Interns from the Excalibur Academy (numbering neuroscientists, mathematicians, engineers and robotics experts among them). Team ‘F1 Mobile’ won, and were heard to say ‘who knew Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion would be so much fun?’ Another fun fact of the day, appreciated by all, was that Tesla CEO, Elon Musk learned how to build rockets by reading books and that, on average, Chief Executives read around 60 books a year. Reading is power, & rockets!

As the week went on, students tried their hand at silversmithing and took part in clothes-customising and altering workshops. A fiendishly difficult Treasure Hunt code was eventually cracked by a resourceful friendship group of Year 9 girls. The girls had come close, but had a few last puzzles to solve. Working together, their persistence and resilience paid off and they were able to get into the treasure trove and share the rewards.

Staff were challenged by Year 9 students to a JOG Technical Bake Off, that saw them attempting to bake using an incomplete Swiss Roll recipe. Reputations balanced on a spatula edge as students offered help, advice and washing up. 

High drama and hilarity ensued. Whilst Mr Hammond’s Swiss Roll refused to roll, it tasted delicious and he and Mrs Seabrook were eventually crowned joint winners.

End of Year Art Exhibition

GCSE Fine Art students at John O’Gaunt School, saw their work displayed in a secret, private, end of year exhibition, thanks to the dedication of their teacher Miss Francesca Barnes.

Unbeknown to the Year 10 students, Miss Barnes – a talented professional and practising artist herself – planned, devised and set up the exhibition with technical support from Mrs Joy Stone. Entitled ‘Existence’, the exhibition space showed their mounted and framed work, inspired by nature, to great effect, with name and title plaques and a full exhibition brochure, complete with beautifully written artist statements the students had unwittingly contributed.

The exhibition showcased the wide range of artistic skills the students had explored, such as the grid method, photography, photo-manipulation, oil pastel, paints, etching, lino-cutting and more, ‘with enthusiasm and rigour, taking risks along the way.’ Themes of global warming, the climate crisis, the self and the solace we find in nature were paramount.


Miss Barnes said ‘Year 10 artists, I commend you for your commitment that has involved collaboration, time management, resilience, problem -solving, organisation, self-expression and courage. The strong bonds and friendships that have flourished in the Art Studio and at John O’Gaunt are a lasting fellowship. We are looking forward to the light and creativity you will bring to the world through your artwork’.

A red ribbon was cut and students and staff enjoyed glasses of ‘fizz’ and nibbles, provided by the PSA.

Miss Barnes finished by saying, ‘I’ve never forgotten my first exhibition and how special it felt. I wanted to give that back to these lovely students who have worked so incredibly hard this year. We’ve always been known for our excellent reputation for fine art and design, and I wanted to demonstrate my pride in the students. Because the work was for GCSE, it couldn’t be shown publicly, but we are working on some exciting ideas for the future! 







July 2021

We’re into the last few weeks of another strange year, and packing plenty in, continuing to evolve and innovate under Covid restrictions.

It’s been lovely to welcome next year’s cohort into school for Treasure Hunt Transition Tours within their primary school bubbles. It was a challenge, but we’re always up for that – and the effervescent, ever-energetic Miss Harris (Year 7 Progress Lead and Science Teacher) made it happen, ensuring the students felt welcomed and were confident, comfortable, excited and knew what to expect when they join our JOG Family in September.

In an exciting new initiative, we also welcomed and hosted a wonderful group of interns from our award-winning Excalibur Academy Teaching School Alliance. Alongside observations and mentoring, they spoke to some of our students who, though very capable, may not have considered university before. Some powerful and aspirational conversations were had around further education, gap years, broadening horizons and taking all the opportunities out there, dreaming big and breaking down barriers. Very much part of our ‘big school ambition, small school care’ ethos in action!

Similarly, some of our Year 11 Leavers have come back into school to take part in our ‘Step Up’ programme of workshops, where staff have shared their passion for their subjects, helping to prepare (and enthuse) students for their next steps at ‘A’ Levels or College.

Next week is our inaugural Visual Arts Week, which we’re really excited about! There will be opportunities for all, including a silversmithing workshop, a STEM challenge, designing, building then racing super-powered rocket cars, workshops on customising clothing, a staff Technical Challenge Bake Off, an Art Exhibition, and more! We hope to share this with you next time.


Black Out Poetry

As a taster, here is some ‘Black Out Poetry’ artwork inspired by our Y9 Art Students, inspired by artist Tom Phillips (who approved it personally with a tweet, which we were THRILLED about!) and pages from the book The Wolf Wilder, by Katherine Rundell. 

This is what happens with a professional artist leading the Art Department!

Mental Health: Surviving to Thriving – Creating a Quiet Garden to support our children

Thanks to the organisation and fundraising efforts of John O’Gaunt’s Parent Staff Association (PSA), an unused area of the school will be transformed into a beautiful and calming Quiet Garden. 

The Quiet Garden will have seating, plants and a canopy and provide a safe, relaxing environment for reflection and reset, that students can visit during school hours and beyond. 

Run by the Student Services Team, The Quiet Garden has been funded by the PSA, with generous donations and grants from the Miss Lawrence Trust, Hungerford Town Council, Jon Shatford Bookkeeping, and match funded by The Good Exchange, Greenham Common Trust, for which we are extremely grateful.

Nicola Chester
Librarian, Marketing Officer (& Writer in Residence


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