Shining a spotlight on Daventry’s schools

A student works on an engine at Northampton College.
A student works on an engine at Northampton College.

October sees Daventry’s first ever Festival of Education, aiming to showcase the whole range of options the town now has for young people.

Organised by the Daventry Schools Matter group, the event comes after the Daventry Express highlighted the number of our young people choosing to leave the town for their education.

The festival, at the iCon Centre in Eastern Way, Daventry on Saturday, October 10 from 10am to 1pm, will have science experiments, animal displays, craft and beauty sessions and engineering workshops, along with information stands.

Around a dozen local schools and colleges – with more still to confirm – are taking part including the Parker Academy, Daventry UTC, Northampton College and Moulton College, plus primary schools including Falconers Hill, The Abbey, Welton, Newnham, Badby, Weedon, Woodford and Kilsby.

Visitors will also be able to find out more about Daventry Hill School, the new school for four to 18-year-olds with special needs, which is due to open in September 2016.

Daventry District Council is the leading member of Daventry Schools Matter. Cllr Chris Millar said: “Historically people in Daventry and outside Daventry have had a negative view on education here. All too often we put ourselves down when really we should be shouting about the good things happening here.

A student gets arty at Northampton College in Daventry.

A student gets arty at Northampton College in Daventry.

“We all know that some of our schools have room for improvement, and they are putting steps in place to do just that. But we need to highlight the good things going on in all of our schools and colleges.

“I remember not that many years ago that beyond primary school young people’s options were very limited. We had two secondary schools, no sixth forms and Daventry Tertiary College which was failing.

“Now we have two secondary schools, Daventry University Technical College, sixth forms, Northampton College – which is soon to build a new college facility in Daventry – and Moulton College has a presence in the town as well. We even have Northampton University here in the form of the iCon. In the near future we will have Daventry Hill special school, and we will be building more schools as the town expands. That is a huge change and it gives all our young people far more options.

“For me education isn’t just about providing the right options for brighter children, or focusing on those who need extra help – it’s about providing a broad range of options so that every child has the opportunity to flourish and learn.

“We know the town is growing, but we want the people that live here and who move here to get the educational facilities they and their children need here, in Daventry.

“We don’t want to see young people feeling the need to travel out of the area, or even out of the county, to get a good education. We want them to be able to stay here, and even attract students in from places like Warwickshire too!

“It won’t be an overnight change – we have some excellent schools locally, and some that require improvements. But at every school in the area the leaders, teachers and staff are working hard to improve all the time.

“We have new principals at the two secondary schools in Daventry and I believe they and their staff will work hard to improve their schools. Daventry UTC was one of only 13 such schools launched by the Government in its first round.

“We have good and excellent primary schools. We have a centre run by a university that is now in the top 50 of higher education establishments in the country. And we have a college that is committed to the town, and that has made massive improvements.

“This Festival of Education is about breaking the mindset that there’s nothing good going on in our schools – there’s good work going on in all of our schools every day.”

DDC is not responsible for education, that falls to Northamptonshire County Council, but the district council has lead this push to highlight the town’s improving education.

Cllr Millar said: “We’ve always been interested in education. As I said the town is growing, but we want to bring better skilled, and better paid jobs, to the area. That requires education”

To find out more about the festival, awards and the diverse range of educational offer in the Daventry area, visit www.daventryschoolsmatter.com, follow @DaventrySchools on Twitter or visit the DaventrySchoolsMatter Facebook page.