At Town Close we practice our core values, effort, commitment, respect for others, thoughtfulness, and consideration, not only within our School community, but beyond the School into the local community.
The School, led by the Trustees, takes its public benefit duties very seriously. Reaching out to the local community, we are proud to have built a range of partnerships, opening the doors to opportunities for children and young people, as demonstrated below:
Greenpower Electric Car STEM Project
This project is a major and developing undertaking that the School has been supporting for several years. Having bought two Goblin electric car kits in 2013 which were then built by Town Close pupils, the School, through the Head of DT, went on to encourage and support local maintained schools to do the same. The project seeks to introduce engineering concepts and practical experience from a very young age, as well as trying to remove any gender bias in the discipline by ensuring that all race teams include equal numbers of each gender. Some of the work undertaken by the School is in selling the vision of what other schools and their pupils can accomplish and some of it is in providing practical support including:
- Familiarisation and training for staff who will be involved
- Sourcing grant funding to help finance the costs involved
- Providing ongoing support for the staff involved
- Finding venues for race meetings for both the Goblin category of cars (for primary aged children) and F24 (secondary age group)
- Obtaining sponsorship to cover the cost of race meetings
- Organising race meetings
In 2016/17 Town Close allowed Mr Buck to develop links, host meetings and use the School’s Goblin cars for promotion which enabled the Greenpower Trust to source a $20,000 grant from Motorola for state schools in Norfolk. This allowed 25 state primary schools to access grants that covered 50% of the cost of a Goblin car. All grants were taken up. This money would not have come to Norfolk without Town Close’s support of the programme. Mr Buck also found a suitable venue for a Norfolk-based racing event (Scottow Enterprise Park 6/6/17) and coordinated a group of sponsors for this. Four of the seven sponsoring firms were involved thanks to Town Close parents. 18 schools (14 state schools) took 25 cars to this 2017 event, along with an average of six pupils per car. This event has become an established annual fixture.
In 2017/18 Mr Buck worked with Greenpower again to source funding and build a network to enable development of the category of electric racing cars for secondary schools (F24) in Norfolk for 2018/19. £50,000 in grant funding was secured from the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Community and the Geoffrey Watling Fund, sufficient to allow ten maintained high schools to access grants for 50% of the cost of an F24 car. The Town Close F24 car has been used to interest schools in a STEM Breakthrough twilight session at Hethel Innovation and with visitors from the UEA.
In May 2018, Town Close hosted a launch for the wider F24 project for interested parties in Norfolk. This was attended by potential sponsors including the leader of the County Council, the police inspector responsible for school liaison and representatives from local commerce and industry. Representatives from seven maintained schools attended (along with others from an independent school and the UEA). In September 2018, Mr Buck visited Lotus Cars with Greenpower to pitch for the 2019 inaugural F24 Norfolk event to be held there and, in October, took Town Close’s F24 car to test the track for suitability for the race. With the venue agreed, a test drive event was organised at Scottow in November 2018, with the the IET F24 championship itself taking place in June 2019. Twelve state schools took part out of a field of fifteen schools.
It is estimated that around 900 children have participated and benefited from the programmes, inspired by the School’s involvement. Mr Buck has been named Greenpower’s Ambassador of the year for his contribution to the work of the Charity.
In 2021 we invested £375,000 in the provision of an Astroturf which opened in July 2011. This was a joint project with Norwich Dragons Hockey Club, which is a Community Amateur Sports Club, and The Hewett School, a maintained secondary school which has since become The Hewett Academy run by the Inspiration Trust. Town Close is part of the Central Norwich Hockey Consortium (CNHC) that runs the facility. The CNHC is a charity whose object is “the promotion of community participation in healthy recreation and in particular, but not exclusively, by the provision of facilities for playing hockey.” The facility has enabled pupils from The Hewett Academy to play hockey, which they previously were not able to do. Pupils from Jane Austen College also use the pitch. The Dragons Hockey Club works with local state schools identified by the Norwich School Sports Partnership and Wymondham School Sports Partnership and provides them with free coaching. This is to engender further interest in the sport.
In June 2015, a second Astroturf was opened on the site leased by the Consortium. The land for the second pitch was sublet to the Girls Day School Trust free of charge for the provision of a pitch for Norwich High School for Girls (NHSG).
The School has also been able to support, The Lighthouse, a small organisation, based in Norwich, providing education for those children and young people who are unable to access mainstream education because of a trauma, providing them with furniture, books, costumes and resources.
The Norfolk Reading Project
The Norfolk Reading Project has used the School’s library over the last two years to carry out their volunteer training sessions. The Reading Project is a local charity whose aim is to support teachers in improving literacy standards across Norfolk. They do this by providing trained volunteers to support children’s reading on a one-to-one basis within maintained Primary Schools. The project used to use the Millennium library for their training but they had to pay for this provision. We also invite the Norfolk Reading Project to join us at School events, which allows them to promote their offering.
Each year we provide means-tested bursary assistance to the parents of a number of pupils who are unable to pay the full fees. We seek to focus this support on candidates demonstrating a particularly strong need for a Town Close education. Recipients of the bursary are spread throughout the School from Reception to Year 8, currently from the 19 pupils in receipt of financial support in 2022/23, sixteen receive a remission of 50% or more, with three receiving 100% remission. We have been pleased to fully fund a Ukrainian child, including free school uniform and any extra circular costs.
Our fully subscribed summer holiday holiday club, Activate, offers the provision of three free places to children from a local school in receipt of pupil premium.
Use of Facilities
Outside of School hours, we open the School’s sports facilities to the community, some usage being without charge. During the evenings and weekend, our indoor heated swimming pool becomes home to six local swimming clubs, Swans, Penguins, H20 Let’s Go, Aquarians, Norfolk swimming groups and TEMS (The early morning swimmers), allowing people from the age of 3 to 90 to enjoy the benefits of swimming on a regular basis.
The state-of the-art sports hall is fully booked each day and is used by local sports clubs, including, Affondo Fencing, Spikers Volley Ball, Thoroughbred Netball, Taylor Made Cricket and various local badminton clubs. This allows a large number of local children to benefit from using the facilities. Where possible, we enhance the offering in a variety of different ways for groups catering for young people under the age of 21.
As a city school with no field of their own, local high school, Notre Dame, bring their pupils to our main field to enjoy their annual Sports Day. Head of Notre Dame, Mr Pinnington, says the event is always a “highlight of the calendar year” for the pupils at the school.
The School often lends out use of our minibuses to local groups such as the youth church group and also the Cringleford Scout Group. In July 2021 we lent four minibuses to a Cringleford Scout Group which enabled them to take a group of scouts to the Peak District. The group had organised an expedition to Norway for 50 young people but this had been cancelled twice due to the pandemic. In order to try to alleviate the disappointment for the scouts involved, scout leaders had organised the Peak District trip as an alternative but were keen to keep costs as low as possible due to the impact of the pandemic on many of the parents’ financial position.
Every year our pupil led School council votes on a local charity to support and raise money for. In 2021/2022, after the Covid pandemic, the NHS was at the front of our minds and the children wanted to specifically support the local children’s hospital, The Jenny Lind. Throughout the year we ran a number of events to raise money, such as a Summer Fete, non school uniform days and a special Christmas event in which the children met reindeer in our woodland walk. In total we raised £9,143.23 and even won the N&N Hospitals Charity Awards 2022, in the category of Schools Charity Champion.
During 2022, not only did we feel it important to raise money for our annual local charity, many pupils across Pre Prep and Prep, set up stalls at lunch time or after School, selling items such as cup cakes and handmade jewellery or books, to raise money for Ukraine.