Turing Trip – Italy

On Tuesday 23rd of January, 50 pupils from the Matrix Academy Trust travelled from Gatwick Airport for a trip to Rome with the Turing Scheme. The Turing Scheme is a government initiative that fully funds a range of international opportunities for young people to go abroad and experience different cultures around the globe. Pupils who participate in this scheme are selected via criteria provided by the Department for Education.

After a smooth journey and arriving at our hostel, we made a swift departure to our first activity. Our group of 55 tackled the metro for the first time and walked our way to “Aroma Ostia” where our host school met us for an Italian cooking masterclass. During this class, our Chef taught us how to make pasta from scratch, along with the art of producing “carbonara” sauce, a dish that was born in Italy.

Throughout the week our mornings consisted of a rotation between groups, some taking themselves back to ancient Rome by visiting the Colosseum, some visited Castel Sant’Angelo which was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum, and some visiting our Italian partner school learning about various aspects of their culture including music, literature, fashion and food. One group even took part in an inclusion workshop raising awareness of disabilities.

After lunch, our pupils came back together and started their week by being trained as true gladiators at the gladiator school. This included a fitness assault course, practicing and testing a variety of fighting techniques before our Empress (Ms Callanan) would decide their fate. Pupils also opened their mind into the “museum of dreamers” experiencing an adult-size ball pit, various illusions and not to mention beating their fears (literally). Our afternoon of imagination delved deeper into Vigamus where pupils were led on journey of time on the evolution of video games. Our sightseeing continued when strolling down the Spanish Steps to the renowned Trevi Fountain before dining in a local restaurant.

Our final few days were spent zipping through the trees of Rome at Eurpark High Ropes. It was incredible to see the number of pupils who overcame their fears and pushed through their limits to reach new heights before we caught the train to the shores of Ostia, where some pupils even dipped their toes in the sea! Mount Vesuvius was our next destination, with a 20 minute hike up to the viewpoint at the top of the volcano and a further 5 minutes to the crater. Pupils were in awe of the beauty of the bay of Naples, before seeing the steam being produced out of the dormant volcano. Having learnt about the history of Vesuvius, our next stop was the Herculaneum, a UNESCO heritage site which was covered in volcanic ash and rediscovered during excavations in the mid 18th century.

We couldn’t have left Rome before visiting the Stadio Olimpico, home to football clubs Roma and Lazio, and currently hosting the six nations! Following this, we took a trip abroad whilst abroad by visiting the Vatican City, the world’s smallest country! This tour included a visit to the Sistine Chapel, famous for papal ceremonies and used by the sacred college of cardinals.

Our week in Italy was spent experiencing various aspects of culture, encountering many new experiences and bringing more of our students together to create stronger connections.

Our pupils share their thoughts:

“The trip to italy was really great. I am very happy to have had the chance to go on a trip like this for free and have made so many friends in the process. I liked the rooms at the hostel, and how stress-free you guys made everything by everything being so organised and how there was a diverse range of things to do. The metro and bus rides were good, and got less busy due to good planning. Some things that we did that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy I turned out liking such as the school visit. The children there were lovely and despite the struggle communicating with some words, it was fun talking to them about what their life is like and comparing ours together. The museum of dreamers was my favourite because it was unlike anything I have ever done before. It was a unique experience which helped me with insight and keeping an open mind. I liked seeing the sights such as the colosseum, the Herculaneum and museums like the Vatican, gaming and the dream one. I liked the Vatican and the castle a lot because it was nice to see religious artefacts and art that I have always wanted to see. Thank you for the opportunity and choosing a great city like Rome.” – Alfie

“This trip to Italy was amazing, I’m so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to go to such a great place and it being free! Thanks to Ms Callanan, Mr Kendall, Mr Aspinall, Ms Thomson, and Ms Thompson. This week has been really fun and I haven’t felt this happy in ages! 10/10″ – Dylan

“My favourite part of the Rome trip was probably day three, when we went to the Colosseum. After that we went to the Museum of Dreamers as well as the Video Game Museum. We got to try local foods such as carbonara and actual Italian pizza! I also loved the day that we did the high ropes since I have a fear of heights and I overcame it a bit! In the end it was really fun! I made new friends from schools like Bloxwich and Dame Elizabeth Cadbury. On the coach rides we sang along to songs together. Overall the trip really improved my confidence.”


University of Birmingham

Year 7 pupils enjoyed a festive visit to University of Birmingham where they attended two Christmas Lectures. A lecture from the biology department focused on saving Christmas plants from environmental damage, and a workshop from the Mechanical Engineering team introduced pupils to how AI is helping the manufacturing industry build Christmas presents. The highlight of this was when the Robotic Reindeer entered the room. Both lectures offered the chance for our pupils to get involved with the experiments and gain a taste of what university learning is like. 


Year 11 Cambridge University Visit

Year 11 pupils visited Newnham College Cambridge and received guidance on applying to universities, interactive workshops about study skills, the importance of being ‘super curricular’ as well as a guided tour and Q & A sessions with undergraduates of Cambridge University.

Louis said: “The visit has really helped me consider my options for a future in education, through experiencing what university life can be like.”

Clara said: “The trip to Cambridge was very educational, especially the guidance on applying to universities and how to be super curricular. I enjoyed the campus tour, it was very historic and the food was nice too.”

Year 10 will soon be visited by members of both Cambridge and Oxford with further visits to these universities planned later in the year.


Ski Trip: what a week!

Our pupils have had an amazing time skiing on the slopes in New Hampshire followed by exploring New York… more exploring than they had planned for.

A selection of photographs from their trip can be found below.

The enthusiasm and resilience that our pupils showed over the week exemplified what it really means to be a Barr Beacon pupil. We would like to say a massive thank you to our dedicated staff who dealt with the very unusual circumstances they were faced with. They have ensured that all pupils were not only kept safe but also took the opportunity to embrace their additional time in New York and give them the opportunity to explore some incredible places.


Once in a lifetime?

Students from four Matrix schools visited Tokyo to learn about Japanese culture – and themselves

As a travel destination, Japan remains impossibly out of reach in many people’s minds, despite us here – in the UK – being surrounded by Japanese culture. You can find sushi in your local supermarket; you can watch anime on Netflix; you can find t-shirts featuring famous prints by the artist Hokusai in high street clothing stores like New Look and Primark. Many of the most well known international brands are Japanese in origin: Sony, Toyota, Panasonic, Casio, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nintendo.

And yet, only around 300,000 people from the UK visit Japan each year. This may sound like a lot, but compare this with the 4,300,000 annual UK visitors to Spain.

Whenever we asked teenagers across our schools which country they have most wanted to visit, most had picked Japan. When we asked them why, they listed some of their favourite cultural artefacts: books, films, games. Some cited Japanese history; a fascination with samurai or geisha. But when pushed to think about their answers (as teachers, we never just settle for the first thing that comes to mind!) some of our young people have also talked about imagining it to feel different to what they are used to.

Read more: https://matrixacademytrust.co.uk/japan/


Turing Report – Germany

On the 20th June 2021, forty pupils from the Matrix Academy Trust, travelled from Birmingham for a trip to Frankfurt with the Turing Scheme. The Turing Scheme is a fully funded government initiative that funds a range of international opportunities for young people to go abroad and experience different cultures around the globe. Pupils for this scheme are selected via criteria provided by the Department for Education.

After 15 long hours of travel, we arrived safely in Fulda, a beautiful city one hour North-East of Frankfurt. Upon getting settled at the accommodation the first evening was spent relaxing and preparing for the excitement of the week ahead.

On Monday, the pupils travelled into Fulda for a guided walking tour. With three different tours on offer, each group was able to experience a different aspect of the city and share this over dinner in the evening. Pupils were taken to visit the oldest church in Germany and explore its history, the engineering around it and importance it has on the local community today.

Pupils also had the opportunity to meet German pupils from a local school with a meet and greet arranged in a local park. With a range of activities and games, some familiar and some new it was an opportunity to develop language skills and see how life was different for a pupil in Germany. During the afternoon, we headed to a local school for some German taster lessons and then to a lovely Italian restaurant for dinner, which would go on to become a firm favourite of the group! On Tuesday, pupils returned to the German school to experience a day in the life of a German pupil. Our pupils were fascinated to see how different school was in Germany, with one of the pupils even saying they would not mind going to school in Germany over the UK!

As the next few days followed, we had an action-packed schedule; visiting Point Alpha, a memorial to East German citizens and learned about the shocking history of the East German regime, pupils bravely conquered the high-ropes at an adventure park, which involved a range of obstacles and bridges suspended between trees, we were shown the sights of Frankfurt by a local tour guide, went swimming in an outdoor pool, explored the inside of a model heart at the Museum and visited Fulda’s very own palace!

Friday was a much more sombre day for the group, as we took a coach to Buchenwald Concentration Camp Memorial. Here, we learned about the horrifying actions that took place during the Third Reich and to reflect on what took place. After first watching a film explaining the history of Buchenwald, the pupils were led on an audio tour of the camp itself. This was an incredibly emotional day and all pupils showed the utmost respect while here.

It’s safe to say that everyone had a wonderful time on the trip. Although exhausted, we all returned to England with big smiles and new friends.

Comments from parents:

We would just like to say a big Thank You to all of the Staff that organised and went on the trip. Without the staff putting in this tremendous effort and taking on so much responsibility many children would not get these experiences.  They have certainly had extra challenges Covid restrictions and birds hitting planes to deal with.

“I would just like to say a massive thank you for choosing my two sons to go to Germany as part of the Turing scheme. They had a wonderful time and haven’t stopped talking about it since they got back. Highlights for the boys were the high ropes, swimming pool and the heart at the museum. They also enjoyed trying the different foods. It was lovely to hear that they made some friends from different schools and spent this evening chatting on the phone and have even arranged to meet at the weekend. Please pass on my gratitude to the staff involved for organising and looking after the children, it must have been a challenge especially when things didn’t go to plan. Thank you once again for giving them this wonderful opportunity which I am sure they will never forget”.


Turing Report – Spain

On Monday 20th June, 10 students and 2 staff set out for a week’s residential trip to Barcelona. We met the other pupils from the other schools in Matrix Academy Trust at the airport, just before checking in. For some of the pupils, it was their first-time experiencing flying, but all of the pupils fully committed themselves to the experience, a trait which was repeated throughout the week.

When we arrived at Barcelona airport, we met our bus and then went to our home for the week, the Urbany Hostel. After a quick meal at Glories, the local shopping centre, we went to bed to get an early night ready for the busy week ahead.

On the next day, we braved the Barcelona Metro for the first time, which was our main mode of transport for the week. We visited a few different sites around Montjuic, including the Olympic Museum and arena for the 1992 Olympics, and the cable car up to Castell de Montjuic for some impressive views over the city. After this, we got the Port Vell Cable car across to Barceloneta Harbour (Mr Larvan was not a fan of the ride!). We then enjoyed a lovely meal on the harbourside before heading back to recharge ourselves for another busy day.

Day 3 started with a trip to Camp Nou, home of Barcelona FC, where we had a tour around their trophy room, stadium and sidelines.  From there, we headed to La Rambla, where the pupils were able to soak up the culture of one of the most famous streets in Europe. That evening, we had a movie night, watching some of the latest film releases (although pupils were pleased to hear the films were in English with Spanish subtitles!). This allowed us to mix up the schools, giving the pupils chance to get to know each other more.

Day 4 was Gaudí Day, exploring two of the most famous works of one of Spain’s most famous architects. First was a tour of the impressive Sagrada Familia, which is still unfinished 140 years after construction started. We were able to see the inside and outside of the church, marvelling at the detailed sculptures on the outside and the sunlight shining through the stained-glass windows on the inside, spreading fantastic colours through the interior. We even took a bit of time to make our own artwork, inspired by the building. We left the Sagrada Familia and after a lot of escalators, steps and hills made it to Parc Guell, where pupils were given time to explore this large fantasy-inspired park, before meeting at El Drac, a larger-than-life mosaic sculpture of a lizard. As we headed home that evening, we started to see the fireworks and bonfires being set up for the evening’s festivities, which took place all over Barcelona, including right outside our hostel, until the early hours of the morning.

After a late night, Friday started with a well-earned lie-in, before a trip to see the Barcelona aquarium and an afternoon spent relaxing on the beach, followed by another delicious meal in the harbourside.

Feeling refreshed, Saturday saw us heading to see some of the wildlife in the Barcelona Zoo, including tigers, rhinos and elephants. After a wild day, we headed back towards La Rambla for a spot of retail therapy, before heading up to see the views of the city from the Palau Nacional.

Sunday was the day that some of us had been looking forward to the most, a trip to Portaventura Theme Park, which is home to over 50 exhilarating rides, including Dragon Khan and Shambhala. After a fantastic day, we returned to Barcelona before a final evening meal together and then a morning flight (and run through the airport!) to head back home.

Anastasija and Kelis (Year 9) said that “It was the educational experience of a lifetime – my favourite bit was sunbathing on the sunny beach and splashing in the sea” and “It was very inspiring – 10/10 would recommend. My favourite bit was making new friends from other schools”.

Every single one of the pupils represented themselves, the school and the Trust extremely well and we were so impressed by their manners, fantastic attitude and willingness to embrace new experiences, whether that was trying new food, travelling abroad or going on cable cars. We hope that we have instilled an interest in travelling and have opened the pupils’ minds to see more of the world.

Comments from parents:

“My son, has just returned from the Turing Tour to Spain and I just wanted to thank the school for this great opportunity. He has come home full of information about the places he has visited, the friends he has made, and it is so evident just how much he has enjoyed it. I also feel it has given him a confidence he did not have before”

“I would like to say a huge thank you to all the staff at the Turing Scheme for giving my son an amazing experience and for looking after him so well – you are amazing”


Turing Germany – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Our lucky 10 year 8 pupils, who were selected to go on an all-expenses-paid trip to Germany in summer as part of the Turing project, have started their adventure already. The excited year 8s met for the first time as a group to talk about their likes and dislikes; what they were looking forward to and what they were nervous about; and their travel history. They also had an opportunity to virtually meet the other 40 year 8s from other schools within Matrix Academy Trust who would be joining them in Germany. Approximately a month after the initial meeting, all 50 pupils had the opportunity to go on a school trip together: the group travelled to The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham to watch The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Pupils made the most of the opportunity to enjoy the company of the other pupils and to share in the excitement and sense of adventure of the characters in the play. Pupils represented their 5 schools brilliantly and both theatre staff and members of the public commented on the exemplary behaviour of pupils. Since then, our year 8 pupils who are going to Germany had a chance to meet the year 9s who are going to Spain at an event where parents were given more information about the trip and passports were ordered- making the trip seem very real! We look forward to more pre-departure events where pupils will taste German food and have a chance to practise their essential German phrases before we finally board the plane (for some of our pupils, for the first time) and head over to Fulda, Germany for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to remember.


Ski Trip Loon and Canyon

Small number of places still available!

Ski USA 2023 was opened up to Year 7 pupils this term meaning that a lucky 46 pupils will get the chance to travel to USA in February half term 2023. These pupils will be able to have expert ski tuition every day as well as a one night stop in New York. We look forward to hearing about their adventures in the 2023!

We still have room for about 3 pupils to join the trip. Please contact as soon as possible via postbox@barrbeaconschool.co.uk if you are interested.


Written in Stone Project Visitors

Last week Barr Beacon hosted 19 teachers and 10 students from around Europe for the next phase of our ‘Written in Stone’ project.  The 10 students (5 from Italy and 5 from Spain) were joined by teachers from all European countries involved in the project to meet and discuss future tasks and visits in the coming year.  Barr Beacon pupils hosted a pupil each in their home, immersing them in the English culture, helping them to develop their English language.

Our pupils prepared for the hosting by completing tasks (including building castles out of a range of materials) to meet the objectives set out in the history-based project, for when our partners arrived.  Throughout the week, all pupils and teachers were involved in a range of excursions, visiting Dudley and Warwick Castle and learning all about our more local history with a day at the Black Country Museum.  

It was fantastic to see all pupils get along and enjoying the hosting experience, which culminated in a final meal which was attended by all parents, teachers and pupils involved in the project.

Our next journey in the project will involve another 5 pupils travelling to the east coast of Italy in March 2020, to experience the regional history of castles and to learn about ghost stories and the legend that surrounds them.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all parents for their amazing time, effort and hospitality in making the visit a real success.

Contact Info

Barr Beacon School
Old Hall Lane
Aldridge, Walsall
West Midlands

T: 0121 366 6600

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Friday: 8:00 am - 3:30 pm

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