School news January & February 2017


Kids’ author at Kiddy

Holy Trinity School in Kidderminster hosted celebrated children’s author John Dougherty on National Poetry Day in October to officially open the primary school’s new library. The author met and spoke with pupils from every year group, telling them stories and singing his infectious songs, before meeting parents, opening the library and taking part in a mega book signing session.

John is a successful children’s author, poet, songwriter and former primary school teacher, with his first book Zeus on the Loose published in 2004 and shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award for ‘an outstanding first novel for children’. He is best known for the fabulously funny ‘Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face’ stories.

School librarian Katherine Slack says, “John’s opening speech was very appropriate; a library is like Dr Who’s Tardis… reading takes you everywhere… and now our pupils have even greater access to a wide range of quality literature in an enticing environment.”

The library received financial support from the PTA who donated £2,000 to purchase books, on top of £100 to each class teacher so that they could create a book zone in every classroom, and parents generously donated ‘preloved’ books to the library project.

Teen’s enterprising essay

A Shropshire teen has beaten competition from top schools across the world to win a prestigious international essay writing competition. Jake Thorpe from Wrekin College in Wellington said he felt honoured to be named the winner of the Marshall Society Essay Writing Competition. The 17-year-old beat candidates from Eton College, Manchester Grammar School, the Raffles Institution in Singapore and Brunswick School in the USA.
Jake’s essay tackled a timely subject – quantitative easing – and he completed it while on an exchange programme in Australia. Jake explains, “I was searching online for initiatives I could take part in which I could include in my personal statement for university applications when I saw the competition details.

“At the time I thought I’d just like to enter to try something I hadn’t done before. I never imagined winning and actually when I got the email I thought at first it was one of my friends playing a joke!”

Wrekin College Tim Firth praised the initiative shown by Jake to enter the competition of his own accord, saying, “We’re extremely proud of Jake’s success and feel he has shown that you can exceed even your own expectations when you stretch yourself and just go for it.”

The Marshall Society is the Economics Society of the University of Cambridge. Established in 1927 in memory of Alfred Marshall, it brings together young economists to promote the debate and discussion of current economic issues.

Oldbury Wells welcomes musicians

Oldbury Wells School’s music department hosted an exciting afternoon of music making on Friday 4 November, when they welcomed pupils from Castlefields, Highley, St John’s and Worfield primaries to work with the Oldbury Wells School orchestra and staff from the Shropshire Music Service on a programme of orchestral music. The aim was to inspire the younger musicians and to mentor them on their instrumental skills and musicianship, culminating in a short performance for parents.

The school’s head of music, Jo Dangerfield, says, “The workshop, now in its third year, was a huge success as a result of the students’ hard work and enthusiasm for the opportunity and I hope this is the first of many opportunities to work together in the future.”

Distinctions at Moffats

Moffats School in Kinlet are celebrating an almost clean sweep of distinctions in their recent English Speaking Board exams. The exam, conducted in front of an audience, consists of reading at sight, presenting a talk on a favourite topic and reading a poem. Topics this year included: panning for gold, endurance riding, the Seville Fair (pictured) and the author Neil Gaiman.

The senior pupils in Y8 took individual grades, particularly impressing the examiner with their maturity in discussing the literary elements of their presentations.
Meanwhile, the Y7 children returned to group speaking, performing Alfred Noyes’ dramatic poem ‘The Highwayman’. The examiner’s comments summed up his appreciation: “What marvellous cooperation, ingenuity and power. The experience should inspire all of us to learn poetry.”

Head Mrs Robin McCarthy says, “All the pupils can be extremely proud of what they achieved. ESB exams are something that we value highly as the experience will be something that can be drawn on throughout their lives.

“And at least one of the children can now recite the whole of ‘The Highwayman’ – a mere 10 minutes long!” she added.

The right notes

Castlefields Choir ended last year with plenty of engagements, singing their hearts out at several events including Bridgnorth’s Lighting Up ceremony on the High Street, Castlefields Christmas Fayre and the Carol Service at St Leonard’s Church on Tuesday 6 December.

The children thoroughly enjoyed exercising their vocal chords and entertaining people in the process.

Tettenhall in the swim

A swimming academy set up at Tettenhall College is going from strength to strength, with pupils proving successful in prestigious regional and national competitions. Instructor Tracy Bate has been coaching children from the prep and senior schools, with some children starting lessons as early as 7.15am. After training, they enjoy a hearty breakfast with the school’s boarders.

At the end of last year, 22 swimmers represented Tettenhall in the ISA Midlands Area Senior Schools Swimming Championship Gala, doing front crawl, backstroke, breast stroke, butterfly, individual medley and medley relays. Those who achieved fastest times in the heats were competing to swim at the National Finals being held in London, at the Olympic Park Arena.

Director of sport James Bullock says, “All our swimmers gave a fabulous account of themselves, more than holding their own in a top-class field. The performances represent a year of hard work and effort – we’re very proud of them all.”

Breakfast on the run!

A school in Richards Castle near Ludlow has been shortlisted for the TES Boarding Initiative of the Year for its breakfast club. Moor Park’s morning club is voluntary, with children having the opportunity to run a set course before breakfast. They set a collective distance to achieve between them – last year they ran the equivalent of the Mariana Trench (10,994m). Pupils compete for the coveted ‘yellow jersey’, which can be rewarded for running regularly, completing a lot of circuits, or just generally being a good sport. Those who run on at least 90% of boarding days are rewarded by breakfast in bed, served by the headmaster.

The objective of the TES award was to choose a school where the initiative not only enriched the lives of the borders, but also permeated the whole school with a positive and inclusive impact on day pupils. There is a free ‘boarding taster day’ on Friday 24 February – email for details.

Chair set to retire

The chair of a Shropshire school’s board of governors is retiring at Christmas after 15 years on the board. Brian Newman was appointed to the board at Shrewsbury’s Prestfelde School in 2001 and in 2010 succeeded as chairman, or ‘custos’ as it is known in the Woodard family of schools, of which Prestfelde is one.

It will be the end of a long involvement at the school dating back to the 1980s. Mr Newman and his family moved from Surrey to Shrewsbury in 1988, when his eldest son entered the school. All three of his sons have been pupils at the school.

Prestfelde’s head head Fiona Orchard says, “The staff, parents and pupils would like to thank Mr Newman for all the hard work he has put in at the school over the years and wish him well in the future.

“He’s been at the helm during what has been an exciting time for the school and the driving force behind many of the innovative ideas put in place over the last 15 years.”
Mr Newman says, “It’s been a privilege and a joy to serve on the board of such a wonderfully successful and happy school, where governors, staff and pupils, true to the Woodard Christian ethos, put care of the individual and consideration for others at the heart of all that they do.”

Hope for the future

Two former Shrewsbury High School pupils, twin sisters Victoria Panton Bacon and Sarah Hope, returned to SHS to talk to Y6 and Y9 pupils about their charity, Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope.

The charity provides support for children who have lost limbs through war, accidents, and lack of access to medical care. In April 2007, three generations of their family were involved in a terrible bus collision in South West London. Sarah and Victoria’s mother Elizabeth lost her life, Sarah was badly injured, and her two-year-old daughter Pollyanna had to have her right leg amputated below the knee.

“We work with organisations already established in countries where there is little, or sometimes, no support for very vulnerable children, who are often ostracised and miss out on an education simply because they cannot make the journey to school,” explains Victoria. “Since ELoH’s creation five years ago we’ve set up a limb centre in Tanzania and we’re now supporting children in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and India.”
To find out more about their visit, visit the website –

School celebrates joining Trust

On 1 November, Alveley Primary celebrated with a special ceremony to mark the start of their new partnership with Oldbury Wells School, under the Bridgnorth Area Schools’ Trust. The ceremony also marked the start of Mr Paul O’Malley’s headship at Alveley.
Sarah Godden, executive head of the Trust says, “We were thrilled to appoint a school leader with Mr O’Malley’s talents and experience. We wish him every success in his headship of Alveley.”

Alveley pupils were joined at the ceremony by Oldbury Wells pupils and staff, and 100 crocus bulbs were planted to mark the occasion – one for every pupil. “We’ll have a fitting annual reminder of today’s celebration every spring time!” explains Mr O’Malley.
Helping plant the bulbs were six Oldbury Wells pupils, Sarah Henshaw, Sam Smith, Mia McCleod, Will Derrer, Ellie Richardson and Amber Edwards, who all attended Alveley Primary School.

Bridgnorth Area Schools’ Trust has governed Oldbury Wells since July 2015. In June 2016 they were granted authorisation to extend their remit, and Alveley’s addition has forged a new Multi Academy Trust partnership.

Cressage school’s health drive

Cressage’s Christ Church Primary’s Green Class had an ‘egg-citing’ time recently in their science and technology lessons. As part of a topic on health, fitness and food they were tasked with designing a crash helmet that would ‘save’ their hard-boiled egg (aka the brain) from smashing. Pupils had great fun testing their designs on the playground.
As part of the same project, Y2 and Y3 pupils had a cycle and scooter day in school. The aim was to teach the children about cycling and scooting safely and to show them how much fun keeping fit and healthy can be. The topic also included work on how to eat healthily. The class were lucky enough to visit the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre where they made soup and bread.

“I tried vegetable soup for the first time,” reports one pupil. “It was yummy! I loved chopping up the vegetables myself and learning how to use a knife safely.”

Apprentice team grows

The East Shropshire School Sports Partnership has this year extended its PE apprenticeship scheme into primary as well as secondary schools. During the summer term, partner schools interviewed applicants aged between 18 and 24 and, at the start of the 2016-17 year, six apprentices began in post at Sheriffhales Primary, Idsall School, Oldbury Wells, Bridgnorth Endowed, William Brookes, St Marys Bluecoat and Albrighton Primary. The apprentices receive one day training each week, delivered by Natalie Hollins at Oldbury Wells, and work the remaining four days in school, supporting all aspects of PE and school sport.

Sam Owen is one of the apprentices – he’s been working at St Mary’s Bluecoat. The school’s PE curriculum leader Mr Wills says, “Sam’s been an excellent addition to the team. As a result of his appointment, we’ve been able to offer extra clubs after school and during lunch, so we now offer even more opportunities for children to participate in school sports.”

Y2 2 pupils Marlee and Orean agree, saying, “Mr Owen is really sporty and I especially like football with him!” and “I like the games and activities that Mr Owen makes for us. They’re really fun!”

Natalie says the scheme is now getting ready for next year: “We’re looking for new potential apprentices for a September 2017 start in the Bridgnorth and Telford areas. If you’d like to make a difference to children and young people and you think this course could be for you, email me at”

T-shirts to Africa

Leftover T-shirts from Shropshire’s school sport festivals have been flown out to Africa as part of a charity project bringing sport and physical activity to underprivileged youngsters. More than 700 shirts produced for the Shropshire Homes School Games have now been delivered to children in slum areas of east Africa through the Taking Football to Africa and Beyond appeal over the past three years. The project is run by RAF Shawbury Wing Commander Neil Hope as part of the Aid Through Football initiative.

Harry Cade from county sports partnership Energize, which organises the Shropshire Homes School Sport Festivals, says, “This latest batch of were delivered to three sites near Nairobi – Mathare North Primary School, Kandara Children’s Home, and Pastor Amos Okoko School.”

The deliveries included the slum area of Kibera, where more than a million people are living in an area of less than three square kilometres with no mains electricity, no sewerage system and little running water.

Fee-free degrees for lucky six

Students from Shropshire could be among half a dozen to start at Harper Adams University next September without having to pay a penny towards tuition costs. In November, the university launched its Success Scholarships 2017. Each scholarship is worth £29,600 and will cover the full cost of tuition for a four-year honours degree course.

“We’re launching these awards because we recognise university education is a serious financial commitment,” says director Simon Pride. “We’d encourage anyone who thinks they might qualify to visit the website, check their eligibility and make an initial application.

Students must have eight GCSE qualifications at grades A* to C, have a household income below £62,187, be able to start their course in September 2017 and live in an area or attend a school from which low numbers of young people progress into higher education. The final date for applications is Monday 27 February – visit for details.

Alpaca snapped up

The Animal Care Unit at North Shropshire College’s (NSC) Walford Campus recently welcomed a new arrival; the College’s alpacas June and Chad gave birth to a male cria (baby alpaca) named George. George’s stay will only be for six months – due to the high cost quality of the Walford alpacas, he’s already been purchased by a commercial alpaca farmer.

Animal care instructor Sam Cank says, “George’s arrival has come at an ideal time in the academic year; we’ve had a new intake of students who can gain experience handling a cria and help to get him halter trained. George is the sixth cria June has given birth to.”
To take part in one of Walford’s ‘Keeper for a Day’ experiences, which take place over half term, call 01939 262100.

Molly-Jane’s flying start

A second-year student at University Centre Shrewsbury has been recognised for her outstanding achievements during her first 12 months at UCS. Shrewsbury native Molly-Jane Watkins-Fruen took her A-levels at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College before becoming one of the first intake of undergraduate students at UCS in 2015.

Molly-Jane is studying Genetics and Evolution, one of several popular BSc programmes run by the Institute of Medicine at UCS, and she was presented with the Michael Davie Research Foundation Award for best overall accomplishment during the first year of studies. The accolade was presented to her by retired consultant physician Prof Mike Davie on behalf of the Foundation, a local biomedical charity that supports research into bone-related conditions. It has committed to funding an award of this kind to a UCS-based Life Sciences student for the next four years.

Molly Jane says, “It was so unexpected, I never thought the award would be for me. It’s shown me what can be achieved through hard work and determination. I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of my lecturers at UCS, and I’d like to thank them all for a fantastic first year!”

Pearl of Africa revisits Walford

Following a previously successful visit, the internationally acclaimed Pearl of Africa Children’s Choir graced the Walford Campus of North Shropshire College (NSC) for the second time. The choir consists of children from six schools and homes run by the Molly and Paul Child Care Foundation in the Kampala and Masaka districts of Uganda. The charity aims to raise funds for the schools- which provide food, shelter, healthcare and education for orphaned and destitute children and their families, to improve the welfare of thousands of people suffering through disease, poverty and war in Uganda.

During the visit the children performed a series of songs for the students and then took a tour of the college’s campus, meeting some of the resident farm animals. Organiser Lisa Morgan commented: “It’s great to show the children in the choir what’s outside of their usual lives.”

For more information about courses at NSC or to apply, please visit, call the Admissions Team on 01691 688080 or email

Shropshire schools improving

MP Philip Dunne has welcomed news that more children are being taught in good or outstanding schools. New figures from Ofsted show 12 more county schools have been judged good or outstanding in their most recent inspection compared to 2015. Across the country the proportion of all schools judged to be good or outstanding at their most recent inspection was 89% – the highest proportion ever recorded – with both the proportion of primary and secondary schools judged at these ratings continuing to rise in every region of the country.
Mr Dunne says, “It’s great news that latest figures show 132 schools in Shropshire are now rated good or outstanding.”



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