More than 100 children due to start in Year 7 after the six-week break took part in the first week of summer school at Burnt Mill Academy, in First Avenue, Harlow.
The new students from Burnt Mill and Forest Hall School, in Forest Hall Road, Stansted, made friends and got to know their teachers during the week of activities.
Sessions included dance, drama, football, music, cartoons, Hakka, junk funk, circus and sport.
Shawki Bakaar, head of Key Stage 3, said: “Each day, students have taken part in two activities and will have completed all of them by the end of the week. We start them off with activities they already know, such as football and music, and then challenge them a bit more with cartoon drawing and learning the Hakka.
“Not only do the children get to know each other, but I get to meet them and get to talk to them and start building a relationship.”
Illustrator Alan Case, who has worked on Danger Mouse, Count Duckula and Fantastic Mr Fox, took children through a step by step guide to creating cartoons, while Mark Russell from Solo Circus taught a range of circus skills.
Mr Case, of Casey’s Cartoon Workshop, said: “It’s about showing children how clever they are, not showing them how clever I am. I stick to animation rules of drawing with shapes and show them everything is simply about putting these shapes together.”
Maui performers Bruce Simpson and Te Reinga wowed students with their lesson on the warrior culture before teaching them the famous Hakka dance.
Mr Simpson, known as Matua Bruce to the children, told the youngsters: “These will be the best years of your lives. You have to take those feelings of nervousness, grab the opportunity and be the best you can be and enjoy it.
“We have the Hakka all over New Zealand, from the All Blacks rugby team to the police force; each has their own version. It is about coming together as one, moving together as one and facing obstacles. We are all more powerful as a unit.”
Trainee teachers from the Burnt Mill Co-operative Academy Trust Teachers for Tomorrow scheme helped to run the summer school.
Mr Bakaar said: “Some of the trainee teachers have just left Burnt Mill, while others left the year before. It’s a brilliant opportunity for them to earn some money while gaining invaluable experience of working with the children.
It also gives us the opportunity to see them in action so we know what they’re capable of.”
Another 110 students will benefit from the second summer school in August.
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