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Christ Church Primary School

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Christ Church Primary School

Term 2 Autumn 2023

How would we survive at the South Pole?


This term, Year 2 will use these key questions to build our learning to answer our final enquiry question "How would we survive at the South Pole?" 


  • Where is the South Pole?
  • What is a polar climate like?
  • Do animals live in Antarctica?
  • How could we get to the South Pole?
  • Are there any people at the South Pole?
  • What do people wear at the South Pole?

Video-calling Matt Neill, Captain of the RRS Sir David Attenborough to ask questions about Antarctica!

Here are the questions we asked Matt with his answers! 


  1. What was your favourite visit to Antarctica?

Every visit to Antarctica is a chance of a lifetime – every time is different. I loved last season because we brought the new ship to Antarctica for the first time, it was very challenging. I also got to do a lot of parts of the job I really enjoy like beach landing in our small boats. Two of our crew also got married on the ship in Antarctica.

  1. What is your job as Chief Officer? 

I have been promoted to Captain. As Captain, I am in charge of the ship and everybody on board. I have to make sure everybody stays safe, that we have enough food, supplies and fuel on board the ship and that we get to where we are supposed to go!

The Chief Officer on board the ship runs all the day to day operations. I will give orders on what needs to be done and the Chief Officer makes it happen.

  1. Do you miss your family and friends? 

I do miss my family and friends. It can be difficult being away from home for months at a time; it is always a celebration when I come home. Thankfully on board, I work with a lot of my friends and we are like a big family when we are working on the ship. We celebrate each other’s birthdays and look after people when they are having a bad day.

  1. How cold is it in the summer?  

It is always freezing (below 0°C). Depending how far south we go it can get down to -50°C with windchill. Normally it is around -10°C

  1. Can you see penguins and seals? What wildlife have you seen there? Are there husky dogs in Antarctica?  

I get to see lots of wildlife – there is so much wildlife in Antarctica.

  • Fur seals
  • Elephant seals
  • Weddell seals
  • Leopard seals
  • Crabeater seals
  • Minke, sai, humpback, killer, sperm and blue whales
  • Albatross, petrels
  • Rockhopper, gentoo, adelie, king, emperor, macaroni, chinstrap penguins

There used to be huskies in Antarctica – they were brought from the Arctic to help pull sleds but they have all been taken out of Antarctica now

  1. Can you see anything except icebergs from the ship?  

There is always lots to see from the ship:

  • Icebergs and sea ice
  • Mountains
  • Wildlife
  • Beautiful clouds and skies
  • Big waves
  1. How much food do you have to take with you?  

We take enough food to feed 90 people for 12 months – that is in case we get stuck in the ice and have to stay there over the winter. We would run out of fresh food eventually and would live on tinned and frozen food.

  1. How does it feel to be so far away from anywhere else? 

It is an amazing feeling – I love being far away from everything but it can also be challenging because if something were to happen that we needed help, it would be quite a long time before somebody could come help us.

  1. How did it feel setting sail on the ship across the oceans?  

I love sailing across the oceans – when we leave England, it is weeks before we get to see land again; it is very relaxing being away from everybody else in the world!

  1. What do you wear when you are there? 

It all depends on the weather – it can be very cold and windy so we have to wear lots of layers of clothes.

  • Underwear and socks
  • Thermals (top and bottom)
  • Fleecy trousers and top
  • Windproof trousers and top
  • Big snow boots
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Goggles or sun glasses
  • Hard hat
  1. How do you keep safe there?  

Keeping everybody safe is the main part of my job. We have to make sure everybody has the right training and equipment to be able to do their job safely. Before we start any work, all the people involved have a meeting to discuss the plan for the job and everybody is given a role to do. There would always be somebody in charge to look after everybody. If there are any issues then anyone can raise their concern.

  1. Do you ever see other ships there?  

There are a few other ships; research ships from other countries, cruise ships and some naval vessels

  1. How dangerous might it be on your next adventure? 

I am joining the ship at the end of January in Punta Arenas, Chile. We are going to be undertaking science in Antarctica for the first time. All the places that we are going to will be for the first time on the new ship so we will have to take everything slow and ensure we really think about what we need to do before doing it! It will be a real adventure.

  1. How long did it take you to get there? 

I flew from the UK (RAF Brize Norton) to the Falkland Islands, 19 hour flight then joined the ship and sailed South. It takes about three days so reach the Antarctic peninsula by ship.

  1. Have you seen a blue whale? 

I actually saw a blue whale last week, it was massive!

  1. Have you seen an elephant seal? 

I’ve seen lots of elephant seals, mostly on South Georgia.

  1. What does it feel like when you first step on land after being at sea for so long? 

It is a strange feeling, nothing moves! Everything seems very far away, it is also weird to talk to people who are not on the ship.

  1. Will you see beluga whales?

Unfortunately not, they live in the Arctic.

  1. How cold can it get? 

In the summer it doesn’t normally get much colder than -12°C without windchill.

  1. Does the cook make bread for you? 

The cook does make bread, we are very lucky on board with how good our cooks are.

  1. What is the coldest temperature you’ve experienced? 

I’ve been at -35°C with windchill that brought it down to -50°C.






Playing with ice and polar animals

Christmas artwork - wrapping paper and Christmas cards

Christmas Party Food!

Christmas Party Day!

Science - Blubber experiment - what's the best way to keep warm in icy water? Testing rubber/bubblewrap and lard gloves.

Opening our whole school advent calendar

Christmas Lunch

Writing our polar quizzes

Working together to complete a jigsaw of a map of the world

Opening our new class book "A Jolly Disaster!" illustrated by Mrs De-Bear who used to teach here!

Popcorn for a reward time watching "Robin Robin" and an amazing marble run!

Rev Simon visits for Year 2 to share their learning on why Christmas matters to Christians and to ask him questions

Researching polar animals in English

Christmas Jumper Day for Save the Children

Acting out bullying scenarios in PSHE

Watercolour paint-a-long with artist John Dyer from Born Free Foundation

Spelling races in the hall!

Well done for entering the BBC 500 Words Competition!

Children in Need 2023

Anti-Bullying Week posters

Odd Sock Day for Anti-Bullying Week 2023

Cricket sessions in PE with Gloucestershire Cricket

Opening our new class storybook....The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson

English - "Lost and Found" by Oliver Jeffers....storytelling