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Baa baa babies

Baby lambs have appeared at Golden Valley Primary School in Nailsea.

The newcomers belong to farmer Rob Dean whose mum Debra is deputy headteacher at the Nailsea Park school.

Mrs Dean said: “We have six lambs, belonging to my son Rob, that we have brought on to a section of our school field for a few weeks.

“These are all bottle lambs, which have to be taken from the ewe when she has triplets or does not have enough milk.

“The children are enjoying feeding them each day and taking their turn to come into the enclosure to pet them.

“Last year, we also brought in two ewes with their lambs, which we may do again once they are born if we have enough grass!

“This provides an excellent opportunity for the children to interact with nature and take their minds off other things at this time.

“We will keep them here for when the whole school community return and they will no doubt make that transition easier for the children who have not been here for a while.”

All pupils can return to school from Monday, March 8.

Secondary schools are allowed to stagger the return over a week, to allow Covid testing to be carried out.

Students will be tested three times in the first two weeks and then two rapid tests to use each week at home.

Clubs for children in school buildings - both before and after normal school hours - will also be allowed to resume from March 8.

Other children's school activities - such as sport - can also restart.

Primary school SATs will not go ahead this year, nor will phonics or timetable testing.

In England, A-levels, AS levels and GCSE exam have been cancelled with teachers' estimated grades to be be used instead.

Schools will able to use a combination of mock exams, coursework and essays when deciding what grade to award.

Results will be published earlier in August to allow time to appeal.

Teachers' grades will also be used to replace written vocational exams. .

Learning about the outdoors while indoors

Online free lessons for primary schoolchildren has been created by Surrey teacher Kayleigh Brake and her colleagues where young people can learn about the great outdoors.

Kayleigh Brake said: "With a couple of colleagues we have created Channel 5 Live YouTube lessons for primary aged children.

"My nephew and nieces go to Nailsea primary schools and will be tuning in."

Starting on Tuesday, February 2, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is running free live classes.

The link to the website is

Kayleigh added: "Please register here for each episode as it means we can send you resources for each session as well as a free ID guide and a welcome pack.

"Registering also means that your children can pre-submit questions for me to answer live and ask for some shoutouts.

"To all of you homeschooling, you are doing an AMAZING job!

To learn more go to

Business support schools

The Lighthouse Schools Partnership has received generous donations of nearly 500 computers from local organisations to help support pupils struggling to access their remote learning from home.  
The LSP has 24 schools in North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, with children currently accessing their learning from home due to the current national lockdown. 
That makes more than 20 per school.
North Somerset schools include Backwell School, Flax Bourton CE Primary School, Northleaze CE Primary School, The Whiteoak Academies of Hannah More Infant and Grove Junior schools, The Federation of West Leigh Infant and Backwell Junior schools, Wraxall CofE Primary School and all the Portishead schools secondary and primary.
However some families are struggling to fully access the remote teaching and classwork being set due to a lack of appropriate technology at home. 
LSP CEO Gary Lewis said: "Our schools have worked incredibly hard to adapt their curriculum and embrace technology to teach our pupils remotely this term. 
"These additional devices will allow a large number of our children to keep up with their studies and progress. 
"Education and the routine of learning and seeing classmates and teachers is incredibly important for the mental wellbeing of children during this ongoing pandemic and will of course benefit their futures. 
"I would like to thank Boeing and Hargreaves Lansdown for their generous gift”. 
The ‘digital divide’ means that children can fall behind in their learning and social development. 
The Department for Education has a system to allow schools to apply for laptops for those most in need. 
However there are children, who do not meet DfE criteria, who are trying to access their live learning via a parent’s mobile phone, or shared laptop. 
This makes home schooling and working from home an even bigger challenge for these families. 
Boeing contacted TLS and offered laptops to be circulated to those struggling to access their schooling from home. 
Boeing Defence UK managing director Anna Keeling said: “I am delighted to be supporting the Lighthouse Schools Partnership during this challenging time. 
"Our employees have always had a strong community spirit, and aligned with our values, we saw an opportunity to reach out and provide local young people with essential computer equipment to support their learning. 
"It is vital that students have the tools to be able to continue their studies and maintain contact with their school while at home.

"I am proud of the team at Boeing Defence UK who prepared and delivered 100 laptops to the LSP during lockdown. 

COMPUTER BUFFS: Students Josie in Year 5 and Henry in Year 3 being given a donated laptop by Yatton Church of England Junior School headteacher Jo Keeble

"We will always look for ways to support young people in Bath and Somerset when we can.” 
LSP business partner Hargreaves Lansdown has also donated Chromebooks for vulnerable and disadvantaged students to use. 
Hargreaves Lansdown chief people officer Heather Cooper said: “We’re delighted to be able to support children in our community as part of our wider pandemic response plan.” 

Nailsea School has launched a GoFunding appeal to buy more computers for its Laptop Lending Library.
Its target is £3,000 has been surpassed within days of the launch.
This Digital Inclusion Project is to help students working online from home during lockdown.
While it is going well some families are finding digital learning is more of a challenge sharing from phones, tablets, or struggling with IT that works intermittently. 
The school received 50 laptops from the government, had a further 13 donated by its PTA, and received Covid19 funding for a further 10. 
Most of these 73 laptops have been loaned to families struggling to work online, with only a few left in school on reserve.
With an average of three new requests a day the comprehensive school needs to raise money for more laptops.
Click HERE to donate.

Laptop lending library

New Year, New Start, New Partnership 

Nailsea School has joined with many Somerset schools to be part of the Wessex Learning Trust.

This includes Cheddar secondary school Kings of Wessex Academy and several nondenominational and Church of England primary schools in Somerset.

Wessex Learning Trust strives to provide outstanding learning opportunities by creating centres of educational excellence that meet the needs of all children aged two to 19-years.

Its website blurb says ‘each individual academy is encouraged to maintain its own distinctive ethos, be at the centre of their community and raise aspirations and achievement. This is achieved in two ways: firstly, through excellent teaching to inspire curiosity, unlock talents and realise potential; and secondly, by ensuring high quality care, guidance and support that ensures the personal development and welfare of each child. By working together, we believe we can harness the talents of all our staff, share good practice between all our academies, and share resources that enable us to concentrate on delivering excellence in education’. 

Nailsea School is the 14th school to join the Wessex Learning Trust, and the second secondary school to be added to its portfolio.

The benefit of joining a MAT (multi-academy trust) means that teaching and learning expertise can be shared across sites and that financially the school will benefit.

A number of collaborations have already begun with teachers sharing best practice across departments including in science and English. 

Nailsea School chair of governors Jo Hopkinson said: “After three years of discussion and interviews with a number of trusts, we feel incredibly positive about the Wessex Learning Trust and strongly believe that this is the trust most aligned to the ethos of Nailsea School.

“Partnerships are already being made between governors, senior staff and middle leaders and we are confident that this is a very positive move for the whole of the Nailsea School community.” 

Wessex Learning Trust chief executive who was formerly head teacher at Kings of Wessex Gavin Ball said: “We welcome Nailsea School to our Multi Academy Trust family, we encourage our schools to be at the centre of their community and raise aspirations and achievement.

NEW ERA: WLT CEO Gavin Ball, and Nailsea School head Dionne Elliot

“Nailsea School’s ethos of ‘Aspire Believe Succeed’ and its focus on the wellbeing and happiness of each child, sits brilliantly well with our own values.” 

Nailsea School head Dionne Elliot said: “It is an exciting time for Nailsea School, it is a partnership that will allow us to enjoy our own identity, while being a part of a bigger organisation.

“The Wessex Learning Trust will bring lots of advantages to the school, with staff benefitting from professional development opportunities, sharing positive experiences and joining in new initiatives.We are looking forward to working with our new colleagues in what will be an interesting year.” 

Nailsea School looked at a number of MATs before deciding on the Cheddar based organisation as being the right fit for the school.

The partnership began this January 2021.​

  • Backwell School joined the Lighthouse Schools Partnership Multi-Academy Trust in January 2018. This MAT is made up of 18 primary schools and three secondary schools across North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset. 

Pupils learning online

All primary and secondary schools have closed, after the country moved into a third national lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said schools will need to offer remote learning until at least mid-February and GCSE and A-level exams face cancellation for a second year, according to The Telegraph.
Mr Johnson said the new measures were necessary 'because we have to do everything we possibly can to stop the spread of the disease'.
Only vulnerable children and the children of key workers will be allowed to attend schools for face-to-face learning, and early years settings such as nurseries will remain accessible.
However, Mr Johnson remains 'very cautious' about the timetable, with restrictions being lifted as a 'gradual unravelling'. 
Those entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them during closures, and more devices will be distributed to help remote learning, according to Mr Johnson.
The Government had insisted schools would remain open only a day before the new measures were announced, reassuring parents it was 'safe' to send their children back for the start of term on Jan 4.
But the move prompted backlash from four national teaching unions, who called for the delay seen across London to apply to all schools in England amid concerns the new strain of Covid-19 poses a threat to teachers.
The Department for Education (DfE) said children with at least one parent or carer who was a critical worker could attend class - even if parents were working from home.
It came after concerns were raised about the risks of transmission of Covid-19 amid reports that more than half of pupils were onsite in some primary schools.
A DfE spokesperson said: "Schools are open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. We expect schools to work with families to ensure all critical worker children are given access to a place if this is required.
"If critical workers can work from home and look after their children at the same time then they should do so, but otherwise this provision is in place to enable them to provide vital services.

Every school had been instructed to draw up plans to ensure children continue to receive an education even if they have to stay at home.Mr Johnson said on the announcement of closing schools: "I want to stress that the problem is not that schools are unsafe to children." 

"The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.

"All schools will remain closed until mid-February, with the possibility that these measures could be extended further.

This means most secondary school pupils will stay at home until at least February half term. 

Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, announced on January 6 that GCSE, A-Level and AS exams will not take place this summer. 

TESTING TIMES: Nailsea School staff set-up its 'lateral flow testing facility' for Covid 19. Pupils of key workers in school who have completed consent forms will be the first to be tested. Mass student testing is due to take place when they return after the February half term

Exams will be replaced by teacher assessments, with Mr Williamson saying that the government 'will put our trust in teachers, rather than algorithms'.

The Education Secretary has also stated that the Department for Education and Ofqual had already worked up a range of options.

Details are currently being fine tuned, but it will be a 'form of teacher-assessed grades, with training and support provided to ensure these are awarded fairly and consistently across the country'.

First day of term 2021

Primary schools can open as planned in North Somerset next week, but most secondary school students will see the new term begin later in January.

Following recent government announcements about changes for the start of term, there will be staggered return dates for secondary schools.

Only vulnerable children and those of key workers will be able to return to school from next week on Monday, January 4, which will be onsite, for face-to-face teaching.

Exam year students will also be able to start their new term from home with remote learning from Monday, January 4.

Term will start online for other students the following week, from Monday, January 11.

Exam year students will be able to join vulnerable and key worker children onsite and all other year groups will be online at home.

All secondary school students are currently expected to be able to return to the classroom from Monday, January 18.

Students who attend primary schools, special schools and the Voyage Learning Campus should return to school as planned next week.

For more information see the government guidance by clicking HERE.

The government says the extra week and time learning at home will give schools the opportunity to put in place systems to start offering rapid testing to staff and students.

It confirmed schools' staff will be eligible for weekly rapid tests while students will be able to have two tests three days apart when they return to face-to-face education.

If students are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive they will also be able to access testing every day for seven days to potentially enable them to remain in face-to-face teaching as long as they have negative test results.

North Somerset Council executive member for children's services Catherine Gibbons is the Labour Party councillor for Weston-super-Mare Milton.

She said: "After a very disruptive year for our young people's learning, we hope testing will now enable more students to remain in schools-based lessons.

"A regular testing regime will also provide reassurance to staff and families that infections will be detected swiftly to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

"My plea to government is that our schools are given the necessary resources to enable them to carry out this additional work.

"They've already had a lot to deal with this academic year and we need to

make sure teachers can focus on teaching."

Council leader Don Davies is the independent councillor for Pill.

He said: "Testing in schools may help to reduce the spread of infection in our community.

"The tests being made available are the rapid lateral flow tests which can give results within about half-an-hour.

"They are intended for people who show no signs of the virus and will lessen the risk of transmission caused when the infected person isn't aware they're infectious while carrying the virus.

"With more testing taking place among younger members of our community, and mass vaccination under way beginning with older and more vulnerable residents, it's starting to feel like we might be able to get back to doing more things normally from mid-2021.

"But we still have a long way to go, and for the time being everyone, regardless of age or circumstance, needs to continue to practise the coronavirus golden rules of hands, face, space.

"Please minimise your contact with others to reduce risk of transmission and plan to have a happy and safe New Year celebration at home."

Students returning to school from Monday, January 4, onwards can also be assured that normal home to school transport arrangements will be in place. Although the numbers of students returning on day one to secondary education will be lower, North Somerset Council will ensure that all services are running as normal.


GOOD ELVES: Wow for WOWSA which is The Whiteoak Way Schools Association which acts as the PTA for Hannah More Infant and nextdoor Grove Junior schools at Whiteoak Way, Nailsea. This year has been a challenge for schools to raise monies with no Christmas discos or fundraising quiz nights. The WOWSA committee wracked their brains for a novel approach to raise some much-needs funds while entertaining the children in a Covid-friendly way. The goal is to raise £4,000 cto but tablets for a classroom. So the team dressed as Elves and made an amazing £1,200 in sponsorship. There is still time to donate HERE at its GoFunding page. Organiser Shelley Forbes said: "Thank you so much everyone we made an amazing £1,200 to see Santa’s Elves and thanks to the wonderful team for dressing as Elves to help raise money for the school."

CLASS CHALLENGES: Covid-19 turned 2020 into a torrid time for schools with challenging rules to implement, lockdown, re-opening and bubbles being sent home for their own safety. Children missed classes, classmates, lessons (not necessarily in that order), teachers had to adapt to distance teaching and even more stress and strain. Exams disrupted, proms and sports postponed until goodness knows when but hopefully 2021 will bring a glimmer of good cheer. To download Nailsea School December newsletter with has good wishes sent by parents to staff, pupils and governors on its front pages click HERE

Fairfield gets festive 2020 style

School children at Fairfield School in Backwell have been getting into the festive spirit with a series of Christmas activities.

The festivities were enhanced by a special visit from Father Christmas who arrived at the school on his horse and cart and made a circuit of the car park and school drive so all the children were able to see him.

Organised by teachers at the North Somerset independent school, the visit also saw Santa leave chocolate treats for the pupils.

The annual Christingle Service looked a little different this year due to coronavirus restrictions but Fairfield School head mistress Lesley Barton said: “We pre-recorded our Christingle service in our separate bubbles this year and then put the separate recordings together to make the service.

"We had readings, a song and an explanation of the meaning behind the Christingle by our Year 6 children.

“The children also made Christingles and then watched the service with their lit Christingles in their class bubbles. We missed being all together but we were still able to enjoy the magic of the service!”

The Key Stage 1 Nativity Concert was also adapted this year in keeping with restrictions.

The Nativity was filmed outdoors and the finished recording was then sent out to parents.

Children in Early Years also recorded their Nativity concerts and the final service of term was a pre-recorded Carol Service which told the Christmas story through Bible readings, poems, songs and carols.

Children from all year groups were able to contribute to the recorded service and several delivered beautiful solos or instrumental pieces.

Mrs Barton added: “We were so glad we were able to find a way for parents to watch the lovely Nativity plays, Christingle and the Carol Service remotely.

"Although unable to celebrate together this year, we still shared the magic of Christmas and maintained our sense of community and mutual support.

SCHOOL SANTAS: All the children from Farifiled School from Lambs to Year 6 will be putting on hats and tinsel for a one mile Santa run around the school on Friday, December 11. They are fundraising for Children's Hospice South West. There might even be a few staff making an appearance through the afternoon! Please help us to support our local charity and get us into the Christmas spirit. Click HERE to donate or learn more


Nailsea School PTA is holding a Christmas tree sale on Sunday, December 6, at the Nailsea School car park 

Collection of pre-ordered trees is 10am-noon but it is also open for on the day purchases 12.30–2pm. 

This year for the first time, Nailsea School PTA are selling luxury Nordman Fir Christmas trees.

They are excellent quality and are lower shedding than other varieties.

Trees can be pre-ordered for collection on the day by emailing

Last date for pre-order is Saturday, November 28.

Payment details will be provided on receipt of your email and a confirmation email will be sent once your payment has been received.

All pre-ordered trees will be ready to collect an a first come first served basis within the size bracket you have purchased.

(Limited availability for local delivery for those who need at an additional £2 per tree)

School Christmas cards

Nailsea School PTA organised a Christmas card design competition and the entries by the talented winners are here.

Well done Izzy M (Yr7), Rujula S (Yr8), Cherry B (Yr9), Molly P (Yr10) and Thomas H (Yr11).

The five winning designs have now been made into card and are on sale now.

There are five cards, one of each design per pack and cost £2.50.

Email your minimum order of two packs to for payment and delivery details.


Nailsea School Question Time Extra Time student

A Nailsea School politics student was part of the panel for BBC Radio 5 Live Question Time Extra Time this month.

Erin, a Year 12 A-level student was invited to be interviewed by BBC presenter Adrian Chiles, as part of his late night broadcast on Thursday, November 5. 

The show has a panel of guests who discuss questions and responses from the televised Question Time with presenter Fiona Bruce.  

A variety of hot political topics including the US presidential election and the new lockdown rules in England and across the UK were discussed.

Erin as ‘student of the week’ went on air before Question Time Extra Time started and talked about her studies and aspirations for the future.

As a panel member Erin continued the discussions from the TV programme live as part of the broadcast.

You can listen to a recording at BBC Sounds HERE.

At one point her interview was interrupted by an update from the President of the United States!

Erin is studying three A-levels, politics, English language and film studies.  

Head of Politics Ian Jones said: “We were very excited and honoured to be asked by the BBC to nominate one of our students to take part in the show.

“Erin demonstrated her ability to think deeply about very complex political issues in her intelligent, thoughtful and well-argued responses.  

“We, as a school community are very proud of the mature and intelligent contribution she made.

“ We wouldn’t be surprised if a glittering political career awaits her.

“Both head of sixth form Jon Reddiford and I, are sure this experience will help Erin develop her already excellent understanding of the political process.” 

Erin was on a panel that included special guests Polly Mackenzie, former CEO of the cross-party think tank Demos, comedian Konstantin Kisin and another member of the public. 

Following the success of this broadcast the BBC has invited other Nailsea School politics students to take part in future shows. 

If you’d like to learn more about studying A-level politics or any of the other courses on offer at Nailsea Sixth Form visit its website for further details, or email Mr Reddiford on

SLIDESHOW STARS While we wait for the amended A-level results here are some lovely GSCE exam photos from Nailsea School 

Nailsea School GCSEs 2020

Students at Nailsea School arrived this morning at the Mizzymead Road site to collect their long awaited GCSE, vocational and technical qualifications.

For many of the  students whose exams were cancelled it was the first time they had been on the Nailsea School site for five months.

The journey to this point has not been an easy one, with highly publicised changes in government policy and a further change  made at the last minute with an announcement from an exam board who will now be holding back results for further moderation.

Head teacher Dee Elliott said: “The last week or so has been incredibly challenging for all students collecting results this summer.

"However, it is not the day for me to become involved in political statements - today is about our students, who we have all missed greatly and of whom I’m immensely proud.

"I was genuinely excited to see them collecting their GCSE and vocational results- the culmination of their hard work and resilience over a number of years.

"Students have been successful in gaining places on a range of apprenticeships, college courses and we are thrilled to be welcoming back the largest number of applicants to Nailsea Sixth Form that we have seen in recent years.

"It will be an absolute pleasure to see these students returning next month to begin their Level 3 courses.

"I wish those that are going on to new adventures all the best of luck and ask them to keep in touch.

"This year group certainly has a special place in our hearts and we will miss them.”

Nailsea School A-levels 2020

Year 13s collected their much anticipated results today, Thursday, August 13, from Nailsea School, in what has been an unprecedented year. A one way system was set up within the school in line with social distance protocols. Separate areas were set up for careers advice with another for pastoral and emotional support, helping students get any additional information that they might need. 

Many students were very pleased with their results and the school saw an overall increase in headline figures from 2019. With a three per cent increase in A*-A, five per cent increase in A*-B and a two per cent  increase in A*- C results.  

Inevitably some students were disappointed, and with the pandemic stealing their opportunity to shine in the exam hall, they have been left feeling deflated. Considering the news reports during the past few days that created uncertainty and confusion, Nailsea staff were as ever determined to work with students to help them all manage the various next step opportunities. 

 Head teacher Dee Elliot said:  “This group of students have all done something amazing and something no other young person has been asked to do – complete their schooling against a backdrop of a pandemic.

“I am immensely proud and humbled by the way students, staff and families have responded to this situation. 

“I am thrilled for those students and staff that got the results that they hoped for, but beyond those pieces of paper, our students have all shown immense character and resilience during this entire process and I am exceptionally proud of Team Nailsea.

“ My colleagues and I will continue to be here for all students to make sure they find the success that they deserve and the destination they aspire to.” 

 Sixth Form head teacher Jon Reddiford said: “On this more difficult than usual results day, we are delighted that so many students got the grades to take the next steps.

“We will work with others on helping them achieve their potential.” 

 Many students have achieved places at their desired university, college, apprenticeship and workplace, with one student gaining a place to Oxford. 

Post 16 A-level Summer 2020
A* 7 per cent
A*-A 28 (25) per cent
A*-B 59 (54) per cent
A*-C 84 (82) per cent
Percentages in brackets are the 2019 results. This year also  recorded 99 per cent pass rate

Backwell School GCSEs 2020

In some way the GCSE results day on Thursday, August 20, at Backwell was unlike any other.

Many students chose to receive their results at home via email; while those came to school to receive their results did so against a backdrop of anxiety created by a week’s news full of confusion and change to examination results.

However, the essence of results day was unchanged.

The two priorities of staff were as they are every year: to support students on to the next stage of their education or training, and to celebrate the hard work and achievement of our Year 11 students. It was extremely rewarding to see that the vast majority of Backwell students had secured a place at the institution and course of their choice.

It was also a relief to hear that our students, while appropriately cynical about the way the exams process had been managed nationally, were very happy with their results – and felt that the grades they received did reflect their effort and accomplishment.

Headteacher Jon Nunes said “I am incredibly proud of what our Year 11 students have achieved and of the way they have handled the additional challenges that the past five months have given them. “We are thrilled that a record number of these students have applied to stay at Backwell for sixth form study and look forward to welcoming them back.

“Today also marks the end of a very long process for our staff as well.

“ I would like to thank all my colleagues for their dedication over this period of time, especially our exams team for their resilience and hard work during the past few weeks.”

Backwell School A-levels 2020

Year 13 students at Backwell have been receiving their A-level and vocational subject results this morning, Thursday, August 13, in very different circumstances to usual following the cancellation of the summer examination series.

Even now, there is still some uncertainty as we await details from government on the latest announcement to allow students to use their mock/trial exam results in place of a lower final grade.

Grades have been awarded based on the recommendation of schools and partly on the Exam Boards’ own statistical processes to try to ensure fairness and consistency between schools and between this year’s cohort and other year groups.

Overall, at A-level 23 per cent of grades have been awarded at A*-A grade, 49 per cent at A*-B grade and 76 per cent at A*-C grade. 31 per cent of grades were amended by the exam boards: significantly fewer changes than the reported national figure of 40 per cent.

The final results are comparable with the last few years’ results in terms of attainment and higher than last year’s results.

Headteacher Jon Nunes said: “I am very proud of all of our students who have studied incredibly hard – they have not only achieved academic success, but also grown into well rounded, thoughtful and good humoured young people.

“These results contain many stories of individual students succeeding against adversity and they should all be very proud of what they have achieved - the unique circumstances this year should take nothing away from the enormous commitment they have made to their studies in the last two years.

“We wish them all the very best for the future.

“Once the government decided to cancel exams there was never going to be a perfect way of ensuring that all young people gain the grades that they deserve.

“What matters most is that we now support our students on to their next steps so that no individual student’s pathway is affected by circumstances entirely out of their control.”

“We already have more than 100 students with a confirmed place in further education.”

Post 16 A-level Summer 2020
A* 7 per cent
A*-A 23 per cent
A*-B 49 per cent
A*-C 76 per cent
With a 98 per cent pass rate

This includes the following notable achievements:

  • Five students going to Oxford. Subjects include French, history & economics and music

  • One student going to Cambridge to read music

  • Two students read medicine

  • One student training to become a Norland Nanny

Sixth Form head teacher Rose Haywood said: “The sixth form team is delighted to celebrate the achievements of our students.

“As we do every year, we will work with each of them to ensure that they achieve their desired next steps, be that university, an apprenticeship, other training or employment.

“We will do all that we can to advocate on their behalf, particularly in light of the unique situation they find themselves in.

“Support and guidance for future plans will be available on an ongoing basis, including next year and beyond.”The statistics in this document are subject to change as the appeals/review process becomes clearer in the coming weeks.

The Ofsted inspector calls 2)

Two days before Ofsted inspections were suspended because of the pandemic a team of four led by education specialist Deirdre Fitzpatrick arrived at Nailsea School and stayed for 48 hours.

During their brief window of observation, they concluded the nearly 1,000 pupils aged 11-18 were well-behaved and there are few incidents of bullying.

Pupils are proud of their school which is ‘both calm and productive’, the inspectors reported.

However, is was the planning of lessons which was criticised for not pushing young people to retain what they had been taught.

More support is needed for curriculum leaders, said the inspectors.

Science teachers do not always think long-term or have high enough expectations of pupils whereas in physical education these goals are met.

The sixth form does come in for some praise as ‘teachers provide challenging tasks with opportunities for discussion and debate’.

Sadly, some disadvantages pupils are falling behind, it said, noting the number attending Nailsea School is below the national average.

There are more children with SEND (special educational needs and disability) than in many secondary schools, the inspectors found.

With ‘requires improvement’ being the new ‘satisfactory’ the result is confusing for parents and pupils.


Here are the gradings given:

  • Overall effectiveness: Requires improvement

  • The quality of education: Requires improvement

  • Behaviour and attitudes: Good

  • Personal development: Good

  • Leadership and management: Requires improvement

  • Sixth-form provision: Good

So all-in-all the same overall in February 2019.

Simultaneously as the Ofsted report was published on Tuesday, July 7, head teacher Dee Elliot sent a letter out to all parents.

She said: “Understandably, I am incredibly disappointed with the report.

“I believe that some of the wording in the report does not accurately reflect the school that I know and care passionately about.

” I am delighted that Ofsted recognises the many good aspects of our school.

“These conclusions were reached through the things the inspectors saw for themselves and in the comments made by students and parents in various surveys and meetings.

“Pupils are proud of their school…they enjoy their lessons and find staff approachable.

“Leaders have ensured that a well thought out personal, social and health education programme is supporting pupils to become good citizens.

“New curriculum measures were introduced in September 2019 and I believe that with time to embed these changes, the curriculum and its delivery and monitoring will improve.

“Personally, I have found it difficult to accept this judgment when our students do well in their exams, achieving above local and national averages, and we have such a strong school community.

“Most importantly, students are happy and feel safe here at Nailsea.

“I will not compromise my core belief that happiness and safety is the foundation for successful learning and personal development for young people.

“Nailsea’s ethos has, and always will be, ‘students first’.

“This will not change, but please be assured we will be relentlessly focusing on the identified areas of improvement to further enhance our provision for our students, your children.

“Our aim is to create caring, thoughtful and passionate young people who are proud of themselves and the communities they live in.”

To read the Ofsted report in full click HERE.

To read the head teacher's letter in full go to

'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 1)

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. 

School is back 8.50am Monday

After an extended summer holiday It is back to school on Monday for pupils at Golden Valley Primary School, Nailsea.
Head teacher Kevin Lynch was always confident the Nailsea Park school would be ready to reopen on Monday, September 8.
He said: "Absolutely. Contrary to rumours, staff have been working in school this week like trojans and school will be ready for Monday.
"We knew that the planned building work for the summer would be substantial, little did we know the full extent of the work that would be done. 
"The original scope to ensure that the school would be compliant in terms of fire breaks and asbestos quickly escalated to new ceilings, new lighting, new fire alarm system, new CCTV and a complete re-decoration of the original building. 
"This was a mammoth undertaking in the time available and the contractors were amazing."
And he told parents: "Your child's school is now ready to receive its pupils on Monday morning at 8.50am.
"The GV staff have been wonderful. 
"They have worked so hard to unpack the 300 crates of resources, move furniture from storage and ensure that school is ready to be opened. Everybody has worked above and beyond this week - a real team approach with no negativity and just the drive to get things ship shape."
Mr Lynch took the photos and added: " You will see from the photographs below just how lovely the school is looking.
"There are a few things still to happen such as installing new blinds, but other than that, GV school will welcome you all on Monday.
"Thank you for your patience and understanding; we appreciate the extra arrangements you had to make with the delay in opening. 
"We look forward to seeing you on the playground on Monday morning."