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All the latest News from Ely College

March 2016

  • Battlefields Trip

    Published 24/03/16

    57 Ely College students visited the First World War Battlefields earlier this month. The three-day tour included memorials, trenches and cemeteries in both Ypres and the Somme. Highlights include a journey underground at the Wellington Quarry and two members of the group laying a wreath at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate.

    It was the 11th time the trip has gone ahead and we hope that another group will be going out to pay their respects in November. The Battlefields trip compliments the learning of Year 9 History work and also provides them with a fantastic opportunity to develop socially.

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  • Kenya 2016

    Published 08/03/16

    Mr Sirot-Smith, Ms Watkins and a team of Year 10 and 11 students from the college gave up their half-term break in February to volunteer at two schools in one of Africa’s largest slums.  The team was working in Nakuru, Kenya helping the two schools provide education for some of the area’s poorest children.  Over 600,000 people live in the Nakuru slum, which is the fastest growing town in Africa.

    They completed the building of a new classroom for Ungana Academy and repaired several classrooms at Jubilee Academy.  In addition to the building work the volunteers worked alongside the teachers in classes, taught lessons, organised sporting activities and carried out community visits, taking much needed provisions such a flour, sugar, cooking oil and soap to families in dire need.

    The trip also included a visit to the Nakuru dump, upon which over 200 families live and scrape together a living.  Many of the children living on the dump attend schools supported by African Adventures with whom the Ely team were travelling.

    In their luggage the group took over 21 bags of school shoes, children’s socks and underpants, all  donated by the Ely College community as part of the ‘Show You Care’ appeal.  These were gratefully received by the schools’ children, few of whom had ever received new clothes.

    The trip was capped off with a visit to an elephant orphanage and a chance to feed giraffes at the Nairobi Giraffe Sanctuary.

    Team member Jessica-Ellen Ball commented:  ‘It was the best week of my life.  I am so glad I came; I never thought that I could make such a difference to the lives of others.  It was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone.  I can’t wait to come back again.’

    The team have spent the last year fundraising for the trip and plans are already being made for another trip next year.  Many of the students are keen to return, such as Neve Armstrong, who celebrated her 15th birthday during the 10 days.  She commented: ‘It’s been an emotional and challenging trip but has been the best thing I’ve done. It really has been life changing and I will return.’

    Team leader and Director of the Sixth Form, Mark Sirot-Smith added: ‘I am so proud of the team; it was a privilege to have been a part of such a hardworking and dedicated group of volunteers.  Despite the appalling poverty and lack of resources at the two schools, the team saw first-hand how love and education can change the lives of these children.

    ‘By coming here our students have really made a difference and their work will benefit hundreds of children now and in the future.  The directors of the two schools were amazed by how much they achieved and how they were always looking for more to do.  They all have new families in Kenya and will be missed.’ 

    Planning will soon begin for the next volunteering project with African Adventures.  If you are interested in being part of that team please contact Mr Sirot-Smith at

    Below is a small selection of photos from the trip but more can be found on the Ely College Kenya facebook page.

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  • Ely Students Consider TopĀ UK Universities

    Published 07/03/16

    On Thursday 25th February 2016, a number of student from Years 10 and 11 at Ely College joined other ‘high flying’ students from a range of secondary schools destined for Russell Group Universities.

    The PiXL student conference took place in the Marriott Hotel in Peterborough and was designed to enthuse, excite and inform students on how to prepare for careers such as Medicine, Law, Politics and Science.

    “It was great to see our students excelling in a truly academic environment.  Of the schools present, Ely College students where noted as being the most engaged and eloquent when responding and participating with questions from the floor."

    Attending teachers also reflected: "I am positive that these students will achieve high academic standards and are destined for very successful careers”.

    Above we have included some student feedback offered directly after the event. All students were very positive and are looking forward to further opportunities offered at Ely College to explore higher education.

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  • Cryptography Competition

    Published 07/03/16

    Cryptography Competition

    Since the start of the year a number of students from Ely College have been meeting in teams to compete in the 2016 Alan Turning Cryptography Competition that is currently running across secondary schools nationwide. Now in its fourth year, the School of Mathematics at the University of Manchester developed this web-based competition, and now monitors its progress with regular updates to a leaderboard where over a thousand schools are ranked.

    With weekly chapters released online, the story follows characters Mike and Ellie, two code-breaking kids who get caught up in cryptographic adventures. Students must solve a number of cryptographic problems as they go through each adventure. The problems do not need any sophisticated mathematics to solve, neither do they require the use of computers. Instead, logical thought and problem-solving abilities are all that is required. Over the course of the week before the next puzzle is released, students work against the countdown to gain the maximum number of points to take them up the rankings.

    Meeting with Mrs Szymanski on Mondays afterschool, Ely College has four teams;  ‘Arsenic Oxide’, ‘Cypher Pros’, ‘Rubiks Riddlers’ and ‘Calculator 5’. These students have shown us some excellent Ely 8 attributes and have even been leading their own learning by challenging each other with further cryptographic puzzles outside of school, meeting up to enjoy the social benefits of team work as well as the brain teasers on offer each week. Earlier this month we had some exciting news for our new Cryptography Club.

    The University of Manchester inform us that team ‘Rubik Riddlers’, which is comprised of team members George Sivyer, Lukas Bonilla, Zach Wymer and Aidan Rogers have won a spot-prize for their quick work during Chapter 1. While there are a limited number of highly sought after prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the final rankings, these spot prizes are chosen at random from all teams who have solved each Chapter once the subsequent Chapter is released. Each team member won a £10 amazon gift voucher.

    Congratulations to the Rubik Riddlers!

    There is much to celebrate amongst the other teams as well. All our student have risen up the leaderboard in the last few weeks with their quick solutions, beating other local schools we know are also in the competition, such as King’s Ely and Comberton Village College. Well done all of you! Keep up the good work.


    Arsenic Oxide:                                                63

    CypherPros:                                                   164

    Calculator5:                                                    278

    Rubiks Riddlers:                                             301


    The Mavis Bateys (Kings Ely):                         610

    Epic Decoders (Comberton VC):                    215

    The Turinators (Comberton VC):                    756


    If you are interested in Cryptography and want to learn more, or want to play along with the challenges each week please follow the link here. You don't need to be an expert mathematician or a computing whizz to take part. You just need to be good at problem-solving and thinking logically.

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