Food and history on menu for German trip

DOWNEND School students and staff carried on a 20-year tradition when they visited the German city of Aachen.

The trip for 48 Year 9 students who are studying German and French took them to Aachen’s renowned Christmas markets.

It started with an overnight coach journey via the Channel Tunnel across Northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, bringing the party into Aachen in time for an all-you-can eat buffet breakfast.

Pupils then had the chance to explore the market and visit Aachen Cathedral, built by the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, its treasury and the Charlemagne Museum.

On the way back, the group stopped off at a Lindt Chocolate factory shop to stock up on Christmas treats.

School Community Council Chair Emma Jukes said: “All students were a credit to the Downend School community and displayed genuine enthusiasm for all aspects of this opportunity to broaden their language skills and cultural awareness.”

Pictured top right: Year 9 Downend School pupils at Aachen

Environment focus for science club

DOWNEND School’s science club is coming up with ideas to help the environment.

Members have been researching the sustainable production of food and how to develop agricultural practices, to secure the long-term fertility and health of our land.

One student in the group achieved second place in the Civil Service STEM essay challenge, which encouraged students to act as policy makers tackling net zero.

As part of their work towards a silver CREST award, which is a nationally recognised UK scheme for student-led projects in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, the group is designing investigations and recording findings in the same way that real-world scientists or engineers do. The team has already started to look at the effects of acid rain on growth of different plants and study the breakdown of plastics into simpler organic compounds, using a new piece of school equipment called an autoclave. 

The club has recently expanded to add a gardening group, whose members have turned a derelict pond outside the science building into a flower bed.

A team led by two Year 10 pupils has been planting bulbs around the school grounds and is planning to plant more plants to attract wildlife around the school’s ‘bug hotel’, increasing biodiversity in the area.