The Ecclesbourne School Newsletter, Christmas 2012




Message from the Head Teacher


Even by Ecclesbourne standards, this has been an eventful and exciting term. As we look ahead to the Christmas Holiday this year it is with a well merited sense that a great deal has been achieved. As I write, the final pieces of the steel framework for our Sports Centre are being hoisted into place. Like a giant Meccano set – the entire structure has gone up in little more than a week.

The new building will make a huge difference to our provision and it is the culmination of years of hard work, fundraising and careful management of our finances.It was with great pleasure, therefore, that I welcomed back Mrs Underhill to help me dig the first spadeful of earth earlier this term. As an ex-PE teacher the project is particularly close to her heart and I have promised to invite her back to help us open the centre in the summer.


It seems a long time since term began with a celebration of the achievements of our students in our Annual Prize Giving Speech Day. The range and scope of our students’ talent and ability is breath taking and we all drew inspiration from the wonderful Olympic and Paralympic summer around which the Prize Day was themed. It was an honour to be able to invite one of our very first students, Nigel Hitchin, to deliver the key note address to the Sixth Form. Nigel is Savilian Professor of Geometry at New College Oxford and was among the very first Year 7 who  joined a brand new Ecclesbourne School in 1957. He remembered walking over the grass under the trees to school, beech nuts crunching underfoot, in that first autumn. There were only 7 teachers and 60 or so students and he was taught Mathematics by a PE teacher. Clearly it did him no harm. Something I didn’t know was that , in addition to the two classes of Year 7s, there was also a small group of Year 9s who began at the same time in order that there would be prefects, or as Nigel put it, an ‘officer class’! It was fitting to have  such a distinguished academic speak to our Sixth Form in this record breaking year of A Level achievement. Almost half of all grades achieved in the summer were at A or A* and we were informed by the Department for Education that Ecclesbourne is among the top ten non-selective state schools in the country for successful Russell Group university applications.

I think that Nigel was gratified that, in our very modern 21st Century school, he was able to discern still the same fundamental beliefs and values that have always made this a special place in which to learn. Not least our determination to nurture  and develop the whole child and to foster well founded self-confidence. We believe that through the widest possible range of educational opportunities both in and out of the classroom we are able to provide our young people with a uniquely rich and rewarding curriculum. What follows is an attempt to provide a flavour of that experience. I do hope that you enjoy reading about the tip of the iceberg represented below.
Finally, it remains for me to wish you all a relaxing and restorative Christmas and a very happy New Year. I look forward to seeing you all in January – re-charged and ready for another exciting year at Ecclesbourne.
Merry Christmas,
James McNamara



Work in progress....




Mr McNamara Headteacher; Mrs Underhill, former Head and Mr Lindop Chair of Governors are pictured at the ground breaking ceremony on 16th November 2012.

The completed project being built by Bowmer &Kirkland Building Services Limited is expected to be completed in July and fully operational to welcome students and the local community in September




Coming soon.....




The Ecclesbourne School Sixth Form
Challenging all learners to achieve their best


Co-Heads 2012 to 2013
Joshua Payne, Megan Daniels, Lucy Stephenson, Robbie Anderson, Alex Barbour

Ecclesbourne’s excellent academic record may be the first thing to draw students to consider applying, but there is so much more to the school than that.

As an external applicant I was astonished at how welcoming and supportive my fellow students were, right from my first day.  Our Sixth Form centre is purpose built and is a really great space for both studying and socialising, it even has its own deli bar.

The combination of facilities, staff and students create a positive working environment that allows each and every one of us to achieve to our highest potential.
The Sixth Form office works alongside tutors in supporting students all the way through the process of application for further education or seeking employment opportunities, and I have personally found this extremely helpful. 

Music, drama, sport and debating plays a strong part in Sixth Form life and there are opportunities to play in the orchestra and various bands, perform in musical theatre or to join choral groups including a barber shop choir!

The vast number of extracurricular activities and the established house system help to create a really tight school community that I am very proud to be a part of.

Lucy Stephenson, Co-Head
Year 13

Our students achieved a 99% pass rate at A2 in 2012

(87% A*-C, 69% A*-B, 43% A*-A,  18% A*) 

Our average pass rate, at A2 level, from 2006 to 2012 is 99.1%


Applications to join our Sixth Form, from September 2013,
should be made by Wednesday 9th January 2013.




Children in Need 2012
1960's Rock and Roll Theme




A group of sixth formers decided that they would participate as some of the cast from “South Pacific".  Seen here are Jamie Barlow, Daniel Priestley-Lowe and Jake Reeves who were persuaded to give a dance performance in front of a visiting guest


Staff and students alike worked hard to raise cash. Cake stalls, sponsored silence, and three legged lessons were just a few of the events that jointly raised a fantastic £2,346 on the day.

Our theme of raising money to support children extended to the students' wish to make Christmas special for children everywhere,  so we donated 145 shoe boxes to the Shoebox appeal and would like to thank the local Rotary club for collecting our donation to this year’s appeal. Well done to all those involved for their generosity.



Memorial Sampler


Two former teachers, Claire Bradbury and Anthea Halls, who have both passed away since spending many years working with our Enhanced Learning children, have been memorialised with a beautiful embroidered sampler.

Pictured below are the students and staff who produced the sampler together with Mr McNamara.






Joining thousands of gentlemen around the country, five Ecclesbourne staff decided to grow a moustache throughout the month of November for the charity 'on everyone's lips', simply known as 'Movember'. 
Since 2004, the Movember Foundation has helped to increase awareness of prostate cancer and other male cancers and associated charities.  Last year, the charity raised nearly £80m. pounds worldwide and this impressive total was expected to be surpassed worldwide in 2012. 
Ecclesbourne staff Mr Carnwell, Mr Hobby, Mr Ingram, Mr Mason, Mr Sellers and Mr Stapley decided to 'grow a mo' for November with the aim of raising around £500 for the charity.  Mr Mason said, 'The purpose of Movember was to get people talking about serious health topics but do it in a light-hearted manner.  In that way, difficult issues around men's health issues might be discussed more openly.'  As you can see from the before-and-after photos, the 'TEAM ECCLESBOURNE' staff did their best to raise the profile of the charity with their rather fetching moustaches!
Mr Mason has set up a homepage on the Movember website which can be found by typing in keywords: 'TEAM ECCLESBOURNE'.  They are well on their way to achieving their total but if anyone still wants to donate to the team, it is not too late!  If you click the 'gift-aid box'  when making your donation to this worthy cause, 25p in every pound can be reclaimed by Movember Europe, which will help to raise even more money for Prostate Cancer UK.
The Movember link is included below:

Please click here to sponsor them. 



and after .... Mr Hobby, Mr Mason, Mr Sellers and Mr Stapley





Students are shown performing their first devised piece of drama, based on the Tottenham Riots.






Staff in the Spotlight AND Ecclesbourne Alumni



David Partridge


Having been a student at Ecclesbourne from 1990-1997 it was slightly strange returning last year as a member of the teaching staff.  Although new buildings have appeared, Ecclesbourne life in general seems to have remained the same.   One of the most significant changes from my point of view has been the development of the Drama department which had only been introduced to the school during the final two years of my Ecclesbourne education.  I therefore completed my GCSE and A-Level Theatre Studies externally.

I knew that I wanted to study Practical Drama at University but had no real understanding of how to become an actor and no contact with the profession.  I feel fortunate to have embarked on a fantastic Devised Performance Degree at Bretton Hall College of Arts and education.  The collaborative nature of the course meant that I spent three years working with choreographers, musicians and designers exploring and producing original theatre work.  Sadly the college was taken over by the University of Leeds and subsequently closed.

On completing my degree I signed with a theatre agent and spent two years working as an actor and drama practitioner in a range of settings from prisons and probation centres to museums and conventional theatres.

My interest in singing and voice studies continued to grow and in 2003 I attended the Royal Academy of Music to complete a post graduate study in Musical Theatre. I was incredibly lucky on leaving  the Academy to work as a vocalist on Elton John’s 2004 UK Tour.   In 2006 I joined the West End company of the 'Phantom of the Opera', where I stayed for 12 months before going on to appear in the national tour of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat' and eventually the 25th Anniversary production of 'Les Miserables', which culminated in a six week run at the Chatalet Theatre in Paris and two concert performances at the O2 Arena in London.  In between the lovely jobs however were low points - one of these involved being paid to dress as a giant blue mouse and handing out flyers at an exhibition in Earls Court. 

During the ten years as a singer/actor I was offered a range of work including pantomimes, new writing, Shakespeare tours and television.  I worked for three Theatre in Education companies that produced dynamic, challenging and diverse work for young people.  Sadly, due to funding cuts, all three of these companies have now closed.  I believe that the Arts are incredibly valuable within schools and that everyone should be able to access them in all their different forms on a day to day basis throughout their school life.



National Short Story Week


To celebrate National Short Story Week the Library ran a competition for students and staff to write a story in six words.

Year 7 – Alex Ray 7C
The greatest story is life itself.
Year 8 – Orlaigh Paton 8E
Three wishes turned into one disaster.
Year 9 – Debbie Macnab 9N
The year inside conquered my soul.
Year 12 - Tom Fish 12E
ADHD. Searched for cure. Got bored.
Staff – Nic Holberton
The Human race. I entered. Lost.

Also on the reading front, the Librarian at Eckington School has posted a Christmas Reading List showing television programmes which are based on books.

Please click here to access the reading list

Some of the winners are pictured below.




Silver Duke of Edinburgh's Award


This September, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award students from year 13 undertook their assessed expedition. There were 28 students from Ecclesbourne as well as 2 students from Lady Manners School in Bakewell who walked over 40 miles during their 3 day expedition. They started near Chapel-en-le-Frith and then walked over Mam Tor, along the edges including Stanedge and Baslow and then completed their expedition near Youlgreave. Several students have now fully completed their Silver Award with many more to follow.

The assessors were very complimentary about the ability and maturity of our students and we are now introducing the Gold award starting in year 12. This will involve expeditions lasting 4 days and will be in the Dark Peak for the practice and then the Yorkshire Dales for the assessment. We have over 20 students now enrolled who are currently working towards completing their skill, volunteering and physical sections of the award. This will be the first time we have offered this level of the award at the school and we hope that many students will go on to fully complete this in the future because the qualities required to attain it are so worthwhile and rewarding.







This year’s Ecclesbourne House Play Competition again showed off the exceptional talent that many of our students possess. The house captains planned, wrote and produced each of the plays and then organised rehearsals each week throughout the autumn term.  All scenery, props, choreography, multimedia and lighting was planned and created by the students, culminating in a week of shows in which all students had the opportunity to view them. The final show allowed parents and carers to see the plays, which were then judged by Mr and Mrs Dawson whose children went to this school over 25 years ago.

They are a fantastic opportunity for students from all years to take part and learn new skills together and are something which we are incredibly proud of as a school. The hard work and effort that students make is quite breath-taking and the high quality of each production reflected this.

Thank you to the Heads of House for supporting and guiding the students during the process.



Congratulations go to Brindley who won both the Dance Trophy and the Drama Bowl this year.





Sarah Pashley (Year 13)
writes about her hobby:



Climbing is an amazing sport.  Throughout my nine years as a climber  I have met some really interesting people from around the world and have been to many countries to pursue my passion: Croatia, Italy and Slovenia are just a few which I have visited. I am often asked: is it important how fast you climb? Climbing IS NOT about how fast you climb.  It is based on technique, strength and endurance as well as how high you get. But how can you make a climb more challenging?  Steepen the angle, make the holds a lot smaller and further apart therefore the moves become more physically challenging, causing people to fall (onto a rope) unless you are strong enough. This is what makes climbing so appealing to me as you can be faced with interesting moves which are different each time.  You then have the challenge of working them out, which is really satisfying.

At eight years old my dad took me climbing for the first ever time to the Foundry climbing centre in Sheffield.  I was quite inexperienced but enjoyed it all the same. We started going every Sunday morning to various walls where I managed to grasp a lot of the basic skills and build my strength.  When I was ten I entered my first competition, the British regional youth climbing series (BRYCS). The quality of the other climbers made me realise I needed to train harder to get decent results. After undertaking proper training I made it to the national final in 2008 where even though I was drastically smaller and one of the youngest in my category I placed 12th overall which inspired me to become even more dedicated to climbing at my parents' expense!  Something must have worked as I won the Youth Open 2010 (a national competition) and I was invited to join the British team and climb in the World Youth Climbing Championships!  Slightly scared when I got there as I was climbing first at my first ever international competition, I managed to get over my nervesand was placed 39th in the world at my age.  It was a great experience for me as I was able to compete against world class climbers from many countries all in one place.

Now I am training five times a week and competing all over the world including my last international in Kranj, Slovenia – a very beautiful country but still has a somewhat Soviet feel about it. I placed 23rd at the European Youth Cup there. This year was all about experience I’m psyched to crush the Europeans in the next series! I am also Welsh Junior climbing champion, and recently came first in a national competition at Liverpool. I am now starting to enter senior competitions and was placed 5th in Britain in the summer.  I could not have got to where I am today without the support of my family and friends who have put up with me through all of my training and travelling around everywhere for competitions.

I have a website where you can read all about my recent climbing trips at
Sarah Pashley – Sponsored by Boreal  
Photographs by  Alex Messenger and Luke Tilley




Sports Hall:  First site visit by students. 



Students have been able to enjoy an enriching learning experience outside the classroom by visiting the school’s new sports hall at the steel frame stage. After a careful Health and Safety induction by Mr Clay the B&K site manager, students were given an opportunity to enter the steel structure while he explained the various work being undertaken. Mr Clay enthused the group by explaining how each stage had to be carefully coordinated to ensure the project was completed on time. Further visits are planned to give students interested in construction work the opportunity to see each stage of construction. 



Drama Trip to see “Beautiful Burnout” by Frantic Assembly



On 11th October 2012, I travelled down to the Warwick University Arts Centre with many other eager drama students to watch the much talked about “Beautiful Burnout” by Frantic Assembly. We all knew that we wouldn’t be just going to see any old play but a highly esteemed team of actors performing what was sure to be a gripping piece of drama that had already received five stars in the national press.

The first thing I noticed on entering the auditorium was the raised stage in the form of a boxing ring. There was also loud, pounding music that felt like it shook the whole building. The play turned out to be about a boxer, unsurprisingly, and told the story of his life and ambitions. The play was thoroughly enjoyable and everyone was left in awe. The gripping plot coupled with superb physical theatre left us all wanting to do something as powerful as that.

Afterwards, we all had an opportunity to meet the cast and ask questions. This was very interesting, especially for the aspiring actors in the group. We learnt about the intense training involved in preparation for the performance. As ever, it was a great evening out.

by Louis Greatorex



Oh Sandy, you came and you ... nearly ruined our trip to
New York



What had originally been planned as a 7 day trip to see the city that never sleeps, which incidentally was hard enough to coordinate as it was, became a trip affectionately named “the tour that never stopped touring tour” lasting, for some 9 days and some 11. It is safe to say that the staff and students who had hoped for a slightly relaxed holiday were in for a big surprise!

The day finally arrived when forty students and seven staff had to awake sinfully early to board a coach taking them to their flight at Heathrow. Six hours in the air later, we touched down amid cheers and applause at J.F.K. airport for our first afternoon in New York and once we had dropped our luggage at our rooms, we ventured out for the first time to acclimatise to our new, vast and eye wateringly tall surroundings.

There’s no sight quite like Times Square illuminated at night, and this legendary scene was gifted to us on our first night, setting the tone for the amazing adventure we embarked upon over the coming days. Ground Zero, the Museum of Modern Art, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, St Patrick’s Cathedral and Central Park are just some of the famous sites we were fortunate enough to experience first-hand, and not even the four hour walking tour could put us off this incredible city. Surprisingly, we even braved using the subway, another iconic part of New York, and while this was, for the staff, probably the most stressful mode of transport possible for shepherding forty excitable students very quickly into very small carriages, it was nevertheless tremendous fun and provided us with yet another facet to the totally different culture in America.

Yes, everything was going brilliantly for the first three days, and until Monday we had ignored the occasional references on the news to a supposed storm approaching from the Atlantic Ocean named ‘Sandy’. Sunday afternoon morning came, however, and we were no longer able to avoid the signs - subways closing, shops being boarded, sandbags being strewn throughout the streets. The, by then, Hurricane Sandy was due to hit at 11.30pm on Sunday and so on the afternoon, we found a small supermarket where we were supposed to stock up on food and water in case we were confined to our hotel for a while, but ended up buying enough coke, sweets and biscuits to feed a Roman army instead. Somehow the staff were able to oversee forty students passing the rest of the day chatting, playing Pictionary, and in one room, doing Zumba with strobe lights, keeping us safe as the wind and rain howled outside. One student on the trip, Sophie Currier described the evening as “a bizarre mix of fun and fear. Having never been in a hurricane before, I didn’t really know what to expect so I was quite scared when I heard the winds start to blow.”

Watching the news and seeing the devastating effect Sandy had on the coasts was rather disconcerting, but what was even more frightening was seeing the reports of Wall Street and Ground Zero flooding, which were much closer to our hotel. Luckily, we survived unscathed. Our hotel didn’t lose power and wasn’t flooded, being protected by many other skyscrapers, but other areas were not so fortunate. There were many pictures of a skyscraper closer to Central Park with a crane on top, but the crane arm had snapped and was swinging like a pendulum in the winds. Many houses suffered damage as a result of felled trees and before too long, subways and tunnels joining Long Island to the rest of New York became flooded and caved in.

Morning came and now so many responsibilities fell on the shoulders of the staff all at once. Where could we eat for breakfast? How would we spend the next two days? Will our flight be affected? Thankfully, Mr James used his brilliant organisational skills to find somewhere we could eat, and then we set out to inspect the damage and see what, if anything, was open. Naturally, very little was, meaning our plans to visit the Empire State Building, a Jewish Synagogue and see a Broadway show were, at that point, cancelled.

In some ways, it was actually a blessing that our flight was cancelled, because if we had flown home on the Wednesday as planned, we would have missed out on so much of New York. Having the extra time meant that with some ruthless negotiation, Mr James was able to organise a trip up the Empire State Building on Thursday and was able to reschedule the Broadway show for some later in the week. Amusingly, if you were to ask any one of the students what the worst bit of Hurricane Sandy was, it would not be the destruction, nor the delay. It would be the fact that one night we had to move from our normal hotel into a different one, as our booking had ended. Unfortunately, this hotel was widely considered to be, to put it politely, rather awful indeed. The visit from Mrs Swan asking if our hotel room was acceptable on account of “some rooms reporting mould growths” really filled us with confidence, especially after having to drag our suitcases for what felt like half the marathon course in order to get there. Thankfully, this was only for one night, and for the remainder of the trip, we were re-ensconced in our trusty Hotel Bedford.

Once this debacle was solved, another one presented itself. Our flight turned out to be cancelled, and British Airways had given us a latest date they could get us home - November 8th. This was such a disaster, because many Year 11 students had exams before that date, and two Year 13s had Oxford entry exams the day before. Immediately, the staff went to battle stations to try and get us home earlier, and a team of staff back at Ecclesbourne also acted swiftly to help the endeavour. It was truly an amazing effort by everyone involved which resulted in a flight for the most urgent students being booked for the Friday night and a flight for the rest of the party on Sunday night. Needless to say, an incredibly relieved group of students touched down in the early morning of Saturday at Heathrow safely, all ready to come home.

Never in Ecclesbourne’s history has a trip gone so far, with so many students, and encountered such a difficult situation, but as a student on the trip, I can confidently say that all the staff involved were the epitome of professionalism, organisation and reassurance and succeeded in giving us all a trip we will never, ever forget! It is with the utmost sincerity that all the students on the trip and I thank everyone who had input in making this trip so unbelievable, including Mrs Owen-Moore who sadly was unable to join us, but also had a huge hand in getting us home safely.
by Jack Wardlaw




My Favourite Christmas Recipe Competition




Contestants were asked to cook their favourite Christmas recipe within an hour.  

Mia Richards, 8S won the Years 7 and 8 category with her Christmas Cupcakes; Ollie King, 9N won the Years 9 and 10 category with his Cranberry Bread and Butter Pudding and Lauren Davidson, 9E was the overall winner with her Chicken Pies.



Well done to all the students who took part and many thanks to Mr Martland for judging.

Mrs Bradley



The Swedish/UK Exchange programme




The Ecclesbourne School is proud of its long standing commitment to international awareness. 

This year a new link has been formed with the ProCivitas Gymnasium, a Swedish Sixth Form School in Helsingborg. A group of 20 Swedish students and their teacher (pictured above) arrived in December for a week’s visit.

In addition to visiting places of interest, sampling English classes and enjoying watching the House Plays, they also visited lower school classes to explain to students about school life in Sweden. Schools in Sweden start at 7.45am!

The exchange visit was a great success thanks not least to the wonderful hospitality shown by the host families and plans are now well advanced to undertake a return visit to Sweden in April 2013.



Blencathra - Lake District National Park


To gain experience of data collection and fieldwork skills and to give students the opportunity to witness a former glaciated landscape, thirty two Year 12 Geographers spent three days at the Blencathra Field Centre in the Lake District National Park in October.

The students learned a lot and experienced one of the most beautiful parts of our country.

To read more about the Blencathra Field Studies Centre please click here





Brussels 2012


November saw a Monday departure for the Brussels trip this year and a late arrival in Calais Hostel before the drive to Brussels and the European Commission.  A hectic week followed with visits to The Bank of Belgium, Duval chocolate producers, Stella factory, the Port of Antwerp, Coca Cola and Audi factory.

The highlight of the week was a visit to Roger Helmer MEP at the European
Parliament on the day Angela Merkel was visiting, which resulted in several of our students appearing in a short interview on local television later in the evening. Students enjoyed the evening atmosphere in Brussels and Antwerp, as as well as experiening local cuisine (not to mention the local traffic jams).




A reminder of how this very busy term began....  Students and staff lined the Wirksworth Road as the Tour of Britain Cycle Race passed through.....





The position involves the supervision of students in the classroom who have   lessons pre-set by a member of teaching staff. 
The successful candidates will be able to follow and apply all school policies and have a good rapport with young people.  This is an exciting opportunity for     anyone seeking to work during school hours or a graduate considering entering the teaching profession. Full training and support will be offered.
Applications should take the form of a completed application form and letter (no more than one A4 typed side) which outlines what particular skills you could bring to this post.
Our school is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of students and all appointments are subject to an enhanced Criminal Record Bureau check and a satisfactory result being received. 
Start date as soon as possible. No guaranteed hours of work.  

For further details please click here or contact

Tina Spencer-Keyse, Human Resources Manager and PA to the Head Teacher
Tel 01332 843257


The following vacancies will be advertised early in 2013.  Please keep checking the School website for full details:

Teacher of Religious Studies (full-time)
Assistant Science Technician (part-time)



Did you miss something?







Don’t miss anything in future!



And finally a taste of a day at The Ecclesbourne School....















With very best wishes for a
Happy Christmas
and a Peaceful New Year
from all at and associated with
The Ecclesbourne School

Copyright © 2012 The Ecclesbourne School, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this as a friend of The Ecclesbourne School.

Our mailing address is:

The Ecclesbourne School

Wirksworth Road

Duffield, Derbyshire DE56 4GS

United Kingdom