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All the latest News from Ely College

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  • PLEDGES & Futures Day

    Published 23/01/18

    PLEDGES and Futures Day - 22nd January 2018

    We had an amazing time yesterday for PLEDGES and Futures Day. We hope students were able to take alot away with them regarding making healthy choices and the support available to them concerning their physical, mental and sexual wellbeing.

    A huge thank you goes out to all our guest speakers and outside agencies who made the day such a success. Each of them offered something new and insightful to engage with students in a meaningful way.

    PLEDGES challenges have gone from strength to strength in school, beyond the classroom and are incorporated into the 'Session 6' afterschool programmes. They are a vital part of the changes that Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust bring to all schools in their family.

    Similar to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, PLEDGES help students develop character and responsibility that can be taken into their adult life. They encourage students to get involved with the wider experiences the college has to offer them.

    In the evening we opened up the converstion on mental health to the public as we hosted a pop up cafe with Talking FreEly, guest speaker Nastasha Devon MBE and the Bishop Laney student council. It was an inspirational event!

    Here are a few highlights of the day:

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  • Talking FreELY & Ely College host teen mental health awareness event with MBE guest speaker

    Published 15/01/18

    Talking FreELY and Ely College are working together to provide an event ‘by students, for students’ with the aim of encouraging them to talk openly about their mental health.

    The mental health of children and young adults has been increasingly in the news in recent months, with organisations such as Young Minds campaigning for the government to place more emphasis on preventative measures and to give young people a voice when it comes to their own mental health.

    The event will follow a similar format to events held previously by Talking FreELY, on this occasion, with the signature ‘talking volunteers’ and pop-up cafe being run by Bishop Laney Sixth Form students, as they invite younger students and other local schools to join in the discussion as part of their annual PLEDGES and Futures Day.

    Anthony Sigrist, CEO of Talking FreELY, says ‘We are delighted to be working with Ely College. Incidence of mental illness amongst young people is increasing more rapidly than within any other age group yet it is often overlooked. Projects like ours are essential in supporting our young people and making a lasting impact on how society perceives and tackles mental illness, now, and in the future.’

    Principal, Richard Spencer added to this: “Talking openly about mental health is critical to identifying issues and targeting support. We are so pleased to be working with Talking FreELY, and are honoured to welcome Natasha Devon on 22nd January as we celebrate another positive PLEDGES and Futures Day centred on personal well-being. We hope that this event will bring together Ely people to share perspectives, experiences and solutions.”

    From 4pm the event will open to the general public with a Talking FreELY pop-up cafe and a discussion hosted by renowned mental health writer, campaigner and pundit Natasha Devon MBE.

    Natasha tours schools and colleges throughout the UK, delivering talks as well as conducting research on mental health, body image, gender and social equality. She regularly gives evidence to the Education and Health Select Committees, representing the interests of teenagers and teachers. In 2016 she was named one of the 500 most influential people in Britain by The Times and Debretts and was awarded an MBE for services to young people in 2015.

    The event will be free of charge, for all to attend. This event is not just for teens and their parents. Join the conversation as other local mental health and wellbeing organisations will be attending to share information about their projects.

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  • First Gold PLEDGES award

    Published 10/01/18

    Au-some news! A hard working Franklin House student has become the first ever to achieve a Gold PLEDGES accolade. This comes just 12 months since the academy officially rolled out the reward and behaviour system at Ely College.

    Harriet Cree in Year 11 took part in a number of activities to achieve her Bronze, Silver and Gold PLEDGES. These included participating in the student council as a student ambassador, raising money for charity through events and fundraisers for the Kenya Project, assisting the school with consultations and parent’s evening, and heading up a student voice feedback project.

    Speaking about her achievement, Harriett said: “It’s so great to see that all my hard work has paid off. I have enjoyed working towards my PLEDGES and I’m excited to continue to challenge myself further and help others with their PLEDGES.” Adding to her PLEDGES points 'beyond the classroom' was the secret to her success, with her community action via the local Scouts all counting. She added: “The Gold PLEDGE means a lot, and I was surprised at how quickly I achieved it. Working with the Scouts as a Youth Leader has really driven me to get involved in projects I otherwise might not have.”

    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. Students gain their PLEDGES through activity 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 don’t. I’d like to congratulate Harriet and look forward to giving out many more gold awards in the months to come”.



    (holding 'gold' sign whilst helping staff with 'challenge' in their teaching practice... ooh the foreshadowing!)

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  • 12 Hours of Sport & Ward Visit

    Published 19/12/17

    Ely College students visit children and teen cancer wards after an epic ‘12 Hours of Sport’.

    Twelve students from Ely College were selected to be part of a special trip to Addenbrooke’s Hospital today (19th) to offer holiday cheer and gifts to children on the cancer wards after sweating for 12 hours to raise money.

    The students all participated in the ‘12 Hours of Sport’ event, which gives Key Stage 3 students at Ely College the opportunity to raise money on behalf of the Malcolm Whales Foundation (MWF).

    Students arrived at the college before 7am and worked solidly for 12 hours in the gym and fitness suite, raising over £2000. Staff were very impressed with the dedication and effort shown, but also the leadership qualities that shone through on the day as students supported each other and steered their own pace to keep each other motivated. Mr Patman, PE teacher at Ely College and trustee of the MWF said “While we like to keep it interesting for them by facilitating games and different sports, this year students really stepped up and worked exceptionally well together.”

    For going above and beyond, twelve students were invited to take £500 of the money raised and become elves for the day. They visited the C2 children’s oncology and haematology ward in Addenbrooke’s to deliver sacks full of presents, board games and puzzles that would benefit the ward for months to come and help to put a smile on poorly children’s faces this Christmas.

    Year 9 student, Josh Lawrence, said: “A lot of kids are going through painful treatment now so they can spend recovery time at home for Christmas. It was nice to play a game of Connect 4 with them and put a smile on their face. They were so grateful for the gifts, as were the nurses at Addenbrooke’s.”

    Ely College will continue to cherish their link with the Malcolm Whales Foundation and we look forward to next year’s fundraising efforts with the Dorset Walk in July. Any other local schools keen to join us for our 12 Hours of Sport 2018, are welcome to contact Mr Patman via the college.

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  • PLEDGES & Futures "Charities" Day

    Published 19/12/17

    Ely College students organise their first PLEDGES and Futures ‘Charity Day’ in aid of five House Charities.

    Ely College students celebrated their first ‘Charities Day’ which raised nearly £2000 for their chosen charities.

    This action packed event, dedicated to fundraising, is one of the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust’s well-established PLEDGES and Futures Days, where students are given the opportunity to work towards their PLEDGES or broaden their experiences as they work towards their future careers.

    In the lead up to the big day, the students came together in their form groups and Houses to vote for their House charities for the year. It was a difficult process as so many worthy causes were on the table, but overall each House leaned towards a charity that helped children. Students shared their thoughts and empathised with young people their age who face difficult challenges or life threating conditions.  This year, Ely College will be supporting the following five charities:

    • Arthur Rank Hospice - Scott House
    • Little Miracles - Etheldreda House
    • C9 Cancer Ward at Addenbrooke’s Hospital- Franklin House
    • Make A Wish Foundation- Turing House
    • with Bishop Laney Sixth Form supporting the Restricted Growth Association.

    Students brainstormed fundraising ideas, planned and prepared their stalls and the culmination of their hard work came together on Wednesday as ‘Charities Day 2017’ took place. The school site was divided into event areas with a food court, media zone, disco and even a haunted house! Soak the teacher was very popular as were glitter makeovers and various delicious cake sales.  As well as the traditional lucky dips and tombola’s we had some fresh ideas. From karaoke to Elfie Selfie stations, console room to sweet casinos; there was something for everyone!

    The event was well supported by the local community, with Gourmet Brownie and the Ely Fire Service joining in the fun to raise money for these great causes. Principal of Ely College, Richard Spencer, thanked his staff and all who supported the event and said: “PLEDGES and Futures Days are so important because they play a vital part in helping our students to develop empathy as well as more tangible skills such as the teamwork and responsibility that comes with event planning.

    “Handling cash with an insight into customer service and building communications skills that will benefit them throughout their lives, preparing them for life beyond the classroom. We are delighted with how the students have embraced their House Charities this year and we look forward to running fundraisers for them throughout the year.”

    Head Girl, Jaden Coe said: “What an awesome day. Enjoying the games and activities with my friends this close to the end of term has put us all in a very Christmassy mood. I enjoyed working with everyone in my form group to come up with an idea to raise the most money. One of the houses will win and while its is nice to add some friendly inter-house competitions to the mix, we are really pleased the money will go to help children and their families who deserve it. We want to thank our form tutors for helping us raise so much.”

    PLEDGES were introduced at Ely College last year and are vital in ensuring students leave college as well rounded individuals, to support their academic and career paths. A system of rewards and behaviour, PLEDGES help students develop character and responsibility that can be taken into their adult life. They encourage students to get involved with the wider experiences the college and community has to offer them.

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  • Rubik’s Cube Inter-House challenge

    Published 19/12/17

    Students at Ely College share their fascination with Rubik’s Cube puzzles and compete in House challenge

    A common interest in Rubik’s Cube style puzzles has led to students collaborating in a friendly inter-House competition to speed solve this classic toy.

    A maths lesson in cubed numbers with Mrs Goodey at Ely College shed light on a popular hobby shared by a number of students: “It was lovely to see passion and confidence in students as they shared their hobbies linked to maths and problem solving”. In their spare time, Year 7 Cameron Lamb and Year 10 Oscar Barter, push themselves to speed solve different types of Rubik’s Cubes. Both have competed in national competitions and their teacher was keen to help them share their hobby after they impressed their class mates. Demonstrations have prompted some friendly competition and the possibility of starting a ‘Session 6’ afterschool club.

    Session 6 at Ely College extends the learning day to 4:15pm for students who wish to stay for after-school activities or additional curriculum assistance. Enrichment opportunities like inter-house competitions and extended curriculum day, including PLEDGES and Futures Days, allow students to explore leadership and personal skills that can be taken into their adult life.



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  • Mental Health Talk

    Published 12/12/17

    Ely College is pleased to be working closely with Talking FreELY to help our young people open up about mental health. This great talk is coming up in the new year to raise #MentalHealthAwareness. Definitely a date for the diary!

    Check out the Talking FreELY site until then for more useful info. Our students are always welcome to chat to Mrs Riches about their concerns or how we can make a change to create an open, supportive culture around mental health in school.

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  • Congratulations to winner Ellen Olley as Palace of Westminster welcomes the Debating Champions of South East Cambridgeshire

    Published 11/12/17

    Fourteen Year 11 students from schools across Cambridgeshire gathered in Westminster last Thursday night for the grand final of Lucy Frazer’s Parliamentary Inter Schools Debating Competition 2017. 

    The competition final was judged by BBC special correspondent, Lucy Manning. 

    The motion debated in the final was ‘this house would legalise all drugs’.  Arguments on both sides were well considered, well articulated and persuasive.  

    The finalists, all winners of their school’s initial in house round, were representing Ely College, Soham Village College, King’s Ely, Bottisham Village College, Impington Village College, Linton Village College and  Witchford Village College.

    Lucy Frazer MP reacted to the evening saying, “When I first came up with the idea to hold an inter school debating competition, I could not have known that I would have so much support and positive feedback from all the teachers who make the competition possible,  giving so much of their time to helping organise the students. Four years on, the level of commitment and calibre of debating is clear to see and I am glad I was not the one judging as it was so hard to choose a winner.  I hope everyone involved, including all the students who didn’t make the final, have gained a taste for how exciting it is to have the confidence to speak in public and that they will take this forward with them as they continue into higher education and the workplace.” 

    The winning students were Katie and Ellen representing Soham Village College and Ely College respectively.

    They agreed this accolade was a great end to the winter term and a nice early Christmas present! 

    Katie said “It was a really great opportunity and really exciting to get into the final. I'm thrilled to have won and had the chance to visit parliament”. 

    Ellen added “After working on these debates in school, we were all excited to enjoy the culmination of our hard work as we visited Westminster last Thursday. We entered the House and being there in person, in this iconic building, was very inspiring.  It has given me some strong aspirations for the future.  There was some hot competition and great debaters with a lot of experience.  I’m just so grateful for being offered this opportunity. I enjoyed the feeling of a debating environment and seeing how the House of Commons works; gaining an insight into the diversity of voices.  I had never done anything like this competition before, this is a new skill which I am keen to build upon.  We have discussed the potential for a Debating club which I’m sure would be well supported in school.”

    Also present at the debate were representatives from the charitable organisation ‘Debate Mate’ whose philosophy that debating skills are the key to social mobility, higlights the importance of initiatives such as this.  

    Lucy has involved Debate Mate at the initial stages of the competition for the last few years. Debate Mate organised a training day for students selected by schools in the constituency, sponsored by Marshalls of Cambridge.  

    Representative Alex Dugan said,  “It was fantastic to see the progression in the students, from the first debating session in September to the final on the 7th December. Everyone spoke with confidence and brought some very interesting arguments, particularly when analysing the potential effects of drug legalisation on the NHS. We hope that they all carry on debating, and continue to develop the critical thinking and public speaking skills that debating develops.”

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  • Year 11 Presentation Evening

    Published 23/11/17

    We would like to invite back our previous 2016 / 2017 Year 11 students on Thursday 7th December at 6pm to be presented with their GCSE certificates. Families are warmly invited to accompany them and watch as they are presented with their certificates.

    The evening is a lovely opportunity to catch-up with old friends and teachers, as well as celebrate your achievements.  To allow us to make the necessary arrangements, including refreshments, we would be grateful if you could confirm your son / daughter’s attendance and the number of family members who will be joining them.  Please complete the online reply form by following this link:

    The last date for replies is Thursday 30th November.


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  • Newly appointed Bishop Laney Student Council visits Ely Cathedral to practice committee skills  ​​​​​​​

    Published 22/11/17

    Bishop Laney Sixth Form’s newly appointed Student Council visited Ely Cathedral on Wednesday for the first stage of training in their new roles.

    The Student Council visited the Cathedral as its staff set up for the annual Christmas Food Fair. During their visit, students gained an insight into the steps of organising and running a large scale event, gaining skills they can now implement as they organise future events at Bishop Laney Sixth Form.

    During the day, the Student Council saw each stage of setting up and the importance of teamwork in creating a successful event. They took part in a mock committee meeting, where they were able to help make important decisions and learnt to consider different viewpoints. They also learnt how to take responsibility as a team for organising and planning an event, the etiquette of working in a team and had an introduction into the types of functions that can be run.

    Adam Steels, leader of Bishop Laney Sixth Form said: “We are delighted to have been able to re-establish the Student Council at Bishop Laney Sixth Form this year. We feel it is a vital aspect of the student experience and provides the opportunity for the students involved to take responsibility and organise events, benefitting not only their fellow students, but the Sixth Form as a whole and the wider community.

    “The time the students invest and the skills they develop are recognised through the PLEDGES Plus Scheme we run at Bishop Laney Sixth Form. The scheme recognises students for their involvement in extra-curricular activities which enhances their employability and the skills needed at university.”

    Sydney Owen, Chair of Bishop Laney Student Council said: “We would like to thank Ely Cathedral for inviting us along for the day. It was really informative and hands-on and we have learnt so much that we can use in the planning and hosting of our own events at Bishop Laney Sixth Form. It has really helped us to bond as a team and we are excited for the year ahead where we will be working with other students in the school to organise a calendar of events they would like to take part in.”

    The council comprises of 10 representatives with responsibility for a range of areas including student support and welfare, as well as coordinating students’ charitable contributions. 

    Bishop Laney Sixth Form is now taking applications for its September 2018 intake. They offer a range of A Levels, technical, applied and professional qualifications at Level 2 and Level 3. If you would like to find out more information about the Post 16 provisions on offer at Bishop Laney, please contact reception on 01353 652818 or visit the website


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  • Battlefields Trip 2017

    Published 22/11/17

    Ely College students visit Battlefields, marking WWI centenary years since losses at Ypres and the Somme.

    Last week saw sixth-six Year 9 history students from Ely College take a poignant trip to Northern France and Belgium as part of their annual Battlefields visit. This school trip has taken place every year since 2003, with this year being the largest due to its popularity. Studying the losses at these historic sites along the Western Front forms a clear focus allowing students to understand the sheer scale and sacrifice involved in WWI. Experiencing the conditions and seeing the places for themselves adds an extra dimension.

    Visiting the Thiepval ‘Memorial to the Missing’ exactly 101 years to the day the battle ended, was particular moving for staff and students. Rachael Mustill, history teacher at Ely College and trip organiser said: ”We were lucky to have a guided tour from the Commonweath War Graves Commission; an excellent insight! We try and fit in as many key sites as possible over the 3 days and each year Ely College students take part in the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. Students represented the college and our community with pride and the utmost respect. We have had wonderful feedback from parents and know that our students gain a lot from this visit.”

    After showing their respect during the laying of a wreath at the Menin Gate, students enjoy time to relax and take in the continental atmosphere. Students bond over their love of Belgian chocolate and band together, as taking a tour of the trenches means truly getting stuck in the mud together. The Cambridgeshire Regiment local historians got in touch on twitter and we have since connected to build momentum and host a centenary display in school. This is a meaningful and popular trip; one that will definitely run again in the future as students remember those fallen.




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  • Young thespians tread the boards at Mumford Theatre

    Published 20/11/17

    Ely College young thespians tread the boards and gain crucial life skills in world’s largest youth drama festival.

    Last week students took to the stage at the Mumford Theatre in Cambridge to perform an abridged adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors’.  They joined young people from across the UK to take part in the world’s largest youth drama festival this autumn, run by Shakespeare Schools Foundation.

    The cultural education charity has recruited over a thousand schools across the country to perform as part of its annual Festival. These students are the latest cohort of a record 280,000 young people to have participated in the Festival since it began. 292 performance nights will take place throughout the UK between 16th October and 8th December. After months of preparation, Ely College students made their community proud as they bravely stepped onto the Mumford Theatre stage to a paying audience.


    The experience can give young people confidence and self esteem to last a lifetime. Ely College student, Sam, who took one of the lead roles this year, said: “I have made a lot of friends around school now and am a lot calmer and happier. I have learned that there is nothing to shy away from. I am proud of what we have achieved.”

    Other students added: “I was so nervous on a professional stage but now I just want to do it again and again.”   “It was a great experience, but it was challenging to learn so many lines, and olde English ones at that!”  “Working as an ensemble member was demanding, any slight movement out of place would have been noticed.  It’s taught me how important team work is!”

    Kolade Agboke, drama teacher at Ely College, said: “At the College, we work hard to provide a wide variety of opportunities for our students, ensuring they have high aspirations for themselves and go into the world as well rounded individuals capable of anything. Over the course of the night our students showed that they have these skills and more as they took on a complex Shakespearian play and made it funny and accessible to their peers, whilst retaining the dialogue and atmosphere that a paying audience fully appreciated. Their hard work shone through and they made us all proud.”


    Taking part in the Festival leaves a real legacy. SSF Chief Executive Ruth Brock says: “Every workplace needs people who are confident and can work as a team and every community needs people who can get on with other people of very different backgrounds. Taking part in the Festival teaches these things - and, crucially, it helps young people make friends and have fun.”

    Ms Seymour, Head of Drama at Ely College and Mr Agboke are determined to continue this legacy and are planning for a repeat performance of the Comedy of Errors at Ely College, Needham’s Hall on December 14th.  Tickets will go on sale later this month. The Festival brings over 65,000 people from the local community to the theatre. Of these, 43% say they had never been to their local theatre before. Join these students for another great show!





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