Disappearing Genius

Disappearing Genius
Try moving away from the screen and watch the genius vanish. The first person to post a comment explaining how this illusion works gets a fabulous prize (honest!)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Amy Neumann's novel- an extract!

As if we didn't already know that Sawtry College is bursting with student talent, Amy Neumann- Y13- has recently not only completed her first novel, she has also had it taken up by an agent.

Amy was kind enough to allow me to publish the first chapter here for your perusal- tell us what you think!

    Amy is the one on the left- literary fame and fortune beckons! Amy dedicated the novel Sophie, on the right- literary fame and fortune by association beckons!

Amy's design for the front cover of

The Letters And The Wild Flowers


By Amy Ruddock

September 2009 – April 2010

This is a book written especially for my dear friends; Sophie and Joely.

They encouraged me through the whole process and were totally addicted to it.

I must also thank my Nanna June and Granddad Dave for their hard work and constant assistance.

Paul Douglas, another friend of mine also deserves credit. Thank you so much for reading over and checking this manuscript.

I love you all.


1. The Move

2. High School

3. A Bond

4. Gone

5. The Apologies

6. No Goodbye

7. Pieces to the Puzzle

8. See it to Believe it

9. Truth

10. Spring Break

11. Ribbons, Bows and Ties

12. The Pack

13. Truths, Lies and Cover-ups

14. Graduation

15. Time

16. True Love

17. Quiz Show

18. Intruders

19. Surprises All Round

20. Mixed Emotions

21. Damaged

22. Visit From England

23. The Future

24. The Wedding

25. Away

26. Home

27. A Princess

28. The Family

Chapter One: The Move

When I was first told about my father’s promotion, I was naturally pleased for him. Meetings were held and plans were made, that was when the sacrifice of the matter truly sunk in.

London, England had been my home for the past seventeen years. I was born there and went to school there. I’d attended Brownies, Choir and even tried Ballet. I was the average student, nothing brilliant, no one to take notice of - that was what I was good at...what I was used to.

My long dark brown hair now reached just below my breasts, which too were nothing to notice. I have always been told that my smile is beautiful and my deep chocolate eyes are amazing. My height is pretty average for a girl and so are my looks. As far as relationships were concerned, I was in desperate need of some practice. My big brother Mike, on the other hand, seemed to be entertaining a new girl every week. He was tall and thin, able to show off his six-pack and draw attention to himself. He took pride in his appearance, especially the mousey coloured hedgehog of hair.

Neither of us was particularly thrilled about moving, but kept the complaining to a minimum. The date was set for January 14th, allowing us to spend Christmas and New Year with our family and friends. My last day at college was hard. Nobody wanted me to leave, though we all knew it was too late. The lunch table was abnormally quiet. The unnecessary babble was silenced by our depressing emotions.

Fred, my chemistry partner was the first to speak. “Cheer up guys. If Layla’s going, then she may as well go with a bang!” I smiled at this, as did the others. It didn’t take long before the conversation was back in full swing.

“Promise you’ll write!” Gemma pleaded. She was a friend from my street, someone I’d known all my life. Her vibrant red hair was something I would never forget.

“Of course. I’ll send you a text the minute we land,” She jumped into my arms and squeezed me hard. Neither of us wanted to let go, though she was the first to break away, allowing the rest of our group to say their goodbyes. A few tears escaped but on the whole I behaved very maturely. I was strong for my friends, as they were trying to be for me.

As the school day came to a close all that was left was the bus journey home. My hands were overflowing with gifts and cards. I could feel the blood circulation in my fingers slowly being cut off due to the amount of bags. Of course I loved my friends so much and I would miss them terribly, but it was a relief to be free from the upset and guilt. Now I could focus on moving and being brave for my parents.

It had gone midnight by the time my head hit the pillow. Our house was empty and plain. Every sound echoed, bouncing off the bare walls. Divots sat in areas of the carpet where our heavy furniture used to live and I could now see the dark stain I’d left behind after slicing my hand open when I was younger, which we had covered over with the sofa. The light patter of raindrops hitting the window pane was very comforting; it was one of my favourite sounds. I took one more look at my naked room before closing my eyes and giving in to my subconscious.

In my opinion it would have made more sense to have stayed awake rather than attempting to sleep for two hours. The night was cold and dark; the stars twinkled above us as we drove to the airport. The four of us were silent as we left the car and made our way to the check-in desk.

Most of our possessions had already been shipped over to the new house; Dad had been over to sort out the paper work and organise a company to transport all our belongings to the correct place.

“Are you sure Lewis is taking care of the car?” Mum asked Dad.

“Yes. I rang him last night- he’s picking it up at 12:00,” he replied. Lewis is my uncle and had been given the job of collecting our car and passing it on to its new owners in a week’s time.

“And you rang the car company in Seattle?”

“Yes,” Dad snapped, “Give me some credit Mandy please. I’m not a complete idiot.” Travelling always brought out the worst in my Dad. He is easily stressed and then becomes forgetful- hence why Mum is checking, but that just makes him stress out even more. It’s a vicious circle.

After checking in our suitcases we made our way through security and into the departure lounge. “Do you kids fancy something to eat?” Mum asked us.

“Sure, we’ll go find something,” I replied taking the ten pound note from her. Mike and I scanned the various stalls, all of which were way overpriced.

“So the choice is coffee and biscuits or some form of mutated bread with tea that tastes like it’s three weeks off,” Mike commented.

“The joys of airport cuisine,” I walked towards the tea and coffee stand; at least it would be hot. “Hot chocolate?” I asked Mike.

“Yeah, go on then.”

“Two hot chocolates please,” I asked the lady behind the counter.

“That’s six pound please love,” I passed her the money in exchange for the drinks.

“What a rip off,” said Mike on our way back to the parents. I gave Mum the left over change and took a seat by the window. Our flight was due at 06:25; it was going to be a very long day.

The cabin crew, I find, are always too nice. It doesn’t seem natural. They run up and down the aisle like they own the place.

“Would you like anything to drink Miss?”

“No, thank you,” I replied.

“You Sir?” She asked Mike.

“Nothing for me thank you,” He grinned then added in a cheeky wink. The woman blushed before moving on to the next row.

“You’re impossible,” I told him.

“You’re boring,” I ignored him and took the book out from my carry-on bag. My aim was to read the whole book by the time we reached the new house. “Haven’t you read that before?”


“Why are you reading it again?”

“Have you had sex before?”

“Well Duh! Yes!”

“Why do you do it again?”

“Because I like it...”

“I like the book.”

“You’re a freak Layla.”

“Just because I read, it doesn’t make me a freak.”

“Hush it you two,” Dad called from the seat in front.

“Ugh,” Mike grunted turning up the volume on his iPod. I took the opportunity to settle back into the world of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett.

We arrived in Amsterdam at 08:45 local time. We followed Dad to the baggage belt, collected our cases and proceeded to find the check in desk.

“The next flight is at 11:00,” Dad announced.

“Why so long?” Mike moaned.

“...because it is.”

“That gives us some time to catch up on a few zeds,” Mum commented.

“I’m too awake for that,” Mike complained.

“Stop with the constant moaning and whingeing!” Dad shouted at Mike, “I’m sick of hearing it!”

“Dad?” I asked.

“What Layla?”

“Why are we in Amsterdam? I mean, it’s in the other direction to Seattle.”

“It was cheaper somehow and that’s what the website told me to do.”

“Ok,” I sat down, satisfied with the answer and took to reading Pride and Prejudice once again.

How on Earth I managed to survive a ten and a half hour plane journey sat next to Mike, I will never know. Perhaps it had something to do with Jane Austen’s hypnotic words, or maybe it’s simply down the fact he fell asleep half way through. We landed in Seattle Airport at 12:20 local time. Of course our body clocks were still running at GMT, making us very close to falling flat on our faces. All that was left now was a three hour car trip to the house.

“Wow,” The elegant object waiting for us was somewhat on the opposite end of the ‘cool’ scale to our previous car.

“Is it ours?” Mike asked stroking the bonnet.

“No, it’s for the pixie behind you. Yes, it’s ours you donkey,” Dad took his case along with mine and placed them in the boot.

“It’s a company car,” Mum explained as we got in.

“Nice move,” I smiled nodding.

As promised I sent a text to Gemma. Knowing that she is now eight hours ahead I asked how her day had been and what life was like without me for the first time. I told her about our flights and how nice our new BMW was. It cost me a fair whack in credit; I would definitely need to buy an American phone to text people from my new school, it would become oh-so-expensive otherwise.

Our three hours started with a ferry to Bainbridge Island. The locals I had been expecting weren’t quite so local. Men and Women of all shapes, sizes, colour and language boarded the ferry. It felt odd at first, to be able to move around but after a few minutes we were back to normal.

The road took us along the Olympic Highway, we followed it past Port Angeles and then for an hour down to Forks. Everywhere you turned your head you saw green. It was such a contrast to the bustling city of London I was used to. Trees, bushes and fields covered the landscape. The trees here I was unable to identify, they definitely weren’t the garden apple trees we found back home.

“Well this is lovely,” Mum smiled peering out of the window. “It’s so peaceful and natural.”

“It’s certainly different,” Mike commented. It was twenty minutes from Forks to Hoh.

“Right, just another ten minutes and we’re there,” The bendy narrow track led us down to a small town. The houses looked older and smaller than those in London. They were further apart too and decorated with beautiful gardens of luscious green grass and flowers.

We passed a corner shop, the window was cluttered with posters and adverts; perhaps I would be able to find a job here. The locals watched as our conspicuous car drove down the main road. At the bottom of the hill was our new house. It was old and beautiful; full of character. The sweet patch of grass set the house back a few feet from the road. It looked like a setting from a book or a film, not somewhere I would have pictured myself living.

The town was pretty quiet. I saw one or two teenage boys walk back up the way we came. Perhaps everyone was still at school? Or maybe there just wasn’t much to do here.

“The first thing is the kettle. Everything else can wait,” Mum marched off in search of the kitchen. Mike and I helped unload the car and dumped the cases in the living room. The walls were a cool magnolia and our furniture was already in place. The dark brown suite carried through the nature theme from outside.

In the kitchen, the cabinets were wooden and the walls were a pale blue. The moving boxes were piled in the center of the room, so when I walked in I caught Mum rummaging for mugs and spoons.

“We’ll go up to the shop for some basic bits,” I told mum, grabbing Mike’s arm.

“Actually, could Mike come and lend a hand in here?” Dad called from the living room; he was attempting to set up the television.

“Ok, I’ll go on my own then,” I put on my trainers and stepped out the front door.

As I walked the ten minutes to the top of the hill, I took in the new surroundings. The houses were all very similar, some with a garage and some without, others with large trees to the side and others with delicate flower beds. All the cars were pretty basic and old - ours stood out a little too much for my liking.

The smell of home cooking wafted down the street along with the clear scent of rain. The ground was patchy where it had rained early that day. Inside the shop I picked up a carton of milk, a loaf of bread, some cheese and a box of tea-bags. The man at the counter was middle aged, his skin was a rich copper colour and his hair was dark and long. He gave me a smile, which I returned.

“Liking Hoh so far?” he asked as he added up the cost.

“It’s beautiful,” I answered, adding, “Much greener than London.”

“You wait till you see the beach - it’s one of the best sights there is.”

“I’ll look forward to it,” he passed me a bag filled with my items, “Thanks,” I smiled again.

“Have a nice day,” he replied as I left. Clearly the whole town had been expecting us. I welcomed myself to the ways of country life, where everyone knew everyone else’s business.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Information Evening for Parents of Gifted and Talented Learners April 28th

Date: Wednesday 28th April
Time: 6pm until 7.30pm
Venue: The Refectory, Sawtry Community College

This event is designed to give parents of Year 7 students identified as Gifted and Talented for the first time information about the College's approach to provision for the very able. It is also a chance for me to update my data on the students in the Gifted and Talented cohort at Sawtry Community College as part of our commitment to social inclusion.

Notification letters were sent out on Friday 23rd April. Reply slips should be given to form tutors are handed directly to me (Mr. Davies) in his office in L7.

I hope to see you there!

As ever, if you would like to discuss the evening with me or if you can't make it that night and would like alternative provision, please email me on gareth.davies@sawtrycc.org.uk

Key Information from Information Evening for Parents of Gifted and Talented Learners April 28th

‘A rising tide elevates all ships…’: achievement at the higher grades at SCC
Professor Joan Freeman, in her 40-year study of Gifted and Talented education, has concluded that schools with good G&T Programmes consistently achieve better exam. results for students of all abilities in comparison with like schools that do not specifically provide for the Gifted and Talented.

At Sawtry Community College, Gifted and Talented provision began in November 2005

2006 GCSE 11% of students achieved at least one grade A or A*

2006 GCSE 33% of students achieved at least one grade B or above

2007 GCSE 17% grade A or A*

2007 GCSE 48% grade B or above

2008 GCSE 17% grade A or A*

2008 GCSE 49% grade B or above

2009 GCSE 20% grade A* or A

2009 GCSE 43% grade B or above

At SCC, we use these definistion of 'Gifted' and 'Talented':
Talented:  Top 5-10% of pupils per school as measured by actual or potential achievement in the subjects of Art, Music, PE, Games and Drama.

Gifted: Top 5-10% of pupils per school as measured by actual or potential achievement in the other curriculum subjects.
This is from the DCSF and has been adopted by the LEA.

a) The definition is relational. Being 'gifted' and 'talented' is not necessarily a matter of possessing an objective quality which would mark a pupil as being gifted and/or talented in any other school. It is simply a matter of being amongst the most able 5- 10% of pupils in a particular school.
b) The cohort is not immutably defined. Pupils develop at different rates and with pupils joining and leaving a school it may well happen that a particular pupil will fall within the scope of the definition 'gifted and talented' in one year, but may not fall within that category in a subsequent year. Alternatively just because a pupil has not been identified as 'gifted and talented' in one year that does not mean that the pupil will not be so identified at a later point.

How are Gifted and Talented students identified at SCC?

Quantitative data: each department is provided with a list of the top 10% of its Y7 students in terms of levels before Christmas. This is derived from AfL Start Level information.

Qualitative data: each department then refines this list so that it amounts to about 5% of its students in Y7.

Departments use teacher assessment, pupil observation and work scrutiny to arrive at their ‘5-ish’ %.

The ‘Gifted in…’ and ‘Talented in…’ documents from QCA which describe the characteristics of the Gifted or Talented student in each subject are used to inform this process

The Gifted and Talented Register

Entry Qualification:

Any student identified as having more than one Gift and /or more than one Talent is included on the Gifted and Talented Register.

The GTR is organized by Year Group, and in each Year by Gifted, Talented and Gifted and Talented (All-rounders).


Students on the Gifted and Talented Register should be known by all their teachers, their form tutor and their Head of Year. There should be suitable differentiation for them in the subjects that nominated them. The pastoral team should be aware that students on the GTR may experience bullying, stress, discontent or alienation.

Students on the Gifted and Talented Register should not be provided with trips, visits or other extra-curricular activities that are not available to other students. They should, however, be involved in the organization of such activities. They may also be given first refusal on trips and visits.

The Gifted and Talented Register is updated bi-annually, and students can also be added to it on an ad hoc basis as Gifts or Talents appear. Shortly after each bi-annual update, the Gifted and Talented Register is reported to the DCSF.

The Gifted and Talented Watch List

Entry Qualification:

Any student identified as having one Gift or one Talent is included on the Watch List.


Experience has shown that too many students are identified as Gifted and / or Talented if one teacher nomination is sufficient. However, the students identified as having a single Gift or Talent should still be recorded and monitored.

Students on the Watch List should be well known by the teachers in the subject that nominated them and there should be suitable differentiation for them.

The Watch List is updated bi-annually, and students can also be added to it on an ad hoc basis as Gifts or Talents appear (this, of course, may generate a move from the Watch List to the GTR). Students can be removed from the Watch List but this is in only in the case of misidentification.

Students on the Watch List are to be considered first reserves in the bi-annual review of the Gifted and Talented Register. This is especially relevant where subjects share similar skills: for example, a student on the Watch List after being identified as Gifted in History may need to be scrutinized for signs of giftedness in History and perhaps English as well.

How can you help him to achieve?
Your child spends no more than 17% of his or her time in school. 33% is given over to sleep. For the other 50%, the single most important influence on him or her is you.
Every parent have an understanding of their child that is far superior to any ‘expert’ opinion: but these gifted ‘types’ might help you crystallize your own thoughts about your child and give you some strategies to support him or her.

Captain Keen
Indulge his enthusiasm- this needn’t mean rushing off to the Fitzwilliam every weekend. Ask one question about whatever it is he’s keen to explain to you.

‘Don’t get it right, get it writ.’ Limit his time doing homework and reward successful results within that time limit. Not everything has to be excellent, not every homework has to be submitted typed and in plastic binders, not every lower-case ‘i’ needs to be dotted with a heart!

Lauren Notbovvered
Don’t use reason or persuasion- Lauren likes verbally sparring with adults, she’s good at it and even if you do out-manoeuvre her, she can always play the ‘Teen Trump Card’ and tell you she ain’t bovvered. Ask her to describe the behaviour that is of concern, tell her what the consequences will be, make them stick. If she refuses to describe the behaviour, do that job for her.

If she’s being offensive, tell her- if she embarrasses you or says something witty but rude, tell her it’s a shame she can’t use her intelligence for something useful and then ignore the behaviour as much as possible. If you can't, see above!

Praise her positive behaviour- if she says something clever, tell her so. If she does well in a test or does her homework in time, tell her so. Despite all appearances to the contrary, she does value your opinion.

Mr. Mouse
Praise him whenever you can- he may appear not to value your praise. He does.

Let him know that tests aren’t everything- self-esteem, prosperity and happiness might be improved by getting excellent test results. They might not. Albert Einstein and William Churchill both did poorly in school but are now recognised as geniuses.

Let him play ‘Runescape’ for 10 more minutes- computer networking with others, even on games like ‘Runescape’, gives the child the chance to co-operate and interact with others purposefully in an anonymous environment. Of course, if it’s a school night…

Little Miss Smartypants

She can do better and you know she can- her underachievement is an issue. Make sure she knows it is.

Don’t accept her laziness and arrogance- if she doesn’t tidy her room and get her bags packed for school, take action: delete all her save-games from Grand Theft Auto; tell everyone to get her vouchers, not cash; don’t get her any more ‘phone credit. You’re paying for her upkeep and she’ll cost you more than a Ferrari by the time she’s 18- she does owe you (you are allowed to laugh when she says, ‘I never asked to be born, did I?’) !

Be on her side- praise her whenever you can. Note that she’s being witty, even when telling her off for being rude!

A note on reading…

Reading and discussing books- fiction or non-fiction- is a very effective way of furthering your child’s knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for learning.

Please buy your books from us! - here's how:


1. Go to red 'for parents' registration column on the right. Click on box marked 'If you are a parent, register here.'
2. Fill in the details on the registration screen.
3. Lovereading4schools will then send you an email with a link to verify your account.
4. To take advantage of the bespoke SCC pages, which will also direct 5% of cover price to school fund, enter  'Sawtry' in the blackboard box titled 'Search'. Find and click 'Sawtry Community College PE28 5TQ'. The password for these pages is 'readallaboutit'

It is extremely useful to know the readability of the books your child reads.

Here's a simple way to calculate the readability of any text.

  1. Select the text.
  2. Open a page at random. Count ten sentences.
  3. Count the number of words that have three or more syllables in those ten sentences.
  4. Multiple this figure by three.
  5. Find the number closest to your answer: 1  4  9  16  25  36  49  64  81  100 121  144  169
  6. Find the square root of the number:        1  2  3  4    5    6     7    8    9    10   11    12    13
  7. Add 8.
  8. This gives a Readability Level (not a Reading Age- that is far harder to determine). Anything below 10 is likely to be perfectly understandable to an average Y7 student. The average Y7 student will find anything with a score of 14 or higher quite challenging.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Welcome to Sawtry Leading Learners!

Welcome to the Sawtry Leading Learners' Blog!

This blog is part of Sawtry Community College's ongoing commitment to challenging all students no matter what their academic level.

The idea that this will be a resource for teachers where teachers can post extension materials and links and a place for the student Leading Learners to post questions, links and information on their subjects. If it's visited often enough I'll also use it to give information about events to students and parents.

To begin with, please find below a couple of excellent net resources:

London G&T

There is a variety of challenging work here designed to improve your skills, understanding and enjoyment of a range of subjects:

I need to register you on the site to use these materials. If you would like to be registered, please just add a 'comment' to this post with the name, birthdate and school year of the student and I'll do the rest!


Fred Smith

Library of Babble-on

This is a discussion forum for novels, graphic novels and other fiction- a virtual Reading Club!