• Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use
    to change the world
    Nelson Mandela


Great Bedwyn Primary School joins Excalibur

Spelling out Great Bedwyn School; at the back Toby Watson; Chairman, Excalibur Academies Trust, Dr Patrick Hazlewood; CEO, Nicola Williams; Principal, Gill Mortimer; Chair of Great Bedwyn’s Local Governing Body

On the hottest April day since 1949 Excalibur Academies Trust welcomed the ninth school to join its family. Great Bedwyn is an outstanding primary school and as most students will progress to Excalibur’s St John’s Marlborough sees the huge benefit of offering a consistent all through educational experience. Joining Excalibur allows Great Bedwyn to retain its autonomy and unique characteristics whilst working with other academies within the Trust sharing best practice to ensure continuous improvement. Nicola Williams, Principal of Great Bedwyn CofE Primary School said, “Having undertaken considerable research, the Governors and I believe that joining Excalibur offers the opportunity to be part of a forward thinking multi academy trust which will ensure we continue to offer an exceptional educational experience for our children and increase development opportunities for staff.

Joining Excalibur was marked with a special assembly about joining a family of schools attended by the CEO and Chairman of Excalibur Academies Trust. The children gave  a beautiful rendition of their school song and were presented with a commemorative pencil, there was also a fabulous cake decorated with the school crest – but only staff were lucky enough to get a piece!

Fairfield goes from strength to strength

“FAIRFIELD High School is a very harmonious and inclusive school where students at all levels make strong progress and achieve some excellent results”.

That was the verdict of Ofsted inspectors after a recent visit. They said the 900 pupil secondary school in Horfield remained a Good school, maintaining standards in all areas since the last inspection in June 2013 and making some significant improvements.

More than 40 nationalities are represented at Fairfield High School and the inspectors said pupils respected and valued the knowledge they gained from being part of such a culturally diverse community.

The Ofsted team praised the support and opportunities given to disadvantaged students, those with special needs or disabilities and those who are the most able.

“You have raised pupils’ aspirations,” lead inspector Kathy Maddocks said in a letter to Acting Principal Nick Lewis. “Pupils identify with others who are like-minded and intellectually curious in these subjects. You provide inspiration for the most able disadvantaged pupils by working with universities.”

Partnership with local businesses and legal firms, leading to work experience and wider opportunities for students, was also highlighted.

A “concerted focus” on teaching was proving effective, the inspectors said. They noted significant improvement in science, probing questions and good use of oracy in English and frequent use of target languages in modern foreign language lessons.

The school was praised for making sure students were safe and secure. “You work determinedly, yet sensitively, with pupils, parents and external agencies to monitor and support the most vulnerable pupils. Safeguarding arrangements are secure and rooted in the school’s culture,” Ms Maddocks said.

Her letter praised the work of Mr Lewis, executive principal Catriona Mangham and Excalibur Trust chief executive Patrick Hazlewood and staff.

FHS joined the Excalibur in February 2015 and Ofsted said this partnership with schools in West Berkshire, Wiltshire and Swindon with varying urban and rural populations had provided further opportunities that had benefited staff and students and contributed to recent improvements at the school.

Mr Lewis said he was delighted with the inspectors’ findings. “Ofsted says we are going from strength to strength. I am so proud that the inspectors recognised this; they got a snapshot of what we strive to deliver every day – a wonderful, happy and successful school.

“This renewed Good judgement is thanks to the hard work of staff and students and the support of parents and carers. It is also a tribute to the dedication and commitment of our executive principal Catriona Mangham and we hope it will give her a boost as she continues to recover after her cancer surgery.”

Deadly 60 star Steve Backshall visits Burbage Primary School

Steve Backshall with Nicola Coupe, Principal Burbage Primary School

There was much excitement (and not just the children!) at Burbage Primary School when one of Britain’s busiest TV presenters, Steve Backshall dropped in to plant the first tree in the school’s new orchard, which will form part of a memory garden and also attract more wildlife into the school’s grounds.

Whilst there, Steve met the children during the afternoon assembly, telling them about some of his amazing wildlife encounters and adventures. Steve was also delighted to hear about some of the fantastic work the children are doing in their ‘Global Goals’ projects. During the course of this year, each class at the school is creating a project related to one of the United Nations Global Goals to develop knowledge and skills and to help make the world a better place by 2030.

Steve is famous for his Deadly 60 programme, as well as a whole host of nature and adventure shows, including Big Blue LiveExtreme Mountain Challenge and BBC Alaska Live. In addition to his TV and adventure pursuits, Steve is a prolific author, having published 13 books including his children’s adventure series The Falcon Chronicles.

Burbage Primary School Chair of Governors, Emma Butler, said: “Steve is very well known by the children for his TV programmes and we were delighted that he brought his enthusiasm for the wild world to our school. He was keen to hear about the way we use our wonderful school grounds to attract and provide habitats for wildlife and the children enjoyed telling him about their class projects to help the natural world. It was an exciting and informative afternoon in school and the tree-planting was a fitting end to the day. The tree will be joined by other trees over the course of the next few months and will create an orchard and memory garden to be enjoyed by all the children.”