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'At home' youth music service a hit

A brand new home learning website has been launched for North Somerset’s young musicians and already more than 350 young people have signed up!

When schools closed to most pupils, North Somerset Music Service needed a way to continue supporting the many talented young musicians who could no longer attend their usual music lessons. A team of Music Service teachers led by Roger Sansom immediately began producing resources to be shared online with the pupils the service normally teaches in schools.

Local web design company APWD provided its technical know-how free of charge to support this endeavour. The result is a fantastic website full of music, videos, worksheets, guidance and many inspirational videos.

Schools, families and children already regularly use the music education hub’s site and this is where young musicians can register free to access the new resource. The learn online site at has let’s play; create; interact; and be inspired sections.

It is designed primarily to support pupils of the Music Service and members of Weston Youth Orchestra, Lions Brass 4 Youth and the North Somerset Centre for Young Musicians. During lockdown it is completely free to register and use.

At the moment many young people desperately want to have music lessons and through the ‘let’s interact’ section families can learn about online lessons with Music Service teachers. Lessons can be booked and paid for online and conducted over a video conferencing platform.

North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Music Hubs leader Mark Trego is keen for children to benefit from this excellent free resource.

He said: “When lockdown was imposed we had to act swiftly to provide something to keep the many young musicians in North Somerset engaged and excited about their music making.

"My colleague Rog Sansom co-ordinated the creation of the new site which sits alongside which young musicians already know well.

“I am really pleased we created something so comprehensive so quickly.

"It’s fabulous so many are already using this resource and also that many have chosen to book online lessons.

"Playing an instrument or singing are skills that have to be constantly nurtured and practised, so it is vital that young musicians are able to either have lessons online or use the free resources the site provides to keep learning and progressing.”

North Somerset Council executive member whose portfolio includes education Catherine Gibbons is the Labour Party councillor for Milton ward.

She said: “I very much welcome this as music education is such an important aspect of providing our young people with a well-rounded education.

"When allowed to work in harmony with other subjects and areas of study, music helps children grow in self-esteem, build essential skills and prepare for bright futures.”

It is unclear how soon music lessons in schools will get back to normal so the website will continue to grow as more materials are added and online lessons may be vital for our budding young musicians for quite some time

The Ofsted inspector calls

It was a brutal Ofsted inspection which came close to landing a Nailsea primary school in special measures – but was it fair?

Inspectors arrived at St Francis RC Primary School in late January this year and spent two days at the Station Road school.

Led by Nathan Kemp, winner of a National Teacher of the Year award back in 2012 and supported by Ofsted diocesan inspector David Shears the pair decided the school had four areas which needed ‘improvement’ and its leadership and management is ‘inadequate’.

It is 11 years since Ofsted last inspected St Frances and in its previous ranking it was awarded an ‘outstanding’.

But the goalposts have changed.

Ofsted no longer requires lesson plans, nor does it grade lessons.

Yet over 48hrs these inspectors decided the head teacher and her deputy were ‘overworked’ which in their eyes rated as a ‘fail’ although the dedication of the senior staff wasn’t questioned.

Head of governors Ann Tarr said: “This judgement was led by the inspectors’ findings regarding safeguarding, which automatically led to the main judgement and that of ‘leadership and management’ category being graded ‘Inadequate’. 

“All other areas were graded as ‘requiring Improvement’ equivalent to the old ‘satisfactory’ grading.”

There are 189 children aged four to 11 on roll who ‘enjoy coming to school, are polite and courteous’, says the report.

It is ranked 14th out of 74 schools in North Somerset for attainment and standards for the 3Rs is 79 per cent compared to 63 per cent nationally.

Head teacher Catherine Hunt said: “After a gap of 11 years, the Ofsted inspection framework is very different.

“The feedback we received on the recording and monitoring of safeguarding was useful and we made immediate changes to our processes as a result.

“We firmly believe that all children at the school are safe, we know them and take exceptional care of them.

“Parental feedback remains strong with 95 per cent of parents agreeing that their child is happy at our school.”

Mrs Tarr added: “The governors and staff are disappointed over the result of the Ofsted inspection and the language in the report.

“Little reference is made about the many good things about the school and the attainment of our pupils.

“The three-year average for children achieving the expected standard across reading, writing and maths is 79 per cent compared to 63 per cent nationally.

“Parental feedback shows a significant increase in confidence with the school’s action taken to prevent bullying and disruptive behaviour with only six per cent of parents having concerns, 78 per cent of parents said their child had not been bullied.”

The report says:

  • Pupils enjoy coming to school. They know the school’s values well and are polite and courteous.

  • Senior leaders want the best for pupils; their dedication is unquestionable.

  • The special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) keeps a firm hold on the provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). She adapts the help she gives teachers to ensure pupils receive the support they need to achieve. Pupils’ targets are precise, and they have opportunities to overcome barriers to their learning.”

The lack of knowledge of ‘fundamental British values’ was also criticised by the inspectors. These are "all have a duty to 'actively promote' the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs".

St Francis School has overhauled its safeguarding procedures since January 2020 and an audit by North Somerset Council after the inspection in February 2020 found the school to be compliant.

Mrs Tarr believes the references to bullying refer to an historic incident which was dealt with long ago.

And with 95 per cent of parents saying they would recommend the school to other parents read the report for yourselves and draw your own conclusions.

St Francis has had the Ofsted inspection, lockdown and a serious flood to contend with so far in 2020 so we conclude things can only get better.

To read full report which was published on Tuesday, June 30, click HERE.

VIRTUAL VISIT: Year 6 pupils at a North Somerset independent school have enjoyed a virtual trip to the US as part of their remote learning programme during lockdown. Children from Fairfield School in Backwell visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC where they took a self-guided, room-by-room virtual tour of select areas and exhibits. The pupils also planned how they would travel to America, took part in a virtual treasure hunt and enjoyed a workshop drawing dinosaurs. Fairfield School headmistress, Lesley Barton, said: “We love how creative our staff and children have been during lockdown and the Year 6 trip to Washington is a great example. We have tried to make our remote learning programme as varied, interesting and educational as possible, despite the challenges, and we’re pleased that the pupils had a fantastic time. Throughout the crisis our teachers have been working hard to deliver the same high standard of teaching and learning to our pupils remotely. We’ve enjoyed seeing how well the children have responded to the new style of education and are really proud of their efforts. We have now re-opened for children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 and it is lovely to see how happy the children are to be back in school. For those who have not returned yet, we will also be continuing with our remote learning programme until the end of the summer term.” Fairfield School is an independent co-educational school for children aged two to 11 and is historically a PNEU school affiliated to the Parents’ National Education Union. There are PNEU schools throughout the UK and the world. 

BACK TO SCHOOL UPDATE: Nailsea School is ready for Year 10 (aged 14-15) and Year 12 (16-17) children to return from Monday, June 15. But the young people will return part-time and in stages as per letters sent home. No hot school dinners will be served and the compulsory wearing of school uniform is abandoned. The internal layout of classrooms and community areas are also modified to reflect the times we live in and to keep staff and students safe. Primary schools in Nailsea have already begun returning slowly to school with restrictions in place…you can read the letter home HERE and the a similar one to Backwell School parents HERE

September 2020 Nailsea School starters

No question is too big or too small for staff at Nailsea School.

So why not exorcise those worries straight away and ask whatever it is that's on your mind?

Sometimes it's the smallest things that become huge! Questions like:

  1. Will these trainers be okay for PE? or

  2. What if I can’t reach my locker?

Email your queries to Mr Mawford to by Thursday, June 25t, for the answers.

And parents tune in to a virtual  presentation next week on Tuesday, July 7.

To learn more click HERE

Excited pupils, nervous parents but no fines if children stay home...

North Somerset Council is working with local schools to try and get children back safely as soon as possible in line with new Government guidance.
The council is supporting all school leaders across the area with their work on arrangements to enable schools to open safely, and recognises the concerns about ensuring strict social distancing measures, particularly with younger and more vulnerable children.
Following the release of a series of new guidance documents, issued by the Department for Education last week, school leaders have been carrying out comprehensive risk assessments to understand what can be achieved in each school or setting.
North Somerset Council executive member for children’s services and lifelong learning Catherine Gibbons is the ward councillor for Milton.
She said: “Heads and teachers are best placed to know whether they can safely open their school and how many children they can keep safe and they also know their local communities.

"This Government announcement won’t be correct for every school or every child. We will treat these decisions on their merits and show trust in our school leaders.
“There are some schools in which the safety guidelines can be met, and we will support those that can open from Monday, June 1.

"But we also know that many will not be able to achieve that, and we support schools in their decision making.

“We will not issue fines to those parents who choose to keep their child at home during this term.

“We also support calls by the Local Government Association and teaching unions that all the relevant scientific advice on child transmission should be published immediately so that head teachers and families can make informed decisions.

"It will be important for heads to take time to undertake full risk assessments and only open to more children when it is safe to do so.
“And of course we know that parents and carers know their children best and we support them in making the right decisions – whether to send their children to school or not – according to their own circumstances and the approach taken by their school.”

Schooldays at Golden Valley

There are plans for some primary school children in England to go back to the classroom at the beginning of June.

To support social distancing the idea is for class sizes to be restricted to no more than 15 pupils with, staggered break times and frequent hand washing.

But when the government talks about teachers going back to work nearly all school staff we know have never stopped working.

One of those is Golden Valley Primary School at Nailsea which has acted as a hub for up to 20 children daily mostly of key NHS workers.

Head teacher Kevin Lynch sent Nailsea People some photographs of the children at work.

He said: “We have had a number of pupils in over the lockdown period and the majority of our staff have been working on a rota basis.

“The photographs are 'hugs' that the children made and painted.

“They then wrote a message to somebody they hadn't been able to see for a while and sent their hugs through the post.

“The paintings were inspired by Bristol artist Jenny Urquhart.

“The children had to be really patient as they had to do each part, wait for it to dry and then do the next stage.

“They had to wait a couple of weeks to finish them as the member of staff they were doing it with was off the rota for two weeks before coming on again!

“We sent copies of the paintings to Silver Trees nursing home to help cheer up the residents.

“We also sent letters and pictures at the beginning of lockdown.

The children also made an insect hotel for the minibeasts and bugs that reside in our school grounds.

Mr Lynch said: “The number of key worker children varies day by day...sometimes as high as 18, sometimes lower than 10.

“We are currently accommodating the children and staff from St Francis RC Primary School further along Nailsea Park acting as a mini hub, but our schools do not mix.

“It’s to help cut down the numbers of staff required.”

Scarecrows Gary and Veronica are Golden Valley's newest pupils.

They can be seen from the field adjacent to the school and next to the sheep.

The sheep grazing in the playing field belong to teacher Debra Dean’s son Robert who tends approximately 45.

Mr Lynch added: “We only have a small number at Golden Valley, mainly the orphans who need to be bottle fed.

“They are a real hit with our pupils, but also with people walking past who make a trip to see them through the fence as part of their daily walk routine.”

Nailsea School locking down litmus paper test and more

Secondary schools in the UK are expected to stay closed until September, according to a senior scientific adviser in the SAGE committee.

But there is a hint that pupils taking exams next year may 'get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays', according to government sources.

Prime minister Boris Johnson in his address to the nation on Sunday evening said that ‘at the earliest’ he hoped to see a staggered return with children as young as four back in classrooms in England after the half-term holidays.

All depends on the coronavirus cases and if teacher unions agree it is safe.

Nailsea School staff have been working hard to keep lines of communication open with students and families during the lockdown and in some fun and innovative ways.

Chair of governors Jo Hopkinson said: “Using social media (Twitter and Facebook) we have seen House Challenges with characters made from toilet roll innards, a Lockdown Lyrical Challenge and On The Ball with house points for the winners.

“Senior staff have made Three@3pm videos to keep us up to date with what is happening during the current crisis as well as whole school messages to the school community.

“They are missing the students!

“Headteacher Dee Elliot sends weekly letters home to parents as well as letters to certain year groups, such as those whose exams have been affected by the crisis.

“Staff make phone calls to students to check that they are coping and to catch up with them, as well as pointing out where help and support can be found during lockdown.

“What a wonderful, caring school and staff!

“Lastly, ‘shoutouts’ to students who are making an impression on staff are recognising the hard work, effort and determination students are showing during this difficult time.

“Well done all.”

Proving there is no shortage in people nationwide have been fashioning wedding dresses from loo rolls and footballers have been showing off their ball skills with the toilet accessory.

Nailsea is no different and here is the result of the loo roll challenge.

  • 1st place NHS Heroes by Year 8 student Lucy M who wins 1,000 house points for Phoenix

  • 2nd place Brunel by Year 8 student Lauren N who wins 900 house points for Dragon

  • 3rd place Rowley Jefferson by Year 8 student Harley M who wins 800 house points for Unicorn House

  • 4th place Harry Potter by Year 9 student Lily K who wins 700 house points for Griffin

Honourable mentions go to the Donald Trump made by Year 7 student Charlie W and Thomas the Tank Engine made by Year 9 student Dylan T.

And on top of all this they school community has clapped for its 'crisis career heroes' made decorations and dressed up for VE Day and submitted football skill videos which technology and design staff have been making PPE euquipment for the NHS.

FACETIME: Nailsea School has supplied more than 160 re-useable face shields to Tyntesfield Medical Group, NHS staff, care homes both locally and further afield, Nailsea police and some local businesses that have stayed open during this crisis. Together with Backwell School they are looking at making shields for primary school staff. Although the school started this with existing materials it has now been supported by the Freemasons who have made a substantial contribution towards the materials and the replacement of the schools PPE which was given away when this all started, said assistant business manager operations Chris Perry. The latest shields were cut by design technology technician Dennis Leach and his team from Nailsea School. Pictured is the 3D operation; John Colley and his son Peter a Nailsea School student who together made the headbands on 3D printers; Bristol Children’s Hospital nurse Catie O’Donghue collecting the first batch of 20 visors from her Uncle John’s home; and the school team at work

SCHOOLS OUT: Not to timetable though. Nailsea School headteacher Dee Elliott said: "It's been a tumultuous period for students, parents and staff." As well as closing early with no back to school date, exams are suspended, proms postponed and end-of-term presentations abandonned and that was on top of the Mizzymead Road campus having a visit from Ofsted earlier in the week. Teachers said that cannot thank Peaks the Backwell company who supplied its Year 11 students with their 'leavers' hoodies before the final bell. And Backwell School tweeted 'emotional scenes today as we said an abrupt farewell to Year 11 and 13 who took part in assemblies for them at such short notice. A reminder of how wonderful the Backwell School community is - pulling together so our students don'tg miss out."

FRUIT TREE FORAGE: The eco-friendly initiative by Nailsea School climate change action group needs a few more fruit trees to meet its target - can you help? Email 

Nailsea School anniversary orchard

Three Year 7 girls at Nailsea School have taken the initiative to plant an orchard to mark the 60th anniversary of the school.

The students who are part of the Nailsea School Climate Action Group wanted to plant the orchard for a number of environmental reasons.

Fruit tree blossom provides an excellent source of pollen for insects such as bees, flies and moths which are absolutely necessary for the fertilisation of the food we eat.

Meanwhile the trees themselves will absorb carbon off-setting some of the effects of climate change.

Students are asking for donations of fruit trees including apple, pear and cherry trees, or financial donations to make the purchase of trees.

The students are hoping for an orchard of 60 trees and so far have managed to reach nearly half of their target.

Over the years the trees will develop to provide fruit and be a reminder of the schools 60th Anniversary.

The trio are really grateful to all those that have donated so far. 

Anyone interested in supporting the project can email operations manager Chris Perry on

Fairfield School open days

Parents have the chance to look around an independent North Somerset school this week and take an open day tour.

Fairfield School, at Backwell, is opening its doors on Friday and Saturday, March 13-14, when prospective parents can take a tour of the facilities and meet staff and current pupils.

Activities will be running throughout the open mornings, with Friday’s session open from 9.30-11.30am and Saturday’s session from 10am-noon.

Parents of children aged two to 11-years are welcome as well as the children themselves.

There are spaces available throughout the school, although spaces for September in some year groups are limited.

Catering for pupils from two to 11 years the independent co-educational school in Backwell includes an integrated nursery department which takes children aged two to four years, and which parents will also be able to view.

The open mornings will be followed on Friday, March 27, with entrance assessments for the older children.

Fairfield School headmistress Lesley Barton said: “Our open mornings are the perfect opportunity for parents and children to come and have a look around the facilities and grounds we have at Fairfield.

"They can meet with teachers and speak to some current pupils about their experiences of our school.

“Due to popular demand we have added a Saturday session for those parents unable to visit of Friday.

"We are also happy to welcome prospective parents at any time for an individual tour of the school.

“We have spaces available throughout the school and our nursery provision will be of particular interest to new parents.

“At Fairfield we are proud to provide very high-quality education at a very competitive and affordable price.

"We believe that investing in children’s primary education will launch them into a successful future and lay the strongest foundations for the rest of their lives.

“Fairfield has been providing outstanding education for boys and girls since 1935.

"We are committed to offering children the best environment in which to learn, as well as a wide-ranging activity programme.

“It’s very difficult to get a real feel for a school’s atmosphere and environment by reading a prospectus so we’d really encourage parents to come along to the Open Mornings in order to gain an understanding of our ethos and values.”

Fairfield School is an independent co-educational school for children aged 2 to 11.

Class sizes are limited to approximately 20 at Fairfield, with many much smaller, and there is a very wide range of clubs and activities, sport, music and drama to excite the interest of pupils.

Fairfield is historically a PNEU School, which means it is affiliated to the Parents’ National Education Union.

There are PNEU schools throughout the UK and the world.

For more information about Fairfield School and the open mornings visit or email

Nailsea School is lighting way

Nailsea School headteacher Dee Elliot hasn't swapped her leadership role to become an electrician's mate.

She is supervising the installed of £4,000 of new LED lighting.
The Mizzymead Road school was awarded the money by Megawatt Community Energy Fund Grant.
This has enabled them to further lower its carbon footprint.
The grant is being used to replace 120 fluorescent light fittings with more energy efficient LED panels.
The fund uses profit from the business activity of Bristol Cooperative and Low Carbon Gordano to encourage and support community action on reducing carbon in our atmosphere.
In 2017 thanks to funding from the Gordano Carbon Trust the school managed to complete Zone 1 of its conversion and this grant has enabled completion of Zone 2, which includes the main access corridors of the school.
The school has consistently reduced its carbon footprint, and by doing so, it hopes to encourage the wider community and its students to do the same.
Nailsea School development officer Fiona Davies said: “Making these changes within the school is an important way to make a difference to the environment whilst highlighting the growing importance of tackling climate change. 
"We have a number of students who have formed their own Climate Action Group and it is encouraging to see the positive steps they are taking for the planet’s future.”
In 2019 the student body formed their own Climate Action Group. 
The group use the Student Voice platform to the lobby the Senior Leadership Team with ideas for changes to be made around the school. 
In 2018 students challenged the use of polystyrene containers being used by the canteen, resulting in a change to compostable containers. 
In 2019, they lobbied against the use of plastic cutlery, which has since been replaced with bamboo cutlery.
Mrs Elliott said: “As a school we want to lead by example, taking climate change issues seriously. 
"We are constantly trying to get a balance between economic and environmental costs and this grant has enabled to make a huge step forward.“

JOB SHOP: Backwell School careers fair for students and parents is on Thursday, February 27, 6-8pm. More than 40 exhibitors plus seminars on apprenticeships and going to university

Fairfield schoolchildren busk for hospital

Fairfield School in Backwell have been busking for charity.

The pupils have contributed to a hugely impressive effort by schoolchildren and community groups across Bristol and North Somerset to raise more than £17,000 for Southmead Hospital.

Children from the independent North Somerset school took part in The Great Bristol Buskathon and performed carols at the hospital for visitors, patients and staff during the Christmas period.

The children’s efforts raised more than £100 for the fourth annual Buskathon which will go towards funding several important projects, including research into the causes of brain cancer, dementia care, a digital microscope for brain surgery, a 3D technology centre and the development of bereavement services.

Ian, of Southmead Hospital said: “Huge thanks to Fairfield School for participating in The Great Bristol Buskathon, we were delighted with all the effort our huge team of volunteer performers put in and it really paid off.

“We have had all the loose ends tied up now and are proud to say that with 96 performances across eight venues we managed to raise £17,881.91.

“Thank you so much for giving us your time and talent and making the effort to bring the children here!”

Lesley Barton, headmistress of Fairfield School said: “We are so pleased to have participated in such a lovely and inspirational event at Southmead Hospital.

 “The children thoroughly enjoyed the live performance, which brought some sunshine to those passing by.

 “It is wonderful to hear that the Buskathon raised a fantastic amount overall. The projects it will fund are hugely important to Bristol and we look forward to supporting the hospital more in the future.”

 Fairfield School is an independent co-educational school for children aged two to 11. 

Backwell School fails to get top Ofsted grading

Backwell School has lost its ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating after its first two-day inspection for six years took place at the end of January.

It is the first inspection under head teacher Jon Nunes who has been in charge since 2016.

Its previous ‘outstanding’ ratings from November 2008 and May 2013 were under the headship of Julian Baldwin who retired after 15 years at the school in 2016.

However, since his day the Ofsted criteria has been changed making the top rating much more difficult to obtain and the secondary school was awarded ‘good’ in all the categories in the February 2020 report:

  • Overall effectiveness -Good

  • The quality of education- Good

  • Behaviour and attitudes - Good

  • Personal development - Good

  • Leadership and management - Good

  • Sixth-form provision - Good

The new Ofsted 2019 Common Inspection Framework focus is first and foremost the curriculum, with judgements assessing ‘quality of education’.

Inspectors in schools ‘will not use schools’ internal performance data for current pupils as evidence during an inspection’.

Inspectors will carry out deep dives, underpinned by the three I’s:

  • intent – the knowledge and skills that pupil will gain

  • implementation – the way that the curriculum selected by the school is taught and assessed in order to support pupils to build their knowledge and to apply that knowledge as skills

  • impact – the outcomes that pupils achieve as a result of the education they have received

Five inspectors descended on the 1,700-pupil comprehensive which is is considered to be one of the best-performing state schools in England with top GCSE and A-level results and concluded ‘Backwell is a school that has many strengths. Pupils say that it is a positive place to be. They feel safe and well looked after’.

While it has a wide curriculum in some areas leaders’ plans are not so clear or well organised, the inspectors concluded.

While carrying out the inspection the government team met all the senior staff and chair of trustees, and took a special interest in English, geography, modern foreign languages, music and science lessons.

Behaviour, record keeping and the 211 responses to Ofsted’s online survey, Parent View, were also scrutinised.

Mr Nunes said: “It is my view that Backwell School continues to exhibit all the strengths from 2013 as well as improving in fundamental areas.

"I believe that the improvements that we have made in recent years, which are noted in the report, will ensure the school continues to provide a positive and effective learning environment for our students.

"The report matches my own self-evaluation of the school; I was particularly pleased to notice the emphasis from inspectors that we balance our ‘ambition for high academic standards with an emphasis on developing pupils’ personal development.’”

The inspectors said ‘where teaching is less effective, teachers do not adapt their plans when it would benefit pupils to do so. This means that some pupils do not understand fully before they move on, including pupils with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) and disadvantaged pupils’ and it advised that ‘teachers need to check carefully what pupils can do and remember and support them to apply this confidently later’.

A dip in the progress that pupils made at key stage 4 (14-16 year olds) in 2019 has been tackled positively and with resolve, said the inspectors.

To read full report click HERE.

Von Trapps at Backwell School

Rehearsals are well underway and tickets are on sale for Backwell School’s latest whole school production The Sound of Music

Backwell School will be alive with the sound of music from Tuesday to Friday, February 11-14, as the musical hits the boards in the school theatre.

More than 100 students are involved in the production, orchestra and stage crew and they have all been working together since September to pull this show together.

Producer and musical director Victoria Cooper said: “There was a lovely moment last week when finally the cast, crew and orchestra all met each other.

"The room was full of people. I have wanted to stage this musical since I started teaching – it is truly iconic.

"Our school theatre has great acoustics and I am really enjoying watching everything come together.

"I leave each rehearsal bussing and cannot wait for the next one.”

With students from all year groups taking part, alongside their normal school studies, their energy and commitment is very impressive.

Lottie Saul-Paterson, Year 13, is playing Maria hopes their hard work pays off .

She said: “People have very high expectations.

"We are working so hard to be as good as some truly great performers like Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer”

Both Lottie and Joe Verinder (also Year 13), pictured, starring as Captain von Trapp, have also recently had A-levels exams in drama and performing arts meaning they have multiple sets of lines to learn.

In addition to this Joe has had to learn how to use a whistle for the iconic notes used to call each child by the Captain.

He said: “It took me over a week of constant studying and practice.”

For online tickets £10 (£7 for concessions) click HERE.

Curtain up is every night at 7pm with a performance time of approximately two hours and 15 minutes.



service at Fairfield

Fairfield School in Backwell held a candle-lit festive celebration this week with its annual Christingle Service.

Pupils from nursery to Year 6 joined teachers and parents to share in the lighting of the Christingles and mark the start of the independent school’s festive celebrations.

The service included readings by Year 6 children, musical performances by the Little Voices Choir, hymns and carols. 

Lesley Barton, headmistress at Fairfield School, said: “Our Christingle Service is one of the most popular events on our calendar; the parents love hearing the children sing the hymns and joining in with the lighting of the traditional Christingles.

“The children love it too; they have really enjoyed making the Christingles for our guests and learning more about where the tradition came from. 

“We still have our Carol Service to look forward to before a well-deserved Christmas break!”

Fairfield School is an independent co-educational school for children aged 2 to 11. 

Class sizes are limited to a maximum of 20 at Fairfield School, with many much smaller and there is a very wide range of clubs and activities, sport, music and drama to excite the interest of pupils.

Fairfield is historically a PNEU School, which means it is affiliated to the Parents’ National Education Union.

There are PNEU schools throughout the UK and the world.

To learn more click HERE. 

Where's Gary - Barlow that is?

Nailsea School has asked its staff, students and friends to take part in a Where’s Gary? challenge to promote its charity calendar being sold as part of its yearlong 60@Sixty campaign.

The campaign aims to raise funds for the school and to celebrate its diamond anniversary.

The challenge has seen staff, pupils and parents donning the Where’s Gary? mask, taking pictures of themselves and posting them on social media – using the hashtag #wheresgary.

The aim of the activity is to raise awareness of the school’s special charity calendar, which goes on sale at the end of November.

Earlier in the school year students and staff were invited to submit a hand drawn picture of themselves with some creative and often hilarious results.

The calendar has been beautifully pulled together by head of art Rachel Davies and features more than 900 hand drawn portraits, it is a real work of art.

As well as featuring staff and pupils from its anniversary year, it will also feature a special guest appearance.

Head teacher Dee Elliott is renowned among the community for her total esteem of all things Gary Barlow (she even has a life-sized cut out of him in her office).

In response to this total adoration, ‘Gary’ will appear in every scene, wearing a different outfit and hidden among the staff and pupils.

Each month has a Where’s Gary? theme.

Mrs Elliot said: “So far Gary Barlow has not called to place an order for the calendars, but I’m sure it’s just a question of time…in the meanwhile, we are reliant on the community to help our cause and buy a calendar to support our fundraising.”The 60@Sixty Where’s Gary? calendar go on sale at the end of this month from the school and from Nailsea retailer School Togs at £10 or £15 for two.

CHRISTMAS CHEER: Crown Glass Shopping Centre has chosen Nailsea School 60@Sixty fundraising as is Christmas fair charity. A spokesman said: "Thank you so much everyone for all your suggestions of a local charity for us to support at our Christmas fair. It's great to see so many local organisations doing fantastic work for our community. This year we have chosen to support Nailsea School with their 60@Sixty campaign. This year Nailsea School celebrates its 60th anniversary, and to mark the year the school has put together a programme of events and has launched its 60@Sixty campaign, aiming to raise £60,000 in a year to support the school. It is an exciting time for Nailsea School, the programme of events puts the school right at the centre of the community, and we are delighted to be able to support them." More details of fair on Friday, November 29 HERE.

Rotarians put Backwell School in picture frame

Backwell School had a visit on Wednesday, November 12, to judge entries for this year’s National Rotary Young Photographer Competition.
This is the first year that Backwell School has taken part in the competition.

Organised and supported by art and photography teacher Colin Ray, students submitted their series of three photographs under the theme 'through my eyes'.
It took more than one hour to judge the 20 submissions before prizes were awarded in the senior and intermediate categories. Congratulations to Adam (1st), Ava (2nd) in Year 7 and Grace (3rd) in Year 8 who were the intermediate winners and Cole (1st) and Rob (2nd),Year 10 and Year 9 respectively, in the senior category.
Judges Roy Ackrill and Bob Keightly, of Rotary Nailsea and Backwell, were very impressed with the entries, and were then kind enough to share their wisdom and advice on photography to those taking part following the prize giving.
Rotary Youth Committee chair Peter Hoare thanked those involved for their '...wonderful entries...we hope to do this again next year.'

Mr Ray said: It was a fantastic experience and I am pleased so many students took part.

"The standards of entry were very high and we hope to display the images around the school site for others to enjoy.”
The winning entries will now enter the next heat of the completion against other students in local schools, with those successful then moving up to the regional and national finals.

Fundraising for Africa at car boot sale

A North Somerset school is hosting a car boot and table-top sale to raise money for a school in Africa.

Fairfield School at Backwell has linked with the Macalpine School in the Bandawe region of Malawi and is holding a series of events, in association with the charity Hooke Court in Malawi, to support the school and provide its pupils with books, pencils and other learning resources.

The sale is on Saturday, November 16, when the school is also holding an open day for families wishing to look around.

Fairfield School headmistress Lesley Barton, said: “We are so excited to be sponsoring the Macalpine School in Malawi and we’re hoping that our car boot sale will generate some much-needed funds for new educational resources at the school.

“We are so fortunate here at Fairfield to have the very best resources at our fingertips to teach and encourage our pupils but we know that others aren’t so fortunate.

"It is a big part of our ethos to instil in the children a desire to be caring and giving. It is wonderful that our pupils participate with such enthusiasm in all the charity work we do here.

“We’re hoping many people take this opportunity to not only support a wonderful cause but also to have a big clear out of unwanted items just before Christmas.”

Visitors to the event can also enjoy hot dogs, cakes, waffles and hot and cold refreshments on the day.

Entry will cost 50p per person or £10 to take a table/car bootspace.

Lesley added: “The car boot sale will take place on the same day as our open event.

"Thisis a great opportunity for interested parents to take a look around our school, meet with teachers and pupils and get a sense of our culture.”

The open event is 10am-noon with the car boot sale noon-3pm.

To register your interest for the open event or to book a seller space for the car boot sale contact or call 01275 462743.

Fairfield School is an independent co-educational school for children aged two to 11 with class sizes are limited to a maximum of 20 at Fairfield School, with many much smaller.

There is a very wide range of clubs and activities, sport, music and drama to excite the interest of pupils.  

PHOTO: Fairfield School teacher Louise Campbell

volunteering in Malawi

DANCE CLASS: You can dance, you can sing - while academic success is paramount Nailsea School sixth formers are also offered more creative paths to fulfil their aspirations. The school is happy to announce that from September 2020 it will be offering a BTEC Level 3 Natonal Diploma in Contemporary Dance. Find out more on Thursday, November 21, at the open evening - see poster top

PINK PEEPS: Backwell School Year 9 students wore something pink for a whole week in PE for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October - well done. Here is the happy team pictured in the gym... 

Coming soon... official unveiling

Nailsea school children have created a beautiful mosaic to brighten up a brick wall in the town centre.

Pupils from Golden Valley Primary School, Hannah More Infant School, Grove Junior School and Nailsea School have all contributed their artistic talents to make three large collages depicting life in the town.

Fran Newton, a volunteer with Nailsea in Bloom, came up with the idea for the scheme, which has been sponsored by Nailsea Town Council.

The wall is adjacent to the village green and children designed pictures based on given topics:

  • Nailsea School – Today

  • Hannah More and Grove – History

  • Golden Valley - Nature

Fran said: “The community project, originally conceptualised back in 2010 and coordinated by me has now reached its first major stage.

“The mosaic artwork consisting of three large panels has been created to enhance a blank and uninspiring wall space to the side of New Look and provide residents and visitors with an informative and colourful space to relax near.” 

The schools were first invited to get involved back in September 2017.

Approximately 300 pupils, aged from Year 2 up to sixth form were asked to come up with suitable designs.

Fran said: “As well as planning their design, they were asked to think about how it might translate into a mosaic format.

"It was great to be part of the planning experience. 

“There was an excited buzz around the whole classroom when the children were working together to discover what pictures they wanted to create. 

“It was also lovely to see different age groups working together and inspiring each other."

Twelve winning designs from each school were selected for adaptation by David Bowers of Mosaic Madness, in Knowle. 

The materials were provided by David and each school took three days to create their respective panels.

The whole process was thoroughly enjoyed by all the pupils involved and some were particularly pleased to have found new skills in tiling and grouting.

MADE IN NAILSEA: An army of schoolchildren supported and sponsored by Nailsea Town Council and the community made this village green mosaic 

It has taken approximately two years from the initial approach to the schools to the panels' final placement on the wall. 

There were a lot of other members of the community involved as well as businesses who either provided support or financial assistance including CBRE Property Services, Nailsea Town Council, Waitrose, Touts Budgens, Nailsea Community Trust, Nailsea & Backwell Rotary, Nailsea Lions, Changing Lives as well as private donators.

Fran said: "I've loved being part of this project and seeing the children get so much enjoyment from it. 

“It's been hard work to get the funding in place to ensure this was a free community project and I'm thrilled to see the pieces made and put up into their desired space.

“I hope people enjoy what they see."

Nailsea Town Council is arranging an explanatory plaque and once this has been created, an official unveiling will take place before Christmas with representatives of those involved. 

A second phase for placement of planters and additional seating is the 2020 project, added Fran.

FORGET WALLY: Trending on Twitter is the #wheresgary tag posted in an attempt to get head teacher Dee Elliot's hero Gary Barlow to respond to his cartoon being on every page of the fundraising calendar published in the schools 60th year...

HALLOWEEN REGISTER: Appearing in the window of School Togs at Clevedon Walk are the four houses of Nailsea School - Dragon, Griffin, Phoenix and Unicorn - and a timely reminder to parents that the deadline for secondary school applications is Thursday, October 31.

BRAIN TEASERS: Successful sell-out quiz night raised £722 for the 60@Sixty challenge. A big thank you goes to everyone whether it was partaking, supporting or donating a raffle prize. It was victory for the team who knew the name of the British fleet at Trafalgar...special thanks to quiz master Will Hellier who is pictured below with the winning team.

Nailsea School 1959-2019

celebrating diamond anniversary

This year Nailsea School celebrates its 60th anniversary, and to mark the year the school has put together a programme of events and has launched its 60@Sixty campaign.

The campaign aims to raise £60,000 in a year to support the school.

Students were invited to submit requests for improvements to their student council, who are working with the senior leadership team to put together a shopping list.

Suggestions so far have included weather shelter, improved ICT facilities and sporting equipment.

The school opened with 90 students, but now educates more than 1,000 pupils in its school and sixth form with numbers increasing annually in recent times.

The school is inviting students, staff, parents and the community to get involved with its fundraising, whether it is by attending one of the numerous events, initiating a fundraising activity or by donating.

Headteacher Dee Elliott said: “Built in 1959 originally as a grammar school, Nailsea School has been at the heart of the community for several generations.

 “Because of its close ties to the community we are hoping to meet our target, it sounds like a very significant amount of money, but if every child within the school could fundraise £5 a month for the year it would be attainable.”

It is an exciting time for Nailsea School, the programme of events puts the school right at the centre of the community, and the offers of support have been brilliant.

One parent has offered to run a marathon on behalf of the school, a local cider-making group have shown an interest in being involved, while the first event of the programme – a quiz night supported by Nailsea & Backwell Rugby Club has sold out.

Musical Bingo is the next programmed event and is being organised by the school PTA other events include a movie night, treasure hunt and car boot sale.

The grand finale will be a summer fete, where the school will welcome students past and present in a celebration of the its history.

In the meantime, it is hoped that the whole community will get involved, and the school is keen to hear from anyone who would like to help with fundraising.

Mrs Elliott added: “With the 60@Sixty campaign we want to commemorate the school’s significant contribution to the community, the memories made here, the careers built, and the friendships developed while ensuring we continue to have an impact on future generations.”

WHO'S COUNTING: Mrs Elliot and school presidents, Daniel and George with the 60@Sixty totaliser.

Schools recognised at national travel awards

Seven North Somerset schools including one from Nailsea have been recognised with national travel awards.

Following an academic year packed full of activities to promote walking and cycling, five primary and two secondary schools picked up bronze from Modeshift STARS in recognition of their work to encourage pupils and parents to choose active travel on the school run.

Supported by funding from North Somerset Council, the Department for Transport, and Living Streets, the schools carried out surveys of pupils, installed cycle racks and scooter pods, and ran Bikeability training to teach children skills to ride safely.

They were also given the chance to learn about the benefits of active travel with the council’s pedal powered smoothie bike.

Becket Primary School, Churchill Church of England Primary School, Flax Bourton Church of England Primary School, Kingshill Church School, and Sandford Primary successfully encouraged all pupils who could to walk on a regular basis, while Priory Community School Academy and Churchill Academy and Sixth Form focused on supporting those pupils arriving on foot and bike by making sure staff and parents drive safely on school grounds.

Kingshill Church School Year 6 teacher Sarah Bennett said “We were keen to work together using Modeshift STARS to raise the profile of active journeys to and from our school.

“The children particularly enjoyed scooter safety training and going out in to the local area to learn the skills to keep them safe.

“We recommend Modeshift STARS because it has focused the whole school on the health benefits of active school travel.

"The impact has been clear to see as many more of our children are choosing to walk, bike, and scoot to school and there is now a real buzz about being active.”

The Modeshift STARS website is free for all schools to use and has tools to survey pupils, review facilities, plan improvements, and review their success. To find out how your school could get involved click HERE or email

A-level football

Study for an soccer A-level must be a dream come true for teenaged football fans but this is what a Nailsea based sports coaching team is offering. 

Priority Football now in its third season has joined forces with Nailsea School to deliver a Post 16 qualification from September 2020.

The academy will offer enjoyable and structured sessions to student athletes during the school week, as well as a competitive fixture programme against other schools and colleges.

This is an amazing opportunity for the Mizzymead Road students to achieve their full footballing potential and pursue professional opportunities across football and sport.

Qualified coaches Alex Lumsden and Rob Prior will head the teaching team.

Rob said: "In the more immediate future, excitement among our coaching team is growing with changes to existing weekly sessions just around the corner.

"These include the beginning of a brand new Girls Programme in the coming weeks and our first year-round outdoor sessions for our oldest age group.

"The past 12 months have been amazing with more than 170 children now taking part in weekly sessions and 41 hugely successful camp days being delivered.

"We can’t thank you all enough for the support you’ve given us and the trust you place in us each week – we’ll never take it for granted!"

For more details click HERE.

Breakfast is best at Nailsea School

It’s been a fabulous start to the new academic year at Nailsea School, with supermarket -Tout’s Budgens, supporting new students with a welcome breakfast.

The generous donation from the Wraxall store, saw an abundance of freshly baked goodies including croissants and pain au chocolat as well as fruit and juices being delivered to the Mizzymead Road campus.

The delicious breakfast was served in the first instance to the new Year 7s who had the school to themselves to get their bearings before the rest of the school joined them the following day.

A little later new sixth former, pictured, arrived to enjoy their brunch, and talk about the next steps of their academic journey.

The breakfast eased students into their first day and within minutes’ students were chatting to each other and to staff breaking the ice - ready for the first term.

The first day back for Year 7 was full of activities to help students find their way around the building, understand lesson timetables, school systems and pick up tips that will help them adjust to secondary learning.

For Year 12 it was an opportunity to speak to staff about their GCSE results, ensure they have selected the right subjects for A-level and make any changes. 

It was a brilliant start, providing the beginners with a great foundation to start their next journey, to find out about starting at Nailsea School, families are welcome to attend their Open Evening on Thursday, September 26, 6-8.30pm.

For more details go to the fantastic newly revamped school website by clicking HERE.

Thursday, November 21, at 5pm
school website.png
New website, click image to go to site and see

Ravenswood School £2 million fundrasing bid build sports hall

Children at Ravenswood School, Nailsea, like those at Golden Valley have also enjoyed an extended summer holiday because of fire safety work.

Head teacher Mark Seniorsaid: "The six week works are to improve the fire breaks in our ceilings. 

"These are building features designed to stop a fire spreading. 

"Due to the age of the building, there is some asbestos present. 

"This was a common material used in many buildings of a similar age. 

"We are not unique in having asbestos and it poses no risk to pupils or staff."

Everyone is due back on Monday, September 9.

New sports hall

The school for children with special educational needs and disabilities caters for pupils from all over North Somerset has launched this term a massive £2 million fundraising bid to build a new sports hall at Pound Lane.

The oversubscribed school with more than 100 students said its current sports hall is 'not fit for purpose'.

The first event to help them reach that goal is a car boot sale on Sunday morning, September 22 - see poster for details.

Hot drinks and bacon rolls will be served and there is no need to pre-book a pitch just turn up from 7.30am onwards.

Pitches are £6 for cars and £10 for vans and/or trailers.

Admission is £1 for adults and children free.