An Illustrated History of Old Sutton in St. Helens, Lancashire

Part 18 (of 87 parts) - From Robins Lane to Sutton Academy Part 5 (2000-13)

An Illustrated History of Old Sutton in St.Helens
Part 18 (of 87) - Sutton High School Part 3
A 5-part history of Robins Lane Schools & Sutton High
An Illustrated History of
Old Sutton in St.Helens
Sutton High Part 3
A 5-part history of Robins Lane Schools and Sutton High
Researched and Written by Stephen Wainwright ©MMXVI
In June 2000 Lisa Davies, Jessica Khozouie and Anthony Albrecht of Sutton Community High participated in the 'St.Helens Day in the Dome'. They were among a party of schoolchildren who visited London to perform the 20-minute drama 'Our Town Story' at the Millennium Dome. At the annual school presentation night in January 2001, a number of students were honoured for their academic and sporting achievements. These included Fay Holden, Gemma Kelly, Emma Sherrington, Sara Pepper and John Wilson for their A-level achievements and the Year 11 football / rugby side were Sports Team of the Year. Gareth Bowes won the Peter White Award and the Outstanding Effort and Achievement at GCSE prize went to Ian Callaway and Daniel Smith.

In May 2001 Sutton High Community school was granted a Sportsmark Gold Award, one of only 58 schools in the North West. The award recognises excellence in physical education and sports provision, both during curriculum time and in extra-curricular activities. In September the school began an appeal to raise £50,000 to help it achieve Sports College status and various fundraising activities were held.

Left: Presentation night with Lesley Calderbank and governor Susan Hitchmall; Right: Firefighters receive a cheque

Left: Presentation night with headteacher Lesley Calderbank and governor Susan Hitchmall; Right: Firefighters receive a cheque from students

a) Presentation with Lesley Calderbank and governor Susan Hitchmall
b) Firefighters receive a cheque

The school was praised by Shaun Woodward, then MP for St.Helens South, during November 2001 for raising over £1000 for the New York Firefighters Fund. This had been created in the wake of the '9/11' tragedy to support the victims. The Sutton contribution had been raised through donations and the efforts of schoolchildren, such as Rachel Whitfield of Year 8 who sold £100 worth of raffle tickets.

Shaun Woodward also gave his support to the Sports College bid which would help the school develop expertise and build on its sporting success. Having the Sutton Leisure Centre on its doorstep did the bid no harm and proposals for a lottery-funded expansion of the facility were announced in March 2002. The Sports College status was achieved in July and the school joined only twenty similar specialist institutions across the country. This meant another name change and
Sutton High Sports College began teaching pupils in September 2002. To mark the new title, the school held a football juggling event. One hundred and ten students simultaneously juggled footballs for thirty seconds, which got them into the Guinness Book of Records! That year an anti-bullying initiative was rewarded with the top award in the Safer Merseyside Partnership community safety awards. A group of 16 pupils, led by teacher Alice Bradley, had produced their own role play and song.

Left to Right: Emma Platt, Stephanie Mercer, Jo Finegan and Kirsty Glover raising cash for Children in Need in 2002

Left to Right: Emma Platt, Stephanie Mercer, Jo Finegan and Kirsty Glover who were raising cash for Children in Need in November 2002

Emma Platt, Stephanie Mercer, Jo Finegan and Kirsty Glover raising cash for Children in Need in 2002

The Children in Need coffers were boosted in November 2002 when the school raised £1353 through a range of fundraising activities. These included the washing of teacher's cars, which contributed £150 to the total. In March 2004 Sutton High became the first high school in St.Helens to gain accreditation for both Drugs and Sex and Relationships education under the national Healthy Schools Standards project. Also that month popular poet Ian McMillan worked with students at the sports college, supervising workshops that examined the links between poetry and sport. A summer fayre on July 3rd 2004 raised £2000 for school funds with Sutton Manor Primary winning a five-a-side football tournament. The Challenge Cup, brought along by Saints Rugby League club, proved a popular attraction. At the end of August the school was pleased to report a 13% rise in A* to C GCSE passes over the previous year. In November the Year 7 pupils helped the Sherdley Park Rangers plant 70 trees during 'Plant a Tree Week'.

Lesley Calderbank left the school in 2004 after seven years in charge to become head of the Marple Hall School in Stockport. Later Lesley married Geoff Caton, who had also served as Sutton High head from 1992 to '97. The new headteacher was
Paul Melia who in May 2005 was able to announce a £530,000 grant from the Football Federation. This was intended to develop improved pitches and facilities, including new changing rooms. Mr. Melia said he hoped that regional cup finals would now be held in Sutton. That season the Year 10 cricket team, captained by Rob Hughes, won the St.Helens district Under 15s league for the first time in the school's history. In fact they went through the whole season unbeaten. In August the school was able to boast its best ever GCSE results and A-level students attained an outstanding pass rate of 98%. All Sutton pupils who applied to university had been accepted, with over 95% being accepted by their first choice.

In December 2005, 36 students were presented with the Duke of Edinburgh Award at a ceremony at the Theatre Royal in St.Helens. Guest celebrities from Hollyoaks presented 27 students with their bronze awards and 9 won silver. There were double celebrations at the annual presentation evening in January 2006. Not only were 300 Year 11 and Year 13 students recognised for their GCSE and A-level achievements, but the school's success in gaining Investor in People status was also celebrated. The guest speaker was rower
Dr. Alison Mowbray, an Olympic silver medallist.

Posters for two Sutton High Sports College Open Evenings which took place in 2006 (left) and 2007 (right)

Posters for Sutton High Sports College Open Evenings held in 2006 and 2007

Open Evening posters for 2006 & 2007

The 2006 A-level results were quite impressive with a 93% pass rate and 51 students progressed to university. On November 17th 2006, a total of 54 students were presented with the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award by St.Helens Rugby League players. In 2007 an astonishing ninety Year 10 students enrolled to take part in the Bronze Award, with forty Year 12s going for Silver and seven for the Gold Award. In December of 2007, Sutton High became the first secondary school in St.Helens to be awarded the new Sportsmark by Sport England. This recognises the quality of PE lessons, variety and quantity of extra-curricular sports provision and community sports links.

On February 28th 2008 a curious event took place in the Arts Centre which involved fairies, pirates, skeletons, Hawaiian girls, footballers and bunnies! Year 8 pupils were sampling German culture and celebrating 'Fasching', the annual German Carnival. In December 2008 more than 30 pupils who had completed their Duke of Edinburgh award, received their badges at a presentation in the Theatre Royal.

The school had received a number of positive Ofsted reports over the years which had invariably described the school as 'good'. There had also been many improvements in examination results since the Sports College status had been announced in 2002. So it was disappointing for Sutton High Sports College to be criticised for poor GCSE results in 2007. During the Autumn, St.Helens Council placed it under a Category C order as a 'School Causing Concern'. Following an inspection in May 2008, Ofsted issued a 'Notice to Improve' and during the summer, Sutton High was designated a 'National Challenge School' by the Department for Children, Schools & Families. In fact it had only just fallen below the threshold of a 30% minimum of students achieving 5 A* to C grades in GCSE, including English and Maths. As a result headteacher Paul Melia resigned and Haydock High Sports head
Stephen Fullerton took over as executive headteacher for a year, while still retaining his responsibility for Haydock. In February 2009 a much more positive Ofsted report was issued which said the school was making 'good progress' in addressing issues for improvement and under-achievement.

The voices of Sutton Sentinel's talking newspaper past and present, Dave Edwards and Tracy Grace

Dave Edwards and Tracy Grace of the Sutton Sentinel talking newspaper

Dave Edwards and Tracy Grace of the Sutton Sentinel talking newspaper

The Sutton Sentinel celebrated its 30th birthday In October 2008. Countless students had contributed to the talking newspaper over the three decades, which was now distributed on tape to 150 visually impaired people every week. Dave Edwards was the first person to record news items for the Sentinel, which was now voiced by Tracy Grace, who worked in the school office. In 2016 Dave was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the St.Helens Star's inaugural Education Awards.

In March 2009 the school was featured in a number of newspapers for its novel approach of introducing darts into maths. In an age of calculators and computers, mental arithmetic was taking a back seat. So darts matches were being used to improve pupil numeracy and make the subject fun. Professional dart players
Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting even dropped into the school to provide some tips on arrows and arithmetic. (See photo below with pupils L-R Jack Grace, Luke Williams, Shane Littler & Kieran Edwards). That year’s dance show was called 'Come Back and Dance' and was a near sell-out over three nights. It featured 186 students, including some pupils from four local primary schools.

Ian Walker took over as head in September 2009 just before Ofsted announced that the school’s Notice to Improve was being withdrawn. At the same time exciting plans were afoot to form a new academy school, based on sports and science. Sponsored by St.Helens College and Edge Hill University, The Sutton Academy was set to open in a year's time.
Over three nights in December 2009, 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' was performed by sixty students from Years 7 – 13, along with several staff members. Half of the proceeds from ticket sales and refreshments were donated to the Connect charity to help fund a toy library for families in need. Years 7 – 13 from Sutton High Sports College were also represented in 'Evacuate The Dancefloor', performed in February 2010. The show involved a total of 190 dancers, including 50 pupils from Robins Lane, Sutton Manor, Eaves Lane and Willow Tree primary schools.

Left: Darts players Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting with pupils; Right: Centenary Exhibition invitation

Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting and invitation to the Centenary Exhibition

Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting, plus Centenary Exhibition invitation

During July 2010 a Centenary Exhibition took place in the Drama Studio, which told the story of the school through music, drama, photographs and memorabilia.

The Sutton Academy opened in September 2010 under new head
David Terry with the motto of ‘Living to learn. Learning to live’. Five months later it was announced that the campus was set to be transformed by an £8.3 million investment. This would involve the construction of a two storey frontage with spacious learning zones, including a Bio-dome described as a 'funky new science facility designed to help bring the subject alive'; Creative Zone for food, technology, art and graphics, with industry-standard facilities; Learning Plazas with the latest IT facilities; Dance Studio with sprung floor, mirror wall and state-of-the-art performance technology; Nurture Base for Year 7s, designed to help new students settle in, plus a Student Development Centre. David Terry declared that the academy would become a "centre of excellence for learning, particularly in teacher training and education."

In June 2012
The Sutton Academy Diamond Jubilee party was held in the school's arts centre, which was decorated with union flags and bunting. Many pensioners enjoyed a monologue, a performance by the school chamber choir, buffet lunch, quiz, bingo, raffle and a rousing sing-song that brought the celebration to an end. All the guests received a painted glass created by Year 10 pupils and a picture frame with their photograph as a memento of the day.
Work had begun on the new school buildings by Easter 2012 and they were in partial use by early 2013. The official unveiling of the remodelled academy took place on July 6th as part of their Sutton Community Festival. This was described as an 'explosion of fun for the whole community' and St.Helens’s hero Andy Reid, plus the Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens, Andy and Janice Bowden, conducted the opening ceremony. The day of activities included the Sutton 'Bushtucker Trials', a Ready Steady Cook competition, skate park, bungee trampoline and performances by the Sutton Tornados cheerleaders. It was proudly stated that this is 'not just a new school, it is a bright new future for The Sutton Academy'. This was underlined by highly successful examination results in August (100% BTEC, 97% A-level & 91% 5 A* to C GCSE) which all bodes well for the future.
Thanks to Albert Greenall for his assistance and donating his personal school archive.
Thanks to Albert Greenall for his assistance and donating his personal school archive.
Next:  Part 19)  St. Anne's R.C. School   |   Research Sources
Stephen Wainwright
This website has been written and researched and many images photographed by myself, Stephen Wainwright, the Sutton Beauty & Heritage site owner. Individuals from all over the world have also kindly contributed their own photographs. If you wish to reuse any image, please contact me first as permission may be needed from the copyright owner. High resolution versions of many pictures can also be supplied at no charge. Please also contact me if you can provide any further information or photographs concerning Sutton, St.Helens. You might also consider contributing your recollections of Sutton for the series of Memories pages. Sutton Beauty & Heritage strives for factual accuracy at all times. Do also get in touch if you believe that there are any errors. I respond quickly to emails and if you haven't had a response within twelve hours, check your junk mail folder or resend your message. Thank you! SRW
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