The Latest News From UK Schools This Month – April 2024

By Anoop Bhuller

2 months ago

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All the latest UK news from schools this month, April 2024, from school musicals to leadership changes and new developments.

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Events

St Edmund’s Celebrates Sold-out Theatre Production

St Edmund’s College is celebrating the success of their musical ‘Made in Dagenham’.

The sold out shows included 46 pupils who performed across four nights. The performance was set in 1968 around the Ford sewing machinists strike and followed the story of the women who fought for equal pay.

Made In Dagenham performance - news from schools April 2024

Made In Dagenham performance

Head of Musical Theatre at Edmund’s College, Tom Vessay, said: ‘It has been a tremendous journey to bring this story to the stage and we are immensely proud of the hard work and dedication that our students have demonstrated throughout the process’.

Taunton School Announces English Channel Swim

Taunton School has announced that it will compete in the English Channel swim in August 2024.

Its Prep School Headmaster, Ed Burnett, is leading the training alongside the leader of the  long distance swimming team, Hamish McCarthy.

Taunton pupils training for the English Channel swim in August 2024

Taunton pupils training for the English Channel swim in August 2024

Previously 49 students have completed the swim, this year another 12 students will take on the challenge.

The money raised will be donated to the Barnaby Webber Foundation. 

Ed Burnett said: ‘Swimming the English Channel is the Everest of the open water swimming world.’

Pupils will tackle the 21-mile route across the English Channel. Recently, they have started the acclimatisation part of their training in Wiveliscombe outdoor pool where the temperature is around 16 degrees, which is estimated to be similar to the English Channel in August.

Northampton High School Marks International Women’s Day

Northampton High School marked International Women’s Day with lots of activities and the release of their Made of Girls film.

Newly-appointed Head Girl Team inspire inclusion on International Women's Day

Newly-appointed Head Girl Team inspire inclusion on International Women’s Day

The film features students aged between 2 to 18 and demonstrates the power of an all-girls education.

Head Girl, Anushka, also ran a workshop on Intersectional Feminism. Her presentation asked questions such as ‘Who’s a feminist?’ and ‘Do feminists hate men?’. The group then discussed examples of discrimination in history.

Meanwhile, children in the Junior School invite their parents and guardians to a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea.

Dauntsey Paddlers Create Their Own Challenge

Dauntsey’s School has always supported the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race. This year, heavy rainfall left it unsafe for paddlers to continue beyond Newbury, resulting in around half of the junior crew withdrawing from the race.

Dauntsey's DW Crew 2024

Dauntsey’s DW Crew 2024

The 2024 crews decided to create their own race – racing 100 miles on the canal over a three-day period. 

On Good Friday, seven boats completed the 34.5 miles to Newbury, they then camped overnight in Newbury before returning to Devizes and completing the same stretch on the Saturday. After another night in a tent on Saturday the paddlers set off from Pewsey on Sunday morning and paddled to Bathampton.

The crews raised over £2000 for the school charity, Guide Dogs.

Dan Darwall, Dauntsey’s DW Coach and Race Organiser says: ‘This year’s paddlers have had to be more resilient than any I have known before, dealing with change after change. Initially the race was shortened to Teddington, then to Reading and then finally to Newbury. Each and every time the crews have voted to keep their mileage up over 100 miles, despite the extra challenges that presented.’

Royal Hospital School Hosts Its Annual Literary Festival

Royal Hospital School held its second annual Literary Festival where Year 5 pupils from two local schools also participated.

Joe Craig, the children’s author who wrote the Jimmy Coates series, ran workshops for the pupils around the theme of ‘School for Spies’.

Students participating in workshops

Students participating in workshops

The four workshops were:

  • A creative writing workshop ran by Joe Craig and assisted by the RHS librarian Nicole Burns.
  • In the Modern Foreign Languages department, pupils solved codebreaking activities that were designed to test their French and Spanish.
  • In the Sports Hall, pupils took on an obstacle course.
  • A scavenger hunt also took place, pupils used a map and clues to find eight words located around eight different sites across the school grounds.

English Teacher, Mr Sam Cocker, commented: ‘We were delighted to welcome Joe Craig to the school, who really captured the imagination of the pupils and shared insights into the process of becoming a successful writer.’

Lancing College Celebrates 175th Anniversary

Lancing College marked its 175th anniversary with a huge concert at Southwark Cathedral.

Current and former parents, staff and pupils gathered together to listen to a stream of musical talent including the College Choir, Choral Scholars, Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, String Quartet, Wind Quintet, Pianists and Saxophone Quartet Honk.

Lancing concert at Southwark Cathedral

Lancing concert at Southwark Cathedral

Lancing musician, Isaac H, said: ‘I am honoured to have been involved in such an occasion in the College’s history. A highlight for me was the final orchestra piece – Walton’s Crown Imperial – which displayed the talent and enthusiasm for music at Lancing.’

Mr Dominic Oliver, Head Master, commented: ‘We look forward to continuing our anniversary celebrations with a further musical collaboration with inter-generational opera, ‘Beware the Mackerel Sky’, our upcoming Head Master’s lecture with Formula One technical supremo Pat Fry and our 175th Anniversary Ball, the culmination of our incredible celebratory year.’

Benenden School Performs at London Coliseum

Benenden School made history as the first school to perform at the London Coliseum. This was made possible by the partnership between the school and the English National Opera.

Benenden pupils performing at the London Coliseum

Benenden pupils performing at the London Coliseum

The school performed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The original producer, Roger Watson was in the audience and a message from Sir Tim Rice which was featured in the production.

Sir Tim Rice said: ‘I’m delighted, and frankly amazed, that Benenden is to perform Joseph at the London Coliseum and I’m very grateful that they want to do this.’

Benenden Headmistress, Samantha Price, commented: ‘Yesterday’s performance at the historic London Coliseum was certainly a highlight of our centenary celebrations and one that we will always cherish.’

Design Ventura Shortlist Announced

Design Ventura is a free design and enterprise competition for students aged 13-16 years old. 

The Design Museum and Deutsche Bank’s national design & enterprise challenge for state secondary schools was created to fill the gaps in the Design & Technology curriculum.

Ferndown Upper School

Ferndown Upper School at the 2024 Pitching Day (Image credit: Richard Heald)

The competition looks to bolster the curriculum by providing free online resources, workshops, webinars and live events.

The 2023-24 brief asked students to design a new product for the Design Museum Shop, inspired by the theme of Colour and Community. 

There were 16,000 students that entered. The shortlist includes:

  • Christ the King Voluntary Catholic Academy, Nottingham
  • Comberton Village College, Cambridge
  • Dover Girls Grammar School, Kent
  • Ferndown Upper School, Dorset
  • Haggerston School, Hackney London
  • Heathcote School, Chingford London
  • Manor CE Academy, York
  • The Piggott School, Berkshire
  • St Joseph’s Catholic High School, Slough
  • Upper Shirley High School, Southampton

Danes Hill Pupils Run The London Mini Marathon

Pupils from Danes Hill School participated in the Mini London Marathon. This year’s event saw over 12,900 runners join in at St James Park.

Danes Hill pupils running the London Mini Marathon

Danes Hill pupils running the London Mini Marathon

Seventy-five pupils from Danes Hill ran in support of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and The British Red Cross Society. Pupils were able to choose the 1 mile course or 2.6km courses, crossing the same finish line. 

A pupil said: ‘I was quite nervous when we were waiting at the start of the line, but as soon as I heard the horn go and the crowds cheer, I was ready to run my first ever Mini Marathon!’

Pupil Achievements

Taunton Pupil Named Young Theatre Singer of the Year

A Taunton School pupil has been named Young Music Theatre Singer of the Year. Eliza Hopwood, Year 12, is celebrating this award in addition to winning the Pop Vocals category at the Festival of Arts.

Taunton pupil, Eliza Hopwood

Taunton pupil, Eliza Hopwood

Eliza was cast in the starring role of the schools production of The Addams Family. As well as winning the Taunton School Concerto Competition.

Director of Music, Toby Carden said: ‘She is a remarkable performer and an incredibly dedicated musician; the future is extremely bright for her.’

Eliza hopes to study performing arts at university in the near future.

Stonyhurst Pupils Receive Faith In Action Gold Award

Seven pupils at Stonyhurst College have received recognition for their charitable efforts over the last few years.

The group of Poetry pupils were presented with the Faith in Action Gold Award for their work in organising events and fundraisers at the college. As well as working on community projects locally and in Africa.

The pupils awarded were Katie, Elliot, Lilia, Hima, Peter and Alfie.

Stonyhurst pupils with their Faith in Action Gold Awards

Stonyhurst pupils with their Faith in Action Gold Awards

The Faith in Action Award is a programme that aligns with the school’s Jesuit heritage. Over the past six years, 14 pupils have progressed through the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.

Stonyhurst’s Director of Christian Formation, Catherine Crombie, said: ‘We are the oldest continuously active Jesuit school in the world, and to this day, pupils still learn to embody the school motto ‘Quant je puis’, meaning ‘as much as I can’, by asking themselves how they can make a greater impact, and Faith in Action exemplifies this.’

Katie, one of the Gold Award recipients this year commented: ‘It gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about things that we find important, and it very quickly became something very important to me and has been a big part of my school life.’

Bolton Pupil Celebrates Successful Ski Season

Jasper Daniels, a Bolton School pupil, has won 21 of the 23 U10 ski competitions this season. 

Jasper Daniels had enjoyed an amazing 2023-24 ski season

Jasper Daniels had enjoyed an amazing 2023-24 ski season (Photo credit: Bolton School Boys’ Division)

Jasper took first place in his first Giant Slalom race and first place in his second Giant Slalom race.

Jasper now holds the following titles:

  • National Schools English Indoor Champion
  • National Schools British Indoor Champion
  • GBR Series Indoor Overall Champion
  • English Indoor Champion
  • British Indoor Champion
  • Lowlands Indoor Champion (International)
  • Anglo-Scottish Alpine Champion
  • English Slalom Alpine Champion
  • English Overall Alpine Champion
  • British Giant Slalom Champion

Next season Jasper will enter the U12 category.

Taunton Pupils Win Bronze At The London Aquatic Centre

Four students at Taunton School have qualified for the finals of the National Bath Cup Swimming Competition. The students also won a bronze medal in the 4x50m Freestyle Relay at the London Aquatic Centre.

Taunton swimming team

Taunton swimming team

The team includes Libby (Year 9), Frankie (Year 11), Izzy (Year 12) and Eva (Year 13).

Taunton School Director of Sport, Dan Pettifer said: ‘We are extremely proud of what our team achieved. They were up against tough competition from schools across the country.’

Former Tonbridge Pupil Wins Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year

A former Tonbridge student, Ollie Sykes has been named the Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year. He received his award at an awards dinner at the Lord’s cricket ground. 

Michael Atherton with Wisden schoolboy cricketer of the year Ollie Sykes

Michael Atherton with Wisden schoolboy cricketer of the year Ollie Sykes

In the 2023 season, Ollie scored 935 runs and took 30 wickets for Tonbridge. 

Tonbridge’s Master in Charge of Cricket, Rob Stephen, said: ‘Ollie made a huge contribution to cricket during his time at Tonbridge and this award is a testament to his talent and hard work over the years.’

Previous winners of this award include Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler who both went on to have successful careers playing for England.

Parsons Green Prep Pupils Selected For World Cup

Parsons Green Prep pupil, Rikhil, has been selected for the Juventus World Cup (Youth) in Turin from 10 June to 15 June 2024. In addition to this, he will compete at the Camacha Cup in Portugal.

Parsons Green Prep pupil, Rikhil.

Parsons Green Prep pupil, Rikhil.

The tournament will have players from 32 different countries and an opening ceremony in front of 50,000 spectators.

Pupils Celebrate Photography Success

Eleven pupils from King’s Ely have had their images shortlisted in an international photography competition. Two pupils went on to win in their categories.

The ‘Beyond the Frame’ competition was based around the theme of ‘People, Place and Things’.

King's Ely pupils photography work

King’s Ely pupils photography work

Emily Freeman won in the 11-15 category and Finnian Stroud won a ‘judge’s choice’ prize. 

The students that were shortlisted include Sophie Haydn-Slater, Sixuan Meng, Hetty Hoyles, Austin Talbot, Sam Clarke, Wilfred Waters, Thomas Peters, Edward Bailey and Eliza O’Donnell. 

Head of Photography at King’s Ely, Mr Antonio Longo, said: ‘To have eleven students shortlisted this year is amazing and to have two students go on to win categories is a stunning achievement.’

Teddy Bears’ Picnic Event 

Manor House School Forest School is hosting a Teddy Bears’ Picnic Event on 20 May 2024 from 9.30am to 11.00am. 

Manor House School Announce Teddy Bear Picnic Event

Manor House School Announce Teddy Bear Picnic Event

Children between 18 months to 3 years are welcome to attend. Families with school siblings and external local families are invited to join the event. 

Attendance is free. You can register here.

Bolton School’s Senior Schools’ Celebrate Their Recent Production

Bolton School’s Senior Schools’ put on a musical performance of Little Shop of Horrors.

Pupils on stage at the end of the performance (Photo credit: Dominic Holden)

School performance of Little Shop of Horrors (Photo credit: Dominic Holden)

Pupils rehearsed for over six months, including occasionally on Sundays. Miss Talbot, Director of Theatre Studies in the Girls’ Division, said: ‘They have taken risks and problem solved, building character at every turn. None of this would have been possible without the support of highly talented and committed professionals.’

New Developments

Bromley High School Launches Middle School

Bromley High School has announced the introduction of a Middle School to enhance the primary to secondary school transition.

The new approach will begin in Year 5 and extends through to Year 8 to effectively bridge the traditional Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 divide.

Bromley High School

Bromley High School

The Middle School launched last month, and will mean students can learn about curriculum concepts earlier. It will also link to GCSE options so Year 8 pupils can street thinking about future choices.

Headmistress Emily Codling said: ‘At Bromley High School, we believe in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in girls’ education. Our Middle School isn’t just about academic advancement; it’s about nurturing a sense of sisterhood and belonging that extends across all years. We’re proud to be at the forefront of this initiative.’

ACS International Schools Introduce New Policies

ACS International Schools has improved its Diversity, Equality and Inclusion charter in response to reflection from their communities. 

Lauren Kelley, the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Coordinator at ACS International Schools said: ‘In order to learn, grow and become global citizens and creative problem-solvers of the future, young people need to feel like they belong, are valued and add value.’

Wheelchair basketball at ACS International Schools

Wheelchair basketball at ACS International Schools

Students are given opportunities to participate in student-led panels, student voice clubs and councils. 

In partnership with DEIB Council, the school’s Senior Leadership Team had developed a range of policies to staff and students can connect with the new ethos. New policies include ‘Welcoming Gender Diversity Guidance’, a name pronunciation tool, an Inclusive Language Policy and an updated Child Protection Policy.

New Leadership

St James Senior Girls’ Welcomes New Deputy Head

St James Senior Girls’ School has announced that they have appointed Mr Paul Reeves as Deputy Headteacher from September 2024.

Mr Paul Reeves

Mr Paul Reeves

Paul is joining from Surbiton High School where he is currently Assistant Principal.

His career history includes ten years as a HR and Organisational Design Consultant and 18 years in education.

Emma Bell, Headteacher at St James Senior Girls’ School, said: ‘His extensive experience, coupled with his passion for creating the right environment for learning, leading to educational excellence, make him a valuable addition to our leadership team.’