WiMUN XI

On Sunday 30 June, delegates from AGGS, representing the states of Poland and the Philippines, made their way over to Withington Girls’ School in order to enjoy a ‘fruitful’ debate at WiMUN XI, the 11th Model UN conference at Withington.

As ambassador for Poland, I obviously had planned for this day months in advance, with well-written and witty acronyms at hand (WARISNOTWARSAWME) and a very bold fashion statement which involved wearing 2 different coloured shoes on each foot. Excited for the day, delegates engaged in (hopefully) friendly table tennis matches before gathering at the opening ceremony before going to their respective committees.

In Security Council, debate was as lively as usual, with the P5 being enemies of the UN as usual. I made an unpopular policy statement to begin with, for describing myself as “buzzin” to attend a “lit” debate, which almost got me evicted before caucus even started. During the course of the debate, we watched in horror as the Economic and Social committee rolled in a giant model of an outdated £1 coin accompanied by an even larger euro symbol – which perhaps was a metaphor for the current state of affairs between the UK and the EU. The Security Council debated my resolution on reforming the Responsibility to Protect, which notably had a clause suggesting the creation of a Security Council group chat to speed up response to atrocity crimes via the communication of emoji. However, Russia (who had been threatening to invade Poland for the whole conference) vetoed it so it didn’t pass. When it came to joke awards, I of course won the most important awards of the conference of “best-dressed” and “best shoes” – turns out my odd choice of footwear was a hit!

WiMUN XI also had a special new committee, called “Historical Council” which imitated Churchill’s War Cabinet with delegates representing people in the cabinet and debating as if it were post-1945, addressing issues such as the Soviet Union and the national healthcare. Our delegate was no longer one representing Poland, but instead represented Richard Casey of Australia, however when asked how the debate was she responded with “dead” – this can be taken both literally and metaphorically. The representative of Richard Casey managed to win “best-looking” and “best shoes” as well as a rather questionable “best couple” with another much-loved delegate.

In Environment, our delegate also had an interesting time by merging with the Netherlands and Ukraine to create “NethPolKraine” relating some rather controversial views on the issues at hand. This year’s conference encouraged everyone to bring reusable bottles to drink from to improve the environment, however the delegate must admit she witnessed a few rogue single-use plastics – no doubt from climate-change deniers such as the USA.

EcoSoc and Political had a fun time in joint committee dancing to Rasputin instead of debating the most captivating and realistic issue of a potential for a shared currency.

In Human Rights, our delegate representing the Philippines made a big impact not only with her fantastic debate, but her newly dip-dyed bright pink hair. Needless to say, she won “best hair”. Our delegates of Poland and Philippines merged with Israel, USA, Turkey and Australia too to create the new country of “PIPUTA”. The delegate notes that merging countries seems to be somewhat of a new trend at conferences. Our delegate of Poland also won “most likely to go to prison” and whilst we want to say that we’re surprised, we’re really not.

After committee and joint committee sessions, we came together for the closing ceremony and the announcements of the real awards. Our school were delighted to receive many awards, as follows:

  • Sanaa K (Philippines, Human Rights) – Highly Commended
  • Lauren F (Philippines, Human Rights Council) – Special Mention
  • Gowri A (Philippines – Special Commission on South-East Asia) – Commended
  • Eva E (Phillippines – Political) – Special Mention
  • Safa A (Poland, Security Council) – Special Mention
  • Ishita A (Poland [Richard Casey], Historical Council) – Special Mention
  • Hedye G (Poland, Human Rights) – Commended
  • Saffiyah K (Poland, Political) – Commended
  • Hania S (Poland, World Health Organisation) – Commended
  • Katie Y (Poland, Environment) – Outstanding
  • Katie Y (Poland, Joint Committee Environment and Youth) – Outstanding

We were incredibly proud of these achievements, especially Katie’s double Outstanding win. However, Katie had to leave early and I had to have the awkward experience of collecting her award and explaining to the whole conference that she had left. WiMUN XI was such a good experience with many awards won, fantastic debate, with all 3 of our first-timers enjoying it and speaking, and we thought we had finished the conference on a good note, but just had to wait for the delegation awards to be announced.

We sat through the awarding for commended and highly commended delegations, itching to take an MUN picture and head home, after the announcement of the overall winners with Outstanding Delegation, so many of us were barely listening until they announced that Poland won!

It was a shock for all of us, as it is the first time in the history of MUN that we have ever won Outstanding Delegation. Delighted, we all came down to collect our award and take a photo. This award was most special because it was our most loved advisor, Miss Mitchell’s, last conference with us. She was the one who started MUN at our school, and we were able to win this award as a thank you for all the help she has given us, and we wish her the best of luck setting up Model UN at her new school to further share the joys of the institution as she has done so here.

Whilst it’s regretful to see her go, we welcome next year full of conferences to enjoy with Mr Humphrys who also attended WIMUN XI with us. Thank you for everything and see you next year for even more ‘fruitful’ debate!

Safa A, 12-7

Safa A won a prize in the New College of the Humanities essay competition

On Tuesday 25th June 2019, New College of the Humanities (NCH) announced the winners of the 2019 NCH London Essay Competition at a special award ceremony in London. We are delighted to announce that Safa A, from Y12, won a £250 third place prize in the Politics essay category.

The competition received 3,600 entries into this year’s competition, so it’s an incredible achievement for Safa to have won this prize. We are truly proud of Safa’s great achievement.

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 »

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

Year 8 Trip to the Synagogue

The trip to the Synagogue was an amazing experience! It was very interesting because it linked perfectly to what Year 8 have been studying in their RS lessons. We got the opportunity to ask the experts lots of questions, which was definitely not wasted! We were shown around and taught about the main features of a Synagogue and what happen when Jewish People worship. I learnt a lot from this trip. For example, we were told that Jewish People have a prayer for the Royal family, which originated as a way of thanking the Royal Family for allowing the Jewish Population back into England after their previous expulsion. Also, the fact that we got to see the Torah, Jewish people’s holy scripture was very exciting!! To be honest, I expected the Synagogue to be architecturally similar to a church; old and traditional. But to my surprise, the Synagogue was very modern. Overall, this was an awesome trip and was very valuable in helping with my understanding in this particular topic about Judaism.

Written by Fatima, Year 8

London Trip

The Y11 and Y10 citizenship classes went on a trip to London to explore the Supreme Courts and visit the Houses of Parliament. The journey to London, in all honesty, was incredibly exciting but also tiring, we took a tram to Piccadilly and then a train to London, Houston. We took the London underground, but we didn’t anticipate the noise, so I think a couple of us were left partially deaf! It was an incredible experience but also rather frightening as the crowds in Altrincham could not hold a candle to the influx of people that we faced in London. But, the train did have a café and they had free chocolates with every purchase and that was the highlight of the journey!

We went into the Supreme Court and we sat on the chairs that the judges, barristers and solicitors would have sat on. We did not spend too much time at the workshop within the court but in the time that had, we learnt a considerable amount, but what was most surprising is the fact that Supreme Court was formally established in 2009, only 10 years ago.

When visiting the Houses of Parliament, we had an amazing tour guide who was evidently passionate about her job. We were lucky enough to see the Speaker’s Procession where the speaker of the House of Commons moves from Speaker’s House through the Library Corridor, the Lower Waiting Hall, Central and Members’ Lobbies to the Chamber. We were stood in the Central Lobby and waved at the speaker and he waved back at us, he seemed really friendly.

Our guide took us inside the House of Commons and we watched the politicians discuss the issue at hand, and then we left a couple of minutes before Theresa May was due to come into Parliament and join in the discussion. We then did a workshop where we were split into two groups and had to argue about making one issue a law. Our topic was the curriculum for life and whether it should be mandatory to teach at schools. In the end, the votes were in favour of including the curriculum for life in the school curriculum, however we did hear impassioned arguments from both sides and our “speaker” had to bring order to the court more than once. Overall, it was enjoyable, and we did have a lot of fun arguing over the law.

After this, we met Graham Brady, our local MP and he talked about his experience in Parliament and what his role was in the House of Commons. We were allowed to ask him questions at the end of his talk and there were many people who were interested about his opinion on Brexit and also how he was able to become a politician. It was very interesting to be able to speak to a politician and ask him about his opinions on current issues because it is not something that we’re able to do often.

Overall, the trip was incredibly exciting but also very educational as I think I was able to understand Parliament more clearly and it was easier to understand what went on inside the House of Commons once we actually visited. It helped me to understand the difference between the roles of the House of Commons and the House of Lords since I was physically able to see what was different about the two and our tour guide helped a lot.

Written by Malaika K

My experience at the 2018 MGSMUN conference

We started the day with an opening ceremony where a teacher from MGS gave us an inspiring note to start the day and the Former Labour MP Nick Bent gave us a talk on the importance of Education and his work in Politics and how he had co-founded a non-profit organisation to help children from families who can’t afford much needed to tuition and give them a personal tutor.

We were then told where to go to find the room when our committees would be held. Once we had reached our committee room (I was in EnviroSoc) we sat behind a label of our designated country (for example, I was the delegate of Myanmar). We were then introduced to our chairs and were asked if we would like to read out our Policy Statements (for example, “Honourable delegates, esteemed chairs. The delegate of Myanmar is delighted to be here today and looks forward to debating (this was what I said) the issue of overpopulation and the issue of the problem with plastic. We hope to pass some effective resolutions and look forward to a fruitful debate. We then were given time to meet the other delegates and get as many as possible of them to sign our resolution (the first issue we debated the issue of the problem with plastic).

After we had all handed in our resolutions, the chairs picked the one they thought would be best to debate and we were all given a copy of the resolution. We then debated the resolution by asking questions and also at this time we submitted amendments. We then debated some amendments and then voted for the resolution as a whole (there was a break in the middle of this when you could go to the bathroom or the tuck shop). It was them lunch where went to the school canteen and ate as well as caught up with our friends in other committees. We later when back and debated the next resolution in a similar way. We were then show a video about the crisis and then went to a second break. We then debated possible solutions for the crisis (by submitting clauses) after we had finished we went the General ceremony.

We started by going through each committee and the clause that had been voted for in theirs. The different committees focused on different aspects of the crisis (for example, as I was EnviroSoc (which stands for Environment and Social committee) we focused on the social aspect (the crisis had little to do with the Environment) aka, how it affected people. We then, as our countries (we were sat on a table each with other delegates from other committees but we were all the same country (so should have all the same beliefs), voted on the clauses. Just like when we debated our resolutions a representative for the clause would debate for and then later another against, prior to voting. After this there was the award part of the ceremony.

During all the debates the chairs would mark down if the delegates had submitted amendments resolutions or just commented a lot if so the delegate could receive one of four awards, best young delegate, commended, highly Commended or Outstanding (which was the highest accolade). I received an award for commended which I was absolutely thrilled about. Another delegate for Myanmar received an Outstanding so our country had done very well. After all these awards the chairs announced how well the countries as a whole had done. Our country (Myanmar) overall came third which was a huge achievement. France, which was Manchester High School came second and Poland, which was Saint Ambrose, came first. Overall, I had an amazing day where I learnt lots and had lots of fun. Also special thanks to Mr Humphrys who was our supervisor for the day.

Written by Katie Y, Year 9