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Leverkusen Teacher Visits Bracknell School but fails to meet Podolski in London

poldi02Writes Petra Schütte :

As a chemistry and physical education teacher at a comprehensive school in Leverkusen – Schlebusch with over 20 years of professional experience, I cherished for some time the desire to get an insight into life in an English school. In early May, 2015, I received the hoped for positive news from Bracknell Forest Council. They informed me that the Science Department at Edgbarrow School would accommodate me as a visitor. Contact with Bracknell Forest Council had been made via a colleague of mine, who was in contact with somebody in the Opladener-History-Society. As the summer holidays in England begin much later, I could use the first two weeks of my summer holiday to visit England. Questions I had about my stay : accommodation, travel, cycle hire etc., were answered in advance over email via the friendly and supportive help of Lyn Gash, (Head Teacher’s Assistant). In addition, I purchased current versions of the chemistry books used at Edgbarrow, to make myself familiar with the specialist English vocabulary. Using the internet and with the help of the school’s homepage and its Ofsted report I was able to become well informed about the school in advance.

My stay in Crowthorne lasted from Monday, 29th June until Wednesday, 8th July.

Anna MacKenzie-Dodds (Head of Science) warmly greeted me at the school, provided me with initial information and created a timetable for me. I got the opportunity, in natural science and chemistry classes, to observe teaching and was able to take part in various
extra-curricular activities e.g. sports festival, introductory chemistry-lesson for the new year 7`s, science teachers’ staff meeting, morning registration and break-time supervision. In addition I used a variety of opportunities after lessons and during break-times to talk with teaching colleagues. So I got an interesting insight into school life and the learning and working environment within Edgbarrow School.

I found the way that everyone worked together in an appreciative and friendly way particularly positive. This included supportive and very eulogistic dealings with the pupils in the classroom and cooperation characterised by helpfulness and friendliness within and between the pedagogic and support staff. In addition I have not seen major support in German schools by non-teaching staff to this extent. In this context it should be mentioned the large number of personnel in the office area, with a wide variety of tasks, supporting pupils and teachers. Also three technical assistants, who are exclusively responsible for the preparation and follow-up of experiments and practical science teaching – in support of the students and teachers. In addition to the particularly good learning and working environment – highlighted in the school’s Ofsted Report – it was mainly the extremely dedicated and friendly science teachers who helped make my visit to Edgbarrow School, for me, an unforgettable experience.

Edgbarrow02My leisure time I used to explore the surrounding area on foot, by borrowed bicycle (lent by the very nice school caretaker) or by train. I visited Bracknell, Reading and Dinton Pastures Country Park in Wokingham – and all graced by outstandingly fine weather.

For the crowning final piece of my England journey I spent five days together with my husband and two sons in London. In the Arsenal Emirates Stadium we had to make do with the life-size figure of German football international star Lukas Poldolski. Unfortunately he had already left for Istanbul to join his new employer …

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Remembrance Day

On Tuesday the 11th of November, all the students at Garth Hill College in Bracknell were gathered for the event of the day: Remembrance Day.

Rememberance Day at Garth Hill College

Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day, is a national event in England designed to celebrate the armistice and aimed at making people remember the soldiers that fought for us during the First World War. As such, two minutes of silence are performed at the eleventh hour of the day, as a form of respect. Another symbol representative of Poppy Day is the red coloured poppy. It has become famous after the publication of the poem In Flanders Fields as well as the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in WW1. They now are used to commemorate the soldiers who died in the 1914-1918 war.

Following the national tradition, Garth Hill College, a school in Bracknell in England, had a special assembly and celebration that day. The students sat down in the main hall of the school, a huge space next to the entrance of the college used only for the most important announcements and assemblies.
Some girls animated the event by singing some traditional Remembrance songs such as The Lord’s My Shepherd and Flowers of the Forest.
The event continued with a speech of the Principal who explained the symbolism behind the poppies and invited the whole school to perform 2 minutes of silence. This was followed by the lecture of multiple war-related poems by a Cadet soldier as well as some other students. The event ended with a last song, It’s a long way to Tipperary, sang by the entire audience.

“This is a good opportunity for us to learn and pay our respects” Whitney, year 12, said.
The overall feedback from the students was positive and showed that this event was beneficial for all of us, teaching the most important thing: to remember.

Rememberance Day

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A Letter from Bournemouth

europeflagBy Horst Tippkötter

2014 – what a year it was, for my families in Germany, England and Sweden, for our countries and for Europe!

To start on a positive, optimistic, confident note: We were surprised by joy because a healthy, pretty, very sweet little baby boy was born to my son and his wife. His name is Florian Rafael, and he will be baptised after Christmas. How wonderful, how encouraging,   particularly for the grandparents, who don’t bear the immediate responsibility for the babies and their upbringing – for Opa and Grandma or, to use the Swedish expressions,“farfar”( father’s father) and “farmur”(father’s mother) and, of course, for “murfar” and “murmur” as well.

2014 has also been the year of many anniversaries, particularly of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, as we say in Germany, or The Great War as it is called in England.

I have been reading extensively about the causes of this “Urkatastrophe”, of this catastrophy of catastrophies, always hoping to learn more about its causes,  learning the lessons that this tragic chapter in the history of our two countries could and should teach us.

The Sleepwalkers. How Europe Went to War in 1914 , written by the Australian, Christopher Clark, Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, was the most inspiring and helpful book that I have been reading and studying on this topic.

In due course, in the wake of the Elections to the European Parliament in May 2014, my English wife Patricia and I visited the battlefields of the Somme in Rancourt, France, to remember my uncle Heinrich Horstmann, my mother’s eldest brother who was killed in action on July 1st, the first day of the battle of the Somme…We remembered him, as well as the more than 800.000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives and all the others from so many nations who were happy before the war ate them up, cannon fodder…

Helmut Kohl, the great German Chancellor, always insisted, that Europe is a question of war and peace. For a long time, even to people of my generation, this seemed to be an exaggeration.

Looking at the result of the European election, looking at a wave of surging and resurging nationalism and populism in all our countries, looking at Mr. Putin who obviously wants to re-erect a Russian Empire –“Russia is where Russians live!” –  my conclusion as a European who has family in three countries is clear:

Don’t believe in pied pipers!

 Don’t be afraid!

 Keep calm and carry on !

We will sort out our European problems, with patience, tolerance, good will and in a democratic way, and we will remember all those who laid down their lives for their countries, for freedom and peace in Europe.

Horst Tippkoetter
Horst Tippkötter

Dr. Horst Tippkötter (77), former Head of the Werner-Heisenberg-Gymnasium  in Leverkusen (1986 – 2001), deputy chairman of the Freundeskreis Bracknell Leverkusen e.V (2001 – 2006),  member of the Europa-Union Leverkusen for many years, lives in Bergisch Gladbach and Bournemouth.

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The Sister Cities at the Time of WW1

ww1LMGMembers of the regional science course in class 8 of the Lise Meitner Gymnasium in Leverkusen are planning a WW1 exhibition. They have written to Augenblink asking for contributions from Bracknell schools.

They write that regional science is a mix of history, geography and politics. The exhibition entitled “The Sister Cities at the Time of the First World War” will be mounted in September 2014. The pupils add that they would be very happy if Bracknell students took part in the exhibition. They will also be illustrating the topic with drawings.

Please contact the newsdesk to find out how you can contribute.

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The German School System in Brief

1000px-BMBF_Logo.svgThe German School System in Brief

By Vivien Aljic and Shqipdona (Käthe-Kollwitz-Schule, year 10)

Regardless of nationality or state (we have 16 of them in Germany), six-year-old children must attend school. The children have to go to school until the age of 18. The students study full-time for 10 years and after that (depending on their degree) they continue their studies or they do part-time studies at a college and at the same time they are trained for a job.
School begins after the summer break. When exactly school begins depends on the different states.

The summer break is 6-weeks long and the other holidays (Easter, Whitsun, autumn and Xmas) are 7 weeks altogether.

Education is free and most of the schoolbooks are free too. We have no school uniforms.

German Education is divided into 3 parts: The first one is primary school (Grundschule) from age 6 to 10 except Berlin and Brandenburg (age6 to 12). The second one is secondary school, which offers 4 different types of school: a) Hauptschule : basic and general education from fifth grade to tenth grade. b) Realschule : Students who go to a Realschule get a broader education than the students at a Hauptschule. c) Gymnasium (grammar school), which provides a higher level of secondary education for students from year 5 to year 12. At the end of the twelfth year students pass exams to pass their A-Levels. With your “Abitur” you can go to university.
The 4th type of secondary school comprises the other three ones: it’s called Gesamtschule and teaches the same subjects as the other schools from year 5 to 10. The Gesamtschule (or comprehensive school) integrates organizational and pedagogical contents of the three other secondary schools, but subjects like Maths or English, from the 7th grade, are divided into advanced or basic courses. If your marks are good enough and you had at least 3 advanced courses, you can do 3 more years and then try to pass your A-Levels . Our School is a Gesamtschule.

Our system is a little bit complicated because of the many different types of school and the many different states.

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Käthe Kollwitz Goes Cultural

Getting started
Getting started
Thousands of shreds
Thousands of shreds




A Famous Poster by Käthe Kollwitz

A Famous Poster by Käthe Kollwitz


by  Tamara Ebner  (year 11)

On Culture Day the pupils of Käthe Kollwitz Secondary School in Leverkusen do something on the subject of culture. Often, they go to the museum, visit art exhibitions or they pick the artist simply by themselves and invite him/her to  school. So did class 11 recently!

On 06/02/2014 two artists came from Villa Zündfunke to our school with the intention of bringing us closer together as a team. For this, they worked out a project, which would encourage and require the creativity and teamwork of the students. Out of almost 100 pupils, four teams were formed. These teams had the task to create a portrait (2 x 1.6 metre) of the artist and human rights activist Käthe Kollwitz.

First of all we were told something about her life. Second, our great school is named after her. We learned that Käthe Kollwitz was a socially engaged artist from Berlin, who had lost her son in the First World War.  Driven by grief and anger about the war she drew anti – violence images. Unfortunately, she died a few days before the end of the Second World War.

Thereafter the artists Winfried Becker ( and Andreas Baschek ( explained to us how to proceed. First we had to abrade the four large wooden plates and coat them with clear lacquer. Then the portrait of Käthe Kollwitz, that we were to work on, was shown to us. Subsequently, each group was given the task to shoot pictures with our mobile phones outside in order to map various colors, patterns and structures.
These images were collected and whilst they were printed, we all ate pizza together. After lunch, we went to work. The printed images were then torn into small shreds and glued at the appropriate places. In order to create a good image, it was necessary to liaise with each other. This gave rise to get in touch with students, who we never knew of before. Often it was very funny and a sticky affair.

Finally, four artistically creative and abstract portraits came together. A jury was summoned, to evaluate our portraits, based on certain criteria. In a small ceremony with music and good vibes, the winners were honored. The group with the most abstract image won a visit to the cinema.


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Immersion English

Immersion English

The kindergarten ‘Die Rheinpiraten e.V. ‘ in Leverkusen-Hitdorf is a bilingual kindergarten. The concept is called ‘Immersion English’; it means that there are teachers who only speak their native language. There are three native speakers, two of them are from the United States and one is from Ireland.

The kindergarten has links to the University of Limerick, Ireland. That’s the university where Sarah, one of the native speakers and a teacher,  is studying. It’s part of her studies to be six months in Germany, so she can improve her German. She has been here since July and this December she will leave Germany. In January there will also be another student from Ireland to do the same as Sarah did.

The native speakers should only speak English. If they want to speak to the parents of a child and there are children around them then they must also speak English. In comparison to the younger children (under 3 years) the older children are more used to English. The native speakers speak more slowly  when they are talking to the younger children. The children don’t have to learn vocabulary, they learn it while they are playing English games or reading a book in the so called ‘Mittagskreis’. When the native speakers speak they use their hands to show the children what they mean. In German that is called ‘GUK’ (Gebärdenunterstützende Kommunikation, i.e. communication supported by gestures). There is more hand action when speaking to the younger children.

The concept of the kindergarten has existed since 2004. By the time this text was written there were six native speakers in total.

Celine Dumont, year 10 (Käthe-Kollwitz-Schule)

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Leverkusen Bracknell Youth Exchange October 2013

At Monday morning the 21 October we started our journey to Bracknell the twin city of Leverkusen. Twelve boys and girls and two youth workers started their way to the ferry in Calais. After some traffic jams we hit the ferry in the last second and we all were very happy to get in time to Bracknell.

After 10 hours driving we finally reached our accommodation at 05:00 p.m. We had a great welcome from our English hosts with an original English Tea Time.

The next day we did some great activities at our accommodation. Together with the English youngsters we proofed our archery and climbing skills. After the Lunch we did caving a very special activity witch no one of us did before. We tried our best in climbing through the artificial caves. The cave was full of spiders so we had big fun in scaring Julia, one of our youth workers.

In the evening we did a big campfire and we get teached from the English youngsters to melt marshmallows the right way. They were very delicious. But a big thunderstorm interrupted the very nice campfire evening. So we had to escape and went back to our accommodation and then we all played together some funny English and German group games.

On Wednesday we visited London all of us were very excited. Sightseeing and shopping that were our big plans for the day in the British capital.

We visited London by air and water. We did a ride on the London Eye and a riverboat trip on the river Thames. So we had a great experience from the whole city for the short time we had been there.

20131023_01 20131023_02 20131023_03 20131023_04

In the afternoon we discovered the Oxford Street for all of us it was the shopping paradise, especially when we found out where Primark was. One girl of our group bought herself a pig onesie. It’s very funny the English youngsters are wearing them all the time. In Germany we see stuff like this only at carnival.

After our shopping trip we took a look at the Buckingham Palace and hoped to see a member of the royal family. But afterwards we found out all of them stayed in Windsor at the baptism of Prince George.

We found out that the beautiful red English phone boxes having Wi-Fi access. That was quit new for us, because in Germany we do have just a few phone boxes in public.

After that we returned to Waterloo Station to get our train back to Bracknell. After this great day in London with so many great experiences everyone was very tired and satisfied and everyone fell into their beds.

On the next day we continued our sightseeing tour in the wonderful city of Windsor. On a Bus-trip around Windsor we enjoyed the nice landscape, the castle of Windsor and the Eton College. The weather was fantastic, blue sky and sunshine.

After this we had lunch in a pub and everyone tried Fish and Chips. In the afternoon we came to see the Ice skating ring in Bracknell. English youngsters and us had much fun in testing our ice skating skills.

Directly after the ice skating adventure everyone was hungry and we had the chance to get coffee and cake at an English Youth club.

The Youth club was very nice and all of us agreed that the best was the free WI –Fi they are having.

After the dinner we met some other English youngsters. Especially our girls were very happy that many British boys came to see us. We all get along together very good and many friendships began to start this evening.

Although the Mayor of Bracknell visited us and we told them about our stay and the great Programme during the week.

After this we returned to our accommodation because on the next day we had to go back to Germany and we had to pack our luggage together.

On the next morning the goodbye was very sad for everyone. We had a great time during the week and get to know a great hospitality from the English youngsters and youth workers.

We got to know many new people and all of us are hoping that we can welcome them in 2014 in Leverkusen.


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Sandhurst students on school mission to aid Rwanda orphans

Deputy Head Teacher Sam Hunt and Senior Science Technician Brenda Davies with the students going to Rwanda.

from The Bracknell News :

STAFF and students from Sandhurst School are preparing for a trip to Rwanda after raising more than GBP 50,000 (€ 60,300) to help victims of the country’s genocide.
The youngsters set up the Reaching Rwanda charity in 2007 after learning about the 1994 atrocities that left around one million people dead and many children orphaned.
Deputy headteacher Samantha Hunt said: “This event is very timely as 2014 will be the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda.
“Teenagers today often receive a very bad press, however, this group of young people have truly shown what it means to be a good citizen and to care for those who are less fortunate than themselves.”
The school has also been raising money for the charity Survivors Fund (SURF) which provides support in a variety of ways including:

  • Providing cows, chickens, goats and training in animal care and husbandry to the orphans of Ntarama
  • Sponsoring 22 survivors to go to school and to enable them to financially support themselves in the future
  • Providing funding to set up 14 small businesses such as market stalls and a garden centre which provide an income for more than 70 survivors
  • Building a clean water facility in the village of Kamonyi, providing safe, clean, free water to more than 300 survivors.

The 17 Sandhurst pupils and adults will fly out to Rwanda on February 14 to meet the orphans the school is supporting.
Mrs Hunt said: “During the visit, there will be the opportunity to work in a school with our orphans, and to decorate and furnish two new houses for 10 homeless orphans.”
The group will also deliver cows to widows of the genocide and create three new businesses to enable survivors to generate an income.
Mrs Hunt was nominated for a Pride of Bracknell award in 2008 after launching ‘Reaching Rwanda’ the previous year.
She added: “I believe this is a positive story showing that with just a little effort, you can change people’s lives forever.”

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Town Centre Christmas Lights

Town Mayor Cllr Alvin Finch helped switch on the Christmas lights in Bracknell Town Centre.

He said: “It was heartening to witness the thousands of people who made their way to the Town Centre for the Christmas lights switch on, and the passion of the crowds in both Princess Square, and Charles Square. It was great to have national Bracknell celebrity Dani Harmer, and her Academy to lead us in the pre-Christmas celebrations.”

“It was magnificent to assist Dani switch on the Christmas lights with the Borough Mayor and Matt and Michelle from Heart radio. Pushing the buttons not only celebrated the coming of Christmas but helped cheer the demolition of the old buildings and herald the new Town Centre. To complete the celebrations we had a brilliant flourish of fireworks to see in Christmas, and out with the old town.”

He added: “The eagerness of people to be involved made me even more proud to live in this tremendous place that is Bracknell.”

Bracknell Forest Mayor Cllr Mrs Jan Angell, Heart DJ Matt Brown, children’s TV actress Dani Harmer, Heart DJ Michelle Jordan and Bracknell Town Mayor Cllr Alvin Finch switching on the Christmas lights in Princess Square.