Why RS Matters to Me:

A lot of people assume RS is just a study of a few different religions, maybe the differences between them or the practises which may be involved in them. In actuality, it’s far from this. RS is about understanding everything from human nature, to how we should live our lives, to how and why the universe was created. It answers all the big questions, tying them together with both religious and secular ideas. A big part of this is ethics and philosophy. I think the best part of philosophy is how everything flows together, meaning you can jump between ideas and link them together, using them to answer part of a bigger picture or to focus on a finer detail; another thing is how easily and frequently it applies to everyday life. Every time you make a decision, it can be regarded as morally right or wrong, and which one of these it is classed as is down to philosophy.

However, just because this subject covers such large and important questions, finding out about it doesn’t have to be so daunting. There have been many great books about philosophy and RS, and a large portion of these are actually fiction.

One such book which is particularly enjoyable, as well as being approachable, is ‘Sophie’s World’ by Jostein Gaarder. This book follows the story of 14-year-old Sophie Amundsen, and a philosopher, Alberto Knox, who’s mission is to teach Sophie about the history of philosophy. This book is great for understanding the development of philosophical ideas over the course of history, and also has an enticing, yet philosophical, plot.

Another similar read is ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ series, a four-book series by Douglas Adams. These books combine science, mathematics, technology and philosophy into an incredible yet informative story about a man called Arthur Dent, who is caught up in a complex series of events and a bizarre journey through the universe.

One of my favourite philosophical fiction books is one I read recently from the school library, called “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery. It tells the unique story of three very different people from very different backgrounds: the middle-aged concierge of a large apartment building, Renée; a twelve-year-old girl, who lives in the building, called Paloma, and a resident who newly moves in, Kakuro. They all share a passion for philosophy, art, literature and culture, but for different reasons, have kept this secret. The book is a brilliant collection of Paloma’s “Profound Thoughts” and of Renée’s quest to keep her intelligence under wraps. It has both an amazing plot and an abundance of important thoughts and questions. Reading books such as these is a brilliant way to gain an understanding of philosophical questions, without necessarily having to tackle heavier non-fiction works.

The skills you learn in RS are unique to those learnt in many other subjects, because they can be applied not only to everyday life, but to other areas within school. RS teaches you about problem solving, logical thinking, and how to give clear and developed arguments to a statement or question. It allows you to be evaluative and creative. It contributes greatly to writing skills; RS is very beneficial when it comes to forming solid, persuasive answers. Debating issues in lessons is brilliant for confidence building, teamworking skills, leadership and communication. Above all, RS is an opportunity to be incredibly passionate, whether it be about an event, a belief or an ethical issue.

RS is, without a doubt, one of my favourite subjects, because there are always opportunities to get involved and to voice your thoughts, each lesson brings something new, exciting and different, introducing you to new cultures and ideas which can literally change your life – and not least because of the amazing RS teachers at our school.

There really is something to love for everyone when it comes to RS: and for many people, like me, that’s basically just all of it.

By Nishi, Year 9

Citizenship Campaign Makers Final

For the past couple of months, the whole of year 9 have been working on a Campaign Makers project in their Citizenship lessons. This project has led them to learning about social issues in their local area, to finding a charity who are just as passionate about that issue as they are. The whole year group have become active in tackling their chosen issue, raising money for their charity, and many may continue to support the charity in the future.

Groups of a few students chose an issue, and prepared an informative and persuasive presentation about their issue and charity to show to their classes. The best group from each class were voted for by their own peers, and the winning group from each class was put through to the final, which was held on Friday 17th.

There was a very wide range of issues discussed during the final, from sexism in the streets to addiction, from mental health to gang violence.

Each group put forward an explanation of why they were passionate about their social issue, why they had chosen their charity and what they had done to help. They had chosen a variety of creative, and very successful, fundraising methods; there were car boot sales, dog walking, car washes and sponsored walks. All the presentations were incredibly creative and effective, including homemade videos, songs, dances and role plays.

After all 7 groups had presented, the judges reached a decision. The winners of the £500 prize to their chosen charity, generously donated by the PTA, were…

Grace S (9-3), Rosa H (9-4) and Amelie Q (9-2) from 9A! Their chosen charity was The Wellspring, a homelessness charity based in Stockport. They had an eye-opening presentation about the reality of homelessness, an engaging true or false quiz, and an amazingly emotive dance capturing the story of someone who was homeless for a part of their life. They also raised an amazing £200 from a car wash and cake sale for The Wellspring, as well as the £500 prize.

The whole year group really enjoyed becoming active citizens; getting involved with issues they are passionate about near them and raising money and awareness to try and make a difference. Thank you to the three judges: Mrs Ogunmyiwa; Maddie H, the AGGS charity head girl, and Sue, part of the PTA, and thank you to Miss Mitchell for organising everything and making the final run so smoothly.

Read the following post written by one of the Year 9 groups talking about the charity they have chosen to campaign for: The Trussell Trust… Read their post here »

RS Quiz No 6

  1. Can you name the Muslim female World War 2 veteran who was awarded a George Cross for bravery?
  2. What was the name of the first mosque in Britain and who founded it?
  3. Where does the musical instrument the lute come from?
  4. When the  Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation as a Prophet, who was the first to believe in him and support him?
  5. 2 women in particular are mentioned as eternal role models in Chapter 66 of the Quran. Can you name them?
  6. Who built the first pinhole camera around 1000 AD?
  7. What does Allahu Akbar mean?
  8. What chapter in the Quran is named after a much revered lady?
  9. What contribution did early Muslims make to modern surgery?
  10. Do you know what the words ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslim’ mean?

Click here to see the answers

Campaign Makers

Hi AGGS! In year 9 we’re doing a project called Campaign Makers, where my group and I had to choose a social issue that we were especially passionate about and also a charity that promotes the same cause.

We decided that our social issue was going to be homelessness; an issue which is most prevalent in Manchester currently, and as our charity we chose Trussell Trust, as they provide excellent help for people in difficult, unimaginable situations. This charity campaign to make sure that, one day, no one will have to turn for their help. They support a nationwide network of food banks and together they provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty.

Currently in the UK, more than 14 million people are living in poverty – including 4.5 million children. Imagine that, being a young, vulnerable person out on the streets all day, all year. The Trussell Trust support more than 1,200 food bank centres in the UK to provide a minimum of three days’ nutritionally-balanced emergency food to people who have been referred in crisis, as well as support to help people resolve the crises they face. Between April 2018 and March 2019, food banks in their network, provided a record 1.6 million food supplies to people experiencing the current homelessness crisis, a 19% increase on the previous year!

As part of the project, we were set the task of organising a social action, this means we had to be pro-active in raising awareness for our social issue in our community. So far, we have created ‘care packages’ including some essential items that a homeless person living rough may require, including toilet paper, tinned goods, hygiene products such as feminine products and wipes and much more. Now, we’ve understood how something so simple, such as these necessities, can be much more valuable and long-lasting for homeless person. Not only that, but they can also help people in crisis maintain dignity and feel human again. These care packages are now going to Trafford’s Trussell Trust Food Bank, in appreciation of the work they do for our community.

As well as making these packages, to raise awareness about our social issue, homelessness, we decided to write a blog post that would feature on the school’s Humanities blog to, hopefully, educate our fellow students on why we believe homelessness is a crisis to be dealt with today, not tomorrow…

We hope this inspires you to be more pro-active in your community and educated you more about such a significant issue, that is happening right now. If you would like to join us in demolishing homelessness for good, then you can drop off your food parcel or a non-food items to the RS department. For more information on what they are specifically looking for, you can visit their website – https://www.trusselltrust.org/

Thank you for taking your time to read this,

From students in Year 9

Geography Club Wins Second Prize!

Our team of Year 7 Geography Club members (Su M, Anna RT, Lucy L, Sophia K and Avni D) have won second prize in the United Utilities Vlogstars competition! They have been awarded with £50 Amazon vouchers and framed certificates. School are also in receipt of a £250 cheque.

Well done to them and thanks for all of your votes!

RS Quiz No. 5 – Easter

Easter Quiz

  1. The second largest holiday for eating candy is Easter. Which is the first?
  2. In which country did the idea of the Easter bunny start?
  3. What was the purpose of the Easter Act passed in the UK in 1928?
  4. True or false
    A lamb is one of the symbols of Easter.
  5. What does the egg represent at Easter?
  6. What does “resurrection” actually mean?
  7. What is the name of the apostle who betrayed Jesus?
  8. Where was Jesus’s broken body laid to rest?
  9. Complete this quote:“He then began to teach them that the ___ __ ___ must suffer many things and be _______ by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after ____ days rise again.
    Matthew 8:31
  10. Why are Greek Easter eggs red?

Click here to see the answers

SGS MUN

Students at AGGS participated in the Stockport MUN competition last weekend. The team represented India and explored topics on the environment, disarmament and other general political issues. Our team were all relatively new delegates however all rose to the challenge and spoke clearly and confidently about many different issues. We had two of our more experienced MUN members chairing committees, one of whom chaired the Security Council, an amazing honor:-)

Sunday saw India take to the stage in the General Assembly with the delegation speaking and their resolution being passed. A number of students achieved awards, as our picture shows. Well done to all involved, Mr Humphry’s and Miss Mitchell are super proud of you 🙂

Year 10 trip to the Town Hall

Year 10 GCSE Citizenship group were hosted by the Local Mayor Tom Ross last Friday at Trafford Town Hall. Students went on a tour of the building and learnt about the role of the local council and the local mayor. The morning culminated in a Q & A in the council chambers. Thank you to Trafford Town hall for bringing local politics to life for the students.

Eleanor’s Petition Gets Heard

Eleanor H of Year 8 created a petition to get a crossing by St Margaret’s Church on the A56. Eleanor gained over 500 signatures and as a result the local council have listened to her present and then debated this issue on Wednesday 20th March 2019.

Eleanor has the backing of the local green party and is a young green member. The local Green Party launch for the May local elections saw the leader of the Green party, Jonathan Bartley, throw his support behind Eleanor’s campaign. She passionately spoke about it and he was very impressed with her campaigning skills, Eleanor is clearly a politician in the making, her achievements are amazing.

See Eleanor presenting her campaign at Trafford Town Hall on Wednesday 20th March – Minute 11:

https://trafford.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/413316

Also – see an article about it on Atrincham Today:
http://altrincham.today/2019/03/18/news/green-party-leader-backs-altrincham-teenagers-campaign-improve-dangerous-a56-crossing/

ALTYMUN 2019

On MUNday 4th March 2019, 6 months of hard work, planning and preparation came together in the AltyMUN 2019 conference hosted at our school. In the months upcoming to this fateful day, the Model UN team here at AGGS slaved away liaising with the participating schools; planning and filming a crisis video; writing up briefing papers for the debate and much more. It was possibly one of the most nerve-wracking days in my life, as I had the most major part in the whole organisation of the process as Secretary-General of the conference.

After school, all the chairs and delegates gathered together in the Main Hall as we waited in bated breath for all attending schools to arrive after making the final preparations. 4 schools attended (Altrincham Grammar School for Boys; Loreto Grammar School; Loreto College and St Ambrose College), each bringing 7-10 delegates. There were students from AGGS also selling snacks that were necessary for the delegates to bribe us chairs! After a short opening ceremony, the chairs took their delegates to their respective committees: Political, Disarmament and Security (DISEC), Economic and Social (EcoSoc); Environment and Human Rights.

Political:

Our committee was intense from the very beginning. We only got around 10 minutes into debate and I could have sworn there had been around 20 Points of Order, with delegates blatantly flouting parliamentary procedure, much to the disappointment of us chairs. However, we were pleased once fed with bribes of cookies from Venezuela! Venezuela also blessed the committee with comedic sound effects when needed. After forcing the delegate France to do a rendition of Dancing Queen by ABBA, we continued our debate on Western Intervention, passing a resolution with the acronym CHINESETAIPEI. In the end we awarded Commended Delegate to Venezuela; Highly Commended to USA and Outstanding to China. The standard of debate was incredibly high and the two of us are extremely pleased to say everyone in the committee spoke at least once!

Safa (Year 12)

Human Rights:

Our committee began with the breaking of bread from France- literally, as he brought in a whole baguette and shared it between chairs and delegates respectively. We debated our first clause while simultaneously voting for who we thought were best for the joke awards- which later led to some discontent from dr Congo, who was unfortunately voted the ‘do nothing candidate’. After numerous points of order from Venezuela and the dream team of UK and Saudi Arabia powering through every single interruption, the session came to an end with USA winning the Outstanding Award; Venezuela winning Highly Commended and Australia winning Commended. It was highly enjoyable for all as by the end, all delegates got involved and had something to say.

Sanaa (Year 12)

Environment:

We started the debate with an ice breaker (even though we were told not to) right from the start it was obvious that the debate was going to be comedic and full of personality. The ice breaker truly allowed for us to get to know each other and for us to get more comfortable with each other. Soon after, many bribes were handed to the chairs from almost every delegate. Then, the debating began, right from the start dozens of points of order were called and all speakers spoke with passion and character. After some more humorous comments from the USA in regards to climate change, we continued to the voting procedure, although our resolution did not pass, there were many amendments that were added. In the end, we awarded Commended delegate to USA; Highly Commended to Saudi Arabia and Outstanding to Dr Congo. Debating was that of an extremely high standard and every single delegate contributed to the debate!

Gowri (Year 9)

Economic and Social:

In the Ecosoc committee, we received clauses from several delegates, where we were debating ‘the issue of economic sanctions on vulnerable populations.’ One of which from China who almost every time he spoke, had to be asked to make their closing remarks. Many delegates spoke very well when taking the floor, responding and giving points of information – some of which from other delegates still had to be asked to come to their closing remarks! The delegate from France had brought in a cake with a familiar face on the front, as it was their birthday, and we were shocked to find he didn’t want to bribe the chairs with it. In the end we awarded Commended delegate to China, Highly Commended Delegate to Russia and Outstanding Delegate to Venezuela. The debate become quite heated between the delegates and even though not everyone spoke, everyone was very engaged!

Emily (Year 11)

Disarmament and Security:

DISEC committee was debating the weaponisation of big data (the analysis of statistics of the public) and saw such recommendations as requesting individual governments to use big data analytics to predict and prevent future terrorist attacks in their own countries from Russia and calling for China to withdraw it’s social credit system (a system already in place in areas in China which gives citizens a credit number according to big data analytics of all their public and private data) from UK. It was argued on many fronts that big data analytics, and the Social Credit System in particular, violate the basic human right to privacy. Others insisted that safety and order should come first. Despite all this fruitful debate, the only amendment actually passed was Venezuela’s command that all countries implement China’s Social Credit System as soon as possible because, like a post apocalyptic, teenage dystopian, it would be “cool”. By the end, the awards given in DISEC were: Commended to Venezuela and China; Highly Commended to France and Outstanding to UK.

Lucy (Year 10)

When committees ended, all delegates and chairs reconvened in the Main Hall to debate the crisis in General Assembly, which proved to be a chaotic affair as the projectors weren’t working for a good 10 minutes, which we regarded as the real crisis. However, Mr Copestake came to the rescue (we’d like to award him the joke award of delegate’s delegate) and we managed to get some debate going. We debated a range of clauses submitted from member states, including the acronym ONEPEOPLEONECHINA. We gave Australia Commended Delegation; Highly Commended Delegation to Venezuela and Outstanding Delegation to China, with each Chinese delegate receiving a special AltyMUN 2019 keyring.

As Secretary-General, I brought AltyMUN 2019 to a close with a closing speech, where I reflected on my first MUN conference 3 years ago and encouraged all delegates to have the confidence to speak out in MUN. I thanked all delegates for coming and the AGGS MUN team for making the conference happen. We thanked our advisors Miss Mitchell and Mr Humphrys for their invaluable help in the conference and gifted them with flowers. AltyMUN 2019 ended when I hit the gong and it fell over in an iconic moment that led to a standing ovation from the floor. Then, Bella and Beth in Year 13 spoke and I was delighted, surprised and incredibly emotional to be gifted flowers and a card from the MUN team for organising the conference. Everyone at AGGS worked incredibly hard to make the conference happen and I am happy to say that it was a huge success.

“I now declare AltyMUN 2019 closed!”

Safa Al-Azami Year 12