News from schools across Surrey, Sussex and Kent - A+ education magazine Spring 2014

News and views from schools across Surrey, Sussex and Kent. Get in touch with your own stories by sending an e-mail to us at:

Centre of attention

Fans of BBC One’s Call the Midwife will have recently seen students from the Godstone-based Orpheus Centre showing off their talents.

Students from the Surrey school, which aims to increase confidence in young disabled adults through the performing arts, jumped at the chance to star in the 1950’s drama alongside the likes of Miranda Hart and Sarah Gordy.

The budding actors can be seen enjoying themselves at a dance at St Gideon’s, where Jacob Milligan, who has cerebral palsy, and Sally Harper, who has Down’s syndrome, both live.

The episode revolved around the love between the pair, and the discrimination they face when they learn that they are expecting a baby.

The storyline resonates with Orpheus students, who hope it will raise awareness of disability and challenge people’s often negative attitudes.

Founded by Sir Richard Stilgoe in 1998, the centre has become a leader in its field. More details can be found at

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A new lease of life...

Reigate’s Dunottar School has been saved from possible closure after parents launched a campaign to rescue the much-loved school.

Founded in 1926, the Surrey girls’ school had apparently been faced with dwindling numbers amid the difficult financial climate.

However, no one had bargained on the strength of feeling among parents, who started the campaign group, Dunottar Voice, to keep the school open.

Now governors have signed a contract with outside charity United Learning who will run the school for at least the next 10 years.

As part of the rescue plan, boys will be admitted to the school from September to help boost student numbers.


Change at the top

Award-winning journalist, broadcaster and author Gavin Esler has been appointed Chancellor of the University of Kent.

He succeeds Sir Robert Worcester, who has retired from the position after seven years.

Gavin Esler – who graduated from Kent with a BA in English and American Literature in 1974 – will be installed as Chancellor during one of the university’s graduation ceremonies in July. He takes office at a time when the university is also preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary.


Good marks for...

Going wild - The World Wildlife Fund has started running environmental workshops for schoolchildren at its Living Planet Centre at Woking in Surrey. Pupils from Halstead Prep School, Woking, and St Mary’s Primary School, Godalming, have already attended a Tropical Chocolate workshop, which saw them learning about products that rely on the rainforest. See

Super sleuths - Toby Murray, a 12-year-old thespian from Hove in East Sussex, has landed the title role in the new production of Emil and the Detectives at London’s National Theatre. A pupil at Lewes Old Grammar School, he has already been seen in Casualty and Blandings for BBC One and is about to make his feature film debut in Une Promesse starring Alan Rickman and Rebecca Hall.

Animal magic - University of Sussex animal communication researcher Professor Karen McComb joined TV naturalist Chris Packham for the final part of his BBC Two series, Inside the Animal Mind. The pair teamed up to visit the Amboseli National Park in Kenya to describe and demonstrate elephants’ social skills.


Bad marks for...

Centralisation - It might have been rated as outstanding by Ofsted, but that hasn’t stopped Gosden House School in Bramley, Surrey, from coming under threat. Its future is apparently in jeopardy after Surrey County Council announced plans to re-organise its special needs provision. Parents are campaigning to save the school at

Getting away - Following a petition that calls for price caps to stop holiday firms “cashing in” on the school holidays, MPs have been debating whether to stagger the school term dates and give teachers more discretion on absences. What do you think? Let us know at

Higher education - University tuition fees in England should rise in line with inflation, a university leader has urged. Sir Christopher Snowden, vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey and president of Universities UK, says a £9,000 fee cap is “not sustainable”. The National Union of Students meanwhile said last year’s trebling in fees had already far outpaced rising costs.


Wood for the trees

Caterham School already has a high ropes course, climbing tower and outdoor classroom, and now they have completed the purchase of the adjoining woods. The acquisition is intended to allow the Surrey school to further develop their programme of outdoor activities, including bushcraft, orienteering and camping. In addition, it is their intention to make the woods available for public access, which has not been the case in the past.


Top of the Pops

Having met and studied music at Brooklands College in Weybridge, Surrey, Josh Franceschi, Max Helyer, Chris Miller, Matt Barnes and Dan Flint recently celebrated their first UK number one album as the rock band You Me At Six. Their fourth album Cavalier Youth went straight to the top of the charts, knocking off Ellie Goulding’s Halcyon. Have any famous musicians learnt the ropes at your school? E-mail


A birthday to remember

St Leonards-Mayfield School in Mayfield, East Sussex, marked the end of its 150th anniversary year celebrations with a special mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio for Great Britain (pictured right, centre). Later that day, guests filled the school’s concert hall to watch students perform in a unique closing ceremony, featuring the school’s choir as well as musical recitals, drama, dance and a special blessing from the Holy Child School of Killiney, Ireland.


Military honours

MidKent College in Gillingham has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education for its work in training soldiers. Representatives of the college went to Buckingham Palace to receive the prestigious award direct from the Queen. It is the second time the College has won the accolade following a previous occasion in 1998. This time, under its subsidiary company MidKent College Training Services, the college was recognised for its “high quality, cost- effective training” at the Royal School of Military Engineering at Brompton Barracks.


Hall of Fame

The famous faces visiting our schools, colleges and universities across the area

A regular on television shows including Great British Menu, double Michelin star Indian chef Atul Kochhar visited Guildford College, Surrey, to give a special cookery demonstration for students.

Having last visited in 1986 following the merger of Royal Holloway and Bedford Colleges, The Queen returned to Royal Holloway, University of London in Egham, Surrey, to take part in a special ceremony to recognise the department of music’s high quality of research and teaching.

Author and Old Roedeanian Adele Geras visited Roedean School in Brighton, East Sussex, as part of Classics Week. Adele has written more than 95 books for children, young adults, and adults, including Happy Ever After, which is a retelling of three fairy tales set at Roedean in 1962, the year that she left the school.

Lord Young of Graffham, the Prime Minister’s advisor on enterprise, launched the University of Kent’s Enterprise Day 2014 at its Kent Business School (KBS), marking another successful year’s programme of promoting business and enterprise to Kent students.

Radio 2 DJ Simon Mayo, author of the best-selling science fiction books Itch and Itch Rocks, visited Reigate Grammar School in Surrey to talk to the First Form during RGS Science Week.

One of the founding fathers of punk rock – and the man who inspired Malcolm McLaren in the creation of the music and the look of the Sex Pistols – Richard Hell made an exclusive UK visit to the University of Sussex to give a talk to students about his life and work.

A rapturous welcome greeted HRH The Duchess of Cornwall when she visited St Catherine’s School in Bramley, Surrey. The Duchess was officially opening the Anniversary Halls housing the new drama, music and sport facilities and also the new Speech Hall Library, which provides a dedicated Sixth Form study space.

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