The Friends came into existence in 2001, as direct successors to the Parent Teacher Association, which had existed successfully for many years. So strong was the support from the community following the fire at the School, that it was felt that a broader representation than simply ‘parents’ and ‘teachers’ might be helpful. A significant contribution is usually made by the elected Sixth Form representatives and those appointed by the Student Council. The atmosphere of meetings is always easy and relaxed, with an easy two way flow of ideas and suggestions. The Agenda is always structured to allow members to bring individual concerns to the meeting.
In recent years the profile of first the P T A, and then the Friends has risen sharply, both as a fund raiser and as a forum for exchanging ideas. It has been useful to exchange the views of parents and teachers on matters, for example, of uniform, homework, discipline, transport and the use of facial adornment. Concerns in recent years have been expressed about Road Safety, which resulted in the lowering of the speed limit on roads adjacent to the school; the Sixth Form initiated a very constructive dialogue which resulted in permission to wear ‘tailored’ shorts during summer terms.
The Friends are often regarded primarily as a fund-raising organisation, and this aspect of their work remains very significant. In the past ten years the Friends and their forerunner, the PTA have raised over £100,000 for the School. Each year the Friends ask Departments to put in ‘bids’ for funding for items which do not strictly fall within the provision of the school’s budget. Thus the Friends never provide teaching basics, like textbooks, but are always happy to be asked to support items which can be regarded as ‘the icing on the cake’. The list is always very varied, ranging from tree planting to providing site licences for software – often a very costly item. All requests are scrutinised by the Headteacher to ensure that funding is not available from other regular sources. In recent years we have funded artists in residence – a very successful exercise; and items as different as Buddhist artefacts for R.E, cutters and dies for badge making, and cake tins and an embroidery sewing machine for the Food/Textiles department. An increasingly common request is for CD Rom material.Current thinking suggests that in future The Friends will concentrate their efforts on more cross-curricular, large projects, in additional to some departmental funding. In addition a significant contribution is made every year to the Headteacher’s Discretionary Fund, which assists pupils in a number of ways, ranging from attending sporting events to support for field trips.
By far the largest source of funds in recent years has been the Car Boot Sales which are held almost every week of the year – weather permitting. For each of the last five years they have raised over £9,000 for School funds. The Boot Sales have proved to be a considerable asset to the community and a means of providing a useful regular interface with many parents, friends and relations who enjoy supporting the school in a relatively effortless way. In addition, we have held regular Summer Fairs, Jumble Sales, Craft Fairs and Raffles, and also Quiz Nights, Wine and Cheese Evenings and events ranging from Skittles to Bingo, Fashion Shows to Progressive Whist. The Committee, which tries to represent every age group, is always on the look out for new ideas – the latest being a Clay Pigeon Shoot, and an Antiques Road Show. In addition, the Friends run a 100 Club, with three draws each term, with prizes steadily increasing, to reflect a healthily growing membership.
Anyone can join the Friends. The first approach should either be via the School Office, who can provide contact names, or just email
for details of our termly meetings – always held on week-night,usually in the school, starting at 7 or 7.30pm. You can be sure of a warm welcome!