Message From The Headmaster

As we come to the end of a busy half term I’d like to congratulate our pupils and staff on all their many and varied achievements over the last few weeks, from the setting and taking of online assessments, to huge levels of engagement in House Challenges and Tutor Time and unwavering commitment to their Home Learning and Post-16 Courses. It is truly amazing to see what we have achieved together as a community.

The planned re-opening of the College for Year 10 and Lower Sixth after half term is of course, foremost in our minds. Our team has worked tremendously hard to pull together what we feel is a robust and comprehensive plan to enable these year groups to have meaningful face to face contact with their teachers and a positive educational experience, whilst minimising the risk of infection.

Our approach necessarily differs somewhat from that of the Foundation junior schools where creating a ‘bubble’ for the pupils, as outlined by the government for primary schools, is possible. The government guidance for senior schools is much more limited but recognises for secondary schools that there will be some subject specialist rotation of staff. 

With GCSE and A-level option choices and setting in key subjects such as English and Maths, it is our view that it would simply not be possible for pupils to be limited to just one group when coming into school. Rather we have focused on strict social distancing measures between pupils and staff at all times and a thorough cleaning regime throughout the school day to minimise the risk of infection.

Comprehensive risk assessments and final planning documents are now mostly in place and will be further scrutinised over the days ahead to ensure we are fully happy with compliance of regulations, health and safety.

As I write, I am aware that the Independent SAGE Report has just been published and we are also expecting a further government announcement next week; we hope these will give further clarity and that we get the green light to go ahead as planned. We will of course communicate our full plans with parents, pupils and staff in good time for the planned return to school on Monday 1 June.

Wishing you all a very good Bank Holiday weekend and half term break.

Ed Hester

Home Learning - The Next Phase

We are now ending our sixth week of home learning. Here at Princethorpe we have been tackling the challenges day to day to provide the best experience possible for our pupils. Both pupils and teachers have found themselves facing new encounters with technology; it has been an example of resilience by all! We have been amazed by the standard of work submitted by the pupils and their unwavering support of the House challenges, activities and school ethos. Teachers have been delighted by the commitment shown by the pupils to their studies. And of course, parents have played a vital role in the home learning experience too, providing support and encouragement when needed.

We will be moving to our next ‘phase’ of home learning after half term. New challenges will continue but we have been making plans to ensure that all pupils continue to receive the best possible experience allowing for safety and progress.

For our Year 10 and Lower Sixth, contact with their teachers will provide the much-needed dimension to support their exam studies. Individual timetables will be issued and staff are looking forward to seeing and teaching their classes in school. This will support their home learning which will continue on the days they are not at Princethorpe.

For our Years 7 to 9, home learning will continue as per their timetable. We have found that providing the structure of the school day is very supportive to the progress of the pupils and has allowed them to maintain their engagement with their teachers.

The change for Years 8 and 9 concerns the subjects that pupils are currently taking but won’t be continuing with in September. We are making some changes to allow these pupils some extra flexibility.

  • For Year 9, they will of course continue with English, Maths, Science and Religious Studies, but then may concentrate on their Option subjects for Year 10 if they wish and leave behind those subjects that they aren’t continuing with. Those Option subjects which will be new to them (Sports BTEC, Sports ED, Business and Psychology) will be setting up Teams to provide background reading material to get the pupils ready for September. This will mean that they will have a head start on their studies and will be motivated to learn.
  • For Year 8, it will mean that they will continue with their normal curriculum but will not have to submit any work for those subjects they are not continuing with into Year 9.

In both of those instances, the pupils are of course very welcome to continue as members of their Teams and submit work if they would like to.

We will continue to assess the home learning offering for all pupils in the weeks ahead. What does not change, is our continued desire to provide the best possible learning experience for all pupils.

Dr Liz Pyne
Assistant Head - Teaching and Learning

Second Virtual Recital Celebrates Princethorpe At Home

After a sensational first Social Distance-Sing Spring Concert, Princethorpe’s Director of Music, Gil Cowlishaw, has now pulled together a second virtual Princethorpe At Home Recital for the school community to enjoy.

The event will stream tonight at 6.00pm and promises to be every bit as enjoyable as the Social Distance-Sing Concert was before.

Mr Cowlishaw has once again masterminded the whole event which this time includes 27 performances submitted by pupils from Year 7 up to Lower Sixth, at Grades 1 to 8, some serious, some light-hearted, some downright silly (and wonderful!) and one pupil even using technology to perform a quintet with herself! The performers include pupils, staff, peripatetic teachers and look out for a special performance by the Headmaster, Ed Hester, as well.

The lockdown recital also includes two very special group performances. The first a 12-piece a capella rendition of a mashup of Beyoncé’s Halo and Katrina and the Waves’ Walking on Sunshine and, in support of and as a tribute to Captain Tom and his NHS fundraising walk and all frontline medical staff working in the current crisis, a stirring 40-piece rendition of the moving anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Gil Cowlishaw explains, “Traditionally at this time of year, we have a music recital evening for pupils to share solo and small group items with their parents. The event is always popular so I knew we would have plenty of pupils wanting to perform. I also put out a call to see who would be interested in another group performance and had a great response. It was a lot of work putting it together but I know you will agree that the finished performance is both inspiring and uplifting, it really is very special!”

We will post the finale piece at 7.00pm on social media so do share it with family and friends.

A huge thanks to Gil and his wonderful Princethorpe vocalists and musicians.

It promises to be super entertainment for a Friday evening!!

Pupils And Staff Rise Superbly To The House Challenges

Pupils and staff have really enjoyed the weekly House Challenges. It has been great to see the enthusiasm and participation in the online House Teams. The new House Captains and the House Activities Co-ordinators have been offering plenty of encouragement and support, keeping all our spirits high and giving this year’s House Cup challenge a bumper start.

Over the last two weeks there have been two more exciting events. In the run up to the VE Day anniversary, pupils were asked to create the British flag, it could take any form but could not be simply painted or drawn. There were some wonderful creative and unusual entries, we had flower flags, cake flags, button flags, flags made from rosettes and from clothes, they were all amazing to see.

Well done to Fisher and Benet Houses who were the joint winners of the Flag challenge. The individual winners included: Anya Watson, Charlotte Fitzpatrick, James Walker, Joseph Newborough, Sophie Cheshire, Wilf Grindal, Dr Gane, Mrs Fielding and Mrs Challinor.

Then came the Land's End to John O'Groats Challenge, making the most of the beginning of the relaxation of the lockdown rules. House Activities Leader, Jess Newborough, challenged everyone to get out and get exercising. To walk, run, swim, ride, cycle or row from Land's End to John O'Groats. It was the not quite Sports Day challenge and every little distance helped.

First over the line, with a superb effort, completing the full distance to reach John O’Groats, was Austin House. In second place and reaching Perth in Scotland were More, third were Benet who made it up to Northumberland and fourth Fisher who reached Long Eaton in Nottinghamshire.

A huge shout out to all who took part, you can see the top 10 contributors for each house in the spreadsheet here.

Many thanks to Jess Newborough and her wonderful House Activities Co-ordinators and House Captains for all their passion and endless energy with the weekly House Challenges. We hope pupils have enjoyed taking part just as much as we have enjoyed seeing all their superb entries.

It has been a fabulous half term of House fun that was finished today with a special afternoon of activities. More on that in the next edition of the Flagpole.

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First Ever OP Virtual Event Voted A Big Hit

We had a great response to our first ever OP Virtual Event - a Quiz Night held on Friday 15 May 2020 with attendees videoconferencing in from around 30 locations. The event replaced our London Meet which has had to be postponed to March 2021 due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Participants from across the decades included former pupils and parents from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and beyond, current staff and former teachers Peter and Liz Griffin, Ed MacFetridge, Greg Hunter and Robert Startin. Dedicated Hong Kong and Asia based OPs Alan Young, Vitus Leung and Anthony Ku even stayed up until the early hours of the morning to join us.

The fun kicked off at 8.00pm, with two quiz sessions with an interval in the middle and the final quiz-goers signed off from the call at around 10.30pm.

Hosted by Headmaster Ed Hester over Zoom, the quiz tested general knowledge, vehicular, sport, film and musical know how in seven challenging rounds. The final round related to all things Princethorpe and a tie breaker of ‘your funniest memory of Princethorpe’ put an additional 20 points up for grabs.

There were several strong teams in the field - special mention should go to the Johnsons, the Rogers family, John Sage, the Campbell/Potters, Moira Rollason, Eddie and Ann Tolcher, the Dodds, the Sharpes, the Roberts and the McBride families.

When it came down to the tie-breaker however it was between the O’Gormans (Lee, Paddy and Meg), who had been very strong contenders from the outset, and the leavers of 2013 (Dan Lane, Chris Bond, Lucy Tallis and Carmen and James Simpson). The 2013 leavers’ memories of Mr Hester in the sports hall on the exploding space hopper, was judged as the ‘funniest Princethorpe moment’ and gained them the extra 20 points they needed to clinch first place with a fantastic overall score of 74 points.

Well done to all the participants, we were delighted to be able to get everyone together via the wonders of Zoom and hope that a good time was had by all.

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Seb Dibb Awarded The Julia & Martin Wilson Short Story Prize

Many congratulations to Year 11, Seb Dibb, who has won the Broadway Arts Festival’s The Julia & Martin Wilson Short Story Prize.

Introduced to encourage creativity and imaginative writing during the lockdown, in particular by young people, the competition received some 193 entries from writers across the world. The judges, Julia and Martin Wilson, were impressed by the high standard of the stories commenting, “We were surprised and very gratified by the large number of entries and by the very high standard of so many of the stories. Both the prize-winning entries in the Adult and Under Sixteen categories were beautifully written and highly original.”

Seb was inspired to write his story having read Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol and plans to buy some A-level reading material with his prize. He will be studying English Literature, History and Geography in the Sixth Form and will continue to write prose, poetry and play scripts in his spare time. Seb said, “The news that I had won the competition certainly brightened the lockdown. It came as a real surprise.”

Seb’s prize-winning story Broken Heating can be read on the Arts Festival website, along with the Adult winner and the stories awarded ‘Highly Commended’, here:

Well done Seb, we were delighted to hear of your story-writing success.

Former Pupil Jamie Allenby Is Heading Stateside

Former pupil and talented rugby player, Jamie Allenby (who was at Princethorpe from 2015-2018), applied to a number of American universities for a sports scholarship to play rugby.

Jamie was considered for a number of top flight teams, including Life University in Georgia and Lindenwood in Missouri, both of which are Division One Rugby League Universities. Jamie applied via the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), took the SATS (the test for College admissions), sent a show-reel via an agent to support his application and then took part in a number of Skype interviews.

Jamie was aggressively recruited by seven Division 1 colleges and eventually signed and committed to Life University in Georgia. Life (The Running Eagles) are the back to back champions for Division 1 in the NCAA and have only lost one game throughout the USA in the last three years. Jamie will be out in the USA for five years, whilst he studies for a degree in Business and Finance.

It is a very exciting time for Rugby over in the USA, as from October 2020 the sport is rolling out a draft system for talented college graduates similar to the NFL. Rugby is developing into a hugely popular sport.

Jamie left Princethorpe College after Year 11 and went onto Hartpury College. He plays on the second row and as a flanker, and as well as playing for Hartpury, he plays for Old Leamingtonians.

His pre-season training will start in early September with College starting in October.

Jamie said, "I would like to thank Princethorpe College for the huge role they have played in helping me achieve this success, both in terms of the rugby coaching I received and also the help I had to get my GCSE's."

Jamie has set up a fund raising page to help him travel to the USA and is asking that people donate the price of their favourite drink in their local pub, just as if they were buying Jamie a drink to celebrate his success. You can find the page here.

Good luck Jamie we were really pleased to hear your wonderful news and hope you have a fantastic time in the USA.

Virtual Ceremony Announces Princethorpe Diploma Awards And Welcomes New Sixth Form Subject Ambassadors

On Thursday 14 May Princethorpe College shared a virtual ceremony with pupils across the school. The video assembly announced the names of the Sixth Form students awarded the prestigious Princethorpe Diploma and then went on to introduce the College's new Subject Ambassadors.

Headmaster, Ed Hester, opened proceedings by reflecting on the importance of the Princethorpe Diploma, an award created to recognise all those students who give so much to the school. The Princethorpe Diploma is given to Sixth Formers who evidence commitment and contribution across the board, to Academic Studies, Community and Ethos, Service To Others, Work Experience, Co-curricular and Attendance And Punctuality.  It is a testament to these young people's qualities and skills. 

We offer our congratulations to this year’s Sixth Formers awarded the Diploma. A list of recipients can be found here:

Princethorpe Diploma 2020

Head of Sixth Form, Ben Collie, was then delighted to announce the new Subject Ambassadors.  A list of the Subject Ambassadors can be found here:

Subject Ambassadors 2020

Assistant Head – Teaching and Learning, Dr Liz Pyne, spoke about the important role of the Subject Ambassadors, the passion they have for their subjects and the work they do to support the wider school community. Princethorpe’s Subject Ambassadors host lunchtime clinics, support pupils attending Princethorpe Prep, promote their subjects, encourage their younger peers to get involved with their subjects and generally work to further the pupil community’s understanding and engagement in their subject area.

The new Subject Ambassadors then spoke to the community to introduce themselves and share their plans for the year.

We congratulate our new Ambassadors on their appointment and offer our thanks go to the outgoing Ambassadors for all their hard work this past year.


When The BBC's Father Brown Visited Princethorpe

The BBC's Father Brown is back on iPlayer so if you missed seeing Princethorpe featuring in this popular detective series then now is your chance.

The College's church and gardens were used in Series 1 in the sixth episode, called the Brides of Christ. The episode was filmed back in the summer of 2012 and featured some of Princethorpe's pupils as nun extras.

The series is based on G K Chesterton’s stories involving the crime-solving Catholic priest Father Brown, played by the Fast Show and Harry Potter films' Mark Williams.

In the episode two nuns die in mysterious circumstances at St Agnes convent, and Father Brown investigates with the aid of Sister Boniface, an eager young fan of detective novels.

Why not settle down to watch - you will see the College in a whole new light!

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Kat Brittain Creates A Stunning Chandelier Out Of Pasta Shells

Princethorpe’s very own Learning Support Assistant, Katrina Brittain has been busy upcycling during lockdown and her latest creation was so stunning that it even featured in the newspapers and on TV.

Put off by the price of a lavish light fitting Kat set about creating her own stunning replica using some unconventional craft supplies, bags of pasta shells.
Kat cooked the pasta, rolled it into balls and assembled the balls on a wire frame. After leaving the pasta to dry, she then took her creation into the garden to spray paint it white before hanging it up in her newly decorated house. It took her nine days to make but cost just £5.60, a tiny fraction of the price of the original chandelier.

Kat said, "I love upcycling things I find from Facebook. The house is full of furniture of all different colours now. It's so easy to sand down and repaint a cupboard but building a chandelier out of pasta from scratch well that is definitely something new even for me."

Her imagination and creativity were praised in the press too as Kat and her chandelier featured on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine television show and in the Sun newspaper.

It’s fabulous Kat, we are all very impressed - you will have to do a piece for the Summer Art, Photography and Design Show!

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Princethorpe's Matron Is Working In A&E

Tuesdat 12 May was International Nurses Day, celebrated around the world every year on the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birthday.

This year, International Nurses Day gave us the perfect opportunity to salute all the nurses working so hard across the NHS and to especially recognise our very own matron, Paula Greig, who answered the call to return to the NHS. Paula is currently working in A&E in Nuneaton.

So to Paula and to all nurses who provide care and attention to those unwell and in need, we say thank you for all that you do.  


OP Friendly Faces Gears Up To Help The Next Generation Of OPs

We are looking to get more OP Friendly Faces on board to widen the support network of OPs in universities across the country for the leavers of 2020.

OP Friendly Faces aims to link past pupils established at university with first year OP students. Providing a friendly, familiar face to meet up with over a coffee (compliments of the OPs) or having someone to call in their new uni town or city, does, we know, make for a smoother experience in those first few weeks away from home. 

We are hoping that many of those who were helped last year will be prepared to be a Friendly Face this year, and that many of those already signed up to help will also be prepared to continue. 

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, " We have OP Friendly Faces in around 30 university towns and cities and would like to expand on that significantly this year and get more of our leavers matched up for the new academic year."

The Upper Sixth were emailed with a link to enable them to sign up for OP Friendly Faces and to be added to PC Connect, our alumni database, to receive our termly OP e-newsletter before lockdown. Their PC Connect accounts will go live after half term and their parents will be invited to sign up too. We appreciate that in the current circumstances decisions about university destinations may be somewhat up in the air, so will survey the Upper Sixth again after Results Day to confirm what their plans are and get the ball rolling with OP Friendly Faces as appropriate.

All leavers and their parents are automatically given free membership of the OP Association and are welcome at all of our events.

For more information call 01926 634284 or email

Old Princethorpian E-newsletter Out Now!

Click here to access the thirty-fourth issue of the Old Princethorpian e-newsletter which was published on Friday 15 May.

This special COVID-19 issue includes the latest Foundation and College news, plus plenty of news and updates from OPs across the decades, including insights into how our community is dealing with the crisis and being in lockdown.

If you are an OP or know an OP who would like to share their news or pictures with us for the next issue due out in mid October please email by the end of September.

If you would like to be added to the distribution list please email Old Princethorpians' Secretary Melanie Butler or join our Alumni community Princethorpe Connect.