Lighting little fires

Parents and pupils are inspired by Shrewsbury High School – as, indeed, is the Good Schools Guide.

A reviewer from the influential publication visited last term and was struck by the “energy and sense of fun about the place,” adding “you can’t help but notice the laidback laughter”.

As the reviewer toured the lessons the school’s approach to learning became abundantly clear too, as she wrote, “The first stop on our tour was a classroom full of excitable Year 10s writing all over the table, so it was with some relief that we spotted a teacher and, for that matter, a tablecloth on said table. ‘A great way of learning German tenses,’ said the teacher with a wink.

“By the time we left, she’d moved onto a punchy quiz using bells for game-show-like sound effects. It’s a measure not only of the teaching here (imaginative, witty, interactive, fast-paced) but also of the girls’ approach to learning (plucky, spirited, immersive – a shrinking violet-free zone).”

The reviewer continued, “As we twisted and turned through the corridors and sprung in and out of classrooms – one with English Lit students giving their all to narrating parts in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; another giving showbiz-style presentations on German You Tubers; a hall full of drama students absorbed in acting out feelings only via body language – we started to get it: A Shrewsbury High education is about so much more than listening, assessing and getting through the syllabus (though they do all that too), it’s about bringing the learning alive.

‘They’ve lit little fires in my daughter’s brain and she’s absolutely blossoming,’ enthused a parent, with others similarly delighted at the ‘encouraging and inspiring teaching’.

It is this inspiring teaching that is at the heart of life at Shrewsbury High School, teachers who are dedicated to helping every girl follow their passions and achieve beyond their potential, whatever those dreams and whatever their starting point.

When Headteacher Jo Sharrock takes prospective families on tours of the school, she talks to them of one simple principle; nothing should hold a girl back, least of all herself.

“A girl’s years at Shrewsbury High School may be the only time in her life that she will be in an environment that is designed solely with her in mind, with people that put her at the centre of all they do in our family of big sisters and little sisters.  We want each and every girl to thoroughly enjoy the adventure of school and we are here to support her as she grows into a young woman of character, confident in who she is and what she has to offer.

“As a member of the Girls’ Day School Trust family there are opportunities that we can give that no other local school can, as girls join a very modern network in a rapidly changing world.”

And in the words of the Good Schools Guide: “A small, friendly and happy school that parents tell us has given their daughters wings to fly.  Fresh, exciting and buzzy, yet steeped in history.  We loved it.”

To register your daughter for the Senior School Entrance Exam or to arrange a visit to Shrewsbury High Junior or Senior School, please email admissions@shr.gdst.net.

 

Achieving excellence together

 Wolverhampton Girls’ High School is looking forward to completion of a building project of four new state of the art science laboratories and a new multi-use activity studio.

This investment in the school comes from the Department for Education’s Selective School Expansion Fund and the awarding of a £3.5 million grant.

Work is set to be completed in February for the school’s growing cohorts with 180 in Year 7 and 165 in Year 12.

The school offers a broad and rich curriculum with over 20 subjects available for study at Wolverhampton Girls’ High School providing an educational pathway that is tailored to the individual student’s needs.

The extensive programme of enrichment is an integral part of this. A wide range of options are available including sport, volunteering in local schools and care homes, play writing, finance courses and life skills, as well as study skills programmes.

Care, support and guidance are key elements at Wolverhampton Girls’ High School. Whilst academic achievements are exceptional this is not a solely academic school. Students join the school knowing that they can fulfil their academic potential as well as developing the key skills essential for success both in and beyond school. The school is highly skilled at ensuring students are able to secure places at outstanding institutions as well identifying and supporting applications for other opportunities beyond Sixth Form.

The school offers every encouragement to all students in whatever they wish to pursue, during their time at Wolverhampton Girls’ High and beyond.

Further details about the application process are available on the website www.wghs.org.uk as is other information about the school.

 

Big date in the Diary

International bestselling writer and illustrator of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Jeff Kinney, has visited Wolverhampton Grammar School.

It was part of the UK leg of his global tour to celebrate the release of his new book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Drive-Thru Experience saw families from Wolverhampton, and cities across the UK, enjoy a fun and interactive outdoor experience themed around Jeff’s new book. The experience enabled families to drive through sports-themed scenery and participate in basketball and football challenges before reaching the finish line where Jeff personally delivered signed books and posed for photographs with his fans.

The following morning, Wolverhampton Grammar School, Puffin Books and Authors Aloud UK organised a virtual event which was live streamed to over 80,000 school children from 800 schools across the country. Head Librarian at Wolverhampton Grammar School, Zoe Rowley, interviewed Jeff about his new book and his journey to becoming a global bestselling sensation.

Students in Years 6 and 7 from Wolverhampton Grammar School were part of the live audience in Big School, and competition winners from the Junior and Senior School asked Jeff questions about his life and what inspired him to write the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Intriguing questions were also posed to Jeff from school children as far away as Bristol, Cornwall, Coventry, Nottingham, Swindon and Plymouth.

“The virtual event was a huge success and we felt extremely honoured to welcome Jeff to our school. Interviewing Jeff in front of our students and the children who joined us from their classrooms was one of the highlights of my career; to be presented with a unique Team Wimpy top and welcomed into the team by Jeff was a personal favourite moment, too!” Zoe said.

Jeff Kinney is the number one New York Times bestselling author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and the Awesome Friendly Kid series. He is a six-time Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award winner for Favourite Book and has been named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Interviewing Jeff in front of our students and the children who joined us from their classrooms was one of the highlights of my career”

In 2007, he published his first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and more than 250 million copies later, the series is beloved around the world.

State schools from across the City of Wolverhampton and the wider Midlands were invited to join the free event as part of the range of projects the school conducts to help inspire reading for pleasure.

The school has previously welcomed broadcaster Clare Balding and actor Humza Arshad to its campus, alongside comedian and writer David Baddiel who launched his book The Taylor Turbochaser at the Grand Theatre in November 2019 in front of 1,200 children who all received a signed copy of the book as a free gift.

Wolverhampton Grammar School supports local schools and organisations in a variety of ways such as use of facilities including its sports centre, all weather pitch, dance studio, laboratories, learning hub and music department. Please email info@wgs-sch.net at Wolverhampton Grammar School or telephone 01902 421326.

 

The pursuit of true independence

Does any parent of a four-year-old really know what their child will need from their senior school at 13?

With the landscape of independent schools changing, the value of true independence in a prep school has never been more relevant.

Increasingly, prep schools are becoming affiliated with senior schools. This may work strategically but causes problems for parents as the opening question in this article illustrates.

“So-called Independent Schools are sometimes not what they seem, and parents should be aware of the advantages of choosing a truly independent school for their child,” explained Charlie Minogue, headmaster of Moor Park School, Ludlow.

“One of the most satisfying and important facets of my job is advising parents on the right senior school for their child. This decision can be bewildering but truly independent prep schools, such as Moor Park, build strong relationships with the full range of senior schools countrywide.

“This means I can give objective and unbiased advice, focusing entirely on the needs of each child and their family. Our status as a truly autonomous prep school is something to cherish and should be viewed as a strength,” Mr Minogue said.

“We have shaped our curriculum and teaching to prepare children, deliberately, for a fast-changing world and in this process, I have only answered to those in the Moor Park community, making development more dynamic.”

The head quoted American motivational speaker and writer Denis Waitley, who wrote, ‘The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence’.

Mr Minogue added, “Denis Waitley was correct: we all want our children to stand on their own two feet as young people but gaining independence can often be a tortuous process, full of failure and frustration. We all tread that narrow path between over-protectiveness and removing the stabilisers too soon and the trust between school and family is crucial in getting this balance right.

“How best to achieve this balance? No parent would want their child to be unhappy but skilled educational professionals understand that challenging children in the context of a framework of care is immensely powerful. Here at Moor Park, we talk a great deal about the concept of care. This is not the kind of care that is mentioned in a prospectus and talked about during Open Days. This is the kind of care that comes from people feeling a sense of deep personal responsibility for the young people for whom they are responsible.

“When young people are challenged by staff who they trust implicitly, they respond more positively to difficulty, knowing that, when it matters, they are protected. I could not be prouder of the way we operate as a school in working with parents to nurture children on their long journey to independence and I am certain that, without staff who care as we do, nurturing independence is a far more difficult task.”

 

An enriching student experience

Bridgnorth Endowed believes there’s more to school than what goes on in the classroom. To this end it has launched a vibrant, new extra-curricular timetable designed to help pupils bounce back after Covid.

With a packed programme of more than 100 enrichment opportunities that take place throughout the week, pupils are encouraged to get involved and explore as many areas of interest as possible.

On top of the usual sports teams and creative arts clubs, a range of new-age activities are also on offer. From computer-aided design and mindfulness, to eco projects and political debate – there really is something for everyone’s tastes.

Central to this is the desire to develop well-rounded young people who are able to discover their special talents and nurture strong relationships with their peers in an environment where they can thrive.

Founded in 1503, this unique school, previously the town’s grammar, has a rich and very long history in educating people from across the region.

Today, it is a dynamic co-educational secondary school that provides 600 pupils aged between 11 and 16 with high-quality teaching in modern, inspiring learning spaces.

The school benefits from 30 acres of beautiful grounds with sports pitches and a historic Old Hall, its own on-site leisure centre, and the convenience of a town centre location in the heart of Bridgnorth.

Smaller than the average sized secondary school, Bridgnorth Endowed fosters a real sense of community that enables students, parents and staff to really get to know one another.

Parents can be assured of a safe campus that’s a healthy place for any young person to learn. It provides a calm and caring setting in which everyone works together in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Bridgnorth Endowed is a truly extraordinary school that combines its solid 500-year history with a progressive approach to education.

The teaching focuses on creating an educational experience that fires up the students’ love of learning and boosts participation in the fantastic choice of extra-curricular activities available.

Committed to the success of each of its students, the school teaches them to cultivate not only academic skills, but also the character traits they will need in adult life – in particular, independence, ambition and confidence.

Headteacher, Barry Worth, says: “We are dedicated to providing an outstanding education that inspires all of our young people to excel in the classroom and beyond.

“Most importantly, we aim to encourage students to be successful and happy in a competitive world, and to build a bright future for themselves.”

For more information, please visit www.bridgnorthendowed.co.uk or call 01746 762103.

 

Busy beginners

The newest additions at a Shropshire school have enjoyed a packed first term including trips, autumn walks, weekly swimming classes and special campaigns inspired by COP26 – last November’s climate conference in Glasgow.

Martin Stott, the headmaster at Old Hall School, Wellington, said the 2021 reception class had settled in extremely well and were also looking forward to a busy 2022.

He was delighted to see a number of children aged as young as four step up for election to the school’s eco-committee and join the Eco-club.

“The school encourages all children to try new experiences as young as possible including competitive sport and learning a new musical instrument.”

“Looking at ways in which we can do more to protect our environment is very important to our pupils and I am pleased to say that includes our youngest year group,” he added.

The two specialist groups at the school have been responsible for a number of litter picks and had made bird feeders as part of a campaign to help the environment.
The school encourages all children to try new experiences as young as possible including competitive sport and learning a new musical instrument.

“One of the greatest privileges you have as a teacher is watching the reception class start this new chapter in their schooling because it is such a wonderful reminder of how much there is to be gained by being open to all opportunities,” added Mr Stott.

“Happy children learn, and they have the most chance of fulfilling their potential throughout their school years.

“That is why it is a key priority here to create a setting where they feel comfortable and confident to make the most of all the opportunities now available to them.

“We have a very strong early years team here and we provide a bespoke education which is all about getting to know the individual child, including their strengths and the areas where they might feel less confident. It makes all the difference, especially to ensure we are also looking out for the children’s overall wellbeing.”
The school is hosting a Discovery Morning in the new year designed for families with younger children including those joining the school in September 2022.

The Old Hall Reception Discovery Morning will take place on Saturday, 22nd January at 10am.
Mr Stott also invited parents of children of any age considering a move to pay the school a visit and tours can be arranged by contacting 01952 223117 or emailing admissions@oldhall.co.uk

Wrekin College, for children aged 11-18, is part of the same educational Trust as Old Hall School and will be holding its Open Day on March 26th. Visit www.wrekincollege.com for more details.

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