Rebirth Of Rural School Celebrated At Awards Led By High-Profile TV Celebrity

Lewis Kidd receives the Chief Executive's Special Award from TMAT CEO David Hampson, and TV presenter Helen Skelton, at the annual Somercotes Academy Presentation Evening, held this year at Louth Town Hall.

Singing Paloma Faith's "Make Your Own Kind Of Music" to an audience which included a TV celebrity, in a Town Hall packed to the rafters with proud family members, students at Somercotes Academy proved just how far this rural secondary school has come since its rebirth four years ago.

The renaissance of this Lincolnshire village school began in 2015, following a disastrous Ofsted that had left it in special measures and at risk of closure.

At a time when rural schools were closing one after the other, and most were wary of attempting a rescue, Tollbar Multi Academy Trust saw something it believed in and, using a tried and tested methodology (its flagship Tollbar Academy has been Outstanding for 11 years), it changed the school's name, totally refurbished the site from the ground upwards, and installed outstanding teachers, whose passion for success was infectious.

Four years later, Somercotes Academy has doubled its numbers; it was over-subscribed for last month's Year 7 intake and now has a waiting list. The Academy has even had to relocate its annual student prize-giving ceremony to a much larger Louth Town Hall this year to facilitate the demand for seats. Ofsted has now rated it 'Good.'

BBC TV celebrity and former Blue Peter dare-devil, Helen Skelton, was this year's guest of honour at the Academy's now Annual Presentation Evening, which recognises students' success in the previous year. Earlier in the day, she visited the Academy and chatted with students from all year groups.

The down-to-earth Cumbrian-born TV star, made a name for herself as a Blue Peter presenter, taking on incredible challenges. She completed the Namibia Ultra Marathon (becoming the second woman ever to do so), kayaked over 2018 miles down the Amazon River (breaking two Guinness World Records), completed a 66-metre high wire walk between the towers of Battersea Power Station and, in 2012, travelled 500 miles across Antarctica to the South Pole, becoming the fastest person to travel 100km by ski, and breaking more World Records.

Understandably then, her message to the students was to make their own kind of music, and sing their own kind of song. "When people tell you that you cannot do that, as so many did with most of my achievements, you should use that to spur you on," she told them.

"I am not a kayaker, or a high-wire walker, but I proved the doubters wrong when they said to me 'you can't, you couldn't, you shouldn't'. I said 'why can't we just try?' I used that as petrol to fire me up because it was the best motivation you can get.

"Having visited your school today, and now seeing all of the awards here tonight, you should already be very proud of yourselves for what you have achieved. Keep going because I know from personal experience that it is worth it," she said.

Helen presented 80 awards to students for Progress and Achievement at the Academy in 2018. The most prestigious award went to Lewis Kidd, who was the highest-performing GCSE student in Maths and Triple Science in this summer's exams. The TMAT Chief Executive's Special Award, presented by David Hampson OBE, goes to the student who has performed above and beyond expectations. Lewis has high-functioning autism and needed support to get through his GCSEs. He is now studying for his A Levels.

His mum Deborah Ross was overcome with pride for her son and praised the immense support the Academy has given to Lewis throughout his time at Somercotes Academy.

The Rob Palmer Award For Student Voice went to Phoebe Worrall, a student with a great commitment to the local community, as a member of the Scouts and local Youth Club, who was described as "a role model" for others.

The Philip Bond Award For Best GCSE Results went to Jessica Lee, the Academy's highest-performing GCSE student overall in 2019.

The Principal's Cup was presented to Miles Thompson, who achieved the best GCSE results this summer compared to his performance at the end of Year 6, having achieved almost two grades higher per subject than he was predicted at the end of Primary School.

The House Cup went to Cetus House, who out-performed others in inter-house competitions throughout the academic year. It was collected on behalf of the students by Freya Donner and Louie Hawkins-Nay.

The Awards Night entertainment had begun with a stunning performance from Champion UK Aerial Performer and Somercotes Academy student, Grace McDowall (13). It was followed by musical performances from Somercotes Choir and soloist Lucie Wells, who closed the show. Special mention must go to student Charlie Beevers, who sang and played the piano for a stunning performance of "She Used To be Mine" from "Waitress" The Musical, which earned her further praise from Helen Skelton.

Frances Green, Principal of Somercotes Academy, quoted Shakespeare when she told the audience: "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves." With its best-ever progress in this year's GCSE exams, and congratulations from Ofsted, this rural school is surely proof of that.

Phoebe Worrall receives the Rob Palmer Award For Student Voice from celebrity guest Helen Skelton and TMAT Vice Principal, Martin Brown.

The Somercotes Academy Award winners with celebrity guest Helen Skelton (centre), Somercotes Academy Principal, Frances Green, TMAT Chief Executive, David Hampson, and TMAT Chairman and Somercotes Academy Chair of Governors, Philip Bond.

Miles Thompson receives the award for Best Value Added GCSE Results from Somercotes Academy Principal, Frances Green (right) and celebrity guest Helen Skelton.

Jessica Lee wins the award for Best GCSE Results 2019. She is pictured with Somercotes Academy Chair of Governors, Philip Bond and Helen Skelton.

Freya Donner and Louie Hawkins-Ney accept the House Cup on behalf of Cetus House.

Libby Jordan accepts the award for Year 10 Progress.

Harriet Gilliatt wins the award for Year 9 Progress.

Jake Newton is presented with the award for Year 8 Progress.

The Year 7 Progress Award went to Alice Bradshaw.

Alice Bradshaw (Year 8) shows off her rowing prowess cheered on by Helen Skelton and her classmates and P.E. Teachers at the Academy earlier in the day.

Year 8 Somercotes Academy students, Maddison Smith, Libby Hudson, Poppy Green and Ella Hudson, show off their earthquake-proof models made from marshmallows and cocktail sticks, to visitor Helen Skelton, watched by Geography Teacher Oliver Thompson.

Year 10 Biology students, Reece Cook-Dickinson and Taylor Hewson, give celebrity visitor Helen Skelton a closer look at their heart-rate investigation.

Helen Skelton discusses Art with GCSE students: (l-r) Charlotte Merry, Libby Weller, Scarlett Walker and Elise Critchley.

Charlie Beevers performs a stunning rendition of 'She Used To Be Mine' from "Waitress" the Musical, playing the piano and singing.

Champion Aerial Performer Grace McDowall opens the Somercotes Academy Presentation Evening at Louth Town Hall.

Lucie Wells sings 'This Time' from 'Glee.'

Somercotes Choir performs 'Make Your Own Kind Of Music' by Paloma Faith.

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Somercotes Academy Principal

Frances Green

Tollbar MAT Chief Executive

David J Hampson