Published on: Tuesday, November 8, 2022

The German capital Berlin was the half-term destination for a group of 23 King’s Sixth Form academic scholars. After two years without international academic tours, both Upper and Lower Sixth pupils were invited, making this the largest scholars’ trip yet. Pupils were still able to personalise their experience of the city, and in three-days they visited twelve museums and memorials, as well as a number of other major sights, and according to Mrs Cashmore’s watch, clocking up about 40km in the process.  

Visits included a mixture of guided tours and independent exploration, and pupils were able to build on their knowledge from academic study and advance reading. They saw ancient world treasures in the Pergamon and Neues Museums, European artistic masterpieces in two galleries, and some of Berlin’s architectural evolution through landmark buildings, old and contemporary, including the Berlin Wall, conveniently opposite their hotel.  

The study of 20th Century history was brought to life through visits to the DDR museum, the architecturally-compelling Jewish Museum, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and a former Stasi prison at Hohenschönhausen. A small group met a senior civil servant who discussed the German political system over coffee, and pupils were also able to experience some of the fun of Berlin Science Week at the Natural History Museum and the provocative Futuria.  

After the organisational headaches caused by two flight cancellations and one late switch of hotel, Mr Chippendale and Mr Rhys Llewellyn Eaton very kindly helped get the group to Gatwick, and once on the ground things went very smoothly. The pupils were organised, looked after each other well, were receptive and interested in what they saw, and resilient, coping well with hopping from train to tram to bus, as well as walking around a very big city. They were also excellent company for each other and the staff organising the trip, Mrs Cashmore, Mr Ridley, Dr Sorensen and Mr Smith. 

A couple managed to meet up with Berlin-resident German friends, former King’s pupils, before they left. The group will have memories that will inform their understanding of the world, past, present and future, and which will last a long time. They will return to explore their learning further at an upcoming Phoenix Society meeting, and in some cases are already planning a return visit. 

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