Woodbridge School’s Senior School Speech Day took place on Saturday 13 September, and again the audience, and our guest speaker, Mr Roger Wright, the new CEO of Aldeburgh Music, were wowed by this remarkable celebration of achievement. As each pupil came up to receive their prize, Deputy Headmaster Michael Streat read a brief description of their notable achievements during their time at School, and it was remarkable how many of the pupils were not just proving to be highly successful academically, but had also taken part a huge range of other activities such as sport, drama, MUN, languages, music, or art, and enjoyed further success in each of these areas too. Woodbridge’s pupils embrace the opportunities open to them at the School, and nowhere is this more evident than at Speech Day.
Speech Day also saw the first major public appearance by new Headmaster, Neil Tetley, who along with Chairman of the Governors, Roger Finbow, and guest speaker Roger Wright, spoke on the subject of the positive nature of change. Roger Wright also spoke powerfully on the subject of the unity of our fellow man, all joined under one sky. An inspiring and humbling day, and the School would like to thank all those who came to join us on this most special occasion.Read More
The headteacher and staff welcomed their new students into Ixworth Free School this week as they mark the start of both a new term and a brand new school. The first two days had a carnival theme to settle students into their new school. Through art, music and dancing students got to know one another and their teachers.
The new school opened on the site of the former middle school which has undergone appropriate refurbishment as well the installation of the latest technology to ensure the school is able to deliver its aim to promote learning through ICT.
Ixworth Free School is the third free school to be opened by the Foundation’s Free Schools Trust and this opening follows a successful two years at both Beccles and Saxmundham Free Schools and very positive Ofsted inspections in the summer term.
Nikola King, head teacher at Ixworth Free School, said: “I am very pleased to be able welcome our students to Ixworth Free School and to welcome all the staff. After many months of planning it is good to be able to start the school term and work as a team to produce a positive educational experience for the young people who have made the positive choice to attend our school. We are confident that numbers will rise through the year as more and more people find out about the high standard of education and pastoral care we will be providing.”Read More
At Woodbridge School, today is the first day of term for pupils and for new Headmaster Neil Tetley. On taking his place in the Headmaster’s Office on the first day of term, Neil Tetley said “I am very much looking forward to welcoming new and existing pupils back to school. Woodbridge is an outstanding school and I am very excited about getting to know the pupils and staff that make up this exceptional community.”
Neil was educated at Epsom College and the Selwyn College, Cambridge where he read History. He joins from Sevenoaks School where he was Deputy Head. Before that he taught at King’s College School, Wimbledon, and at the International School of Brussels.
Neil is married to Laura and they have two sons, Charles and Henry, who both also start at Woodbridge School today.Read More
One third of students gain all A* and A grades.
Many congratulations to the current Year 11 students on a superb set of GCSE results. Just under one in four grades awarded was an A*, while over half were graded A* or A. Although the normal entry is ten subjects, three pupils achieved 11 A*s. The DfE performance tables base their data on the best eight subjects including maths, English and science. Ten candidates achieved all A*s in those best eight and over a third of all candidates gained straight A* and A grades. The student in the middle of the year gained the equivalent of straight A grades which shows how well Woodbridge School looks after the ‘average’ student. Almost all students (98%) passed their GCSEs in the key areas of maths, English and science.
The Headmaster, Neil Tetley commented that ‘This is a fantastic set of results for Woodbridge School students. Although one third of students gained A* and A grades in every subject, this is not just about the students at the top of the year group – all our students should be very proud of their achievements at GCSE. These Year 11 students not only work hard but find the time to enjoy all that the School has to offer whether it be rugby, netball, chess or music. I am delighted for them.’Read More
At Woodbridge School the proportion of A* grades increased bucking the predicted national trend and 20% of pupils gained three A grades or better.
Stephen Cole, who is to imminently retire as headmaster, commented that “despite the media hype about surplus university places this is still a very nervous time for students and their families. It is reassuring that such a very high proportion of our grades match the initial offers at first choice universities, particularly in a year when the top grades were less achievable. These candidates deserve every congratulation”.
An old summer house has been given a new lease of life after being transformed into a potting shed with help from Yorkshire Building Society.
People living at Seckford Almshouses can now enjoy gardening once again after the work was carried out by colleagues from the Yorkshire’s Woodbridge branch.
The branch also bought residents a gardening hamper packed full of tools, plants and flowers using £450 from the Society’s Charitable Foundation.
Stephen Lye, manager of Yorkshire Building Society’s Woodbridge branch, said: “The potting shed will allow people living at Seckford Almhouses to enjoy gardening once again.
“We were really happy to be able to help make a difference and create something which will be of huge benefit to everyone at Seckford Almhouses.
“As the Society celebrates its 150th year we remain committed to giving something back to our community and helping to leave a lasting legacy.”
The work was carried out under the Yorkshire’s Actionteering scheme – an award winning staff volunteering program which allows everyone who works for the Society two day’s paid leave every year to make a difference in their local community.
The Almshouses were built on Seckford Street in the 16th century by the Queen’s lawyer Thomas Seckford to offer accommodation to older people.
Today, they provide high quality residential care for older people as well as care services within the community for those who wish to remain in their own homes.
Sarah Kopferschmitt, Head of Care at Seckford Almshouses, said: “We were delighted that the Yorkshire Building Society team were happy to help turn our summer house into a potting shed.
“Some of those now living in the Very Sheltered accommodation in Seckford Almshouses, or in Jubilee House, were passionate about their gardens throughout their lives and are very knowledgeable too. The potting shed, with the raised workbenches now makes gardening a possibility again.
“We were grateful to have been presented with a beautiful hamper full of gardeners’ goodies, gloves, tools and seeds for both flowers and herbs. We also received some troughs and perennial plants which have already been planted up by a group of people living here.”
For more information about Seckford Almshouses visit www.seckfordalmshouses.org.uk.Read More
Residents living in the Seckford Almshouses and Jubilee House, in Woodbridge, have helped to create a unique theatre production by sharing some of their life time memories which have been used in a 45 minute play about two people born in Suffolk during the 1920s.
East Anglian touring theatre company, Eastern Angles, has been working with local care homes in Suffolk in a reminiscence project using material provided by the residents in the shape of poignant and often very funny memories covering everything from schooldays and courtship to wartime heroism and childrearing.
Remembering times gone by is an important part of old age and the benefits of reminiscing are widely recognised as having a positive effect on the emotional well being of elderly people.
The play called ‘Once Upon A Lifetime’ was performed at the Seckford Foundation’s day centre in Woodbridge and was very well received as local actors Francis Woolf and Rebecca Dickson-Black played the young couple at the heart of the story. Using material derived from many hours of group reminiscence and interviews with the residents, the story unfolds as the teenagers fall in love, set up home and deal with everything life has to throw at them including wartime separation.
Writer and producer Jon Tavener said: “Those who were involved from Seckford were very enthusiastic about the project, thoroughly enjoying the experience which provided a rich opportunity for sharing memories, mementos, photos and stories of their own experiences.”
The ‘Once Upon A Lifetime’ project has been sponsored by Orwell Housing and chief executive Stephen Javes said: “Orwell is proud to be associated with Eastern Angles and a play which allows older people to reflect on their past and in doing so raise awareness of such a rich past.”
All those from Seckford who either shared their memories or who enjoyed the performance were really impressed by the way the actors had handled the precious past with such sensitivity and found the whole experience to be very enriching.
Students, staff and governors at Saxmundham Free School will be celebrating the good news in the report which follows an inspection on May 21 and 22.
The report grades the school as a ‘good school’ for overall effectiveness as well as being good for the achievement of pupils and the quality of teaching.
It received an ‘outstanding’ grade for both the behaviour and safety of pupils and for the quality of its leadership and management.
The report said: “The behaviour of students is outstanding. Leaders have set clear expectations and have reinforced these consistently; they have also worked carefully with students who find it difficult to manage their own behaviour. As a result, excellent conduct is the norm.”
It is also reported that: “Students who spoke with inspectors were keen to talk about their progress, and their enjoyment of the many opportunities the school offers them, such as drama productions and sporting activities. They appreciate the ability to contribute to the development of the school by serving as prefects or as student ambassadors.”
On the leadership of the school the inspectors gave praise saying: “The headteacher and other senior leaders demonstrate a relentless drive to accelerate the progress and improve the achievement of each and every student at the school. They are determined to remove any barrier that might prevent any student from reaching their full potential, and to encourage all to aspire to excellence. Other members of staff share this drive and determination.”
Other comments from the report included:
“Outstanding leadership has resulted in the creation of a highly cohesive school community. The school’s leaders communicate a sense of ambition that is reinforced and shared by all.”
“Students are being well-prepared for the next stage in their education and for later life. Many who have struggled to achieve highly in their previous schools are making rapid progress.”
“Students are exceptionally polite, courteous and welcoming. Students wear their uniform with pride and treat the school buildings, and all those who work within them, with respect at all times. The school site is exceptionally clean and tidy.”
“Students from all backgrounds socialise well together during break and lunch periods. All have lunch with their teachers in the restaurant and several said that this helps make the school community feel like ‘a big family’.”
David Lees, headteacher at Saxmundham Free School said: “The very positive comments from the Ofsted inspectors are a compliment to all our students, staff and governors for the hard work which everyone has put into this school in less than two years from opening its doors. We will all be celebrating this result today which clearly shows the strong progress our students are making and how well prepared they are for the next stage of education and for later life. The next challenge is to not only maintain these high standards but to build on them so we can make it an outstanding school in the future.”
Dr Robert Cawley, principal of the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust said: “This very positive report for Saxmundham Free School follows an equally positive report published for Beccles Free School just two weeks ago. Both schools opened amidst strong opposition and it is a credit to all those involved who have worked hard to demonstrate the excellent role these schools can play in the local education sector. The reports are also a credit to the trustees of the Seckford Foundation who backed the setting up of both schools and the opening of a third school in Ixworth in September.”Read More
Since Stephen Cole announced his retirement at the start of the academic year there have been a number of occasions and events marking his 21 years as Headmaster of Woodbridge School. The rendition of A Gaelic Blessing, sung at the end of the senior school carol service by scores of former members of the Chamber Choir, and the evening at Snape Maltings celebrating 21 years of school music will both linger particularly long in the memory.
The retirement events culminated over the last two weeks of term with Evensong at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on 22 June and, a week later, “Picnic in the Park”.
The Foundation and the School were honoured to be granted the opportunity by the Dean and Chapter of the cathedral to celebrate at Evensong Stephen Cole’s years at Woodbridge . The Dean, the Very Reverend Frances Ward, spoke in glowing terms of Stephen Cole’s contribution to the school and the community; Roger Finbow, chairman of the Seckford governors, gave a tribute; the Head Boy, George Cook and the Head Girl Chloe Hembry read the lessons; and the School Chamber Choir sang My Soul There Is A Country . It was a magical occasion culminating in tea in the cathedral cloisters for the thousand or so worshippers comprising current and former pupils, parents and friends.
The final public opportunity to bid farewell to the Headmaster was a week later, when a crowd of over 1500 gathered in front of the cricket pavilion for a picnic, accompanied by the School’s Swing Band. It was intended that speeches and presentations would take place there, but the weather was a little unkind, the heavens opening at about the time hampers were being packed away. Fortunately, the Bursar was able to implement Plan B, with everyone decamping to the sports dome which had been the venue for the leavers’ Ball the night before but was mercifully both empty and still beautifully dressed from the previous evening. So deck chairs, picnic tables and rugs were reassembled there. Roger Finbow began the formal proceedings with a tribute to Stephen and Jane Cole, following which George Cook, Head of School, gave a magnificent and haunting flute recital of “The Great Train Race”. Michael Streat, deputy head, gave his own tribute, , and after presentations to Stephen and Jane, Stephen took to the microphone to reflect on his years in the school. He had, he said, enjoyed every single minute.
The standing ovation for the Coles was long, heartfelt and loud as could be, making the afternoon a fitting finale to 21 glorious years.Read More
After 21 years in charge of Woodbridge School, Stephen Cole has walked the corridors for the final time as Headmaster.
Under his leadership, admissions have grown, academic levels have risen, and there has been national success for pupils in many sports, chess, drama, Young Enterprise Scheme, the Combined Cadet Force, and notably choral and orchestral music, with many students becoming members of the National Youth Choirs and the National Youth Orchestra.
Mr Cole has overseen the establishment of the Seckford Theatre, the sixth form centre and the technology centre and has ensured that the School and its pupils form an integral part of the wider Woodbridge community.
He has long espoused the principle that academic success is only the starting point of education, and that just as critical is the development of individual talent, giving each pupil a breadth of knowledge and experience to equip them for life beyond school.
Mr Cole introduced and developed the school's award winning international exchange programme, which has been copied by many other schools and for Woodbridge pupils has seen exchanges with schools in Australia, Oman, India, Japan, China, South Africa and most European countries.
Mr Cole said he had "loved every single minute" of his time at Woodbridge. "The myriad talents of the children underpins the academic success at the school", he said, also remarking on "the very strong spiritual relationship between the school and the community".
Roger Finbow, chairman of the Seckford Foundation, said "Stephen, supported by his wife Jane, has built a truly exceptional community and have both given time to the local and wider community in so many ways. We are all very grateful for their commitment and the enthusiasm with which they have greeted every person and every activity, and we wish them very well in the
Mr Cole will maintain an involvement with the Foundation as chair of the education committee of the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust. In the middle of august he will hand over the reins of Woodbridge School to Neil Tetley, currently deputy head at Sevenoaks School.Read More