DURHAM’S newest secondary school has celebrated its first year with a presentation evening to recognise the achievements of its students.
Pupils, parents and staff of The Durham Free School were told they had “climbed a mountain together” and had made “amazing progress”.
The school opened in temporary buildings last September with 30 children and has grown over its first year with students numbers set to triple in size this September, despite still not yet having a permanent home.
In his review of the year, headteacher Peter Cantley listed the activities and experiences provided for the children which included a geography and geology visit to the Lake District, an historical tour of Durham, the first residential to North Yorkshire and the chance to sing in an 8,000-strong choir at Young Voices in the Manchester MEN Arena.
He said they had enjoyed an unparalleled range of extra curricular activities from archery to Mandarin, lessons in musical instruments, membership of the School Council and a wide range of subject-based clubs, such as Young Engineers and the Art Club.
They had taken part in major competitions including Spelling Bee and the Salters Chemistry Festival, which the Year 7 team won, beating older competitors from other schools.
Mr Cantley added: “We will of course be judged primarily by the performance of the children in the core subjects of maths, English and science.
“The children have excelled this year and I am absolutely delighted with all they have achieved.”
The pupils were recognised with subject and school prizes. Among the winners were Luke Douglas, who picked up four awards for music, maths, science and attendance despite starting secondary school a year early, and William Forrest, who won the overall Excellence Prize.
Mr Cantley and Chair of Governors John Denning also paid tribute to the “tremendous contribution” of the staff.
Mr Denning added: “We are here to celebrate all that our pupils have achieved this year. Their progress has been amazing.”
The audience of parents, family members and guests were entertained by a poetry recitation, a monologue, music by the school ensemble, songs by the choir and two solo performances by Wayne Ellington, director of the Manchester Sing Out Choir.
Guest speaker Kevin Mann, headteacher of All Saints CE Academy, Ingleby Barwick, said: “Good things take time to mature and grow. I think you are at the start of a journey that’s going to flourish and develop. You have put your faith in the team here and from what I can see it’s paying dividends.”
The prize winners were:
Subject prizes: Amy Lyons for art, Ellie Dixon for English, Hermione Heathcote for geography, Charlotte Whitfield for German, William Forrest for history, Luke Douglas for maths, music and science, Bradley Bamling for PE, Naomi Denning for religious studies and William Forrest for design and technology.
School prizes: Sophie Dinning, Nathan Wilkinson, Caitlyn Fenwick, Jamie Crampton;
Attendance Prize: Luke Douglas;
Endeavour Prize: Jade Ramsay;
Service to the School Prize: Natasha Constantine;
Excellence Prize: William Forrest.