It was real pleasure to attend our school’s tenth anniversary ball recently. Just as we had hoped, all of the sections of the school community that have contributed to the School’s success were there. And as I said on the evening, it’s easy to forget just how far the School has travelled in its first ten years. We also unveiled at the ball plans for the fundraising projects chosen by parents: improved outdoor spaces at North and West Avenue and a refurbished sports hall at The Grove.
Establishing a new independent school in the north east in the recent economic climate is no mean achievement. As a previous blog highlighted, in this region during the past seven years, seven independent schools have gone out of existence: closing, merging and/or reforming with a different status or source of funding. In this time, we have continued to grow and develop our school.
Over recent months, I have been working with our governors, senior leadership team and staff on plans for the School’s next ten years and I’m looking forward to sharing these with parents and the wider school community at our annual prize day at South Northumberland Cricket Club on Friday 8th July.
Longer term plans, of course, inform short- and medium-term plans and I am already looking forward to next September.
As part of the School’s continued growth and in response to increased demand for places, we are looking to expand our provision creating from September for the first time, a Senior School year group comprising three classes throughout. In order to maintain small class sizes and individual attention for boys, this will require additional teaching capacity as well as some additional teaching space at The Grove.
Having invested significantly in our computer network over the past twelve months, we are continuing to develop our ICT infrastructure to bring our boys the educational benefits afforded by greater access to mobile technology. The installation of a new school management information system (MIS) will, amongst many other things, enhance our ability to track boys’ progress through the School. In time, it will also allow parents improved access to information about their sons and the School.
We will be in a position to staff and develop further our Senior School library from September. This will help our boys to become more independent learners, better equipped to be able to study at undergraduate level and beyond. It will also promote further boys’ reading for pleasure – a key factor in academic success.
At the Junior School, we are prioritising building class teacher capacity and extending the provision of specialist teaching in sport and music.
Work will also start soon (subject to planning approval) reconfiguring the access to our infants’ and early years’ site. We are looking to reinstate the original access gate on North Avenue and removing the current, rather awkward double entrance gates on West Avenue. This should grant easier access for current parents and boys at the same time as improving site security and safeguarding as well as reinforcing positive first impressions for visitors new to our infants’ and early years’ site.
Exciting times. Here’s to the next ten years!
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Above is an architect's impression of the planned work on each of the three school sites.