Ampleforth has been on Exeat this weekend, and many of our students headed to London or Edinburgh on the school train to enjoy a break before the last push in the lead-up to Christmas. As well as lots of work and a few festive celebrations, we also have the school play, Gut Girls, and The Messiah to look forward to before the end of term.

Last weekend, many parents enjoyed the annual St Cecilia’s concert, featuring all our ensembles. The concert started with the College Brass Ensemble performing Bruckner and a well-executed Canzon by Scheidt. This was followed by the popular Highlanders who were as coordinated and rousing as ever. Pro Musica gave sophisticated performances with Luis-Paul Gray as the tenor soloist in Bernstein's 'Simple Song' and Joseph Guillon as the impressive violin soloist in the first movement from Vivaldi's 'Winter'. Two more soloists, Jasmin Sykes and Georgia Ofiaeli shared movements from Elgar's 'Sea Pictures' and gave very mature performances which were sensitively accompanied by the College Orchestra who also performed Beethoven's Coriolan Overture and a Harry Potter Suite. The concert finished in style with the Big Band performing a number of classics including 'The Girl from Ipanema' and 'Me and my Shadow' - a stylish duet by Luis-Paul Gray and Will Gibson which sent the audience away in good spirits.

Congratulations to Charlotte Armitage, our sole flag flyer at the NSEA Dressage event at Epworth Equestrian Centre over Exeat, who won her class.  Mrs Cooke says that Charlotte works very hard on her dressage and is a true professional, so highly deserved this win. Congratulations also to Alex Verth who has just competed at the Aintree International Equestrian Centre, in the Dodson and Horrell Amateur National Show Jumping Championships. He qualified to compete at the Championships and was successful in getting into the second round of the event. Sadly, although he only knocked one pole down in his second round, he finished 31st, just missing out on progressing as the top thirty went on to the final round. It was nevertheless a marvellous opportunity for him to compete at this venue in a National Championship, especially as he had to miss out on representing the School at the NSEA National Championships due to injury. In the House badminton competition this week for junior students, St Oswald’s emerged victorious – well done to them!

A-level students following Design and Technology, Business Studies and Economics travelled to the JCB headquarters in Rocester, Staffordshire last week. They were generously hosted by the JCB team which included two Old Amplefordians, Matthew Cockerill (H12) and Felix Ng (B05). The factory tour covered numerous topics from the A level specifications and after a VIP lunch students were invited to discuss the JCB Engineering and Business Studies undergraduate scholarship schemes.  Applications for these schemes are now open to all Year 13 students. They are a a very appealing feature of post-Ampleforth life for students who hope to study these disciplines at university, and have allowed previous students a wonderful start to their careers, including work experience with JCB in the U.K. and overseas and the promise of work after university.

Last Saturday evening, over 100 students from across the year groups gathered for the annual St Andrew's Ball. There was much anticipation as dance cards were filled over dinner, followed by reeling in the Big Study. There was a full set of reels, called by Fr Hugh, including The Dashing White Sergeant, The Eightsome Reel, and The Reel of the 51st Division. Although some experienced Scots took the lead, it was great to have many guests who were experiencing the fun of reeling for the first time. A great time was had by all.

Four students attended Year 12 Subject Masterclasses at Cambridge University last Saturday, with Alice, Bella and Elisabeth learning more about Medicine, and Maud enjoying sessions on Modern & Medieval Languages (MML).  Our aspiring medics heard lectures from Cambridge academics on 'Why nerve impulses are so slow' and 'How blood moves around the body', while the MML talks offered 'An introduction to linguistics' and an insight into how the Spanish language has changed over time.  All students also received detailed information on the courses offered by the university and the application process.  

On Wednesday afternoon, a group of Year 13 Economics students attended an interesting seminar at York University entitled: 'Inclusive or exclusive global development? Scrutinizing the role of microfinance'.  Students had the opportunity to hear from early career researchers about their work in the fields of financial inclusion and microfinance, both topics that they study as part of the A Level course.

Meanwhile, the BTEC Countryside Management students went out again with Colin Ball from the Estates Team. He set them the task of deciding what sort of path should be placed around a gate on the way to the games fields. They will need to research materials and produce a full specification with Health and Safety considerations. They also looked at some new rabbit fencing near the manège, and the construction of the manège surface. The students have also visited Rohan’s Woodworking in Malton, to learn about Health and Safety at work, the process of managing a project and how to cost a job, useful for the BTECs in Countryside Management and Entrepreneurship.