The start of the October holiday saw forty four very excited children from Year 5 and 6 at Laxton Junior School, and the First and Second Forms (Year 7 and 8) from Oundle School on their way to Rome for a study trip of the Classical World. A night-time stroll around the Colosseum set the tone for the trip, with the warm evening air of Rome in October heralding some very hot weather.
The first day was spent in the ancient port of Ostia where the pupils experienced a day in the life of the ordinary people of Rome, visiting baths, temples, houses of both the wealthy and the poor, bakeries, fulleries, fish shops and markets. Highlights included the superb mosaics found all over the city and going down into the depths of a dark Mithraic temple, complete with the statue of the god killing a bull, eerily lit by a skylight.
On the Monday, the group was fortunate to be guided round the Forum and the Palatine by Professor Christopher Smith, Director of the British School at Rome. As it was the 2000th anniversary of the death of the Emperor Augustus, the pupils were able to see buildings hitherto closed to the public, such as the House of Livia and the House of Augustus which both house magnificent frescos.
Trip organiser and Classics teacher, Mary James commented, “Our guide brought the seemingly random stones of the Forum to life and gave the pupils a real feel for the days of imperial power and wealth. The highlight of the afternoon was the Colosseum itself.”
The final day focused on the legacy of Rome and how the ancient buildings are still so much part of the modern city. The group visited the Pantheon, the Hadrianic temple now part of a bank, and saw the new displays bringing the sculptures of Trajan's Column down to ground level.
Pupil Pip Pearson (12), commented, “Our trip to Rome was four days of non-stop laughing and seeing some amazing sights. The Colosseum is one of the most incredible places in the world and this was for me an absolute trip of a life-time. The only annoying thing was the mosquitos which were everywhere!”
Pupil Harriet White (12), commented, “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Rome, as it was an amazing trip looking at the history and evidence still in existence today. There were many highlights which included a talk by Mr. Christopher Smith from the British school in Rome, on Augustus's house and looking inside the incredible Patheon, which has a hole in its roof to let light in. But my favourite highlight from the whole trip was standing inside the vast incredible Collosseum, as I could imagine gladiators fighting for their lives with the crowds of spectators roaring in approval or disapproval. All in all, the Rome trip was inspirational and I am definitely going back to continue the journey.”
Mary added, “The trip was very much enhanced by outstanding meals at Il Condor - the liveliness and friendliness of the staff matched their determination to give us a full and varied experience of the best of Italian cooking and made every evening relaxed and fun.”
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion due to open April 2015.
There are currently 1110 pupils are on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11.