Long-serving members of staff who are retiring from Wreake Valley Academy, in Syston, have taken part in an innovative induction exercise for primary school children who start there next term.
Vice principal Sarah Howes, Tom Hemmings and Lindsay Heslop, who have each worked at the Parkstone Road school for more than 30 years, took part in a fictitious two-day drama about the theft of a school plaque from the library.
They challenged 122 children from St Peters and The Merton Primaries in Syston, Broomfield in East Goscote, The Pochin at Barkby and Queniborough, Gaddesby, Thrussington and Rearsby Schools to solve the crime.
After working through all of the clues over 48 hours, considering five suspects and taking relevant lessons in every department in the school, Mr Hemmings was eventually revealed as the thief to the delight of the 11 and 12-year-old detectives.
Assistant principal Belinda Nuttall said: “There was a huge roar from the children when the culprit was revealed. He was asked to empty his bag and the plaque came out. We arranged for two tall members of staff to take him away as though he was being arrested, although we did explain to the children at the end that it was all fictitious.”
The object of the exercise was to engage the children in different subjects taught at the school and to prepare them for their move from primary to secondary education.
They had to use maths to crack the code on a ransom note, a special tutorial helped with interview techniques, an English lesson taught them the difference between fact and fiction and they had an orienteering session in PE to help them get round the site solving clues.
There was also a science element with the pupils getting involved with finger printing, chromatography and soil sampling.
Mrs Nuttall, who wrote the story and was helped in organising the days by student manager Geoff Parkinson, added: “We wanted to keep the children busy for the two days so they didn’t have time to feel nervous about joining the school. It really caught their imagination. The point of it was to show that learning is small parts coming together to make a whole picture.”
Picture 1: Teachers at Wreake Valley Academy who played the roles of suspects in the induction exercise, from left, Dave Hunt, Yasin Naujeer, Tom Hemmings, Lindsay Heslop and Sarah Howes.
Picture 2: Tom Hemmings is ‘arrested’ after being unveiled as the culprit.
Picture 3: Pupils at the induction day react after solving the ‘crime’ at Wreake Valley Academy.