Category Archives: Education


Pupils from years 5 & 6 in Dulverton School recently received water safety training from Linda Steer, Swimming Lesson Manager, Mid Devon Leisure.

The children participated in a lively exchange of ideas about potential dangers in and around water, including swimming pools, canals, rivers, beaches and around the home. In a lively and instructive lesson, Linda was able to get the children to spot potential hazards around the different areas and learn safe behaviours when they are near water. Linda Steer said, “The children responded really well and interacted in the discussion, some bringing their own stories. We want all children to be able to go out and enjoy the water; they need to be aware of the potential dangers around water to stay safe.”

Dulverton Junior School Head Teacher, Sally Fulfor, added, “The pupils are very excited about taking part in the Dulverton Weir and Leat project and learning more about the ancient weir and its history. This is an important part of their heritage and it is a key part of the school’s mission for pupils to become involved in opportunities which link to the local community. The study of the weir and leat will provide the basis of year’s 5 and 6 topic work for the summer term allowing the pupils to apply practical and real life experiences to their work across various subjects such as art and science.”

Mid Devon Leisure offer a range of water safety courses and Linda Steer can be contacted by email:

More information about Dulverton Weir and Leat Project can be found on the Trust website


Tuesday 4 April saw the first leg of the new North Devon Schools Show Jumping League, held at Coxleigh Barton Equestrian Centre, near Barnstaple, where teams from South Molton Community College picked a hat trick of firsts in each of the four classes.

Maisie Atkinson, riding It’s About Time took individual first in the 60cm class, and South Molton’s team Thunder won the 70cm class (Maisie Atkinson on It’s About Time, Anna Drury on Jet; Molly Matthews on Mystic Meg; Chloe Sanders on Tickled Pink).

Team Storm (Maisie Atkinson on Little William; Izzy Breard on The Grand Sort Jury; Molly Matthews on Million Dollar Girl; Grace Sinclair on Cregg Surprise) took first place in the 80cm and 90cm classes.

Schools competing in the League included the Community Colleges from South Molton, Chulmleigh, Pilton, Park School, Holsworthy, Torrington, Bideford, The Gateway Federation and West Buckland School. The under-11 years were also represented by The Chulmleigh Cubs and The Shirwell Shooting Stars.

Each of the four classes included a team and also had a number of individual entries – a total of 58 combinations jumped as individuals throughout the day. The South Molton Community College pupils also picked up a number of additional individual rosettes.

The series is the brainchild of Vicky Fiddes and consists of four monthly competitions to be held at Coxleigh Barton, Barnstaple, and Mullacott Event Centre, Ilfracombe, throughout the summer of 2017.

Mrs Sherwood, South Molton Community College’s team coach, said, “How amazing that we had such a winning streak on our first time out. I know that most of our young people have experience of riding for the Dulverton West Pony Club and this seems to have stood them in good stead in the first leg of the League. Well done to all of them, some of whom are on new ponies for the 2017 season. They rode very well, looked smart and were a credit to our sponsor Acorn Saddlery, who kindly donated the numnahs and sweatshirts, in the school’s new purple livery.

However, there are still three other elements of the competition to go and we know that anything could happen from here on in!”

Watch this space…

And you can follow the League on Facebook.

PHOTO: Team Storm. Left to right: Molly Matthews, Izzy Beard, Grace Sinclair and Maisie Atkinson.


A survey of coastal wildlife at Combe Martin attracted over 300 children from four Devon schools to celebrate British Science Week. The children moved round three different activities on their Bioblitz day to survey and find out more about coastal wildlife. They started with wildlife surveys in the rock pools and on the beach. Then they studied creatures and seaweeds under the digital microscopes in Combe Martin Museum. Finally they visited four stands with different science activities on the school field. The event was hosted by Combe Martin Primary School, one of the major partners in the Coastal Creatures project led by North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The children lived and breathed science for a day,” said AONB officer Cat Oliver. “Their knowledge and enthusiasm was infectious, whether delving into rockpools, magnifying shells and seaweed or drawing the coastline with a long piece of rope. We would like to thank our major funder the Heritage Lottery Fund and our sponsors of the day, North Devon Council through their councillor grants. Without their support, this fantastic event would not have been possible.”

“Seeing the children from different schools working collaboratively and fully engaged with discovering our coastal wildlife was truly inspirational,” said Combe Martin Primary’s Sea School teacher Graham Hockley. “Such a large number of children working as mini inter-tidal ecologists, each one helping to find and identify coastal species will hopefully inspire them to go on and study STEM subjects, becoming the next generation to understand and protect our stunning coastline.”

The day was attended by Combe Martin Primary School and Tiddlers Nursery, Bampton CE Primary School, Woolacombe School and Caen Community Primary School from Braunton. The activities provided on the school field included matching animals with their habitats on the AONB stand, making wildlife badges with the National Trust, identifying what bats eat with the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat project and drawing the coastline with Exmoor National Park’s rangers.

All the wildlife survey forms completed by the children, Coastwise members and Museum volunteers from the day were checked by the Marine Biological Association. These will contribute to science nationally by being uploaded as records on the National Biodiversity Network.

PHOTO: Dave Edgecombe from the AONB, surrounded by fascinated children explains the life of limpets.




The Wellington School Philosophy Team returned to King’s College, Taunton, last night in a bid to retain its trophy as winners of the Inter-School Philosothon competition.  The team of 11 young philosophers from years 9-11 dazzled and impressed a range of judges with their insightful contributions to discussions but alas ultimately had to surrender the much-loved trophy to Bristol Grammar School on the evening.

The Philosothon is a philosophy competition judged by leading Professors and lecturers in philosophy.  The idea is new to the UK and was born in Australia in 2007.

The fourth ever Inter-School Philosothon was held at King’s College, Taunton with a large number of participating schools from around the region.

The team, which spanned Year 9 to Year 13, consisted of Reyhan Taraq, Will Davis, Hamish Hunter, Marianne Baly, Dak Natakala, Lizzy Fanshawe, Edmund Tallack, Freddie Renyard, Sophie Bennett, Isabel Elliott and Amy Green.

The team were given a number of philosophical stimuli – this year these included a Dostoevsky passage and a lesser-known issue raised by the Charlie Hebdo attack – which they had to discuss whilst being judged by teams of eminent philosophers.  The Wellington team, though separated throughout, performed at a very high level in each of their groups and scored highly for their ability to articulate conceptual difficulties as well as include and carefully build on the ideas of others within their groups.

Philosothons encourage students to investigate complex philosophical and ethical questions within a small group known as a ‘community of enquiry’. In this setting, students do not see other group members as rivals but take their place as a fellow philosopher attempting to offer solutions to some of the world’s most controversial and problematic ethical and philosophical questions.  In the process of preparing and participating in Philosothons, students have the opportunity to develop higher order thinking and communication skills.

“The joy of Philosothons is that they do not aim to identify and reward the loudest or the most confident, but rather to bring out of students their original ideas, help them to formulate complex ideas and questions and play their part in moving towards answers through courteous and inclusive questioning and discussion,” commented Katja Sass, Wellington School’s Head of RS and team coach.

PHOTO:  Wellington School’s Philosothon team. From left, back row: Lizzie Fanshawe, Izzy Elliott, Will Davis, Edmund Tallach, Freddie Renyard, Reyhan Taraq, Dak Natakala.
Front row: Rachael Davies – RS teacher, Sophie Bennett, Amy Green, Marianne Baly, Hamish Hunter and Katja Sass, Wellington School’s Head of RS and team coach.


Thank you to Chris Jelley of Storywalks for sending in the latest news about Poetry Pin…

A new year and the launch of Exeter City Poetry Pin – the first virtual poetry city has happened and with such a great reception too. As of writing, the poetry pool has been open just seven days and already has over 60 poems pinned across the city.

So what is Exeter Poetry Pin, and how does it link with Storywalks?

Well firstly, these are parallel projects which do a very similar thing, i.e. geo tag content to place. In respect of Storywalks, these are trails which pupils can edit and then re-write, and are specifically designed for use in the classroom – so very focused and appropriate content. As for Poetry Pin the systems tags words to the authors physical location by using the GPS in their smart phone. The Poetry Pin is open to the public without restriction, so anyone with a smart phone can visit the trails (there are now three) and post poems inside.

So how did Exeter become the first Poetry City?

After the terrible fire at the Royal Clarence Hotel, Exeter city councillors saw the Exmoor Poetry Boxes on national TV and wondered whether a similar approach could capture the sentiment of the disaster. It was decided that boxes were perhaps less appropriate in the city. The Exeter Poetry Pin went live on the 9th January 2017.

Who can use it?

Anyone with a smart phone, just travel to the city, visit the web page Go seek out poems pinned across the city, then pin your own.

Is it appropriate for school children?

The Exeter Poetry Pin is public, and open to all so it is quite possible that someone may add some content which is not appropriate for younger eyes. But that said, at the bottom of each poem is a button to ‘flag’ inappropriate content. With a whole city let loose publishing poems we needed a way to allow the audience to monitor and flag poems which were inappropriate, and so far this has been really successful. When a poem is flagged it is immediately removed from the field, plus there are profanity filters which block poems with specific words inside, keeping the system as clean as can be (hopefully!)

How long is the project going to last?

The Exeter Poetry Pin is open for at least a year and we are hoping to do some school workshops in the spring time with Daisi – Devon arts inspired learning. Please get in touch to note your interest.

More about Storywalks here, and of course [if you work in a school] I would love to come and visit you, get your pupils writing out in the wild, with poems and tales.

Kind regards

Christopher Jelley


The Devon Federation of Young Farmers Clubs recently held their travel interviews which saw over 40 members from across the county apply for the 2017 scholarships. The members completed application forms and attended interviews at the Devon Young Farmers centre in Exeter.

Extended thanks to the interviewers; Marion Cann, Neil Grills, Clare Edworthy, Chris Berry, Faye Heal and Mark Davis who have all previously been members of Devon YFC and travelled on the scholarship programme. Difficult decisions were made to who the places were awarded to, as the standard of members was fantastic, making decisions extremely tough.

The juniors who have gained a space on the exchange with Finland – Ben Kittow (Culm Valley YFC), Charlotte Lake (Witheridge YFC), Ben May (Newton St Cyres YFC), Henry Govier (Meshaw YFC), Ellen Abel (Tavistock YFC), Tim Laarveld (Winkleigh YFC), Ellis Sage (Sid & Otter YFC), Lauren Rich (Dartmouth YFC), Jack Broom (Honiton YFC), Keziah Hoskin (Meshaw YFC) with leaders: Laura Stanbury (Withleigh YFC) and Tom Rycroft (Chittlehampton YFC).

The seniors who were successful at gaining a place on the 2017 scholarship and travelling to Slovenia include James Westcott (Culm Valley YFC), Louise Kittow (Withleigh YFC), Laura Grist (Cheriton & Tedburn YFC), John Malseed (Chagford YFC), Ben Warren (Chittlehampton YFC), Olivia Haddy (Kingsbridge YFC), Ryan Colwill (Woolsery YFC), Richard Rossiter (Kingsbridge YFC), Ryan Dobson (Yarcombe YFC), Adam Howe (Culm Valley YFC) and Charles Mill (Bradworthy YFC).

Members travelling alongside them have won their place through Senior Member of the Year, John Spear Memorial Award and George Hingston Award, they include Alice Giles (Bow YFC), Michelle Batting (Culm Valley YFC), Jack Frankum (Cheriton & Tedburn YFC) and Clifton Ford (Chulmleigh YFC).

Georgina Davie, Devon YFC International Travel Chairperson, said, “We are extremely grateful to all those organisations and groups within Young Farmers that have sponsored the members spaces, allowing us to run this fantastic programme.”

Three members from Devon were awarded places on the National Federation Scholarships after tough competition from across England, with Skype interviews taking place in December. Congratulations to Daniel Grist (Cheriton & Tedburn YFC) who will be travelling on the RYE European Rally to Latvia, Kate Palmer (Totnes YFC) who gained a space on Africa’s Gift and Holly Gilbert (Cheriton & Tedburn YFC) who will be off to Argentina.

The Devon YFC Federation are also offering a lucky member the opportunity to travel on the International Farming Youth Exchange trip to the US in 2017, with interviews taking place in January.

For more information about the Devon Young Farmers Federation, visit



Award-winning outdoor learning company Beach Schools South West have teamed up with South West Water to help promote clean water, conservation and seaside safety to youngsters in the region this winter.

The Exeter-based water company is adding its weight to a new pilot education project which will see children being taught both on the beach and in schools about taking care not only of themselves but also the life cycle of water and how to keep it clean.

It will be part of free winter-time school sessions from Beach Schools South West who are offering to go into schools to give children talks on how to stay safe on the beach.

Tess Stuber, Director of Beach Schools South West, said, “We are delighted to have such a prestigious and influential company as South West Water back our passion to teach on the beach – and teach about the beach.

“Beaches are a year-round outdoor classroom and we want children to not only access and understand the world around them but also to stay safe there. That’s why we are offering free sessions to schools this winter. Last summer saw some truly awful tragedies around the UK’s shoreline and we are trying to help to stop that happening again.”

As part of the safety talks, children will also hear how to look after the water and how doing that can start at home, not just on the beach. South West Water’s Love your Loo campaign teaches them about only flushing the three ‘Ps’ (pee, paper and poo)..

Alan Hyde, Head of Communications at South West Water, said, “We’re so lucky here in the South West to have some of the finest beaches in the world and South West Water is committed to helping them stay that way. Everyone can play a part in that by being careful about what they flush or wash down the sink, and so linking up with Beach Schools South West is a great way to get that message across to children while they are also learning about safety and – of course, having fun outdoors.”

Beach Schools South West is an award-winning Community Interest Company dedicated to teaching children curriculum-linked learning on the beach.

Any schools wishing to apply for the free sessions anywhere in our area along the coast can contact the team on or through the website



Tony James reported on fears for the future of the Farm Unit at the West Somerset College in our summer issue (see page 11) and since then there have been some developments.  As you may have read in the Free Press last Friday, Exmoor National Park Authority has been exploring opportunities with The Bridgwater College Trust  for West Somerset College’s Farm education facility to continue operating.  

As the article explained, discussions have been held with a group of key businesses and local organisations all with an interest in the farm.  There is optimism that a viable future may well be achievable, although it will take time to put the plan in place.  ENPA has offered West Somerset College a grant to enable them to continue operating the farm unit until the end of February whilst work continues.

Dr Nigel Stone, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park, said, “We first became aware of the issue after reading an article about the College Farm on the front of the West Somerset Free Press.  This was followed by approaches seeking National Park support from people concerned at the potential closure of the farm unit.  We approached the College and asked if they would be happy for us to look at ideas to help support the continuation of the Farm.

“The College has been very open minded and we invited a number of businesses and local organisations, West Somerset and Somerset County Councils and potential funders to an initial meeting.  The response was very positive and the group has subsequently met on a number of occasions together with staff at the farm unit to look at options for a future self-sufficient operation of the unit.  There looks to be a good prospect of developing a viable plan and we are pleased to be able to offer the College some funding to keep the facility operational while the future plans are put in place.”

Peter Elliott, CEO of the Bridgwater College Trust commented, “Over the past 12 months we have had a lot of work to do to put the College back on the right path.  We have since achieved a ‘Good’ rating from Oftsed and have made vast improvements to the school’s financial position.  Some difficult decisions have been necessary and this includes doubts regarding the immediate prospects of the College Farm.  However, we are pleased the National Park Authority and other local organisations are looking to support the education facility and look forward to seeing what the future holds.”

PHOTO(repeated from our summer issue): Left to right: Rosie Iles, Martha Little, Mathew Williams, Kerry Marks (agriculture teacher), Sophie Stephens (farm technician) and Harry Nichols with the very successful showing team from 2015. Photo by Steve Quantick.


Petroc has teamed up with Calvert Trust Exmoor to offer supported learning students a unique opportunity to gain valuable work experience, enabling them to move into employment or on to further work-based study.

Over the past academic year, as part of the college’s Supported Internship Programme, nine interns have successfully completed work placements at Calvert Trust Exmoor – a specialist outdoor adventure centre for disabled people, based on Exmoor.
The students have filled various roles throughout the centre, manning reception, carrying out housekeeping and maintenance duties and helping with outdoor activities, enabling them to move on to further placements with local companies including Tesco, Holsworthy Golf Club and St John’s Garden Centre.

Building on the success of the programme so far, Diane Dimond, Principal at Petroc and Tony Potter CEO of Calvert Trust Exmoor, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, to cement plans for the next academic year and support further partnership work.

Next year, a Supported Internship Programme will be 100% based on site at Calvert Trust Exmoor. Currently, those on the programme still attend college for classroom-based activities. However, from September, Petroc will have its own classroom facility at the Trust, and students will be given instruction in employability skills onsite. There will also be a Job Coach based at the centre and two work-placed support workers, and the college will provide a minibus to transport students to and from the centre.

“We’ve been working with Calvert Trust Exmoor for over 20 years, bringing our students here to enjoy all their fantastic facilities,” explained Alex Wittram, a supported learning lecturer at Petroc.
“They have always been so supportive of the work we do, and vice versa. We have all been blown away by the success of the internship programmes, and we’re excited to develop the partnership further as we move into next year.”

Alan Sanders, a Supported Internship student, works on reception at the Trust. He said, “I answer calls and deal with general enquiries, which has really boosted my confidence. With all the skills that I’ve acquired I now feel ready to enter the workplace on a permanent basis and am hopeful that I’ll be able to find employment at the end of my course.”

The Calvert Trust internship is for students who are not quite ready to embark on an external work placement, giving them the opportunity to learn the vital skills needed in the workplace, in a safe environment and with the support of a specialist job coach. Each student is profiled to decide which area they will work in, based on their interests, skills and aspirations. Due to the flexibility of the programme, students are able to transfer from the Trust to an external placement as and when they are ready.


A group of Ilfracombe Junior School pupils have just made the grade as Junior Park Rangers.

At the end of May, 130 children from year four at the school were presented with their certificates for completing the course. During the five-week course at Bicclescombe Park, the pupils had a go at map reading, tree identification, bird watching and pond dipping, as well as learning about mini beasts.

The course is organised by North Devon Council’s Parks, Leisure and Culture Team and is now in its eleventh year. It aims to raise awareness about the importance of parks and open spaces, how we look after them and why.

Executive Member responsible for parks, leisure and culture, Councillor Dick Jones, said: “This scheme just keeps getting better. It’s a great way for the pupils to learn all about the importance of parks and why we need to protect them for future generations, while enjoying themselves at the same time. I’m sure over the five weeks they will have picked up lots of valuable skills that they can share with their family and friends in their free time.”

Local ward member, Councillor Geoff Fowler, said:”Once again the youngsters have thrown themselves into this yearly project at the park, gaining valuable knowledge about its nature and natural inhabitants. I feel sure they are all proud of their certificates and the work they have done to achieve them. A big thank you must also go to our Parks, Leisure and Culture Team in supporting this initiative with the school.”

Local ward member, Councillor Ian Meadlarkin, said: “It’s been another successful year for the Junior Park Rangers. It’s good to see the enthusiasm these youngsters put into the scheme – it’s an inspiration to us all to get involved in our beautiful park.”

More information about Bicclescombe Park, as well as other parks and open spaces in the North Devon district can be found by searching for ‘Parks, Leisure and Sport in North Devon’ on Facebook.