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Hampshire Philosophy Society
The Marriott Society is an active and flourishing forum to continue political debate outside of the classroom. Over the past couple of years we have had talks from various MPs from all parties including regular visits from our local MP Heather Wheeler. Students took part in a hugely successful mock election debate in May 2015 as around 200 pupils gathered in Pears School to listen to the hotly contested arguments, as well as a highly engaging mock EU Referendum in 2016. The Society is already looking forward to another mock election in June 2017. There is also a yearly trip for the Lower Sixth to visit the Houses of Parliament and Supreme Court in London and a biannual Politics and History trip to New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC.
Staff contacts: Mrs A Parish and Mr A Couldrey
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The Economics and Business Society meets in various guises throughout the academic year. During the year there are usually lectures from outside speakers on topics geared to both Sixth Form year groups and subject disciplines. In addition, the society operates small group discussions on current issues in business and the economy which are organised by staff or the pupils themselves.
In the Lent term Ecoplus begins. Ecoplus is an optional discussion group run for the Lower Sixth for the rest of the academic year. It is attended by students who are interested in learning about Economics beyond the A-Level syllabus. The sessions are run in a more informal style than lessons and include tutorial style discussion groups and research and presentation tasks. The pupils regularly rise to the difficult challenges presented to them and engage in plenty of independent study to prepare for the sessions.
There are also a range of competitions facilitated for both subjects including Target2.0, the ICAEW BASE competition, Tycoons in Schools and the London Institute for Banking and Finance's Student Investor challenge. These are all open to any interested pupils throughout the school.
Off-site, the society is involved in occasional visits to local factories and businesses and the department has visits to Warwick University and Cambridge University for enrichment days for the top Economists in the Sixth Form.
Staff Contact: Mr D Exley or Mrs M Court
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Anyone who is studying a classical subject at Repton is automatically a member of the Classical Society. Non-classicists are also welcome to attend meetings when the opportunity arises.
The aim of the society is to explore aspects of the ancient world, partly to support classroom studies and partly for intellectual curiosity and enjoyment. Extra-mural activities include theatre and museum visits, as well as trips abroad to sites of classical interest, such as a past trip to Turkey. We also take part in Classical reading competitions and enjoy talks from visiting speakers.
We hold popular classically-themed quiz nights, visit theatres and hold debates, sometimes in costume. The aim is to strike a balance between accessible topics of general interest and those that are more closely related to the academic syllabus. There have also been more light-hearted ventures, such as ‘Death Factor’ and ‘The Jerry Springer Show 1000BC’.
Staff Contact: Mr R Embery
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Repton’s Debating Society has long been a tradition within the walls of the school and, after its rebranding in 2013, it has really flourished. The skills gained from debating are crucial in so many walks of life, from university and job interviews to help across the curriculum in the shorter term. For the academically ambitious, there really is nothing else that can help to the same extent. Debating hones skills of quick thinking, confidence in speaking and analytical skills. Pupils learn to find flaws in arguments, ensure that their own case is as solid as possible and gain a thorough knowledge of current affairs across a wide variety of disciplines.
The Society meets as a whole every Wednesday evening where novice and experienced debaters take part in separate debates. We also give them coaching and often have the older pupils act as mentors to help the younger debaters. A squad of the best debaters also meets every Monday and Friday night at 9pm. Here we work on debating technique and knowledge of current affairs to ensure that they are well prepared for debating competitions against other schools.
The Society has had a large amount of success in recent years including:
- Winning the Durham University Schools’ Novice competition (2014)
- Reaching Finals day of the Oxford University Schools’ Debating competition (2016 & 2017)
- Reaching Finals day of the Cambridge University Schools’ Debating competition (2016 & 2017)
- Finishing in the top 4 teams at the Birmingham University Schools’ Debating competition (2016)
- Reaching the national final of the Debating Matters competition (2016)
- Finishing 2nd out of 30 schools in Birmingham in the ESU Public Speaking Competition (2017)
- Reaching the National Finals of the ESU Mace Competition and finishing in the top 12 out of more than 300 participating schools (2017)
- Winning the Nottingham University Schools’ Debating Competition (2017)
Staff Contact: Mr A Couldrey
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Membership of the Ramsey Society is by invitation on the basis of recommendations from Common Room. The Society aims to challenge and expand the horizons a number of the most academically gifted and inquisitive members of the Sixth Form. It is designed to hone their skills in constructing extended essays, and to help them to respond to ideas presented to them in university interviews and seminars. Pupils present papers to the Society, which lead to discussion by the group; recent examples include Kafka’s examination of the human condition, Platonic and Aristotelian analyses of the nature of literature, and the role of human rights in modern global politics.
Staff Contact: Mr C Dammers
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The Temple Society's core membership comprises Lower School academic award holders, although others may be invited to join. It is designed to encourage free trade in ideas and recent topics of discussion and debate have included under-age drinking, the work of Amnesty International and animal rights.
Staff Contact: Mr C Dammers
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The Law Society seeks to increase awareness of the law and the legal profession among the student body through a programme of workshops and external speakers. We meet every third Monday and have around 30 active members drawn from across the school year groups. In Michaelmas 2016, we welcomed excellent speakers including Sarah Embery, an experienced criminal barrister, and Logan Mair, a partner at City law firm Ashurst. In November the society held its inaugural Mock Trial, which became a major school event with over 60 spectators.
The itinerary for 2017 is extensive and includes a trip to the Old Bailey and the Royal Courts of Justice in February, an Easter Mock Trial in March, further speakers from City law firms Clyde & Co and White & Case in the spring, and a Law Society summer social.
It is hoped that the school will participate in the independent schools' mock trial competition in London in January 2018.
Staff Contact: Mr E J D FitzGerald
The aim of Geographical Society is to encourage students to think beyond the confines of the syllabus. Talks will be given by members of the department and students are also encouraged to present to their peers on topics that are of interest to them. Members of the senior school are also encouraged to give talks to those in the lower school about their experiences of Geography. Activities include discussion and debate about global issues such as sustainability, exploitation and urbanisation. Geography society also presents an opportunity for pupils to view documentaries and programmes of a geographical nature which they might not otherwise have a chance to see. In addition to internal talks and guest speakers to the school, the students also have opportunity to attend external talks that are offered by the Derbyshire and Staffordshire Geographical Association branches. There is no doubt we live on a dynamic planet and Geography society allows Reptonians to keep pace with current issues and explore the ever changing relationship between man and the environment.
Staff Contact: Mr R De Rosa
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The History Society meets fortnightly throughout the year and is open to all members of the school with an interest in the subject. It holds seminars for discussing in more detail ideas and issues that arise from the GCSE and A level courses, and also invites visiting speakers to address the pupils on a wide variety of topics. For example Dr. Jackson, a senior member of Cambridge University, led a discussion of the role of the Supreme Court in America, and other seminars have covered Madisonian Democracy, states’ rights, and nineteenth century warfare. The Society also stages other activities, such as quizzes, which are open to the whole school.
Staff Contact: Dr N Pitts
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Donald Fraser Ferguson was a master at Repton from 1928 to 1940. Following his time at Repton he went on to make the most accurate ‘hand’ calculation of π at that time.
He worked at the Royal Naval College in England at the time and used the formula :
π/4 = 3 arctan(1/4) + arctan(1/20) + arctan(1/1985) to compute π. He worked on it from May 1944 until May 1945 by which time he had calculated 530 places and found that the previous ‘record holder’ Shanks’ calculation was wrong after place 528.
Shanks’s calculation had stood unchallenged until 1945, until Ferguson discovered the error in Shanks’s value. Not only that, Ferguson managed to find where Shanks made his mistake. Shanks had omitted a zero in the 531st decimal place of an intermediate calculation so that the number . . . 80482897 . . . was incorrectly replaced by . . . 8482897 . . .. As a consequence Shanks’s value of π was correct to only 527 digits. He continued with his efforts and published 620 correct places of π in July 1946.
Ferguson then continued with his calculations, but after this he used a desk calculator similar to the one shown opposite. This marks the point at which hand calculations of π ended and computer assisted calculations began. The desktop calculator, although a relatively primitive instrument by today's standards, was a technology tour-de-force in its day. In 1947, D. F. Ferguson, working with such a desktop calculator, was able to calculate 808 digits of π.
Staff Contact: Mr P Goodhead
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The Modern Foreign Languages Society exists to promote linguistic and cultural activities which are not possible within the normal classroom setting. Meeting once a month, lectures on art and artists, film evenings, wine tastings and study trips to universities are among activities that have featured, and a highly successful five-day visit to Berlin was also undertaken. The role which such activities play in setting the academic study of modern languages within a broader cultural context is of crucial importance in developing an informed understanding of the international environment in which many Repton pupils will eventually be living and working.
Membership is open to all pupils studying a language, although activities such as wine tasting is restricted to those who are legally allowed to participate. Any such restrictions to participation in an event are advertised in advance. Impromptu informal events such as film showings are also held occasionally.
Events last year included a study visit to Paris, and a trip to the new National Theatre production of Brecht's Mother Courage and her Children in London. Events this year include canapés and poetry evening, a lecture on the propaganda music of the Third Reich as well as one on Parisian art and also a study trip to southern Spain. Pupils are always welcome to offer their ideas for future events.
Staff Contact: Mrs C Watson
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New in 2011 is the Gurney Society, offering an informal and enjoyable environment for all Reptonians to broaden their appreciation of science, and be exposed to research methods, ideas and process across all three scientific disciplines.
Named after John Henry Gurney, founder of the School's first Chemistry Deparment, and instigated by current Science teacher Julia Rushton, the Society embodies the spirit of scientific enquiry, Repton ethos and sense of the that both teachers have inspired in their pupils.
Nicknamed the Pelican, Gurney is enshrined in Repton folk law as the inspiration for 'Lex Pelicana', or the bone off. Joining Repton in 1873, he was well ahead of his time - fond of explosions, bad smells and occasionaly setting his beard on fire, he was a truly inspirational and forward-thinking teacher, and the Gurney Society ensures these qualities endure here at Repton.
Enabling pupils to explore a huge variety of scientific topics, from flight in birds to astrophysics, and from genetics to John Driver's breathtaking chemical demonstrations, the Gurney Society intends to excite as well as educate, offering a fantastic new addition to the School's extra-curricular program.
Staff Contact: Mrs J Jones
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Named after the composer of our school hymn ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ (Repton), this is a society specifically intended for our senior academic musicians.Termly meets consist of Radio 3 ‘Discovering Music’ type analyses, presentations and live demonstrations, led by a member of the Music Department.
All academic musicians in the Sixth Form and O Block are obliged to attend, but all others are most welcome.
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A wide range of activities operate under the aegis of the English Department throughout the year and are open to all, though some are aimed particularly at junior or senior pupils. These seek to expand pupils' literary and linguistic horizons outside the classroom and to stimulate inquiry into a wide range of texts and genres. Groups and activities meet throughout the year and pupil leadership is strongly encouraged.
There are a range of activities, which typically will include:
• Senior Book Group: a chance for sixth-form pupils to meet informally to discuss texts they have selected and to explore contextual links;
• Lit. Soc. Play: either selected or written by pupils, the play is an annual event in the calendar;
• English Speaking Board qualifications: an opportunity for pupils to prepare for the Grade 8 Advanced Certificate in Spoken English or the Advanced Certificate in the Language Arts;
• LAMDA qualifications: open to all but aimed at giving junior pupils an opportunity to develop important speech and drama skillls;
• Medieval English Group: part of the Oxbridge programme, this group explores Anglo-Saxon and Middle English texts and culture;
• Film Group: using a film text as stimulus, this creative writing group meets to produce and share original writing in an informal setting;
• Literature Discussion Group: designed to complement areas of the A Level curriculum, seminars are offered, for examople, on Romantic Poetry or American Drama;
• Quiz nights: aimed at junior pupils, a range of events are provided to explore a range of literary topics;
• Theatre trips: not only to see productions of texts studied in the classroom, but also performances selected by the pupils.
Staff Contacts: Mr K Campbell
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What is Hampshire?
The Hampshire Philosophy Society sprung to life in 2012, and is named after a famous OR philosopher, Sir Stuart Hampshire. It meets regularly and is open to any member of the school who is keen to examine and question the world which surrounds them.
All sessions involve active participation through the discussion of ideas, whether through helping to prepare speeches on a topic or providing questions for a speaker. However, there is never any obligation to speak at the society - you are welcome to just listen, though more may be gained through involvement in discussion!
The Society produces articles as contributions to the Repton online magazine ‘Beyond the Bubble’. We also use Twitter (@ReptonHampshire) for sharing the most recent discussions and events, and for directing pupils to engaging philosophical material.
Who was Hampshire?
Sir Stuart Newton Hampshire (1914-2004) was an anti-rationalist Philosopher, who believed that reason cannot be the sole source of knowledge. Hampshire insisted that philosophy of the mind ‘has been distorted by philosophers when they think of persons only as passive observers and not as self-willed agents’. Thus, Hampshire was interested in looking at the practicality of moral problems instead of the logical properties of moral statements.
As well as being educated at Repton, Hampshire read History at Oxford. Hampshire’s works include ‘Thought and Action’. This text develops ideas about freedom and the philosophy of the mind.
The Hampshire Society has been inspired by him, meeting regularly to discuss and see Philosophy in Action. The aim is to, as Hampshire suggests, develop students into ‘self-willed agents’ with an interest in understanding the fundamental beliefs or concepts society and ancient societies, are and have been founded upon.
Why join Hampshire?
‘The unexamined life is not worth living’ – Socrates
As little children, humans first learnt to recognise letters, then words and in time these took on meaning in sentences. In our writing, letters are first shaped then words and finally entered the frightening world of joined-up writing. The world of ideas is rather similar. People have ideas, opinions, prejudices and assumptions, yet it is rare that these are linked together into a coherent scheme. Philosophy attempts just such links.
In ERS lessons you explore these ideas a little, but there is never enough time to really explore the big questions. Hampshire gives you the opportunity to discuss, explore and respond to ideas. We do not learn about philosophers, we become philosophers. For us, as it was for Wittgenstein, philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
The society provides an outlet in which students can learn and produce scholarly arguments for no other goal other than interest and enjoyment. It encourages you to think beyond, and challenge your assumptions on a range of topics, and grow in confidence in evaluating complex ideas.
For more information please contact Mrs A V E Saunders