Parents Carol Service Brings Much Needed Christmas Cheer

Parents and friends of the College were invited to join a special Virtual Carol Service at Princethorpe’s Our Lady of the Angels Chapel on Monday 14 December.

Although we were unable to gather together in person, the College produced a pre-recorded video so that our popular Parents' Carol Service could still take place. Following the traditional format, it included readings, carols and prayers, retelling the Christmas story.

It was a wonderful celebration of the season, bringing some much needed Christmas cheer to our wider Princethorpe community.

Many thanks to our wonderful Chaplaincy Team, Fr Alan Whelan MSC, Mary Benham, Director of Music, Gil Cowlishaw, our pupil readers, members of the Choir and Orchestra for all their contributions, and last, but by no means least, to our IT Team for all the filming and Marketing Co-ordinator, Charlotte Hancock for video editing.

If you like to see the Carol Service you still can by clicking here.

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Pupils And Parents Respond Generously To Chaplaincy Foodbank Challenge

Princethorpe College pupils, parents and staff have responded generously to the seasonal challenge to show they care through the donation of non-perishable food items. Every member of the school was asked to bring in one item of food and the community did not disappoint, showing a sense of empathy, generosity and solidarity that at one stage led to the school’s prayer room overflowing with boxes and bags of donations.

On Thursday 10 December Richard Gordon from the charity St Vincent de Paul Society, visited the school to collect the donations. He thanked the Princethorpe community profusely, saying, “The donations will be shared between the homeless and refugee charities that the SVP supports, including the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, Carriers of Hope and Warwick District Foodbank. They will be astonished at how much you have given. It will be invaluable.”

Mary Benham, Chaplaincy Coordinator added, “The level of enthusiasm and support shown for our Chaplaincy challenge was amazing, affirming the school’s spirit of family ethos and showing that pupils embrace the communities they live in and are willing to help those who are less fortunate than themselves.” She continued, “It is easy to sometimes think that one person alone cannot make a big impact, but by bringing all of those individual small acts of kindness together we have been able to show how we care.”

Musical Christmas Soiree A Cornucopia Of Delights

It’s traditional at Christmas for the College to host a Soiree to showcase pupils’ wonderful music and performance skills. Of course, this year, it will come as no surprise, that the Music department have had to do things a little differently, but that hasn’t stopped them having their usual fun.

Hosted by Director of Music, Gil Cowlishaw, from his sofa at home, the College is pleased to present a musical cornucopia of delights showcasing our pupil performers’ love of Christmas time.

The Soiree includes 21 different acts across a range of instruments and styles, modern and traditional, some serious, some silly, but all fabulously festive and accompanied by plenty of Christmas jumpers. The performance premiered on Tuesday evening but if you missed the fun you can still watch it here:

A huge thank you to all of the pupils and staff taking part.

We hope you enjoy this lovely informal musical soiree offering everyone a slice of something special this Christmas time.

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Record Numbers Of Pupils Embrace The Challenge Of The Duke Of Edinburgh's Awards

Despite all the challenges Covid-19 has presented this year, pupils at Princethorpe College have continued to participate in and successfully progress their Duke of Edinburgh's Awards.  Utilising the DofE temporary programme changes and expedition flexibilities, the College has adapted its DofE co-curricular programme to support pupils to complete their awards.

As we come to the end of the year we are delighted to share the news that from last year’s cohort of entrants some 70 pupils have already managed to sign off their Bronze awards.  An amazing achievement when you consider all of the restrictions they have had to take on board.

Back in July the Bronze Award participants took part in training walks, in small groups close to the school. Then in September, 100 pupils completed a two-day qualifying expedition, covering 30km walking a loop from Princethorpe down to Long Itchington and back. Although they were not allowed to camp overnight, they did still have to carry their packs and cook for themselves.

In the October half term, 53 Year 11 pupils completed their training expeditions in the South Cotswolds, travelling down each day, they walked from Chipping Norton, through Bourton on the Water to Stow on the Wold. Many of these pupils have already completed their Physical, Skill and Volunteering sections so they now just need to complete their Qualifying expedition, which is planned for the spring.

20 Upper Sixth students joined an open training expedition in the October Half Term taking part in a three day walk. They completed a large circuit of Derwent Water in the Lake District. Their qualifying expedition will now take place next summer.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Awards are recognised as the world’s leading youth achievement award. They provide young people with the opportunity to get involved, explore new interests, discover talents and make new friends.

Will Bower, Head of Outdoor Education, commented, “Record numbers of Princethorpe pupils continue to embrace the challenge of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.  They take the opportunity to develop skills and try new experiences, pushing themselves both mentally and physically to be the best they can be. This year our pupils have had to show extra initiative, adaptability and great organisation to keep on working towards their awards.  We are delighted with their commitment and enthusiasm, and very proud that so many have progressed so far. In fact, we have already matched the number who had completed the scheme at this point in the cycle last year. Huge thanks to the 30 staff and external instructors who have helped and supported them with their awards this year.”

Well done to all of the pupils who have taken part in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award this past year and good luck to the 225 pupils who have signed up to participate in the programme this coming year.

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OP Jonathan Gullis Spoke To Sixth Formers About His Journey To Becoming An MP

Old Princethorpian Jonathan Gullis MP joined us virtually on Friday 3 December to talk to Sixth Form students about his journey to becoming a Member of Parliament. From the inspiration of his former History teacher, Dr Simon Peaple, through his experiences as a local councillor and then on to the process of selection and finally election success, his talk gave an interesting insight into the ambition, dedication and hard work required to achieve his ‘dream’.

Jonathan also took time to answer Sixth Form Politics students’ questions, gamely facing our very own trainee Paxmans with fortitude. A whole range of topics were discussed from the ‘levelling up’ agenda so important to his own constituency, to the latest COVID tiers, the impact of COVID on the parliamentary process, the impact of the party whip on democracy, mental health and who his favourite Prime Minister is and lastly his own plans for the future.

Politics and History Teacher, Abi Adams, said, “Huge thanks go to Jonathan for taking the time to speak to the students and for sharing his fascinating insights into the work of a politician. It was such a good session that we ran out of time before we ran out of questions.”

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Josh Tidd Wins College Physics Essay Prize

Upper Sixth Former, Josh Tidd has been awarded the College’s first Physics Essay Prize for his piece on Acoustic Levitation.

Head of Physics, Dan Lee announced the winner in the Upper Sixth’s Physics lesson on Tuesday 8 December presenting a surprised Josh with his prize to much applause from his peers.

The students had been challenged to write Physics essays on a subject of their choice as an extension task for their curriculum studies.

Mr Lee, explains, “I enjoyed reading all of the essays but Josh's essay stood out because he expertly explained the concept of acoustic levitation and extrapolated this on to consider the theoretical levitation of a person. It was an excellent and well written piece. Now I just need to get the budget approved, for a loudspeaker of sufficient power, that could produce waves of just the right frequency, and of course find a willing volunteer to try his theory out! Well done, Josh."

You can read Josh's essay here.

Chapel Christmas Tree A Testament To The Presence Of Love In The World

The Christmas tree in the College Chapel has once again been lovingly decorated with twinkling lights and hand-cut stars, each holding the name of a special someone. 

It is a College tradition that every Christmas the community is invited to write on a star the names of those who have touched their lives with love and who have a special place in their hearts. The stars are then individually hung carefully on the tree.

The message of Christmas is one of love and the decorated Christmas tree in the College Chapel symbolically represents that message. The many stars on the tree are a testament to the presence of love in the world – and the way in which, individually, all our lives have been enriched by love, which is what Christmas is really all about.

Normally the stars are cut out by the pupils who visit the Chaplaincy and then distributed to all of the College. However, this year, in order to keep to the COVID bubbles, the Chaplaincy Prefects cut out stars for pupils in Year 7 and Year 8 who then wrote on them as part of their Advent reflection, to keep the tradition alive.

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A Christmas Carol Live From The Old Vic

On Monday 14 December over 100 Year 7 and Year 8 pupils watched a very special performance of Matthew Warchus’ smash hit production of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic A Christmas Carol performed and streamed live from The Old Vic. The production was part of their In Camera series of socially distanced performances streamed live from the iconic Old Vic stage with the empty auditorium as a backdrop.

Some Year 8 pupils have been studying A Christmas Carol in their lessons and enjoyed experiencing a live production, for others the joyous retelling of this uplifting Christmas story was an extra special English treat. The showing was organised by our English department and is the closest pupils will have got to experiencing live theatre in current times.

It was an excellent evening enjoyed by all.

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Two College Netballers Training With Academy Programmes

Two Princethorpe College netball players are excited to be a part of local Academy Programmes to develop competitive players.

Year 11 pupil, Eve Farquharson has been selected for the Rugby Hub of the Wasps Netball Academy Pathway Programme. The Coventry-based Superleague champions run eight hubs across the Midlands to target the most talented 13-18-year-old netball players in the area. Eve joins the U17s, and will now receive training from Wasps’ coaches and play in matches and tournaments against teams from the other hubs. It is an amazing opportunity.

Upper Sixth Former, Emelia Tubb has restarted her performance training with the Loughborough Lightning Academy. Emelia is an Academy Player in the U19 Squad that plays in National Performance League competitions. The Loughborough Lightning Academy also run training hubs across the region providing development and competition for aspiring netball players within a performance pathway. Emelia was first selected last year and is delighted to be back in training.

It’s fantastic news for them both and even better for the College squads. Well done girls!

Thinking Of Becoming A Teacher?

Thinking of becoming a teacher? Then why not consider training at Princethorpe College.

Whether you are a new graduate or contemplating a career change, we have opportunities available across the subjects but particularly for those with a Maths or Science degree. 

Though our association with the Lion Alliance, we offer a year’s training as part of the School Direct scheme, leading to Qualified Teacher Status. Placements would be at Princethorpe and also at other schools within the Lion Alliance. Our training is supported by Warwick University, Birmingham City University and by our experienced mentors here.

Now in its third year our successful scheme also attracts bursaries from the government of between £7,000 and £24,000 to support those training in Chemistry, Computing, Maths, Physics, Languages and Biology.

Trainee Geography teacher, Alice Reed, explains, “I can honestly say this has been one of the best decisions I've ever made! The support I have received, not only from my mentors but all the teaching staff at Princethorpe has been amazing. I have been given so many opportunities to teach a range of classes and year groups which has really helped develop my teaching style and confidence. I have also had the opportunity to support extra-curricular activities and have really enjoyed coaching the Year 7s hockey. I am thoroughly excited to begin my career as a qualified Geography teacher next year.”

Our Assistant Head for Teaching and Learning, Dr Liz Pyne is happy to offer advice about the different routes into teaching and what Princethorpe can offer you. Please email Dr Pyne at

Further information about the Lion Alliance can be found at

Information about Getting into Teaching and possible bursaries can be found at


Feast Day Reflects On The Ethos Of College Founders

On Tuesday 8 December, the College celebrated Feast Day, marking the day back in 1854 that the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (the founders of the College) were established. During period 3 the school community came together virtually to commemorate the anniversary with a special service of thanksgiving. The day is also an important day for all Roman Catholics, as it is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Father Alan Whelan MSC led the school community in reflecting on the work of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, to empower, educate and inspire. He explained how ‘Caring’, the Chaplaincy theme for this school year, was central to their ethos and that Jules Chevalier, the founder of the MSCs, believed that without a sense of caring there can be no community.

During the service pupils wrote on red hearts examples of how they care and those hearts have been hung on a Christmas tree for all to see.

In morning Tutor Time, the school held a Prize Giving Ceremony to celebrate the achievements of pupils over the course of the 2019/20 academic year. Prize winners joined the Headmaster, Ed Hester, in the Chapel for the presentation of the awards, while their peers watched from classrooms across the school and enjoyed a legendary Princethorpe cookie. It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate their success.

The full list of Prize Winners can be found in the Prize Giving Programme here and a link to the recording of the event here.

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News From Some Of Our Newest Princethorpe Mums

We are delighted to share news from some of our newest Princethorpe mums.

During the second half of 2020 four members of staff have welcomed new babies into their families: Emma Cooper (Head of Science), Julia Lindsay (Teacher of History), Alison Wakeley (Teacher of Music) and Lauren Prydderch (Receptionist\Administrator).

Julia explained, "It is fair to say that having a baby in 2020 has been a challenging experience - all the usual pregnancy, maternity and baby worries and stresses; the reality of life through a fog of sleep deprivation with a newborn and all while living through two lockdowns for Covid. Finding out that I was one of four Princethorpe ladies to be having a baby at roughly the same time has been a lifesaver. As we went into the first lockdown in March, with ante-natal classes and groups all being closed down, we turned to each other for support. We have messaged, chatted and video-called, being there for each other and gaining strength from each other, plus some adult conversation outside our own homes!

Emelia was born on 1 September; the third of the Princethorpe babies, who all appeared in the correct order, only four days later than she was due. Becoming a mum for the first time, making our own little family has been incredible, and overwhelming at times. It is true to say that the Princethorpe Spirit of Family extended beyond the walls of the College and the four of us have relied on each other for help, advice, meeting up (when we could) and I could not have got through this time without them. 

Others from the College have also been immensely kind and thoughtful, and it has been lovely to have messages of support, hand-knitted gifts and socially distanced walks. I’m definitely Princethorpe and proud, and blessed to be part of such a caring staff, who truly are friends."

Lauren said, "I can only echo Julia's sentiments. When I gave birth I spent nine days in hospital and spent much of that time alone, so having Alison, Emma and Julia to lean on for support during such a strange and uniquely challenging time was invaluable. I will never forget their kind words and gentle encouragement, whilst wondering if I would ever be discharged! Jack William Prydderch was born on 23 June weighing a healthy 7lbs 8oz. I have no doubt that he and this year's other Princethorpe babies will be friends for years to come."

Emma welcomed baby Jude on 22 August. She added, "As Julia and Lauren have said, being pregnant, giving birth and raising a baby for the first time during a pandemic has not necessarily been as we dreamed. Much of the support that we assumed would be there for us was suddenly no longer available. They say it takes a village to raise a child and a chunk of my village has appeared in the form of these lovely ladies and their gorgeous new arrivals, often over a phone or computer screen, with their kind words, much needed advice and surprise deliveries. 2020 will be a memorable year for most people and not necessarily for the best reasons, but for us it’s always going to be a favourite, bringing new family and a bonus of new friends."

Alison welcomed her third child, daughter Anna, at the very end of September, after keeping mum waiting for twelve days. Despite the delay, all was well with Anna, born weighing 9lb 8oz, and she was then met at home by her two very excited big bothers. She said, "Even though I am a third time mum, it’s amazing how much you forget and I have loved sharing this experience with the other Princethorpe ladies, who have given me so much advice and support, including someone to message during those 3.00am feeds!"

It was wonderful to hear how well these little ones are doing and to share news of the newest members of our Princethorpe family.

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