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All the latest News from Ely College

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  • The appliance of science at Ely College Fair

    Published 01/04/19

    To celebrate British Science Week, Year 7 & 8 students from Ely College hosted their second annual Science Fair last week. Inviting parents and local primary schools, who attended over the two days, this year’s event was enjoyed by over 300 members of the community.

    Using their lessons to plan, test and prepare presentations for the public, science students did a superb job of showcasing a range of experiments. The Ely College Science Fair is a fantastic opportunity for parents and pupils of all ages in the area to be inspired by science and STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Working in partnership as part of the CMAT Trust, this year saw Year 5 & 6 pupils from the Lantern join in, as their mini scientists explaining their class investigations into the effects of gravity.


    With everything from mobile phone holograms and up close dissections to air cannon footie and the ever-popular slime recipes, the range of experiments on display was impressive. Sam Craven, Curriculum Leader at Ely College applauded students for their commitment to putting on an engaging and inspirational event: “We are so proud of the hard work and enthusiasm of our Year 7 and 8 students during this year’s science festival.  We are delighted that two primary schools, Lantern and St Mary’s, also had children present work from their science lessons. Harlequin Nursery enjoyed the fair as well. Something for all ages! This year was bigger than last and we are already planning and looking forward to next year.”


    Last year this fantastic event gained recognition, as it was nominated and shortlisted at the Cambridge News Education Awards for ‘Science Project of the Year’. While our young scientists just missed out in 2018, it is clear this year they have gone the extra mile and are proud to call their college ‘Secondary School of the Year’; an award Ely College and our community gained last year in acknowledgement of the vast improvements made at the College in recent years.

    Ely College students were awarded Science Fair commendation rosettes and PLEDGES awards, with some invited to Cambridge University to repeat their experiments for the public as Science Ambassadors at the Cambridge Science Festival School Zone on Saturday 23rd March. “This was another fantastic event and our students were commended for their maturity, science knowledge and enthusiasm.”

    For more photos from our science fair, take a look at the Ely College Facebook page here.


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  • Year 11 Duke of Edinburgh Awards

    Published 14/03/19

    Year 11 Students have been working hard to complete their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Awards. Students have to partake in a minimum 6 month programme which includes participation in the following areas:

    - The physical section looks at their commitment to a physical activity over a period of time for their benefit of their health and general fitness.

    - The skills section focuses on the development or enhancement of a creative skill they have developed over time such as playing a musical instrument.

    - The volunteering section requires students to commit to a longer period of time working for a non for profit organization and helping and assisting with the day to day chores.

    Students have also completed an expedition in which they planned, navigated, and walked for a period of 2 days with one overnight camp. This has been a very worthwhile experience for all those involved, highly regarded by colleges and universities,  and one I hope they will remember for many years to come.

    Jamie Waters - Scott House Senior Tutor and DofE Coordinator


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  • Ely College students return to Kenya’s Rift Valley to volunteer with their partner schools in the Nakuru slums.

    Published 12/03/19

    Teenagers and staff from Ely College have recently returned from another life-changing experience, volunteering their February half term to help disadvantaged children at the Jubilee and Ungana Academies in Kenya.

    Over the last several years, students from Ely College have developed a close connection with two schools in the slums of Nakuru, Kenya’s fourth largest city. Following the success of their October 2017 trip, many students straightaway vowed to return. There has been a big commitment to fundraise for the Kenya Projects over the last 16 months by 24 students.

    As well as the usual cake stalls and sponsored swims to raise funds, students looked to the people of Ely to support their efforts. Ely College is so grateful to the community and local businesses who supported the Kenya Projects, either by sponsoring students or contributing to the mountain of shoes, clothes and school supplies that students took with them as extra luggage. The children of Jubilee and Ungana, staff and parents, were delighted to be gifted even the most basic supplies which we take for granted in the UK. Having something to call their own made the world of difference and this was all thanks to generous donations from our wonderful local community.


    Since returning from their 10-day adventure, which in addition to classroom renovations and building new toilet blocks incorporated a wildlife safari, students have reflected on their experience and the stark contrast with our own lives. Teacher Sheila Branch, who jointly led the trip, commended the students for their hard work and compassion: “Not one of our students complained about the desperately poor conditions. Despite each one of them giving their every effort, either labouring to improve the site or teaching the children in class, at the end of trip they still felt like they wanted to do more. Many chose to leave their own clothes, shoes and personal belongings.”


    Lauren Burrows who also led the trip commented: “We are so proud of the students who have volunteered this year. There is a real sense of continuity & lasting legacy with each visit, adding to each building project to improve the resources. We have built a strong relationship with the staff in Kenya and they have been warm and generous hosts.” As Ely College bid farewell for another year, Kenyan staff and children gave each volunteer a locally made personalised bracelet;  a memento of a life changing and humbling experience.



    For more photos take a look at our Facebook page: 

    For more information about our trip providers African Adventures, click here.

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  • Ely College students take the ‘Time to Talk’ about making healthy choices today, for a brighter future tomorrow

    Published 13/02/19

    Various workshops at Ely College this week, allowed students to explore their personal wellbeing, encouraging discussion about making health choices so that each and every young person aims to reach their fullest potential. Working with outside partners, PLEDGES and Futures Day coincided perfectly with the #TimeToTalk national mental health campaign.

    PLEDGES and Futures Day is a regular feature at Ely College. A day of extended learning focusing on Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE), each age group had a different focus covering some essential elements of the curriculum. By getting involved and engaging with outside partners such as the police and first aiders trainers, students can also earn their PLEDGES awards.

    While Year 11 students looked to the ‘future’, with a dedicated day of revision to immerse themselves in their English Literature GCSE, younger students took part in a carousel of workshops centred around ‘making healthy choices’.  Gaining a deeper understanding of everything from cyber-bullying, positive body image and forming healthy relationships to healthy eating, mental wellbeing and future career choices, these activities simulated the challenges our young people face.


    Working with Sgt Phil Priestley and sniffer dog Bessie, students gained knowledge and awareness of the risks associated with drugs and alcohol. Mr Spencer, Principal at Ely College commented: “We wants students to leave college as well rounded individuals, equipped with the tools to reach their fullest potential in life. These insights, will allow students to play a full and inclusive part in a healthy society and ensure they look out for each other with compassion and empathy.”

    A workshop and activities facilitated by local group Talking FreEly was very popular as staff and students appreciated the time given to ‘just sit and talk’ about the barriers that stop us all from opening up about mental health concerns. Organisers commented on how positively students engaged with the day, explaining ‘that while teen mental health is at the fore front of today’s activities, we hope Ely College students can take these conversations home and continue to break down the stigma around mental wellbeing.’

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  • Reaching the GOLD standard!

    Published 18/12/18

    Reaching the Gold standard!

    A hard working Etheldreda House student has become the first this year (and only the second ever!) to achieve a Gold PLEDGES accolade. Just 20 months since the school officially rolled out the reward and behaviour system at Ely College, the Bronze and Silver awards have been rolling in, but this is the only current Gold.

    Christopher Atkinson in Year 10 took part in a number of activities to achieve his Bronze, Silver and Gold PLEDGES. These included taking up the role of Sports Leader in Year 9, fundraising (both for his House charity and via fun runs), being part of the archaeology dig trip, taking an extra GCSE in Latin, and even attending a Russian wedding!

    Speaking about his achievement, Christopher said: “It has been hard work to meet the criteria but I have really enjoyed the challenge. Working towards my PLEDGES has taken me into new and different experiences. I like that something you do out of school like experiencing cultural diversity at a family friend’s wedding can earn you PLEDGES in school. I’m going to push myself further and help others with their PLEDGES.”

    Adding to his PLEDGES points 'beyond the classroom' was the secret to his success, with things like his piano grading and youth leadership work via his local church, all counting towards Gold! He added: “The Gold PLEDGE means a lot but I have always tried to give back to my community. Taking the lead on running holiday clubs with the church and putting myself forward for form representative in school means I can speak up for people my age.”

    Since Ely College joined the CMAT trust, the college has introduced a simple but broad set of PLEDGES that pupils are expected to complete during their time at the school, at bronze, silver and gold levels. The fact that Christopher has complete the set before Year 11 is very impressive. Students gain their PLEDGES through activities and work across seven categories: Participation, Leadership, Environment, Diversity, Giving, Excellence and Service.

    The PLEDGES form part of the school's parallel curriculum – a system that is designed to develop the whole child and complement the academic courses. Similar to the Duke of Edinburgh scheme (also offered at Ely College!), it helps pupils develop character and skills that can be taken into their adult life.

    Richard Spencer, Principal at Ely College said “The scheme has really helped drive a wide range of activities and improved relationships. It encourages students to give back to the school and their communities. Through PLEDGES, we can recognise, encourage and reward those important aspects of personal development and learning that examinations do not. I’d like to congratulate Christopher and look forward to giving out many more gold awards in the months to come”.

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  • ‘No one left on the bench’ as Ely College students take up the challenge to design for disability

    Published 13/12/18

    On Thursday, Ely College welcomed John Willis, founder of Power2Inspire. His charity promotes inclusive and adaptive sports, so no one with disabilities or impairments is ‘left on the bench’. Ely College invited John, who was born without fully-formed arms or legs, to speak with their design and technology students and start on a collaborative journey of designing for purpose.

    Speaking with mixed years in assembly, John introduced students to what Power2inspire does for people of ALL abilities. Bringing disabled and non-disabled children together for the Power House Games and regular Festivals of Inclusive Sport, everyone is able to keep fit and active together. John, on his own is an inspiration, having completed a personal challenge he set himself back in 2016.

    His ‘Road to Rio’ challenge saw him take on all 34 Paralympic and Olympic sports, having a go at everything from archery to judo, ending with a charity game of golf. John reflected on the challenge: “You can imagine playing Handball with no hands was tricky, but it was a great privilege to make friends with professionals and show how fantastically welcoming the world of sports can be.”

    Inspired by his talk, Year 10 Design and Technology students moved on to a workshop exploring how this remarkable man has to overcome barriers in his everyday life.  Working in groups, students looked to invent or adapt everyday items that could help John with real world problems. To help them, John explained: ‘the challenge is not in coming up with solutions, but phrasing or forming the question in a way they shows that these young people really understand the problems less able bodied people face. Empathy is a big part of the project today as students reframe their world, experiencing problems from a new perspective. I have been very impressed with their efforts.”

    This is the first time Power2Inspire has worked with a secondary school young designers: “Ely College has really embraced this concept of collaborative designing, working together around a contextual problem. We are challenging young people to think of solutions for issues they haven’t encountered, which is good practice for the future where they will need solutions to issues we have yet to face.”

    Trying to make lives easier by designing for disability, it is hoped they can stumble upon innovative solutions that are often better than those when we design for the norm. Dave Bausor, Lead Practitioner for Design and Technology at Ely College added: “We are keen to develop a supportive partnership going forward. Today is the students’ first steps on journey of design. We are looking forward to taking their ideas, and developing models and practical proto-types for John early next year, as well as supporting the charity through our PLEDGES and Sport Leaders programmes.”



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  • Scott House Food Drive

    Published 13/12/18

    A group of Ely College students have spent their free time over the past few weeks collecting food to donate to the Ely Food Bank.

    Students across school were inspired by those in Scott House, who have organised this year's collection. Everyone donated an array of food to give to those in need, from baked beans to cornflakes. The donation was wholly organised by the students with form groups S-EHI and S-IBU taking the lead and making sure the large haul reached it final destination.

    Richard Spencer, Principal at Ely College, said: “It is heart-warming to see our students voluntarily helping their community and those in need within it. At Ely College, we seek to develop well rounded individuals who are an active part of their communities and these students are a shining example of those values. They should be very proud of what they have achieved”.

    The Ely Food Bank is open very grateful for all the students efforts and also would like to thank the parents at home who have supported students in giving a little more at this key time of the year.

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  • CMAT Lantern School to get playground makeover

    Published 10/12/18

    An Ely primary school will be getting an an extreme makeover to its outdoor space to enable children to remain more physically active - whatever the weather.

    Planning permission has just been approved to tarmac a section of the top field at the Lantern Community Primary School to turn it into an all-weather surface to be used throughout the school day, as well as for out of school activities.

    Headteacher David Lawrence said: “I’m delighted we’ve finally got permission to go ahead with this. It will improve the play facilities for the children enormously.”

    Building is due to start in February, depending on weather, and will cover an L-shaped section of the field, which gets muddy throughout much of the year.

    “Mr Lawrence said: “From October to May we have problems with the field as it is. This is the solution.

    “For the children it’s going to be brilliant - they need space to run around. This means they can have it all year.”

    The new playground, costing just over £70,000, is partly funded by £10,000 raised by Friends of the Lantern School, the school’s PTA, last year. 

    The rest of the money comes from school funds and the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT).

    FOTLS chair Andrea Roose, whose son Milo, six, attends the school, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to contribute £10k to this project. 

    “It reflects a fantastic year of fundraising by the committee and our volunteers and wouldn’t have been possible without the continued support of all our children, parents and the school.”

    In addition the current trim trail equipment will be reconditioned or replaced within the next few weeks.

    The school has just been gifted a section of grass by Ely College, which is also part of CMAT.

    The Ely primary caters for about 450 children as well as running Goslings Pre-School.

    Future plans include turning a strip of land at the side of the school into a vegetable garden.


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  • Ely College’s first Christmas Market raises £1400!

    Published 03/12/18

    Ely College’s first Christmas Market was a gift to… and from the community

    On a wet and cold Thursday evening, the people of Ely turned out in their hundreds to support their local college and small businesses. Ely College Christmas market on 29th November was a fantastic festive success, raising £1400 for their PE and Drama departments. An event set to be repeated next year!

    Earlier this year, two members of staff had a plan to give something back to the community, an opportunity to come together and get some Christmas shopping done; all whilst hopefully raising funds for the students. It was the rest of the community who went above and beyond to make this market such a spectacular occasion.


    Whether it was the Bishop Laney catering students offering homemade mince pie and refreshments, or the drama club entertaining the crowds, staff and students gave a helping hand. Hair and Beauty students were also on hand to pamper and prepare visitors for the party season.

    Supported by members of the Ely Military Band and fresh from their royal performance for HRH the Prince of Wales earlier in the week, the music department provided the festive spirit. Our LRC’s Book Fair was also popular, selling Scholastic titles, which in turn has already earnt the school library over £100 in free books.


    The support from parents has been overwhelming, with a flurry of tombola donations and local companies donating services and prizes to the grand raffle. Organisers Bev Saddington and Victoria Cutforth are grateful for the support, which has raised enough to make some worthwhile improvements to student resources: “With over 30 different stalls, we are proud that Ely College were able to host such an event providing a wide range of gifts and products.”

    “This was our first Christmas Market held at the school and it certainly exceeded everyone’s expectations. We hope to hold another Christmas market next year to help raise funds for other college departments. For now, we would like to say thank you to everyone who came and supported us.”



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  • A Royal Perfomance

    Published 03/12/18

    Royal Visit to Ely

    Last Tuesday, braving sub-zero temperatures and Arctic conditions, the musicians of Ely College met HRH Prince Charles and his wife Lady Camilla, Duchess of Cronwall during their visit to Ely.

    Musicians from Ely College, joined by pupils from Ely St Johns and Rackham Primary schools entertained the crowds as they waited to catch sight of the city’s Royal guests.

    Our school woodwind and brass ensembles really did a fantastic job, especially considering the harsh conditions. Musical instruments become significantly more difficult to play in extremes of temperature and Tuesday was no exception. Together with chilled fingers and the biting wind even the most stalwart of professionals would have called it a day… but not the musicians of Ely College! They not only stayed but also played and did so very well indeed. They were a credit to themselves and to the school; their families should be very proud.

    HRH Prince Charles spoke to two of our musicians, Eloise Barter and Zoe Ayres, marvelling in their hardiness and ability to play so well in such cold conditions. He thanked our musicians for their excellent music, which was a compliment well deserved. HRH the Duchess of Cornwall shook the hand of Isabel Simper to both thank and congratulate her and the rest of the ensemble.

    It was certainly a day to remember.

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  • Ely College remembers with hundreds of handmade poppies as the Last Post is sounded

    Published 09/11/18

    On Friday, Ely College students and staff marked the Armistice Centenary and remembrance weekend with a moving Last Post Ceremony. All 1100 students from Ely College and Bishop Laney Sixth Form gathered together as a community to show their respects for the fallen. They were joined by Mayor Rouse and representatives from the Royal British Legion.


    Over the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday, Ely College students have enjoyed helping the textiles department create an inspirational art installation to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War One, the fallen of all conflicts and those who still serve. Every student hand made a poppy, with hundreds of them being hung in the main hall. Assemblies and tutor time activities have explored the nature of service, sacrifice and remembrance for the victims of conflict.

    At the Remembrance service, students and visitors fell silent for two minutes at 11am, after which the Last Post was sounded as Principal Richard Spencer read The Exhortation.

    Joined by standard-bearers from the Royal British Legion and one of the ‘There But Not There’ Tommy silhouettes, students were praised for their respect. Having hosted a touring exhibition that details a centenary history of the Cambridgeshire Regiment, students reflected on 1918, which saw the heaviest losses for the 1/1st Battalion, more so than any other year of the War.

    Mr Spencer commented: “Working in partnership with the local groups and historians has allowed students to gain a deeper understanding of the events of WWI. Ely College and the people of Ely shall not forget.”













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  • Bookbuzz free books for Ely College students encourages a passion for reading

    Published 01/11/18

    This week, as students at Ely College were welcomed back after the half term break, a special assembly hosted by Ms Shaw and the English department saw every Year 7 student get a FREE book.

    Thanks to the Bookbuzz reading programme run by the UK’s largest reading charity, Book Trust, each student was given the opportunity to choose their own book from a list of selected fiction titles with the aims to encourage and inspire a love of reading for pleasure.

    Ms Shaw, Manager of the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) explained: ‘At Ely College we feel reading for pleasure is important and by reading regularly, both independently and during dedicated time, students are able to fulfil their potential. Bookbuzz has really boosted the reading culture in school and we hope parents will encourage this at home’.

    These books are now theirs to keep free of charge, and come with a series of linked activities and challenges to complete as part of student PLEDGES. Swapping title with friends, exploring new genres and reflecting on their reading is all encouraged. By entering fun inter-house competitions, including a design challenge and being photographed reading on location students are able to earn PLEDGE points.


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