John O’Gaunt Secondary School in Hungerford, part of the Excalibur Academy, offers small school care with big school ambition.
First Freshers’ Fair at John O’Gaunt School – September 2021
A first Freshers’ Fair launched many exciting, new, extra-curricular clubs and opportunities for community engagement at the end of September, at John O’Gaunt School in the heart of Hungerford. The inaugural event saw lots of students visiting and signing up, from new Year 7s, just beginning their Secondary School journey, to those returning. Clubs included Silversmithing, historically accurate scale Model Making, Maths Club, Dodgeball, as well as the re-launch of many old favourites, including Choir, Band, Book and Biscuit Club, The Rookery Writers Club and The Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
Freshers’ Fair was attended by Hungerford Town Mayor, Helen Simpson, and organised by teacher Ms Deborah Arden-Hunt, who said “children and young people have missed out on so much during the course of this pandemic, so it’s really exciting and important to be able to offer these life-changing opportunities. I’m sure, in the future, our alumni will look back on their time at John O’Gaunt, and these clubs, and say ‘that was the spark that ignited my journey.‘”
Other community opportunities include the school’s strong Parent Staff Association ‘PSA Juniors’. Several of the clubs are part-funded by the PSA’s work and the generosity of local businesses, such as Jon Shatford Book Keeping. A new Hungerford Youth Council will include opportunities to work with Hungerford Town Council, The Youth and Community Centre, Town and Manor, and Church, engaging young people and giving them a voice. The school’s re-booted Eco Club will also do the same, working additionally with Hungerford Environmental Action Team (HEAT) and Eco Schools England too. Many students also signed up for a variety of roles in the upcoming production of High School Musical.
Headteacher Mr Richard Hawthorne said “There was such a buzz! It was joyful, hopeful and engaging – just what we all need to rebuild and re-establish confidence and community after this strange and disconnecting time we’ve all shared. These activities provide so much; teachers can share specific passions for their subjects and the community benefits mutually too. Students get the chance to explore the school ethos as ‘leaders and learners’, gaining confidence and new skills that build on cultural capital. It enriches their experience of school life and includes them in decision making, involvement and change for good in the community, too. It’s a wonderful initiative. I can only see this growing and growing!”