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Neston High School

Headteacher's Blog

Mrs F Mannix

Team Emma is such an important part of my life, as it means so much to me that Emma has a legacy to keep her memory alive, by raising awareness and money to support lifesaving research. Emma had such a beautiful, positive spirit, so we make sure that all our events reflect and embody this.

On Sunday 9 June 2024, family, staff and sixth formers from the Neston High School community, took part in the Port Sunlight Run, to raise money for the Emma Mannix tribute fund, at Blood Cancer UK and to raise awareness of the importance of this charity and the lifesaving research it funds. As we gathered together in the beautiful village of Port Sunlight on the Wirral, we took a moment to remember why we were doing this and to celebrate Team Emma.

This was a real community event, which embodied the spirit of Emma and Neston High School. There was such a fantastic atmosphere and when we weren’t running, we were cheering each other on with pozzie vibes! Team Emma felt like a real family, supporting each other and really enjoying a Sunday morning out!

We started with the 5K, which everyone managed to finish in one piece (Even with a nosebleed! Well done, Sam!!!) and some fantastic times and personal bests were achieved! This was an impressive achievement, considering that this was a first 5K for many!!! Next came the 10K and the second race for George Mannix, Mr Smith and Mr Kong! A special shout out to Maisie, Adam and Stevie as the only students to do this and they absolutely smashed it! I, after months of training with my plod squad buddy Ms Phoenix, managed to complete 10K without stopping, albeit with a time of 1 hour 21 mins! Although, as Mr Smith says, it is the completing not the competing that counts!!!

Emma was a beautiful baby girl, with an infectious smile and an amazing personality; this event, as all our other events have done, embodied the spirit of her and means her legacy will live on.

We are so proud of our students and school community, who so far have raised £1430 for this run; meaning this year alone, Neston High School have raised £6206 for lifesaving research, through Blood Cancer UK. Congratulations to Team Emma 2024! Same again next year?!!!!

Ms K Cunningham

While specifics regarding data are not yet publicly available, the model's enhanced performance in several key areas promises to revolutionise how we interact with AI, particularly within school.

Artificial Intelligence, commonly referred to as AI, is a branch of computer science that aims to create machines capable of performing tasks that would typically require human intelligence. These tasks include learning from experience, recognising patterns, understanding natural language, and making decisions. While the concept may sound complex, AI is already integrated into many aspects of our daily lives, often in ways we might not even notice.

For instance, when you use a smartphone to navigate via GPS, the system uses AI to provide the fastest route by analysing traffic patterns. Similarly, when you ask a virtual assistant like Siri or Alexa a question, AI is used to understand and respond to your request. Even the personalised recommendations you see on streaming services like Netflix or music apps like Spotify are powered by AI algorithms.

In the context of education, AI holds tremendous potential to enhance the learning experience for our students.

How I think your child could benefit:

  • At Home AI can serve as a valuable learning resource, helping you support your children's studies. It can answer questions, explain complex concepts, and provide additional practice materials, making it easier for you to stay involved in your child's education.
  • Pupils can tap into AI for personalised learning, receiving tailored explanations, practice problems, and feedback on written work. This interactive and adaptive learning experience can boost engagement and help students grasp difficult concepts more effectively. A potential gamechanger for all pupils, but particularly those with additional needs, or for those whose first language is not English, as it will be able to translate work in real time. 
  • Teachers are beginning to use it to streamline lesson planning, grading, and administrative tasks, allowing teachers to focus more on direct student interaction. It can also generate creative prompts for assignments and provide real-time feedback during lessons, enhancing the overall learning experience. Again, with the option to personalise the learning for each individual, this will certainly help teachers to ensure that all pupils have the opportunity to succeed. 

Safety, Data Privacy, and Considerations:

While AI presents exciting opportunities, it's crucial to be aware of potential risks:

  • AI models can sometimes generate inaccurate or misleading information. It's important to verify information from reliable sources.
  • AI models can inadvertently perpetuate biases present in their training data. Companies are actively working to address this issue, but users should be aware of potential biases and encourage critical evaluation of AI-generated responses.
  • While AI has safeguards in place to prevent harmful or inappropriate content, it is important to consider that children, could be susceptible to manipulation or exposure to harmful content if interacting unsupervised.

 As we embrace these advancements, it is crucial to address any concerns regarding privacy and the ethical use of AI. Our school is committed to using AI responsibly, ensuring that student data is protected and that the technology is used to complement, not replace, the vital role of our educators.

We believe that by understanding and integrating AI thoughtfully, we can prepare our students for a future where technology and human ingenuity work hand in hand. Thank you for your continued support in fostering a dynamic and forward-thinking learning environment for our children.

Mrs F Nisbet

During the SEND coffee morning last week, I started to think about the importance of belonging and how to address and reduce the natural human instinct to eschew ‘other’ people who are ‘not like us’. With this thought in mind, I felt it would be worthwhile sharing the ways in which we have embraced neurodiversity within our school community and why it is crucial we do so. It was Neurodiversity Week, last week, and whilst this isn’t something widely known about, I feel that at Neston, we celebrate and embrace our young people, whatever their difference, as standard, it’s embedded in our everyday culture and practice. Last week’s coffee morning gave us a further, crucial opportunity to celebrate the diverse characteristics of our students and the unique strengths and skills they bring to our learning environment. At Neston, we recognise and respect the fact that every individual possesses a unique neurological makeup. From autism and dyslexia to ADHD and dyspraxia, neurodiversity encompasses a broad spectrum of conditions and differences in both brain biology and function. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the learning adaptations these differences necessitate in our classrooms, I feel, as a school community, we do our best to acknowledge them as integral components of our students’ identities and as best we can, make accommodations for them.
One of the most important aspects of my job as SENDCo, is fostering a culture of inclusivity and acceptance within our school community. By acknowledging and celebrating the diverse ways in which our students’ brains perform, we create an environment where all individuals feel valued, respected, and understood. This inclusive ethos not only benefits neurodivergent students but also enriches the educational experience for the entire community as we continue to learn from being ‘open’ to each other’s personal experiences.

We work extremely hard to raise awareness and promote understanding of neurodivergent conditions among students, parents, and staff. Through workshops, guest speakers, and tutor time activities, we aim to debunk myths, challenge stereotypes, and foster empathy and compassion for neurodivergent individuals. We were delighted to welcome a parent to our staff training last week where we gained her perspective on the challenges that her neurodivergent children negotiate when attending mainstream schooling. She offered inspiration in terms of the strategies we can utilise to further help children like hers, to secure an experience in our setting which feels comfortable and where stress levels are kept to a minimum.
At Neston High School, we firmly believe that diversity in all its forms should be celebrated and embraced. Our commitment to inclusivity extends way beyond the activities of last week, we will continue to strive to create a learning environment where every student feels supported and empowered to thrive. We will laud the contributions made by individuals from our wonderful, cognitively unique community over cross-disciplinary fields, including science, technology, engineering, and the arts. We will nurture and propagate their talents, foster innovation and cultivate creativity. By working together in this way and striving together to aim for what the world could ‘look like’ for all our young people, we eliminate the idea of ‘otherness’ and the ‘not like us’, the spaces between us disappear and we become united.

Mrs F Mannix

The first time I became aware of racism was at the age of 8 when my family moved to Rotherham. I remember my mum walking me and my brother to school and seeing racist graffiti on a wall. I asked my mum about it as I did not really understand what it meant but I won’t indulge racists by repeating it here, safe to say it was unoriginal and offensive. The two things I remember most about it however was that it was misspelt so even from a young age I understood the ignorance of racists, and secondly, I felt scared. That may seem a strange reaction from a white British girl, but the level of aggression expressed towards the Pakistani community frightened me, particularly knowing I was living somewhere with people who had those views and were not afraid to share them.

Unfortunately, my awareness of racism continued to develop during that time as I noticed the Headteacher at my primary school was clearly racist and only publicly punished Pakistani boys in an age when this was not yet fully illegal. In addition, in my classroom groups were segregated in terms of race. It may be the case that students chose to sit with friends of the same colour, however the teacher did nothing to integrate us.

These early experiences set the scene for my attitudes to life in terms of being anti-racist and a believer in equality and justice for all. I remember challenging my grandparents about their trips to South Africa and being bemused by their visits there when my parents were boycotting produce from that country which at the time was segregated by a system of apartheid. I remember my Nanna saying how happy the black people were and they would sit on the pavements smiling away whilst my parents and I had watched riots going on in the country whilst they were there!

My desire to be a teacher from a young age was very much linked to my passion for social justice and more so when I learnt about the inequalities in the education system which made me want to be in a position where I could work to ensure this did not happen and all children had the opportunity to fulfil their potential. This included racial inequality.

Although I am not proud of the fact that racist incidents happen in school, I am very proud of the work we are doing with the Anthony Walker Foundation. The Anthony Walker Foundation was set up by Dr Gee Walker, after the racially motivated murder of her son, Anthony, in Liverpool. Anthony was a young man with all the dreams and hopes that all young people have. He was a well-respected member of his community with a life full of promise ahead. However, on 30 July 2005 his life was cruelly taken by racists. Anthony’s family and friends did not want his murder to be another statistic and wanted his name to live on with a positive, lasting legacy. As his mother described him to us, ‘he was the best of us’ and ‘destined for greatness’. We here at Neston are able to make sure that we do exactly that as our work with the foundation means that all our students know Anthony’s story and the importance of working together to become an anti-racist school to make sure this does not happen again. This is particularly poignant as our students and staff know because Anthony knew the people who murdered him and they knew him as they went to school together.

The most important thing in dealing with racism is to take it seriously and be honest about what has happened, so I will be and tell you that at our school we have to deal with racist incidents and racist language used by a minority of our students towards others. Many may think being a predominantly white school in a predominantly white area means that racism is not an issue. That is simply not true. We all witnessed for ourselves the events of lockdown with the Black Lives Matter movement and negative reactions to that. Unfortunately since then with the disruption and trauma to our lives there seems to have been an increase in racism not only in our community but in the country as a whole.

Here at Neston we are not shying away from this but instead are working with the Anthony Walker Foundation to educate our young people so that we become an anti-racist school with young people and staff who are allies.

Sadly some of our families have experienced racism and parents have gone through the trauma of hearing about their children experiencing racism.  Although this is not something to be proud of it has increased our awareness of the impact on families and the importance of education to deal with this. This has meant we have been able to work together to tackle racism head on and to be brave in our responses.

All our students from Year 7 to Year 13 have been part of the Anthony Walker Foundation workshops led by Jude Agis, Rahana Bennett and Catherina Quinn and all of our staff have been trained in anti-discriminatory language. A key message from the Anthony Walker Foundation is that ‘no one is born a racist’ and by having the opportunity to educate our students we can work to ensure that we are an anti-racist school and call out racism to support and celebrate diversity in our school and so that our students feel empowered.

Our relationship with the Foundation is such that we want to continue with this and put this at the heart of our community. We have therefore signed up to the ‘Tackling Racism Award’ for the next three years to take this work further with staff and students are trained as ambassadors. We are working in partnership with Jude Agis and Rahana Bennett, who, along with the rest of the foundation, are part of our school community and helping us to educate and empower all in our aim to become an anti-racist school.

We currently have 4 members of staff including myself who are members of the Anti-racist working group and 8 student ambassadors who have been trained with students from other schools to. All of our Year 8 students have had follow up workshops learning about racism in order to empower them to challenge racism and support others in embracing diversity. In addition our ambassadors are organising a campaign which is to have a ‘Culture Week’ in July. The reason for this is that they are conscious of how a lot of our focus is on racist language and therefore very negative. They want to lead a ‘Culture Week’ in order to educate students about diversity in terms of the different cultures represented in our school so students have a better understanding and can see the positive aspects of these cultures in order to celebrate them. We are also working hard to diversify our curriculum so our students are better educated and equipped to be tolerant and respectful citizens who can deal with prejudice and discrimination sensitively. This means we can create harmony through education.

It is a great honour and privilege for our community, Neston High School, to work together in partnership with the Anthony Walker Foundation. We were particularly privileged to have Dr Gee Walker speak at a meeting earlier this year which all parents were invited to. This was a powerful and special moment shared by all there. I will never forget her words which included describing racism as ‘just nonsense’ and then going on to say ‘It is too late for my children but not my grandchildren’.  These words will always stay with me and working together at Neston we will do our utmost to empower and educate our school community to make sure it is not too late.


Ms K Cunningham

As an ex-Head of English, one of the most common questions I received from parents was, ‘How can I best support my child during exam season? It’s a question that resonates deeply with many parents, as they strive to empower their children to reach their full potential.

While exams can be a source of stress for both students and parents alike, with the right approach, they can also become an opportunity for growth, resilience and success. You will have noticed this year, that Mrs Waites, our Assistant Headteacher, who leads on Progress has been working hard with our younger years, with a series of videos she produced about how to revise, organise work and be more effective in the exams. We know this will pay dividends and help our young people to become independent learners and be ready for whatever their academic journey might throw at them. There is plenty you can do at home to help as well.

Understanding Motivation: motivation is the fuel that drives academic success. However, it’s essential to recognise that motivation is not a one-size-fits-all concept. What inspires one student may not necessarily resonate with another. Therefore, as parents, it’s crucial to understand our children’s unique motivators. Encouraging a growth mindset is fundamental. Emphasise the value of effort and persistence over innate abilities. Help your child understand that intelligence is not fixed but can be developed through dedication and hard work.

Establishing a Supportive Environment: creating a conducive learning environment at home is essential for nurturing motivation. Ensure your child has a designated study space that is quiet, well-lit, and free from all distractions. Encourage them to keep their study area organised and clutter-free to promote focus and productivity. Additionally, establish a routine that incorporates regular study sessions but also allows for breaks and relaxation. It is really important during times of increased pressure that students maintain a healthy balance of work and downtime to recharge and prevent burnout.

Setting Realistic Goals: goal-setting is a powerful tool for motivation and achievement. Collaborate with your child to set realistic, achievable goals for their exams. Break down large goals into smaller, manageable tasks to prevent overwhelm and foster a sense of progress. However, it’s crucial to maintain realistic expectations. Avoid placing undue pressure on your child to achieve perfection. Instead, focus on encouraging their best effort and celebrating their progress, no matter how small. Encouraging Independence Empowering your child to take ownership of their learning journey is key to fostering independence and self-regulation. Encourage them to develop effective study strategies that work best for their learning style. Whether it’s creating flashcards, practising past papers, or forming study groups, empower your child to take initiative and responsibility for their academic success.

Do spend some time asking your children the right questions: do they have a revision timetable, have they broken it down into chunks and are they working in a way that is making the knowledge stick? It’s all about incremental gains.

Mr L Burton

As we dive into the first half of another exciting term in the Sixth Form, two key aspects of Sixth Form life are generating a buzz of positivity: the ongoing Peer Mentoring Programme and the commencement of the Head Student Team application process. We want to empower our students, and these initiatives are shaping the future leaders of our school community, providing invaluable experiences and building important skills that will be vital for navigating life beyond school.

At the start of the year, we launched an inspiring Peer Mentoring Programme, with our Lower Sixth students stepping into the role of peer mentors for our Year 7 students. Our mentorship programme aims to foster friendships, boost confidence, and facilitate smooth transitions as our younger students move up through the school.

The mentors attended comprehensive training, which focused on the art of building rapport, maximizing the mentoring experience, and where to seek support should any concerns arise. Mr Smith, lead for Literacy at Neston, has crafted session guides ensuring that each mentoring interaction is meaningful and effective, with a focus on reading and relationships.

The advantages of peer mentoring are manifold. For mentors, it’s an opportunity to develop leadership skills, enhance communication abilities, and cultivate empathy and understanding. As they guide their mentees through challenges and triumphs, mentors experience personal growth and fulfilment. Mentorship schemes are a key development tool in the workplace, and having the experience and skills to participate in programmes will be a valuable asset to our students.

For our younger mentees, the benefits are equally profound. They gain a sense of belonging, knowing that they have a supportive older peer to turn to. Mentoring sessions provide a safe space for mentees to express themselves, ask questions, and navigate the complexities of school life with confidence.

Simultaneously, we are thrilled to kick off the annual application process for our Head Students. This initiative is designed to empower our young people to step into leadership roles, make a positive impact within our school community, and hone skills that will serve them well beyond their academic years.

While we offer a wide and varied number of roles on The Head Student Team, we stress to all our students that the application and interview process is not just about selecting a few individuals for leadership positions; it’s about empowering every student who participates. Under the guidance of Mr. Blakemore, our Head of Year 12, students are able to access sessions on how to prepare for interviews, articulate their strengths, and present their visions for leadership.

Even for those who may not ultimately join the leadership group or prefect teams, the application and interview experience are invaluable. It’s an opportunity to refine communication skills, build resilience in the face of challenges, and learn from the process of self-reflection and goal setting. It is invaluable preparation for university applications and CV writing.

I am proud to see our wonderful Lower Sixth students step out of their comfort zones and engage in all the opportunities that we offer to broaden their education. Through mentorship and leadership programs, we are shaping confident, compassionate leaders who will thrive not only within the walls of our school but also in the wider world.

Here’s to a term filled with growth, empowerment, and endless possibilities!

Ms K Cunningham

As the final term of school is well underway and activity week is within our sights, it is a good opportunity to think about the benefits of going on school trips. For me school holidays are often spent resting at home, but during my early childhood, my parents took me all over the world: to America in the Rocky Mountains, where we spent six months in a tent as my father and his friends climbed the mountains range there. And to Canada for months at a time – a place that taught me a real appreciation for natural beauty. We were fortunate to travel extensively, and I know the impact it had on my family was significant, creating a better understanding of different cultures and providing opportunities to wonder at the exquisite examples of the natural world. I know how lucky I was to have these experiences in the late 1970s and early 80s.

At Neston, we firmly believe that education extends far beyond the confines of the classroom. It’s about broadening perspectives, fostering curiosity, and nurturing a deeper understanding of the world around us. That’s why we’re incredibly excited about the upcoming school trips that will take our students on journeys of exploration and discovery.

Over the last few weeks, our students embarked on a variety of enriching experiences that left a lasting impact on their lives. From the slopes of Austria to the streets of Berlin, Germany and the vibrant culture of London’s West End – our students are learning that travel changes you. It broadens horizons and helps to develop a well-rounded understanding of the world around us. Each trip offers unique opportunities for growth and learning. And of course, we have the upcoming trip to Iceland and South Africa next Easter – much anticipated trips to far flung places.

Our ski trip to Austria saw over 50 students from Years 8 to 11 hitting the slopes, supported by many members of staff who will ensured our students have the best opportunities. Beyond mastering their skiing skills, students will learn valuable lessons in teamwork, resilience, and cultural immersion. For many they will be stepping outside of their comfort zones and the senses of fulfilment in achieving something new will be life shaping.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, students embarked on an extensive tour of the city, sampling the many sights and experiences the city has to offer. This trip deepened our students’ appreciation for language and culture while fostering lifelong connections.

Back on home soil, our students also had the chance to experience what it feels like to perform on stage – at the Civic Hall in Ellesmere Port. This cultural outing inspired creativity and sparked meaningful discussions about storytelling and performance. It was wonderful to see the performances of modern musicals like ‘Everyone’s talking about Jamie’ and ‘Six’, along with the usual classics, such as ‘Oliver!’  For those with a passion for languages, our Spanish Trip to Madrid or for History, the Battlefields trip to Belgium, both offer an opportunity to see the world from a new perspective.

Reflecting on the past few months, our students have already embarked on incredible adventures, from exploring Maths at Disneyland Paris to participating in Rotary Competitions and Stem awards across the region – with great success, I might add. Led by dedicated staff members these experiences have empowered our students to think critically, collaborate effectively, and engage with global issues in meaningful ways. As we look forward to the second half of the Summer Term excitement is growing in Year 7 as our younger students prepare for the annual camping trip.

As educators, we recognise the immense value of school trips in shaping well-rounded individuals who are equipped to navigate an increasingly interconnected world. Through embracing new experiences, our students are not only expanding their horizons but also laying the foundation for a lifetime of curiosity, empathy, and lifelong learning. We can’t wait to see the incredible growth and transformation that awaits them on their upcoming adventures. They also form new friendships, often across year groups as the power of the shared experience brings them together.

Maya Angelou’s following quote perfectly encapsulates why it is so important that our young people grasp opportunities to see as much of the world as they can: “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

We want them to begin to foster empathy, challenge stereotypes, and cultivate cross-cultural friendships. I hope travel, both near and far, encourages our students to open their hearts and minds, recognising the shared humanity that binds people together regardless of cultural differences.

Mr S Smith

Neston High School celebrates World Book Day in style!

Neston High School is committed to promoting a reading culture to ensure all students recognise the importance of this life skill.

Reading is the key to learning and is a whole school priority for all at Neston High.

On the 7th March, staff and students took part in a range of exciting activities to celebrate World Book Day and the importance of reading. Staff and students were invited to enter book related bakes and cakes for our very own ‘Neston Book Bake-Off’. This was a fantastic event with a superb number of impressive entries. The masterpieces included: Bruce Bogtrotter’s chocolate cake, Harry Potter book cakes, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and many more. Entries were judged by Chef Shaun, Miss Thomas (Head of Art & Design), Miss Tyson (Art Technician), Mrs Roberts (Librarian) and Alice (our Year 10 student judge). The winning entries received book vouchers to enjoy spending at Linghams Bookshop in Heswall. The cakes were sold to students at lunchtime for funds to the library and every piece went!

During breaktime, staff and Trustees were invited to the library for a ‘Brew, Biscuit & Books’ – lots of staff enjoyed the opportunity to visit the library and talk to our student librarians.

Across the school, students took part in a ‘Big Library Quiz’ to test their literary knowledge in their tutor groups. We were delighted to be able to provide all 300 of our year 7 students with a free World Book Day book and the £1 book tokens.

Around the school, staff, students and visitors are able to see our ‘Currently Reading Posters’ displayed by each staff member. Students and staff are engaging in ‘book talk’ daily whilst the posters encourage and motivate students to view reading positively. Staff understand the integral part that reading plays in the success and future of all students.

We are incredibly proud of the reading schemes we have in place to support our younger students. Twice a week, we have over thirty 6th form students working on a one-to-one basis with year 7 students to build literacy and reading confidence. This is a fantastic project which sees our year 7s working closely with older students to boost literacy abilities. Students involved recently shared these thoughts:

'It's fun - a good way to start the morning.' Y13

'It gives me something else to think about and takes my mind of things.'  Y13

'It's helped me be enthusiastic with my reading.' Y7

'I am happy with my reading and reader buddy. I think it's great'. Y7

'I hated reading. I couldn't do it. Now I find it a lot easier.' Y7

'It has made me more confident with reading out loud in front of new people.' Y7

Our Library

Our school library is the heart of Neston High School’s reading community and contributes hugely to our whole school ethos of promoting ‘Reading for All’. The library provides a multitude of resources to support study and reading for enjoyment for all students and staff; our library is a safe, inclusive and happy space for all.  Students can study and read independently, complete school work on the computers, catch up with friends, engage in some mindful activities or choose their next book.

We work closely with our local independent bookshop, Linghams of Heswall to host regular author visits and book signing opportunities for our students; these are always a brilliant way of promoting reading. We always welcome book donations for our library; we do everything we can to meet the reading demands of our students by keeping our shelves up to date. We are fortunate to have a brilliant team of Student Librarians who take a very active role in the daily running of the school library. These students are fantastic ambassadors for reading and our library - they are always on hand to help and advise when students are looking for their next read. Follow our library on Instagram: @nestonhighlibrary to keep up to date with Neston High library life. 

Mrs H Waites

On Friday, February 16th, fifty students from years 9-13 and seven staff set off on the school ski trip to Austria, the first Neston has run in over seven years. Despite the coach journey taking 30 hours due to heavy traffic around Munich, the students arrived at the hotel in good spirits and were excited to see the mountains for the first time. From the minute we set off, the students were impeccably behaved, super organized, and followed instructions every step of the way. This resulted in a safe, successful, and extremely fun ski trip!

The hotel was based around 20 minutes from the Kaprun Glacier, this mountain range has a peak of 3000m, one of the highest in Europe. Day 1 brought clear, sunny, blue skies which allowed the beginners to make great progress and the advanced group to explore what the mountain had to offer. Over the course of the week, we experienced a range of weather, Mr. Jones made some excellent Geography links with the students seeing our hotel get snowed in in front of their eyes! We were so fortunate to have good visibility and lots of fresh snow falling throughout the week. Our ski instructors got to know our students quickly and soon had them gaining confidence on their skis!

The progress the students made on the mountain was incredible, 43 beginner skiers out of the 50 was always going to be a challenge. However, all students demonstrated resilience, determination, and constant energy to ensure they fulfilled their potential. The instructors commented on how impressed they were with the students' positive attitude and motivation each day. It certainly is a tiring trip, as the students found out getting up each morning with achy legs!


Students all received a briefing on the coach every morning on the way to the slopes where we spoke about safety and the ski way code. The ski instructors designed sessions to challenge our students; the top group was skiing off-piste through powder and down the black runs with Mr. Fairhead, while our beginners were learning to conquer the chair lifts and the blue runs. We could not have asked any more of the students on the mountain; teachers skied with the groups for the first four days to check all students were doing well. We enjoyed supporting the students and raising their confidence on the slopes, while also supplying a whole host of ski kit when gloves and goggles went missing! The staff beginner skiers also made excellent progress; the students loved watching the teachers fall over while learning too! On Day 5, the staff went skiing with Mrs. Waites from the top of the mountain at 3000m down to the restaurant, which was a real achievement for our beginner staff skiers, as well as being a lovely experience to ski together.

We were incredibly lucky with the snow conditions; each day was slightly different in terms of the sun, wind, snow showers, and the amount of snow under our skis. On the last day, 50cm of snow fell in the morning that we skied! The snowball fight at the top of the mountain at 8:30 a.m. was a highlight for most! It was like Kaprun had been reserved for Neston High School, without another person in sight! Getting all 50 students successfully off the mountain on Day 6 with no injuries was a dream come true. The outdoor, adventurous nature of skiing does bring high risk; however, the students were sensible and became accomplished safe technical skiers.

We had an awards night at the end of the trip, Mia Hirst in Year 13 receiving the Senior Ski award and Freya Elliot in Year 10 receiving the Junior ski award. There were a number of other awards including the most theatrical fall and the most progress made throughout the week which went to Megan Fryer in Year 9. All students received a personal postcard report to bring home as a keepsake. During the evenings, students had time in the games room at the hotel, a meal out at a Pizzeria restaurant, and of course, getting to go and watch the Ice Hockey Match in Zell am See certainly was a real highlight of the whole trip for everyone!

We had an awards night at the end of the trip, Mia Hirst in Year 13 receiving the Senior Ski award and Freya Elliot in Year 10 receiving the Junior ski award. There were a number of other awards including the most theatrical fall and the most progress made throughout the week which went to Megan Fryer in Year 9. All students received a personal postcard report to bring home as a keepsake. During the evenings, students had time in the games room at the hotel, a meal out at a Pizzeria restaurant, and of course, getting to go and watch the Ice Hockey Match in Zell am See certainly was a real highlight of the whole trip for everyone!

Students said they made lots of new friends on the trip; they have also formed special relationships with all seven staff that accompanied them on this experience. It really is a trip that pushes students out of their comfort zone and demands constant energy and resilience. All students felt a real sense of achievement on Day 6 when they were able to bomb around the mountains skiing all different runs.

The staff team was just remarkable on the trip, whether it was supporting the students on the slopes, organising the ski kit in the boot rooms, running the tuck shop, organizing the coach drivers, or helping on the après-ski nights. The journey home was 27 hours and seemed to fly by; the students slept most of the way. The week is exhausting, but in our opinion, life changing. To hear students talking about dreams of becoming a ski instructor or ski rep, asking about different countries and what the resorts are like there is something we are really proud of. This trip opens their eyes to a different part of the world. The mountains are a very special place; the students have created memories and learned a skill for life - who knows where skiing could take them in the future! They have also developed massively in terms of their independence and resilience. The students were an absolute pleasure to take away; we are extremely proud of them all.

The Staff Ski Team


Mrs. Waites, Mrs. Bowden, Miss O'Hare, Mr. Sidwell, Mr. Fairhead, Mr. Jones, Mr. Hiscott.


Keep your eyes peeled for the launch of the next school ski trip!

Mr A Miatt

If you were asked to picture an engineer, I wonder what sort of person would come to mind? This is what I ask my Engineering classes to do during their first lesson with me, and it is interesting to hear their answers. Having worked for nearly thirty years in the car industry, before switching to teaching I met a wide variety of engineers. This includes some talented women: Davi was of South Indian heritage and was a whizz at designing tests to make sure cars worked as they should; Sandra was an expert on using computers to test whether parts would break; Elizabeth was one of the most no-nonsense managers I knew, combining a high level job with raising a son on her own. I hope that the next generation of engineers will be even more varied, breaking down the stereotype that engineering is only for boys. That is why I was so excited to take three of our Year ten girls to a ‘Women in Engineering’ day at the Vauxhall car plant in Ellesmere Port.

So, what can a day in a car plant show students that would normally be sat in a classroom? Firstly, they can meet people who are not their teacher! The girls were greeted by Diane, the plant manager (and all smiled when she told them that she enjoys bossing men around). They met the head of the measurement team, Elena, who was on secondment from Spain. In the audit area Sarah showed them how to check over a car to look for differences and faults to stop them reaching the customer. Secondly, they saw the variety of technologies involved in production, giving them some real-life examples of how classroom theory translates into real life applications. I’ve told them that metals are ductile, meaning they can be formed from a sheet into complex shapes without tearing, but seeing a door panel being pressed brings that to life. Being able to apply knowledge is the next step on from just remembering it and is the skill that will help our students find fulfilling and valuable jobs. Finally, the girls got to try some engineering activities for themselves. They had a ride around the test track, listening for rattles from loose parts on the bumpy sections and being thankful that the brakes really did work on the higher speed section! They even got to use a high-tech laser scanner that built up a picture on a TV of the door that they scanned. (And we might just have tried it on a teacher’s head too!). 

I had a great day, and the girls tell me that they thoroughly enjoyed themselves too. I hope that as they head into Year 11 and consider their future beyond school, they will find Engineering a more attractive option. I keep telling them to be careful in the workshop, but if they break the mould for what an engineer looks like then I will be happy!

Mrs L Baillie

This week's blog is guest written by Louise Baillie, Head of Drama.

A proud story of quiet introverts blossoming; the struggling coming alive and believing in themselves; the tenacious drive for Drama and the creation of something new.

Last week more than 45 Neston High School students performed songs from our production of Matilda at The Floral Pavilion. It got me thinking about how much of a credit they are to the Drama and Performing Arts subjects at the school but also parents, carers and the whole community and that, perhaps, we don’t often make ourselves see our teens in this way.

Two hundred years ago, the younkers, derived from Dutch and German words to describe a young nobleman, was also used to describe junior sailors. The younkers were considered to be getting rather big headed – young men who “think they’re better than the rest of us”. An ephebe, a term used around a similar time, was used to describe young women who wanted adult independence but were inclined to “take a reckless approach to risk.” As far back as Socrates (469-399BC), children were maligned much as they are today: ““The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
We can all find that thing that gets under our skin, as parents, teachers, even walking the streets of our villages, towns and cities. It’s perhaps easier to see the negatives, but maybe we should consciously try to focus on the joys and the opportunities that these young people bring us, and perhaps how they might even remind us of what it was once like to be in their place, balancing the transition from childhood to adulthood. 
Teenagers haven’t really changed very much – they have always wanted to capitalise on rebellion – they get a bad name for themselves, and it is exhausting, not only for parents and the adults in our school community but also, I’m sure, for themselves. I am not so old that I don’t remember the teen angst, the falling out with friends, detentions, competition, exam stress, peer pressure – and attending secondary school in the 80s was a cinch compared to a what young people are faced with now. 

Young people these days often fail to recognise their enormous potential, despite the assemblies, mentoring and guidance that school offers; they often need to be shown how incredible they are, talent and ability simmering within them – if only it can be gently prized from them through opportunity and risk taking. Drama teachers see this very problem day in, day out. Those students whose confidence has been knocked by the pandemic and other problems. “Do we have to perform in front of everyone?” - a daily struggle for every Drama teacher. Trying to get our young people to recognise the value in Drama skills, whatever their future plans are, is a constant struggle, more so now than ever before.

Last week, we had a very busy week in the Drama Department; at the point where exams are finishing and students and staff are deliciously looking forward to the summer holidays, not only are we rehearsing hard for our school show, Matilda Jnr! (opening night in two weeks!) but we also took forty-five students to perform three numbers from Matilda at the Floral Pavilion AND attended a two-hour school-based workshop from a professional company, Stage-Ed, in preparation for their Component 2 Devised Performance exam. For those two hours, the GCSE and A Level Drama students worked alongside Gareth, an ambitious and engaging young director and actor (and the UK Director of the stage show, Life of Pi – how cool is that?), as he respectfully, sympathetically and carefully demonstrated how the students could discover a greater level of meaning in their own performances. He educated them about drama techniques, theory and practice in an exciting and thoughtful way. These students lapped up the session, fully immersing themselves in the activities. And they were a credit to Neston High School; Gareth was brimming with enthusiasm, congratulating Miss Proctor, Mrs Tebay and I about our “amazing” Neston students. For those two hours, I saw students who are quiet introverts blossom; I saw those who have struggled come alive and believe in themselves; I saw those who have a tenacious drive for Drama excel in the creation of something new. And I couldn’t have been prouder.

When I watched our Matilda cast from the wings at the Floral Pavilion last week, belting out “Revolting Children” with such passion, I thought about the many conversations I have daily with kind, interested colleagues who want to know how all the students are getting on. We have students from Year 7 right up to Year 12 this year, all busy learning their lines, routines and songs so that they can knock everybody’s socks off at our July performances. But whilst I appreciate the sentiment of those who say “Oh how cute! They’re so sweet!” when those Year 7s are throwing themselves into their performances, I frequently consider how these simple comments do those students an enormous disservice. My experience of working with our Drama students at Neston, who opt into the Performing Arts with gusto and commitment, is a wonderful one. The dedication, vigour and professionalism that they bring bowls me over every time. So frequently, the Performing Arts colleagues at Neston are in awe of these youngsters: their professionalism, 100% commitment and performance abilities would not look out of place on a West End stage. Lloyd-Webber should look out for these rising stars because before we know it, they are going to be leaving school and venturing out into the world – and I hope some of them will consider pursuing their Drama and theatre dreams further. Because the talent is there – inside each of them. They have just got to believe that they can do it.

Mr M Fairhead

If you were to drive non-stop from Neston to Ankara, in Turkey, it would take you roughly forty hours (according to Google). Alternatively, you could fly from Manchester to New Zealand with a long layover in Singapore in less time. Or better still, perhaps, you could enjoy nearly two days with friends or family, with plenty of sleep, good food and drink. Instead, this is how long I spent running in an ultra-marathon, over a weekend in May. As you can imagine, I had plenty of time to think during the race. I realised that in many ways, training for and running, an ultra-marathon is just like the long-term preparation our students go through in the run up to their exams: careful training, hours of preparation, mental determination and overcoming personal fears and barriers. I wondered whether any of them had ever thought of it in that way?

I have always enjoyed being in the hills and mountains and spent a number of childhood holidays walking them with my family. As I got older, naturally, I enjoyed going further and higher and ultimately faster! That said, running, and definitely long-distance running, is not something that I feel has come naturally to me. When I was seventeen, I accidentally ended up being asked to represent my school at a cross-country race (I was in the wrong place at the wrong time). I came in last out of hundreds of runners, having had to walk most of the second half of the race. It would be justifiable for me to hold on to this experience and use it as my excuse for avoiding any type of running. 

The problem is that I have one more childhood experience that I can’t shake. On a holiday to Chamonix twenty years ago, I witnessed a running event whilst we were there, and came to understand it was the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc – a 100-mile race around the Mont Blanc Massif over many high passes and mountains. The runners coming in looked like nothing I had seen before: exhausted and shuffling strangely along the paths, but their faces revealed a sheer joy at the realisation of their achievement. I had no real understanding of what this was, but I knew I wanted to join them. 

I believe a person has to make the most of their gifts and I often think this when I look at our talented Neston students who sometimes hide their gifts and lack the confidence to make the most of them. One of the reasons I enjoy working at Neston is that, as teachers, we are always encouraged to see the best in students and help them discover who they are and what they can achieve if they try whether this be through the arts, music, sports, or like me, a talent in maths or conceptualised thinking or something different. I like that we help our students to find the limits of what is possible for them. For me that has led to completing five ultramarathons in increasing distances, but I have also failed to finish one. Last summer I was on the start line for the Lakeland 100 (105 miles around the Lake District with a total ascent of 22,000ft.) In retrospect, I hadn’t trained enough (as well as the arrival of a new baby a fortnight before the race).  In short, my poor preparation and inexperience led to me withdrawing at sixty-six miles, seventeen hours after setting off.  Reflecting on that experience was tough and it took some time for me to rationalise my thinking and look at the reasons why I wasn’t ready both physically and mentally.   

Failing is an important part of life; it is about finding your limits and then working out how to overcome and stretch those limits in the future. In the Neston Maths Department, we try to instil this way of thinking into our teaching, particularly in maths lessons where sometimes students want to give up usually when a problem isn’t easily resolved or when students are first introduced to new and overwhelming topics, such as trigonometry. Training for an exam or training the brain to think of new ways to approach a problem is part of the job of teaching but it is only recently that I have had to reflect on what resilience really means to me. Over the last year, I have trained properly for the first time; I have listened to hundreds of podcasts absorbing as much information about training, nutrition and kit and I feel stronger than ever before in my running but still, when approaching the race last weekend, I was terrified. The more I considered it, the more impossible it became in my mind. I had to keep reminding myself that I was much better prepared than I was last year.

To summarise the race (and any ultramarathon) would be to say that it is all about problem solving (classic maths teacher!). Throughout the 100 miles I encountered numerous problems, such as early dehydration due to unexpectedly warm weather, much more technical paths meaning slower progress than anticipated, running through a second night, painful feet and some entertaining hallucinations. All of these issues were resolved in one way or another, whether it was adjusting my fuelling strategy, reframing my expectations for the race, rationalising how painful something actually is or whether it just seems worse because it is hard to ignore and so on. All of these problems were easier to solve because my preparation meant that I had more options available to me to find a solution. I knew how my nutrition worked so I could easily adjust it to compensate for the unexpected weather. I was anticipating issues with my feet so had done some prevention and taken various things with me to counteract any issues. I had also prepared for the fact that I didn’t really know how long the race would take and had started with several levels of expectations which made it much easier to just fall back on the ultimate goal of finishing rather than being disappointed with slow progress.

Every time I complete a new challenge, I cannot avoid reflecting back to coming in last at that cross-country race. If only I had seen in those moments what was to come. What if I was still holding onto that perceived failure as my excuse for not trying now? The experiences I have had so far, and will continue to have through my ultrarunning, have happened because I refused to let that bad day define me as a non-runner. Clearly that translates to school life – we will have bad days. We can all find reasons to label ourselves as not capable of something, but are we giving ourselves a fair chance? Or actually are there good reasons why it went wrong that day? Could our preparation be better?

Most struggles come down to a problem that has a solution and how well I can find that solution is impacted by how well I have prepared and trained for that situation. The more preparation I have to fall back on, the easier it is to adapt and adjust when needed. Being aware of what I can control and what I can’t control is a massive part of my preparation for races.  I learnt this through a very tough life experience a couple of years ago when I struggled most with coming to terms with what was out of my control; these races have been a positive way for me to improve my ability to separate things that I can control from those out of my control.

Twenty years ago, I came up with a vague, seemingly unrealistic, aspiration to compete in the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc in Chamonix. Today, I am now just one ballot away from realising that dream. I can’t control when I am accepted into the race, but I can make sure that I am the strongest and most prepared I can be when that opportunity comes by. In the meantime, I hope to continue to inspire our students to have an attitude of dreaming big and then working hard to make their dreams a reality. The greater the preparation, the greater the ability to solve the problems that inevitably arise along the way.

Mr Fairhead

Mrs D Roberts

This week’s blog is written by guest writer, Mrs D Roberts, from the English Department.  
It was wonderful to listen to two stories, read out in briefing by the SENDCo recently, about the successes of some of our ex-students, one of whom has recently been selected for the National Emerging Talent Centre for Football, where he may be selected for the England Development squad: what a fabulous success! 

This made me think back to the conversations I have had with others about the nature v nurture debate.  For some, the talents we often witness on the sports field, in the music hall or at the theatre are genetic – a talent gene that some are lucky to possess.  However, for others (such as myself), the development of talent is a complex process that often involves hours of deliberate practice on a long and winding road. For me, these individual talents do not operate in a vacuum and development is usually the consequence of support, care, and a great deal of nuture by others, whose contributions often go unnoticed.
When I decided to embark on my Special Educational Needs training back in 2004, a requirement of the course was that I spent six weeks working as a Learning Support Assistant. Having worked the best part of a decade as a classroom teacher, this role reversal was quite a change! The job was far more difficult than I imagined; sometimes I felt undervalued, and it certainly took me out of my comfort zone.    

Since then, I have been fortunate to work with a number of caring and compassionate LSAs during my teaching career. They have been my ‘guardian angels’ and without their know-how I would not have been able to do my day-to-day job. They have been an extra pair of eyes (a key requirement when I forget my glasses). They have listened to my frustrations after the most difficult of days and have provided a shoulder to cry on when things have been tough.
Over the years, I and many of my teaching colleagues have become accustomed to this collaborative way of working and I have and will continue to appreciate and value this partnership, a partnership that helps so many of our vulnerable students reach success on their own developmental journey.  Learning support assistants probably spend more time with the learners than anyone else throughout the day. They are the first point of contact for the child and the LSA is perhaps one of the most important influences on a child’s development outside of the home environment. 

The LSA provides the impetus and support for those children with special needs and disabilities; they promote confidence and a ‘can do attitude’ and it cannot be overstated what impact LSAs have on the lives of those in their care.  As a school we really could not function without the tireless, personalised support they give to the students on an hourly basis - in an ever more demanding role. 

If we circle back to the beginning of this blog, and the celebration of the talented footballer we can begin to appreciate the role of the LSAs, as without doubt there are some similarities here.  The talented footballer presumably required the support of coaches, parents, officials, and teachers from both the local community as well as from the support systems we have in place here at Neston High School. Collectively, when we work together as a team, we can make an impact on the success of others and regardless of whether talent is natural or nurtured, we know that these individuals who help guide, inspire and nurture pupils are the cornerstone of any successful environment. 

Ms T Birkett

This week’s ‘Guest Blog’ is written by Ms T Birkett, teacher of computing and IT.  

The importance of robotics 

“It’s difficult to name a job that doesn’t involve an element of digital literacy,” says Paul Thornton, the network education lead at STEM Learning in a recent TES article. He continues that “employers have known this for some time, but the global pandemic has really highlighted the level of need.” It was during the pandemic that reliance on technology increased for man: from family zoom calls to online shopping.  Many workplaces realised the benefit of employees working from home and even today equip their staff with the resources to work from home, saving a huge cost on travel and premise expenses. But who is behind these life changing apps and services, developing them to meet the changing needs of society? The answer is computer scientists.  

Computer science has been a fixed part of the curriculum since 2012. Students in primary school are expected to learn some form of programming before building on this further in high school. The subject covers a range of specialisms, each to equip young people with the knowledge and skills to continue into further educations and employment. Learning skills such as computational thinking, logical reasoning, performance modelling, programme design, cyber security, knowledge of computer systems and data representation - to name just a few currently on our Key Stage 3 curriculum. As suggested in the same TES article Paul Thornton spoke in “the element of trial and error in coding encourages greater resilience; another important quality for future study and the workplace.” 

At Neston High School, the Computing Department deliver a rich curriculum taking students on a progressive journey thorough Key Stage 3, building on their skill year on year but always delivering something new. Year 7 will begin with learning how to program a game using Scratch, by Year 8 they are coding shapes and patterns using EduBlocks and writing their first text-based programs in Python using CSUK Coder. In Year 9 they continue their Pythion programming experience using IDEs such is IDLE and MU, ready to continue into Year 10 and 11 on the GCSE Computer Science course.  

The curriculum, however, can only go so far to equip our young people with the practical skills required in industry. With resources provided from organisations such as STEM Learning, the National Centre for Computing Education, the Raspberry Pi Foundation and The British Computer Society, The Chartered Institute for IT; schools have been able to create engaging and enlightening schemes of work for their students in Year 7 to 9. But missing in almost every school in the country is curriculum based physical computing – where students use their skills, on a physical device, where they can see their code come to life, via movement, sound or visual display. The main barrier to this is cost. It is expensive to ensure every student in a class has individual  access to such devices, and not just for a single one-off lesson, but over several lessons where they can really get familiar with the devices and build on their coding skills lesson on lesson.

A government funded scheme was launched seven years ago where every student in the country received a ‘BBC Microbit’. A small circuit board with an LED display and built-in sensors which could be programmed to perform a range of tasks, such as games and animations. Every Year 7 student at Neston High School received one of these devices and they were used in lessons over for half a term, to explore the possibilities with the devices and be creative to see what they were capable of. Enough devices were left in school to continue this scheme with the following year 7s for several more years.  

As with all technology in our own lives, as soon as one new piece of technology is released, a newer version becomes available with even more functionality than before. Hopefully one day we may see a scheme of this kind brought back again to give our students a sample of these newer types of technologies with no cost to the students or schools.  

Outside of the curriculum, many schools offer physical computing as an extra-curricular activity to help achieve the 1-to-1 experience for the students with the technologies that can’t be replicated in a classroom environment. Over the years organisations such as Raising Robots have donated Lego Robotics kits to schools to inspire more students into STEM subjects, such as computing, and to enter regional and national competitions.  

On Tuesday 25th April, Morgan and Will, in Year 7, represented the school at the EEP Robotics Challenge regional competition hosted at Edge Hill University. We took our Lego Spike Prime robot kits with us to face the various challenges of the day.  This is the first time the school team has competed in a competition like this since before Covid. Over the years Neston High School students have competed in cyber, STEM and problem-solving competitions hosted by other universities and colleges. It was great to organise a competitive trip again, getting to recruit students through hype and excitement for the challenge and spend time with them over the school year practising with the robots in their own time after school and at lunch.  

Arriving at the event, the atmosphere in the staging area was excitable, with nine other schools there – the room was alive with Lego robots running along the floor and across tabletops. It was very soon obvious that we were the smallest team there – all other schools made up of around ten students compared to our team of three. Edward, Morgan and Will rose to the challenge and divided up the challenges between them to get though as many as possible and therefore achieve more points. Industry experts were on hand at the event from various areas of STEM, such as the RAFNuclear engineeringFormula 1 and computer systems design. Many experts visited our practice area speaking to the students about what they were doing. All were impressed at their efforts and teamwork, keeping up with teams of ten as just the three of them.  

There were many challenges that faced the Neston Team that day – from a ‘surprise building challenge’ to a ‘building speed test’. In one of the challenges the students had to perform a presentation on what they had learnt from using the Lego robots. Our students spoke confidently and openly about their experiences; the fun they’d had and the problems they have had to overcome. They also shared their views on the future of robotics and their own places within that future. Heavily mentioned was the prospect of jobs being replaced by robots however they discussed humans would still be needed to maintain the robots so the role of a human workforce has not been completely lost.  

Our efforts from our small group of three paid off as we came 3rd overall in the speed test challenge. 

A successful day, not for trophies but for experiences and skills learned that they would not have experienced within a classroom environment. Looking to the future of the school Lego Robotics team, the students will be able to come back in Year 8 and stay part of the team where they will be able to mentor our new Year 7 students in the new school year.

Mr S Smith

This week’s guest blog is written by Mr Smith from the English Department

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” – Neil Gaiman

‘The Gruffalo’.

‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’.

‘Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy’.

My bookshelves and reading material have drastically altered over the last 4 months. My view on reading has also evolved as my perspective has widened from English teacher to parent.

Particularly, as an English teacher, time after time I have been faced with the dreaded question: “What’s the point in reading?” As teachers, we have the stock answers: (and there is nothing wrong with these) reading widens our horizons and perspectives; reading is a great cross-curricular skill; reading sparks creativity and is great for our mental health. It was not until I became a parent that I developed my understanding of just how much reading connects us and how valuable and important it is to humans.

Reading as a parent has also connected me to my community further. Next to the venue for ‘Bounce and Rhyme’, there is the local library. After the first session, I wandered around the children’s library and registered Evie with her own library card! We usually borrow a couple of books a week for her bedtime story. After speaking to the library assistant, it became apparent how this local resource was so underused (and of course, underfunded!) it reminded me how fortunate we are at Neston High as so many schools do not have a library.

Our library nestles at the heart of the school; there is a real buzz during break and lunch times as it is an inclusive and diverse space. Our library aims to cater for all tastes and students are encouraged to request books for our shelves. An initiative we launched last year was the library Amazon Wish list. We received numerous donations of new material which met the needs and interests of our students, much to their delight. Here is the link, if you felt that you could contribute to our library stock:

Building our reading culture at Neston includes daily encouragement for reading and opportunities to engage in literacy in lessons, tutor time and beyond. We do our best to have regular author visits and these continue to have a huge impact on students. When students have an author in the same room as them, they are able to see the possibilities reading and storytelling has - it inspires them, and they begin to understand its power and importance. Students feel included in this literary world which can sometimes feel like they are excluded from. We are already planning our next author visit!

I’ve been staying in rather a lot recently and have noticed so many celebrities promoting their latest podcast. From Abbey Clancy and Peter Crouch’s ‘the therapy podcast’ to Russell Tovey’s ‘Talk Art’ and Jessie Ware’s ‘Table Manners’, there is something for all tastes. There is a real appetite for stories and non-fiction through this medium and through audiobooks. A reminder: all of these forms are powerful and useful for us to guide our students and children to (and us adults!) We must work together to encourage them to engage with reading whether it is fiction or non-fiction whilst developing this life skill.

Over the years, many parents have told me their child used to love reading when they were younger’, I firmly believe this is not a skill or habit that disappears, it simply changes, and we need to adapt as our interests change. Reading material comes in a variety of ways; we just have to find one to suit us as individuals. Whether you’re a book holder, a kindle gripper or an audio book listener - you’re still being exposed to the wonderful world of literature!

So I’ll retreat back to Evie’s bedtime reads now. But let’s not underestimate the reading of ‘The Gruffalo’; let’s remember the power of stories in whatever form. ‘The Gruffalo’ isn’t just an amusing story about a clever mouse, it has the capability of helping children to problem solve and develop skills in friendship. The story also helps lead on to other important educational topics including rhymes, grammar, and the food chain. Most importantly, this little story is helping me build a strong relationship with my little girl.

Mr Smith

Follow our library Instagram: @nestonhighlibrary

Ms K Cunningham

As the dancer, Agnes de Mille said: “To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.”

One of my earliest memories is watching my grandparents dance at their wedding anniversary. I was so envious of how they glided round the room and my grandfather took pity on me and tried to teach me the waltz. Dancing was so important to them: they first met at a dance during World War II; they celebrated many major family milestones with a dance together; and in their twilight years they enjoyed nothing more than going on cruises and attending dinner dances. It is a shame how the generations that followed them did not always place such importance on dancing together. That is why it was so special to see so many of our students participating in our Performing Arts show, last night: it was phenomenal.  It was clear that the students found so much joy in what they were doing too. There were looks of concentration and ecstatic smiles at the end, safe in the knowledge they had performed well. It truly was a fabulous medley of talent. We witnessed spectacular dance, where students were able to showcase their talents and performed what we all agreed were graceful (and sometimes eye-watering) moves. A wonderful choir performed their own rendition of ‘Chasing Cars’ and later, some of the students performed solos – something I always think takes such courage. And what about the performance of Matilda, where students of all ages worked together to pull off a flawless set of scenes from one of our favourite musicals? It was filled with laugh-out-loud moments, where the students held their own on the stage and really shone.  We were treated to the samba band, and let’s not forget the KS3 dance club, who performed a piece choreographed by older students. It makes me feel immensely proud to see our students achieving so highly and working together so beautifully.

The audience too, were brought along with the emotion of the performances, some of which were happy and upbeat, whilst others were more pensive and drew us on an emotional journey. The students were able to articulate their thoughts and emotions so vividly through their performances. We have certainly felt the lack of opportunity to perform over the past few years of covid. Like most of us, I am very glad that we are back to being able to bring our community together through dance, music, singing and musical theatre again, once more.

Dancing is such a natural thing for humans; we have all seen babies and toddlers swaying to the beat of music. Students here are able to foster their love of dancing through exploring different types of dances and the progression they make from their first performances in Year seven to the accomplished dancers we see in the Sixth Form is phenomenal. Perhaps, we adults need to take a leaf out of their books. We may not all dance like our grandparents did, but let us think about the importance of being together as a community, working with people we wouldn’t normally connect with, celebrating the arts in all their forms which ultimately, is an expression of what it means to be human. Let’s show our children that we understand the importance of The Arts and what a great effect they can have, not just on our wellbeing, but on our lives as a whole.