Cultural Capital at Washwood Heath Academy
Building the Cultural Capital of our students here at Washwood Heath Academy is a high priority. We are seeking to create well-rounded and culturally confident pupils, who have embraced a wide range of experiences beyond the class room while they grow with us at Washwood.
Please see our programme of activities below.
In Year 7, we visit the Black Country Living Museum. The Black Country industry played a huge part in shaping the local landscape and culture of the Black Country itself, Birmingham and beyond. As this is local to our students, a visit to the museum provides a fantastic opportunity to contextualize their understanding of the local culture. From the BCLM website:
Beneath the smoke and glare from blast furnaces and forges, Black Country innovation, entrepreneurial and manufacturing skill established the region’s supremacy for the making of wrought iron. The Black Country also possessed important hardware and other manufactures distinctive to itself – structural ironwork, chain making, locks and keys, tube manufacture, trap making and many others – which brought fame to Black Country towns across the globe.
Year 8 have a fantastic opportunity to visit London. Making the trip to London is a significant day out for these students. We are not only expecting them to gain an understanding and sense of the sheer scale of the Capital, we are looking to stretch our students’ awareness and understanding of the cultural depth and political landscape of the country in which they live. Much of London’s architecture, city parks and historic landmarks provide excellent learning opportunities for the students and offer them a chance to contextualize their knowledge of the world around them. Starting at the Natural History Museum, we go on a walk, taking in some of London’s most historic landmarks and finishing at The National Gallery. A truly culturally rich experience!
Year 9 take a trip to the homeland of William Shakespeare – Stratford-Upon-Avon. The aim of the visit is to allow the students a greater sense of the life and times of Shakespeare, along with exploring the cultural and artistic heritage of the town of Stratford. The students will go on a guided river trip along the Avon, and visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre, before spending the afternoon at Mary Arden’s Farm.
Stratford is in such close proximity to Birmingham that we are very fortunate to be able to delve in to the history of Shakespeare with only a very short journey from school. The study of Shakespeare also forms a core part of the English curriculum in every year at Washwood Heath Academy, but particularly in Year 9 where the students are introduced to Macbeth – the Shakespeare text that they study for their English Literature GCSE which they will sit at the end of their Year 10. Knowing the background and history of the play is key to a thorough understanding.
We bring Year 10 up to Cannock Chase, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to help them transition in to their new Year 11 house, Simmonds.
Cannock Chase offers a wide range of learning opportunities, alongside the benefits of walking in the countryside with friends. Cannock Chase was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1958 and remains an exceptional example of forestry and heath land. It comprises a mixture of natural deciduous woodland, coniferous plantations, open heathland and the remains of early industry, such as coal mining. Despite being relatively small in area, the chase provides a remarkable range of landscape and wildlife, including a herd of around 800 fallow deer and a number of rare and endangered birds, including migrant nightjars.
There are a number of visitor centres, museums and waymarked paths, including the Heart of England Way and the Staffordshire Way. There are also accessible trails to enable people to experience the health benefits of Cannock Chase. Additionally, there are many unmarked public paths. On the Chase’s north-eastern edge can be found Shugborough Hall, ancestral home of the Earls of Lichfield. At its southern edge are the remains of Castle Ring, an Iron Age hill fort, which at 242 m / 794 ft is the highest point on the Chase. Several glacial erratic boulders are also found on the Chase, remnants of glaciation.
Duke of Edinburgh is a huge opportunity that we offer to all of our Year 12 and 13 students. On the Bronze award, students have to take on a volunteering project which is often aligned with a cause to support the local community, and learn a new skill. There is also an outdoors expedition to Long Mynd in Shropshire which consists of two nights camping and three days walking in the countryside. This expedition is a challenging and rewarding experience for students, which really enhances their confidence, independence and resilience as they have to plan routes for their expedition and use a compass and OS map to navigate. Taking turns in leadership is a key aspect of the expedition and makes sure all of the students are given the opportunity to make decisions and lead. The expedition finished in the idyllic village of Church Stretton where the students are rewarded with a well-deserved ice cream! The DofE is an excellent way for students to build their character, and cultural capital all in one go.