Saturday, 27 August 2016

My GCSE Results

I'll be honest and say that over the course of the summer, I haven't posted with the regularity that had initially been intended. I've genuinely just been busy - whether it be with NCS or a family holiday; as well as otherwise feeling a bit burnt out after the hectic - and notably irksome - academic year.

A considerable amount of time throughout the holidays was almost inevitably invested in fretting over the ever looming GCSE results day - with August 25th having been a date imprinted boldly within my mind as early as around this time last year. 

Of course I'd naturally anticipated disappointment - I've never been of the confident sort, if I'm honest. I demonstrated particular concern following my first maths exam; within which I experienced a coughing fit, a panic attack and, to put the cherry on the cake furthermore, an inability to answer the vast majority of the questions with any remote bit of confidence. Still, I was found to have more hope than Lennie at the end of Of Mice and Men - passing all of them, somehow. 

  • Maths - A
  • English Language - A*
  • English Literature - A*
  • Food Technology - A*
  • French - A*
  • History - A*
  • Geography - A*
  • Core Science - A
  • Additional Science - A 
  • Religious Studies - A*
  • ECDL ICT - Dist.*

So that's 7A*, 3As and 1D* (providing that my maths GCSE has crept up to haunt me through inaccuracy) - not enough to get a scholarship but not bad nevertheless, I feel. 

And I know many people did better than me, but I personally honestly couldn't be happier with my results. I put everything I could to achieve them - and I did fulfil my dream of straight As (mind, that doesn't mean to say history will repeat itself next year). The results have also had some kind of miracle effect upon me - in making me feel more motivated to do half decently at college too. 

And you should be really proud of yourself - no matter what you achieved - providing that you've put everything you could into the exams, as that is all anyone can ever ask of you.

Seen as though revision has been my life for about a year - I would love to write in greater depth about my revision tips, techniques and all the boring but potentially useful stuff that I'm capable of writing about at length. 

Did you receive any exam results recently? Do let me know how you got on!

Kate

Thursday, 14 July 2016

NCS Social Action Week

"Care for those that care for you" 

Anyone that has been reading my recent posts will be aware of the fact that I've been participating within NCS (the National Citizen Service). I'm on the third stage of the programme - Make Your Mark - which enables you to plan and conduct a social action product which will aid the beneficiaries of a certain sector of your local community. 

My team is campaigning to raise awareness for those within assisted living - aged over 55 and living within sheltered housing. 

More specifically, we will be carrying out an event on behalf of the residents of Parkfield Court; in Seacroft, quite close to home. The set of thirty-two one and two bedroom apartments - managed by Yorkshire Housing - enables older people to live with independence, whilst having an onsite warden on-hand if there was to be an emergency. 

Nevertheless, it is still only natural for residents to feel isolated here - especially as mobility reduces with age - and so staff here aim to run as many social events as possible, though this can prove difficult. As well as raising awareness for their cause, we - as a group - aim to carry out an Olympics-themed tea party for the local residents; offering entertainment and refreshments, whilst allowing highly beneficial social cohesion between residents. 

It is undoubted that the struggles and social perceptions of the elderly thrive as issues which can no longer be ignored - with over two million Britons aged over 75 known to live alone; at least 10% of whom noted to suffer from intense loneliness. This is especially an issue for those of poor health - noted, within a 2013 study, to typically be 38% more likely to experience loneliness than their healthy counterparts - as it is for those divorced or widowed. Poverty might be seen as an issue for some of the individuals housed within Parkfield Court - with Seacroft being known to be a disadvantaged area of Leeds. It's a problem undeniably growing rapidly in its severity - and, ultimately, I am truly horrified to reflect upon the fact that I'm a member of a society which allowed around 500,000 vulnerable elderly people to spend the 2015 festive period completely solitary. 

We go by the statement "Care for those who cared for you", and feel as if this accurately reflects our ethos. We wish to challenge the predicaments; the facts that the elderly are often viewed as helpless and weak - whilst being often made to feel undervalued. How truly cruel it is for us to patronise those that gave us the many of the rights and entitlements that contemporary people typically take for granted. 

Fundamentally, our aim is to raise awareness of this degradation of the people who allowed the mere existence of our privileged generation - thus to subsequently put an end to it. Surely it is therefore our duty to support the elderly as best we can in leading a high quality independent lifestyle for as long as possible. 

Kate






















Tuesday, 5 July 2016

NCS: Week One

If you'd read my last post, you'd be aware of the fact that I spent my last week at NCS. It's not usually the case that someone would open a post with a statement so conclusive, yet it's undeniable that I've honestly had one of the best few days of my life - if not the best.

I, quite naturally, arrived in a highly unsociable and anxious state; especially as I found that we'd each been separated into designated groups. I had originally signed up to NCS alongside multiple school friends - though did actually found it proved beneficial for me not to be placed with them within accommodation and activities. It forced me to put myself out there, and so I have met some truly wonderful people.


Having met at a local sports centre - whilst waiting for the coaches to arrive - we participated in icebreaker activities alongside fellow group members. The first person that I was to come across was Vic - who I now consider to be one of my closest friends, despite only knowing her for less than a week. Already, we've developed many an insight joke. 

We spent five days at PGL Dalguise - an activity centre situated close to Perth, in Scotland.  I shared a room with four other girls - and though I was initially slightly uneasy about the idea at first; I soon found that it allowed us to better get to know one another; as to be expected as we were in such close proximity. We even made full use of the corridor between each of the rooms by using it as a makeshift hangout.


Our first full day was notably hectic - in that it entailed a 20km hike around the local rural area. I won't deny that I found it incredibly tiring at the time - especially as we ascended steep hills - as well as the fact that I complained rather excessively throughout; though, it retrospect, I see it as having been a rewarding and enjoyable experience. The walk took us to our accommodation for the night - tents. In spite of the cold, vile portable toilets and food from a pouch, which wasn't overly delectable - it was nice to sit out in front of the sunset on tree stumps alongside friends, getting to know one another. Still, I'd probably like to consider it my first and last camping experience. 

Our return journey in the following morning took a mere forty minutes; and so we were given some much appreciated time for showers and socialising. The afternoon saw us carrying out problem solving activities in the woods, amidst small groups. To follow was abseiling - something I didn't actually participate in, in light of my great fear of heights. 

One of the activites I enjoyed most would have to be archery on the fourth day. I'd only ever done this once prior - on a school trip, aged eleven - though had failed to even release the arrow from the bow. I seemed to have improved slightly as this time came around. 

Rather expectedly, I didn't thrive at the vertical challenge; which involved us climbing up a series of ladders and tires; connected to some tall trees. I didn't manage to even get up to the first stage - which was quite embarassing - though I suppose I tried. 

I still looked forward to three hours of raft building. Our team - named Ward - collected points through completing challenges before using them to 'purchase' equipment, such as barrels and ropes, to build a raft. Once it had been constructed; we were to test it out within a muddy lake - of notably chilly temperature. It resulted in a real life 'raft war' (if you've heard of the Miniclip game?) with the other team. Each team did prove competitive, with its own spontaneous chants. 

I cannot wait to begin the second week of the programme; which will involve us staying in university-style accommodation; attempting independent life whilst learning a new skill amongst our group. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Have you ever done NCS, and if so - did you enjoy your experience? What have you been up to recently? Do let me know in the comments section below (apologies for the unintended rhyme!). 

Kate


Monday, 27 June 2016

NCS

On Thursday 30th June, I will do something I've never done before - stay away from home for multiple nights; without any relatives. 

Why - as an awkward person as myself - am I putting myself through this? Well, in case you hadn't already assumed from this post's title, I hope to participate within the National Citizen Service.

NCS is a government-funded programme is designed to equip young people - aged 16 to 18 - with skills which will assist them in living independently and contributing more to their local community; whilst growing as an individual through confidence. In signing up, I felt that each of those factors would most likely make a beneficial impact upon my life. Furthermore, I'm yet to hear a negative review.

The first week entails traveling to an activity centre in Scotland - staying there for four nights. I suppose this element is designed to break the ice amongst a group of people you've never met - whilst enabling you to challenge yourself through participation in activities which you've never done prior. Who knows - perhaps I'll manage to overcome my fear of heights?

On a side note, I probably won't; but it's nice to be optimistic. 

We will meet again on the 7th of July for a stay of similar structure; except we shall be staying in university accommodation closer to home. The aim there is to manage oneself with relative independence; in cooking and cleaning. During the daytime, we will be strengthening expertise in a particular skill - with the one I chose being enterprise, as far as I'm aware - which I currently know nothing of but hey-ho!

Weeks three and four aren't residential; but, rather, involve the group meeting daily to respectively plan and carry out a project which will aid our local community. As far as I'm aware, we will - as groups - seek the funding of local companies to carry out such projects for charities close to home. 

I'd like to think that it's a productive way of spending a large proportion of the summer holidays. My aim is to give you weekly updates on how things are. 

Are you participating in an NCS programme or anything similar?

Kate

Thursday, 23 June 2016

A Day Out to Whitby

On Monday, myself, my best friend Skye and her boyfriend decided to embark upon an 'adventure' to Whitby; the seaside town of the British east coast, within North Yorkshire.


All in all, a fantastic day was had - on my part, anyhow. Though initially met with notably dull weather en route, beautiful sunshine was soon to follow upon arrival. We had originally intended to have a picnic, but as the day progressed we opted to, rather, spend its majority wandering throughout.

Once we'd finally found somewhere to park - having driven in circles for a good few minutes - we came across the Dracula Experience; surprisingly finding myself not to be frightened by the utter darkness and odd cardboard character to make a sudden appearance.



The pier that we walked along was more of a fear-inducing element of the trip to me - as the gaps between the wooden planks gaped too widely for my liking. I'm sure most felt slightly reluctant and insecure when walking along it; though it did provide a photogenic scene of the sea at the end. Our walk along it also enabled us to come across a replica of the HMS Endeavour - with the original having been sailed by Captain James Cook in 1768 (so, quite a while ago - really).

Our further wanders took us along to Whitby Abbey - up 198 steps from the ground. Though the ascent was rather tiring - and the initial greeting of a graveyard a setting slightly ominous - I found the scene spectacular across the sea. We didn't actually get to looking around the abbey and exploring its history - a short pit stop on the grass outside did suffice.

It was only then that we actually reached the beach - following a short look around the amusements. Though the tide had come in, Skye did try her best to make the most of things - seemingly risking her own life in entering the truly freezing water.

Have you done anything special recently? Feel free to let me know in the comments below (I'm sure that rhymes)!

Kate

Monday, 20 June 2016

Brexit: My View

I'd never taken much of a real interest in politics - up until the point I began to comprehend its significance.

Part of me can understand why someone might want to leave the EU. We're a country that's seemingly become a bit too big for its boots and decided that it's strong enough to manage independently. It's easy to feel as much; we were one of the nations to pioneer a health service free at the point of use, still of tremendous importance to our nation today.

Perhaps Switzerland is the biggest inspiration - a country without EU membership yet of free-trade agreement, as of 1992. It is a country which invites Britain to follow in its footsteps; having recently withdrawn its application to join the EU, after a remarkably similar referendum. 

Yet it is clearly a nation fragile. Recent events - such as the tragic and cruel murder of MP Jo Cox - has truly proved this to be the case.

To most, immigration seems to be the most major factor which contributes most in swaying us towards either side of the argument. The European Union allows for a border open to all EU citizens; so it ought to be considered that this is a two-way system. According to the UN, approximately 1.2 million Britons are living and working within alternative EU nations; and hence what is advocated is the beneficial aspect to this agreement, on our part. 

Of course, on the other hand, there are immigrants that enter and remain in our country unemployed - yet the vast majority are contributing towards our society. In truth, its difficult to know whether our country would survive without the essential workforce - doctors, firefighters, teachers and so many others - that derives from elsewhere within Europe.

How is leaving the EU set to affect the educational sector? Many students choose to study within other EU countries to enrich both their global experience and knowledge within their course - and I, myself, am a prospective student that wishes to do the same. Almost undoubtedly, following June 23rd - if we were to leave, it wouldn't be impossible to still fulfil this; for many students choose to study in areas outside of the EU. Yet, surely it's set to me more difficult to acquire and afford the same placements.

I also feel as if the economic impact of the EU is typically misunderstood to a considerable extent. Quite a lot of money does go out to the EU each year - though this is still only 7% of what is annually invested in the NHS, after removing the sums returned back to the UK in grants. In addition to this, the free trade that the EU provides is of tremendous value; particularly in light of the fact that around 50% of Britain's trade is with other EU countries. As much as Vote Leave supporters might argue this a possibility, it might be harder than anticipated to effectuate such valuable links having left the EU.

Aged just 16, I don't have the right to vote within this referendum; something I see as unjust, considering that it is my age group that is probable to be most affected by its outcome, in upcoming years. Still, I feel I hold an opinion mutual amongst many others - or at least, whether or not this is the case will be evident in just a week's time. 

I'd love to hear your opinion - regardless of whether or not it conforms to my own. What do you anticipate the outcome of this referendum to be? Do let me know. 

Kate

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Brexit: What's it all about?

On 23rd June 2016, British citizens will gather at their local voting centres, to provide their answer to the big question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

Britain became a member of this alliance of 28 member states in 1973 – then known as the European Economic Community; though, in contemporary times, a hot seated debate has risen surrounding whether the ‘Brexit’ will prove beneficial. Anticipation of the outcome of this referendum, which has been referred to as “the most important decision for this country in a generation”, is obviously a highly opinionated matter. It has been estimated that the national divide in opinion is relatively equal; and thus the true outcome is yet to unfold. 

Driving the support of the exit, most notably, are the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP); amidst individuals of the Conservative, Labour and Democratic Union parties. It is felt by many, including Chris Grayling – leader of the House of Commons and member of ‘Vote Leave’ – that the nation’s depart will result in greater ascendancy. 

This proves probable in the predicted economic outcomes; considering that it is often argued that membership within this alliance fails to reap what it sows – with billions spent annually on membership fees, to receive very little in return. Without such fees, tariffs, and additional EU legislation surrounding the many sectors which impact trade are noted by supporters as probable to increase trade; so much to a potential annual GDP increase of 1.6% by 2030. 

Immigration is often perceived as a significant issue within a nation, often deemed rather superior in its welfare state and economic opportunity, and it is felt that EU departure is likely to provide solution to this. Amongst many, desires are held for a Free Trade Agreement – which would entail eradication of the current allowance of free inter-European migration, in addition to charges, whilst there still being the allowance of trade. 

Campaigners point to the greater number of job opportunities, and reduced pressure upon vital public services, which would be a consequence of European independence, and subsequently reduced immigration levels. 

 However, a much more conservative perspective towards the potential reform is held by a number of prominent individuals, including David Cameron and Stephen Hawking. In response to the supporting arguments, it is seen that Britain will struggle to succeed in holding such a finicky, “pick and mix” attitude towards EU involvement and standards – as many EU countries are probable to present opposition. What is additionally recognised by those of this attitude is the benefits that EU immigration holds, in terms of economy – considering that the thousands of young workers arriving from surrounding nations each year provide valuable support to the growing British economy; and, in turn, the public services of such emphasised importance. 

A similar idea is conveyed in Stephen Hawking’s idea that the change would prove “a disaster to British science”, as the nation restricts its access to some of the continent’s most talented scientific minds. 

The outcome for those within the Gibraltar – an island of overseas British territory, situated on the southern Spanish border – would be set to be largely negative, if Britain was to segregate itself from the European Union. This is in light of the fact that many of its residents are of Spanish descent, and that fact that over ten thousand Spaniards work within the area. 

Furthermore, perhaps another factor which ought to be considered is the impact of this potential change upon the approximate 2.2 million British individuals who work within the EU’s other 27 member states; each of whom could face job loss as national borders between Britain and said countries are made highly limited. 

As such a controversial state of affairs, whether support of the ‘Brexit’ is superior to that surrounding conservatism is yet to be unveiled. 

Do stay tuned and check out tomorrow's post - in which I'll discuss my personal opinion surrounding the referendum. 

Kate