Skip to content ↓

Page 1

  • Mock Trial 2014

    Published 18/12/16

    The theft of a £15,000 diamond ring was the focus of a trial recreated by sixth formers in Cambridge.

    Students from Stephen Perse Foundation, Netherhall and The Perse schools took on roles as barristers, solicitors and jurors and used original, adapted papers for the re-run of a genuine burglary trial at Cambridge Crown Court.

    Judge Gareth Hawkesworth has allowed the mock trial to take place at the court since 2009 and addressed the students before Karim Khalil QC, from One Paper Chambers in London, sat as judge for the trial of two suspects on burglary charges.

    Mr Khalil was a prosecutor in last summer’s murder trial into the crowbar slaying of Chittering pensioner Llywelyn Thomas, which saw defendants Frankie Parker and Gary Smith jailed for life.

    Offering coaching and advice, he was joined by colleagues from London and Fenners Chambers in Cambridge in the event organised by the Stephen Perse Foundation and made possible by the Cambridge and Peterborough Bar Mess and court staff giving up their time.

    Stuart Jack, Director of Sixth Form , said the students handled themselves very well in the formal setting. “Speaking in front of such highly qualified and experienced barristers could be daunting. To do this, and so well, in Cambridge Crown Court is an amazing achievement and something that all will remember for years.”

    It was the sixth year the mock trial has been held, but the first time the defendants were acquitted.

    Read more:

    Read More
  • Mitcham's Models

    Published 18/12/16

    Friends of Mitchams Corner is a local residents and traders group, who are keen to regenerate this part of Cambridge as it has a lot of empty shops. It's not known as the prettiest area of Cambridge, but is still a great place to live and has a very eclectic local community.

    As part of this regeneration they would like to redirect attention from the concrete gyratory system and focus instead on the community behind it, and the Stephen Perse Foundation is excited to have been asked to get involved with their 'Mitcham's Models' event.

    The idea behind this event is that the Friends of Mitcham's Corner would like to redefine Mitcham’s Corner as a place with a community who care about it, enjoy it and to whom it is home. Mitcham’s was a drapers and ladies outfitters in the shop on the corner of Chesterton Road and Victoria Avenue. It opened in 1909 and closed in 1977.

    'Mitcham’s Models' will be a series of decorated shop mannequins to tie in with this little bit of local history. They will be placed in various locations around Mitcham’s Corner and will be there for the month of July to coincide with Open Studios and hopefully some good weather.

    Other groups involved include: Wintercomfort; Rowan Foundation; Access Art Students; Greenway Family; ArtWorks Studio and Trumpington Gallery.

    Title: Selfie
    Artists: Stephen Perse Foundation IB Visual Arts students & staff


    Read More
  • Economics Competition

    Published 18/12/16

    On Tuesday 24 June, Hills Road Sixth Form College and Stephen Perse 6th Form College met up for the annual Economics Competition.

    We were promptly split into groups of four or five, and commenced exploring this subject.

    Each group was given the task of researching Brazil and answering various questions about the country's development as well as the effects of the World Cup. After an hour and half of discussing the questions as well as our findings, we were given a break during which all of the students got to know each other better whilst eating delicious cupcakes that the kitchen staff provided. On our return, we presented our findings in the most spectacular PowerPoints, videos and posters, with every group providing a deep explanation of their results. Whilst the teachers were deliberating the winners, we had many photos taken to commemorate this occasion and after this, the winner was revealed. It was a very tough decision for the teachers of both schools as each group clearly did very thorough investigations, and everyone deserved to receive a prize which, for this competition, was a book, related to the subject of Economics.

    This competition was a fantastic opportunity to not only develop our understanding of the world around us, by exploring the economies of new countries, such as Brazil, but also to see how big world events affect the citizens. This was particularly interesting with this country because there is so much excitement about the football but not a lot of coverage on the effects that the football has already had as well as the future consequences. Thanks to this competition, we all learnt something new and I hope that next year, new students will be able to have the same opportunity as we did!

    Natasha Feldman, L6

    Read More
  • L6 Biology fieldwork at Epping Forest

    Published 18/12/16

    The sun was shining at the end of June as 33 L6 students set off along with two members of the Biology department for a full day’s fieldwork in Epping Forest.

    With the help of members of the Field Studies Council students investigated various terrestrial ecological factors with a particular emphasis on succession. This work is an important part of the IB Biology, IB Environmental Systems and Societies and A Level courses.

    Students learnt different ways of carrying out sampling techniques to estimate the abundance of vegetation. They also looked at how to represent data using kite diagrams and how to statistically analyse their data to see if there is a correlation between abiotic and biotic factors within the forest. These studies complement the work carried out at our own nature reserve and during lessons in college.

    Read More
  • Stephen Perse Foundation Photographic competition shortlist announced

    Published 18/12/16

    'What is Learning?' Stephen Perse Foundation Photographic competition shortlist announced!

    Students from across the six schools of the foundation were invited to submit photographic entries that captured their experience of learning, in any digital format.

    Students with access, or their teachers, simply had to upload their image to a Google Drive folder by the deadline of 13th June.

    Judges from the Governors, The Head of Visual Arts, and the Marketing & Communications Department selected a shortlist from almost 80 entries.

    The range of creative responses can be viewed in this gallery below:

    Read More
  • Photography Competition - the winners

    Published 18/12/16

    Congratulations go to everyone who entered the 2014 'What is learning' photography competition organised by the Stephen Perse Foundation Governors.

    The judges were extremely pleased with the response of almost 80 entries and the standard was so high that the decision was made to reward Highly Commended entries in each category with a prize as well.

    Students from across the Foundation were invited to enter. All entries will be displayed on soon, and the highly commended and prize winning entries will be displayed in an exhibition at the Senior School in Cambridge in the Autumn Term.

    Five competition winners will all receive a £25 Amazon voucher and highly commended entries win the prize of a £10 Amazon voucher.



    Winner - Campbell Lee 'What is learning'

    Highly Commended - Abigail Holdstock 'The recipe for learning is fun'

    Dame Bradbury's:

    Winner - Isaac Cowell 'Learning, reading, seeing and doing'

    Highly Commended - CiCi Tilston 'What is learning'

    Junior School:

    Winner - Julia Marshall 'Learning to climb'

    Highly Commended - Sirisha Gorantla 'What is learning' (#1 - the scrabble board)

    Senior School - Years 7 & 8:

    Winner - Charlotte Lane 'What is learning'

    Highly Commended - Catherine Humphrey 'What is learning'

    Senior School - Year 10:

    Winner - Aoife Husband 'What is learning'

    Highly Commended - Hannah Brock, for her triptych 'What is learning'

    Read More
  • A Level results are out!

    Published 18/12/16

    A Level results out on 14 August 2014 mean that students will be celebrating another set of excellent achievements.

    Tricia Kelleher, Principal, said, “All credit goes to the students for these fantastic results. With our International Baccalaureate results already out from July, we know they all have an exciting future ahead of them.”

    Of particular note is that 36.5% of all grades were A*. This is 5% up on last year and in the context of national comments that the very top grades would be lower this year.

    Combined with our IB results (from July) and using the UCAS tariff points system, our students have an average of A*, A*, A* plus a further A grade at AS Level.

    Students will be studying a diverse range of university courses from medicine, veterinary science and law to Spanish & Arabic and Archaeology & Anthropology. Two students will be going to the USA, to Carleton College, Minnesota and to New York University.

    Initial results figures are:

    • A*: 36.5%
    • A*-A: 73%
    • A*-B: 96%
    • Students scoring 3 or more A* grades 19.35%

    For full information about the 2014 A Level and IB results see our main results page.

    Read More
  • Breaking Bard

    Published 18/12/16

    Our final theatre performance of the year was a celebration of Shakespeare with an original montage of scenes from some of his best loved plays.

    This performance took place at the 6th form college in promenade style with a wide variety of Shakespearean characters from a selection of plays entering and exiting from different and sometimes unexpected areas of the college and performing their scenes amongst the audience.

     The action began in the Coffee Shop and moved through the Foyer to the garden.

    Read More
  • IB results 2014

    Published 18/12/16

    Students are celebrating another excellent set of results in the IB Diploma, announced on 6 July 2014. The average score per student is 40 points, out of a total of 45, which will place the Stephen Perse Foundation in the top group of IB schools in the UK for the fifth consecutive year.

    This is equivalent to almost 4 A Levels at A*A*A*A* plus an additional A in AS level.

    All our IB students holding university places now have confirmation that they have secured a place of their choice. A few of these courses are: Veterinary Science at Cambridge, Law at Durham, English and Russian & History at Oxford, European Studies at UCL, Art Foundation in Paris and Liberal Arts at Carleton College, Minnesota, USA.

    Please see our results pages for full details

    Read More
  • Beetlejuice

    Published 18/12/16

    By Dom McGann

    The summer’s sun cast a gentle light over the trees as I approached the building that would be my workplace for the next two weeks. Seeing the large wooden door and limestone pillars of the Hopkins Building, I felt daunted by the realisation that I was to spend a fortnight working in one of the most famous universities in the world.

    I had been offered the opportunity to work on a collaborative investigation between the Cambridge Departments of Biochemistry and Zoology. The technical aspects of the study are facilitated by Illumina, a world leading company in genetic sequencing technology.

    The aim of the project was explained to me by Dr Welch during my first briefing at the Department. This took place in a wood panelled library, lined with dusty volumes from the infancy of biochemistry.

    The investigation, set up more than 15 years ago, was focused around beetles, in particular Nicrophorus Vespilloides, a type of Burying Beetle. All Burying Beetles share a common behaviour. When a female Burying Beetle has been fertilized by a male, the pair locates a mouse carcass in which the female lays her eggs. The mouse is then shorn of its’ fur by the beetles. The pair then cover the corpse in a secretion, and bury it. It was noted that this secretion appears to inhibit the decomposing power of the bacteria in the soil. The study strives to find out why.


     A deceased specimen of N.vespilloides  


    Dr Welch explained that antibiotic medicines, such as penicillin, are derived from chemicals secreted by bacteria or fungi in order to kill off other competing microorganisms. It is believed that the beetles digestive tract, or exudate secretion, is host to certain types of bacteria that secrete antibiotic chemicals.

    My job was to identify and isolate the 16S ribosomal RNA gene from N.vespilloides gut and exudate extract. The 16S gene is a gene specific to bacteria; it is not present in any other life form. It is an extremely large gene that controls protein production within the organism, and is the reason why antibiotics don’t work on humans or other large animals.


     A computer model of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene


    Working alongside my work placement partner Henry, I had to identify and amplify the 16S gene from samples prepared for us by the Zoology team. We used a process called a Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR. PCR is the most important part of modern biochemistry. Discovered by Dr Kary Mullis, it allows small amounts of DNA to be replicated , or amplified, in a very short space of time.

    I found this process is surprisingly easy, despite working with volumes of liquid smaller than a 1/100000 of a litre. However, I found the identification process rather more difficult.

    PCR amplicons are identified by a process known as gel electrophoresis. Armed with the pipette (the biochemist’s weapon of choice) I had to inject 10 microlitres of my amplicons into tiny, nearly invisible chambers in the gel. It took some practice to get right! Nevertheless, the results were very rewarding.


    The four pipettes with which I formed a strong bond during the week


    My first successful gel in the electrophoresis chamber

    For the gel to yield the best results the DNA has to ‘run’ – or be allowed to settle through it - for about 40 minutes. This period of waiting, usually occupied by tea and biscuits, ends when the gel is removed, and observed under ultraviolet light.

    When a gel is examined under ultraviolet light the DNA bands glow. This is caused by a chemical called ethidium bromide, which binds to DNA molecules causing them to fluoresce.

    After the 16S gene had been identified, I was left with the task of cutting the bands out of the gel and re-extracting the amplicons from them for sequencing.

    The sequencing for this project was undertaken by Illumina, using a machine called the Mi-Seq, a creation of my supervisor Dr Geoff Smith. I travelled to their facility in the Chesterford Research Park for the final phase of my investigations. My samples had been transported there on dry ice, in a secure vehicle, the previous day.


     The ‘Mi-seq’, the smallest of Illumina’s machines, on which our samples were sequenced

    Above is a graphic showing how the Mi-Seq works. Genes are broken down and reformed into vertical strings, base by base, until the code can be read. By doing this with millions of strings, the machine can fill any misread bases, and ensure accuracy.

    The data from our samples was sent off to analysts in America, who have the challenge of looking for minute differences in the 16S gene. This will give away the identity of its host, providing another clue to the mysterious antibiotic properties of the beetles’ secretion.

    I left the sparkling 21st century halls of Illumina, a stark contrast to the wood panelled laboratory of Cambridge, thinking of the destiny of my research.

    I would like to think that someday, the work of a teenager from a small town in Essex would assist, even in the smallest way, with an advancement in medical science. Like the beetles, I too could be a small part of a big discovery. It was with this thought that I let the glass doors slide shut behind me, and walked into the summer’s evening sun.

    Read More
  • European Languages day – 26 September 2013

    Published 18/12/16

    European Day of Languages was all about bringing languages to life and inspiring our students to see what directions languages can lead you in.

    Frau Freeman themed lessons with an international slant, giving an opportunity to integrate different languages. Starting the day, our year 8s had a Skype call with students at a 6th form college in Norway, set up through an alumna, Rebecca Hildrebrandt-Paulin (left school in 1983). Rebecca studied Norwegian and German at Robinson College, Cambridge, and is now Head of department for the university preparatory part of a Norwegian sixth form college.

    After chatting to 6th formers in Norway, the girls then took Rebecca on an iPad tour of the school, as she has not seen the school for around 10 years, and asked questions about learning languages, and also what the school was like when she was here.

    The girls were really enthusiastic about the call and said “We thought that the video call was really inspiring to see how passionate she was about languages. It also made us want to be that passionate about languages like her. We found it really interesting to find out how her life had developed since she had been at the school and how the school had helped her in her career. It was also really fun because she was so kind to us and really funny. We also learnt lots of interesting things about the schools’ past!”

    Other activities ranged from a lunchtime language treasure hunt, an international menu for lunch, and a later Skype call with another alumna in London, Charlotte Kingsford-Collins (left school in 1981). Charlotte Skyped the Peligraph magazine team at SPSFC who will be writing an article about their experience. Charlotte has worked recently mainly on translation; at the British Centre for Literary Translation and now spends most of her time translating journalistic articles, plays, and samples for publishers. Charlotte has also also written two bilingual books for young adults (German narration, English dialogue). She has contributed to German-English dictionaries, written the dialogue for a bestselling (English) language-learning Berlitz CD course, done voiceovers (English) and prepared the phonetics for a Spanish-English pocket dictionary.

    “I am passionate about the joys of learning and speaking foreign languages and how this expands people's horizons, not only in terms of their careers but especially in terms of life possibilities and interaction with other people and cultures.”

    There will also be an assembly looking at other alumni and the directions languages have taken them, and the school have done a survey of staff and students to find out how many languages are spoken across the foundation.

    Read More
  • Stephen Perse 6th Form A Level Results 2013

    Published 18/12/16

    Students celebrate A Level results

    A Level results, published on the morning of 15 August 2013, have been emailed to Stephen Perse 6th Form students. 

    The college has been open since 9am, welcoming students whose emotions are running high. For those students with results not as expected, be that either lower or higher, staff have been on hand to offer help, praise and advice. 

    Combined with the IB results, this year's U6 students have an amazing UCAS tariff average, equivalent to more than A*A*AA in A Level.


    Nearly a third (31%) of all A-level grades scored at Stephen Perse were A*s. This means that 19% of the A Level students scored 3 or more A* grades and with an A*-B grade average of 96% and 31% of all grades at A*, making our 6th form one of the top-performing schools in the country. 

    These results are amongst the strongest in the UK, which is remarkable considering this represents only 2/3rds of the year group (the rest taking IB).

    Using the government's own measure, 93% of our A Level students achieved ABB or more with the figure rising to over 95% including the IB.

    SPF U6 A Level students 2013.jpg

    Tricia Kelleher, Principal of the Stephen Perse Foundation, commented,

    “It’s the individual achievements behind the headline figures that are most important to us. Every one of our students has an exciting future ahead of them.”

    A Level students will be joining a wide range of university courses including Arabic & Russian at Cambridge, Biochemistry at Imperial College, Economics at York, Geography at Liverpool, History at Sheffield Medicine at Oxford and Psychology at Cambridge.

    Read More
  • Record-breaking IB results

    Published 18/12/16

    Phenomenal IB Diploma results for our students see 100% achieving their first choice university destination.

    The results, published on 6 July 2013, show an average of 42.11 points per student which is a school record and is the highest average in the UK.

    The IB Diploma was introduced to the school in 2008 and, having been awarded IB School of the Year by the Sunday Times in 2010, results have risen annually. The UK average is generally around 33 points. Scores of 40 points or more out of the maximum of 45 place students in approximately the top 5.5% of students in the world. The examination is taken by around 120,000 students globally.

    Our 2013 cohort are now enjoying a relaxing summer, safe in the knowledge that their university destinations are secure. Soon, they will be packing their bags to attend a wide range of courses in arts, humanities, science and medicine at leading universities in the UK and abroad or to enjoy gap years.

    Tricia Kelleher, Principal, said, “These results reflect an enormous amount of work and dedication from students and staff. The IB is a complete qualification - it equips students not only for the demands of their immediate university courses at world-class institutions, but also for life ahead in our dynamically evolving world. Congratulations to all involved!

    Headline figures are:

    • Average point score 42.11 (out of 45) - up from 39.8 in 2012
    • On the UCAS tariff, this is equivalents to over 4.5 A* grades at A Level.
    • 100% of students achieve their first choice university entry requirements
    • Core point average (theory of knowledge & extended essay): 2.4 out of 3
    • 2 students achieve the maximum 45 points
    • 83% score 40 points or more
    • 69% of Higher Level grades are Level 7 (the top grade)
    • 92% of all grades are Level 6 or 7

    One student, with total score of 44, obtains an unusual diploma with 4 Higher Level (HL) subjects, all with Level 7 (as well as 2 Standard Level). The required combination is 3HL and 3SL.

    University destinations include:

    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    • Utrecht, Netherlands - liberal arts
    • Cambridge University - English, geography, philosophy
    • Durham University - classics, law
    • University of East Anglia (UEA) - law
    • Oxford University - archeology and anthropology, geography, history (2)
    • Oxford Brookes University - architecture
    • St Andrew’s University - history, physics
    • University College London (UCL) - geography, medicine
    Read More
  • Costa Rica

    Published 18/12/16

    by Liv Grant and Lucy Fell

    Central America – an exotic and mysterious place where European explorers of old departed for, but never returned. This romantic childhood idea is probably the initial reason that I wanted to go on the trip, but the promise of toucans and monkeys cinched the deal.

    Upon arrival in San Jose, the capital, a glass and concrete city with several token colonial buildings, we were all amazed by the landscape. Circling the city were large peaked mountains, covered by rich green forest, and above these mountains hung grey clouds, waiting to roll onto the city.

    Clouds and rain became a defining feature of the trip; but they were decidedly different from the weak counterparts found in England. When it rained, the sound was overwhelming, and you could become drenched within a minute. This was not a deterrent for our group however, because the constant warmth of the air ensured that our clothes quickly dried.

    The first part of the exhibition was to Arenal volcano, and we trekked around the base of it. This is where most people realised the importance of hiking boots, for the terrain was rocky and slippery. This is where we glimpsed our first toucan (the chestnut billed toucan, the largest in Central America) and many other birds. One aspect which certainly allowed us to see much more wildlife was our guide, Juan Carlos. JC was able to spot and identify every creature, from birds and monkeys to spiders and frogs. He also had the ability to mimic the calls of many creature, which was slightly unnerving whilst we were on night hikes!

    The place which made the greatest impression upon many in the group was Tirimbina Biological Reserve. The large reserve was dedicated to science ad education. Because off this, we had a talk on bats, which was fascinating because even though bats make up 20% of mammals, many people cannot identify whether they are fruit eating, insect eating... Or very rarely blood sucking (nb, they don't actually suck blood, rather they make a painless incision on the skin, and due to the anticoagulant in their saliva, the blood flows, allowing the bat to lap it up). Other activities included a demonstration of cacao production, and several hikes. It was incredible to see the difference that time has upon the rainforest; during the day we could see the beautiful scenery plants and birds, at night the forest was extremely loud with the clicking sound of frogs and whirring of insects, and we saw a kinkajou (a large possum), a sloth mother and her baby (admittedly they were there for the duration of the trip, but they moved slightly at night) and raccoons. The morning was probably the peak time for bird watching, and also for poison dart frogs. Another feature at Tirimbina, apart from the wonderful wildlife, was the 200 metre long suspension bridge that stretched over the river. This gave a treetop view of the rainforest, and also it was pretty cool if you like heights!

    Other highlights of the trip were visiting a hummingbird sanctuary, where we saw many hummingbirds, tanagers and toucans. The Caribbean coast contrasted hugely with central Costa Rica; the ubiquitous rice and beans were spiced differently, the birds were different, and the towns were full of surf shops and reggae bars.

    It was a splendid trip and one which left many deep and abiding memories.


    Read More
  • Costa Rica expedition in photos

    Published 18/12/16

    6th form science expedition to the Rainforests of Central America. See our photoset on Flickr flickr icon.png

    Read More
  • L6 Psychology students visit the Junior School & City Pre-prep

    Published 18/12/16

    The L6 psychology students had a most successful visit to the pre-prep and years 1,2 and 3, in which they carried out Piagetian tasks with the children to observe whether conservation abilities change once children reach the age of 7.

    Conservation is the ability to understand that simply because something has changed shape does not mean there is more of it. The results provided validation of Piaget’s theory in that the 7 year olds showed no hesitation in performing the tasks correctly while for the younger children it proved to be much more puzzling!

    Some students were also able to carry out tasks on egocentrism with the older children and again Piaget proved to be right!

    Read More
  • Greg Hands MP visits the 6th form

    Published 18/12/16

    When he came on Friday evening to talk to our sixth form students, Greg hands MP was Assistant Whip to The Treasury, charged with the crucial role of getting the government budget through The Commons. This involves persuading by fair means (or foul? Surely not from such a charming man!) his MPs to vote for government measures. He explained how a program of tax-and-benefit changes taking an hour to deliver in April then required three months’ hard work on his part to make sure it got through the vote in July. By Saturday this prominent MP had been promoted to the powerful position of Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons. One has to ask just how much magic must have brushed off on him from the visit to SPSFC!

    Mr Hands began with his own biography, starting as a grammar school boy and entering politics only after some years working in the financial sector in Germany and New York. ‘I strongly recommend you live abroad for some years after graduating – it gives you a fresh perspective on your country.’ He had never intended becoming a politician, he explained, but his industry expertise proved invaluable during and after the debates in The Commons about the financial collapse in 2008. ‘I was one of two MPs in the House who actually knew what they were talking about when it came to derivatives and collateralised debt obligations.’ He thus made a strong case against ‘career politicians’ – those who have politics in mind as a career from an early age and focus entirely on that goal, thereby bringing very narrow experience to their role in The House.

    Students were introduced to the machinations of the Whip’s Office, and the power and patronage associated with a role here. The questions arising from this talk showed great interest and insight on the part of our sixth formers, and highlighted a real hunger for political education amongst young people here. To that end, we are now setting up a Politics Society which will hold events on a monthly basis at SPSFC. Whilst this is aimed primarily at sixth form, it would be a real pleasure to see interested students from the Senior School come along. All will be warmly welcomed.

    Our thanks go out to Mr Hands, and we wish him well in his new post.

    Read More
  • Gold DofE Qualifying expedition

    Published 18/12/16

    What an amazing five days the Duke of Edinburgh Gold group had in Brecon Beacons over the summer of 2013.

    It was lovely weather with not a cloud in sight.  Unfortunately there was no time for sunbathing though as the group had to walk for 8 hours up a mountain, every day, in 30 degree heat.  On the plus side this did include lots of rests, water and sun-cream breaks. When the group arrived at the finish point they were extremely tired, but had the huge sense of realisation that:

    1. They had just completed a four day expedition, which not many people can claim to have achieved

    2. They had all reached the tallest point in South Wales on one of the hottest days of the year, and

    3. Thankfully they did not have to now do it all over again!

    What a fantastic achievment by the entire group.  They now just have to do their presentation to pass the Expedition Section of the Gold Award.

    Well done one and all.

    Read More

News Feeds

You can subscribe to a feed of the latest news items, using the link below. Subscribing to this news feed is free and will keep you up-to-date with the latest news stories that have been posted.To subscribe, simply right-click on the link below, click "copy shortcut" and then paste the URL into your feed reader software.

Subscribe via RSS (2013-14-college-news-archive)