Category Archives: Literature

Author Visit – Rachel McIntyre

Rachel McIntyre Visits AGGS
Rachel McIntyre Visits AGGS

The English department were very happy to welcome Rachel McIntyre to AGGS on July 6th. Rachel, who has had three books for teenagers published in the last two years, came to deliver creative writing workshops to year 9 and year 10 and to talk to students in the library. The workshops were fast-paced and engaging. Students learned how to create an original character and how to plot a story. Who knew year 9 had such dark imaginations? Rachel talked to aspiring writers in the library, suggesting ways in which they could develop their writing.

Huge thanks to Rachel to taking time out to visit us.

Cecelia Ahern Visit, 30th March 2017

Cecilia Ahern Visit, March 2017

The award winning and worldwide bestselling author Cecelia Ahern came to Altrincham Grammar School for Girls yesterday, to launch her new novel for Young Adults, Perfect.  The visit was arranged by our Librarian, Mrs Hodgson who also conducted the interview.

The novel, the sequel to the hugely popular Flawed, concludes the story of Celestine North, a 17 year old, in hiding and on the run from the Guild, a court set up to rid the world of Flaws.  Her perfect life is ruined by the Guild when she herself is found Flawed and through the process she is forced to question everything about her life and the society she lives in.

It was fascinating to hear Cecelia’s inspiration for the story and her conviction that everyone should be allowed to make mistakes so that they can learn and grow.  She said “None of us are perfect. Let us not pretend that we are, or be afraid that we’re not”.

Cecelia revealed that the secret to her success lies in the fact that she always burns a Jo Malone candle when she writes.  She keeps office hours and handwrites everything in Bic biro!  A born story teller, Cecelia’s first (unpublished) novel was written at exactly the age of her audience, 14 years old, and was called Beans on Toast and a Bottle of Beer!  She advised the pupils to find something that they really loved to do and make that their work so that, like her, they could lead a life that they loved.

The pupils themselves were delighted to be able to meet such a successful author.  “It was really inspiring” said one girl, “I can’t wait get home and start reading”.

AGGS – Cedar Mount Book Donation Scheme

book-project-6 What is the link between Cedar Mount School in Gorton and AGGS in Bowdon? They are both within the Greater Manchester vicinity. Both teaching institutions, providing an education for young people between the ages of 11-16 years old. Both part of the Bright Futures Education Trust. These three elements have brought the schools together through a book donating scheme this October.

Cedar Mount invested into a brand new library in their school; a new hub from which they could encourage more pupils to frequently read, outside of the classroom. With their efforts, the school has seen a gradual increase in the numbers of students using the library. A handful of students even arrive before school at 8am, in order to use the library as a haven, to read and relax before their official school day begins. This new facility sounds like an exciting new prospect for the whole school community, yet what if I told you that their library had no more than 200 books for their 900 students? Those figures immediately expose that the collection of books were too small, unvaried and inadequate for their pupils’ ambitions, interests and abilities. The select group of avid library users, were already running out of material that they found interesting to read.

AGGS & Cedar Mount Book projectIn the September 2016, Cedar Mount approached AGGS and asked if the school could help out to help out with this severe shortage of books. Notably, without the Bright Futures Trust binding the two schools together, this may not have been possible. Collaboratively, as a school, as a community, we could do more than our fair share to help the students of Cedar Mount. After all, the students of Cedar Mount deserved more than 200 books. With support from the English department, a group of Year 9 and 10 students led by myself, a Year 13, took on the challenge of managing this project. We met up every Tuesday for 5 weeks and created a PowerPoint, delivered assemblies and managed the logistics of book donations.  We asked all pupils and staff to donate at least one book that they had enjoyed and felt someone else would like to read. I am glad to announce that AGGS gathered nearly 2,000 books for Cedar Mount library, which exceeded any figure that either school expected.
This donating scheme is an example of what the Trust is about; sharing resources, whether it be teaching techniques or books. The Trust aims to improve all of its schools, by collaboratively learning from one another. This collaboration is rarely done on a student level so therefore we utilised this donating scheme as an opportunity to begin to build a relationship with the pupils from each school. We encouraged every person who donated a book, to attach a note to the book, explaining why each one was donated. These messages were not only to help pupils choose which books to read from a pupil perspective but also encourage students to expand their interests by trying a different genre, author or style.

AGGS & Cedar Mount Book projectOn Friday 21st October, Cedar Mount’s Year 11 leadership team and the AGGS book donating group met and discussed the scheme and brainstormed ideas of how we could help one another in the future. We met in the AGGS library and the beginning of the meeting was full of nervous energy and anticipation. Admittedly, with the help of cake and juice to ease the atmosphere, pupils and teachers from both schools laughed, thanked and even cried at what we had achieved together. The handing over of the 2,000 books felt satisfying for all participants of the scheme. A positive relationship has now been set in motion; AGGS have given a scrapbook to Cedar Mount, which is now in the Cedar Mount library, where pupils are responding with messages regarding their thoughts and feelings about the donated books. AGGS have been invited to visit Cedar Mount Library and collect the scrapbook as a momentum in the following years.

In principle, the scheme was purely about solving an issue together by simply giving away valued books from one pupil to another. Giving and sharing are the most rewarding actions that you can do. What I, and many of my fellow pupils have taken from this scheme, is that giving is so much easier than you first might think. I strongly hold the belief that the more individuals group together to help someone other than ourselves, the more likely it is that we would live in a happier, more fulfilled and stronger community, country and even global society. This scheme is an exemplary example of this belief.

Olivia N

Year 13

English Guest Speaker

English Guest Speaker - Professor Tiffany Stern about Sheridan’s 18th century play The Rivals

English Guest Speaker, May 16On the 17th May we were very pleased to welcome Professor Tiffany Stern from Oxford University, to AGGS to deliver a lecture to our year 13 literature students on Sheridan’s 18th century play The Rivals. We were also pleased to welcome 12 sixth form students from Chetham’s School of Music, who are also studying the same play.
Tiffany Stern is Professor of Early Modern Drama (English Faculty) at Oxford University and a Beaverbrook and Bouverie Fellow in English (University College). She is also the editor for the Mermaid edition of The Rivals that girls have been studying for their A2 examination.

English Guest Speaker - Professor Tiffany Stern about Sheridan’s 18th century play The RivalsUsing a selection of very informative slides, Tiffany took us through the exciting (and at time infamous) life of Sheridan and how his life events influenced both the themes and characterisations present in the play; she also looked at the Bath setting in detail, explaining why it was unusual in the 18thc to set a play outside London and why Bath was so English-Guest-Speaker_May16-1significant for the themes Sheridan wanted to explore.

This was a wonderful opportunity for the students both to add to their knowledge of AO2 and 4 assessment criteria for the examination and to experience a high level lecture in preparation for their university life in September. We are very grateful for Tiffany having made the journey up from Oxford for us!

Here are some of the comments from the girls:

I found the comment Tiffany made on all the characters containing elements of Sheridan and his wife Elizabeth really interesting’ Niamh

I liked her point about Jack Absolute being both whimsical and devious’ Thasmia

The point Tiffany made about there being untenable conflict within the text, made me think about how the themes worked in more depth’ Holly

The point that stuck with me was the comment that Jack is his own biggest rival’ Victoria

I enjoyed: Lydia Languish likes trashy novels and wishes she were in one and in fact in The Rivals she is nearly the star of one with Jack’ Katherine

This was a really useful lecture and will help me a lot in the examination’ Afiya