School News

Outstanding 6th Form

Abbeyfield APLS Score

Abbeyfield 6th Form, already recognised as an Area of Excellence, has now also been shown to be one in which students make “outstanding progress”.


Abbeyfield School celebrates DofE success with its pupils at Buckingham Palace Gardens

On the 17th May, 11 young people from Abbeyfield School attended a presentation at Buckingham Palace Gardens, London, where they received their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards after sharing their experiences with Trustee for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE), HRH The Earl of Wessex.

During the Gold Award Presentation, HRH took the opportunity to congratulate the group from Abbeyfield School on their successes and heard about their DofE journeys, which took each young person 12-18 months of hard work and dedication.

Those who achieve a Gold DofE Award will volunteer, learn a skill, get fit, take part in a week long residential and plan and undertake an expedition in wild country. Widely acknowledged as the world’s leading achievement award for young people, DofE programmes enable any young person, aged 14-24, to develop key skills for life and work, such as confidence, commitment and team working.

Sally Silcock, who is the DofE Manager and Head of Science at Abbeyfield School said, “I am delighted with the success of the Gold Award which was re-introduced at Abbeyfield School in 2015. To achieve the award alongside sixth form studies is testament to their dedication. The local community benefits from the volunteering completed which ranged from helping at a local animal sanctuary to working in charity shops. The award allows students to demonstrate activities that they have completed for their own personal development. Achieving the award enabled one student to recieve an unconditional offer of a place at University.”

There are currently over 300,000 young people taking part in a DofE programme across the UK through a variety of centres including both state and independent schools, special schools, businesses, prisons, young offender institutions and youth groups.

To find out more about the DofE and how it enables young people to succeed, please visit

Young Enterprise Team Show Business Skills

On Saturday 17th March, Abbeyfield School’s Youth Enterprise Team visited Swindon’s Trade Fair, held at the Outlet Shopping Centre. As part of a national competition, the group have to produce and market a product, which in their case is delicious and healthy smoothies. This precedes their next round, which takes them to the county finals. The group are Abbeyfield Sixth formers Luke Brown, Louis Healey, Scarlett Bashford, James Robinson, Sean Aplin and Victor Close.


The group sold out quickly after very professional service from all, making over £100.


Louis Healey, aged 16, part of the team said: “We are learning about how to set up our own products and achieve a common goal as a collective, while practising a variety of different skills. It was a big success and we sold out of all our products.”


The next step for the team is to distribute their leaflets around Pewsham for their weekly delivery service. Finals for the competition are in May and their teacher, Head of Business and It James Stewart, is very hopeful that they will make it through.


Abbeyfield Law Students Visit

On Tuesday 17th April, thirteen 6th formers studying A level Law from Abbeyfield School had a really informative and enjoyable day in London, touring Westminster and the House of Parliament.

At Westminster Palace they had a guided tour, which included watching Philip Hammond being questioned by MPs in the House of Commons then spent time walking around the chamber in the House of Lords, including a visit to the Monarchs’ Robing Room. Afterwards, they took part in a ‘making laws’ workshop where students debated and voted on a bill.

Students were incredibly lucky to have a meeting with a young female MP and barrister, Shabana Mahmood. This was very kindly arranged by Julia Lawrence, mother of student Georgia Lawrence in Year 12. Students were able to talk to Shabana about her career; her work as an MP and take part in current discussions in Parliament today about Syria. Shabana Mahmood MP came out of the Commons especially to talk to students.

Later, they sat in on a case in the Supreme Court where the Justices were considering appeals against deportation by fathers of children on the grounds their deportation would be ‘unduly harsh’ on their children. Students then walked back via Buckingham Palace where we saw the changing of the guard.

Teacher Deborah Meade, who organised the trip, said: “This has been a wonderful learning opportunity for Law students to see first-hand how laws are made.”

Holocaust Survivor Visits Abbeyfield School

On Thursday 15th March, students at Abbeyfield School were fortunate enough to hear the testimony of Holocaust survivor Harry Bibring. Arranged by teacher Lidia Farquharson through the Holocaust Education Trust (HET), Harry’s visit was part of a Genocide unit studied in Humanities.

Harry was born on 26th December 1925 in Vienna, Austria. After the Anschluss in 1938, Harry was forced to leave his Gymnasium (German grammar school) and was transferred to a basic secondary school that was designated to accommodate only Jewish children.

On 10th November 1938, Harry’s father’s menswear business was looted and destroyed during Kristallnacht. He was arrested and Harry’s family were forced to leave their flat and live in a house together with 50 other Jewish women and children. The family were allowed to return to their flat following Harry’s father’s release, but by this point they knew they had to leave Vienna. The intention was for the family to flee to Shanghai but Harry’s father was unable to procure the visas and passage tickets, probably because by the time he was able to raise the necessary funds, they were no longer available.

Fearing for the safety of their children, Harry’s parents decided that he and his sister should leave for Britain on the Kindertransport. The plan was for them to be sponsored by a family friend and for their parents to join them as soon as they could. That never happened. In November 1940, Harry’s father died of a heart attack. His mother was deported by the Nazis to the death camp at Sobibór in German-occupied Poland in 1942.

In his talk to students, Harry said that it was important to share his story with young people to ensure that: “Students do not get into any type of prejudice which leads to hate; this is the dream.”

Keeran Hayward, a 14 year old student at Abbeyfield, said: “It was really engrossing. Harry had an accent I had never heard before and he made you feel as if you were there in the past with him. It was pretty upsetting because you could imagine yourself going through it.”

Abbeyfield Students in Top 10% Nationally for Computing

More than 500 of all ages took part in the UK Bebras Computing Challenge at Abbeyfield School. It is a national competition run by the University of Oxford that tests computational thinking and problem solving skills. 140,000 students took part from across the country and Abbeyfield students did extremely well. Overall, students achieved 262 Merit, Distinction or Best in School awards and achieved some national successes too.

Top Abbeyfield students in each age group were Carys Jones, Max Wild-Urquidi, Owen Simpson and Jake Fitzwater. Finlay Stewart, Hayley Latham, Emma Heal, Alfie Raby, Ben Smith, Hannah Warren, Isobel Hogkinson, Seb Millward, Harry Copcutt, Alex Merritt, Dominick Backiel, Elli Cooper, Grace Ferris, Melissa Lewkowicz, Rachel Johnston, Harry Underwood, Tia Payne, Maya Wong, Stan Cottam, Bradley Beck, Dylan Clark and Oliver Sutton all finished in the top 10% of their age groups. All of these students automatically qualify for Oxford’s next computing competition in March.

Abbeyfield are also delighted that Jake Fitzwater, who studies A Level Computer Science, Maths, Further Maths and Physics at Abbeyfield 6th Form gained one of the highest scores in the entire country and qualified for the Bebras final in January. This takes place at the University of Oxford.

Computer Science teacher Stefan Cook said: “I am proud of the achievements of all the students. Jake in particular is a student of exceptional ability and a great logical thinker. He is a brilliant all round Mathematician and Computer Scientist.”

Abbeyfield Student is Young Librarian of the Year Finalist

14 year old James Belcher, a student at Abbeyfield School, is a finalist for a prestigious libraries’ Award. CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) have voted James through to an exciting final for the Young Librarian of the year, to be held in London at The Houses of Parliament in Westminster.


James achieved his place at the Awards through his diligent work in the school library as a Library Monitor, under the tutelage of school librarian Mr Gareth Evans. Reflecting the feelings of all at Abbeyfield School, Mr Evans said:”James is a fantastic Library Monitor and a great ambassador for the school library. I’m really proud of him for being shortlisted for this award”.


The achievement is all the more impressive because James has autism and has overcome some barriers to achieve. James said: “The Library means a lot to me. It has given me a role with a sense of purpose which has helped me remain focused and control my anger which unfortunately I have had issues with in the past and created a place where I feel like I belong.”


The final judging takes place on Friday 16th March, and not only involves a visit to Parliament but also to 10 Downing Street, where James will deliver his letter for Theresa May about celebrating the importance of libraries in schools personally. He has also had to design a tee-shirt about the benefits of reading and cost and plan for an after school library club.