Details have emerged of Education Minister Nicky Morgan’s recent visit to Horncastle’s two senior schools.
Ms Morgan has praised the pioneering partnership between Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School and Banovallum School as ‘outstanding.’
The visit followed an invitation from the town’s MP Victoria Atkins.
On arrival at QEGS the visiting party were welcomed by Heather Payne (Headteacher), Nicki Shore (Headteacher of Banovallum), David
Bennett (Chair of Governors), Kay Wingate (Governor), Lucy Thompson (Head Girl) and Matthew Geldard (Head Boy).
The Head Girl and Head Boy led a short tour visiting a Year 10 Maths lesson taught by Helen Lascelles (Head of Maths) and then moving onto the Arts Block and a Year 7 Music lesson taught by Veronica Addis (Head of Arts Faculty).
Ms Morgan made a point of talking to students at every opportunity.
She went on to visit an Upper Sixth Economics/Business Studies lesson with Mark Cherry (Subject Leader) and Ged Forster (Head of Sixth Form and a governor at Banovallum School).
On route, Ms Morgan admired the artwork around the school as well as complimenting Katrine Burford-Bradshaw on the photographs she had taken as part of a visit to South Africa through Operation Wallacea.
Katrine was the school’s official photographer for Ms Morgan’s visit.
The Secretary of State then met with the Student Councils from both schools for a question and answer session.
She told students that every child should have the opportunity to go to an excellent school, like the ones they attended.
Students asked her and Victoria Atkins a range of questions from what it is like to work with David Cameron to their views on the EU Referendum and the new GCSEs.
The Secretary of State then departed to continue her visit at Banovallum School.
She was greeted by Ella Barr (Head Girl) and Jake Tittershill (Senior Prefect).
Banovallum’s official photographer, the award winning Arnie Harris was delighted to present both Ms Morgan and Ms Atkins with a canvas print of one of his original works.
Also present at Banovallum were Mrs Ireland (Chair of Governors), Mandy Fitzaden-Grey (Vice Chair) and Heather Sandy (Assistant director for Children’s services at Lincolnshire County Council).
Ms Shore was keen to point out that both schools continue to work closely - particularly on elements of pedagogy - with the local authority, despite having chosen to become academies.
The Secretary of State toured Banovallum, led by the students and visited Technology where Izzy Rylance in Year 7 explained her design project and the Year 11 Photography lesson where the students were putting the final touches to GCSE portfolios.
The final part of the tour took the guests to Year 10 English where both the Secretary of State and Ms Atkins discussed literature with the students.
Once the students had left, staff and governors from both schools - and a number of visiting headteachers from the Horncastle and Louth constituency and wider Lincolnshire area - attended a question and answer session that Ms Morgan had kindly agreed to participate in.
She began the session by stating that her visit had been initiated by Ms Atkins having offered the invitation during questions in the House of Commons.
Various topics were discussed including the place of RE and Creative Arts in the curriculum along with the new assessment systems, fairer funding, alternative provision and the drive to support effective collaboration between schools.
The headteachers of both Horncastle schools were able to give very positive accounts about the strength of the partnership and were extremely grateful for the support of Ms Atkins in the early stages of collaboration.
The schools felt that the visit served to give great confidence to the combined Horncastle Trust and allowed the young people of Horncastle, some of who are in the busy examination season, to realise that their schools have attracted such significant national interest.
In a joint statement, the schools said: “Our students, as ever, did us all very proud!”
• More details in next week’s Horncastle News.