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Kids cover hundreds of miles to support their marathon-running teacher

Published in The Swindon Advertiser 21st March 2016 Click here for full news article and photos

PUPILS at a Swindon primary school were so inspired by their marathon-running teacher that they decided to get in on the act themselves. Robyn Bailey, 24, a Year One teacher at Mountford Manor Primary School in Walcot, is running the London marathon in April to raise money for Clic Sargent.

When the school heard about her sporting exploits they also wanted to get involved and on Friday they braved the chilly weather to put on their own playground marathon. Robyn said: “Pretty much all the children have been sponsored to run, they’ve paid 50p to come in dressed in their sports clothes and we’ve got cake sales going on too.
“Every child in the school is running a distance and all the teachers are running with their classes as well.”

The youngest child taking part on the day was just two years old, all the year groups ran different distances according to their age. Despite only having little legs, by the time all the pupils had completed their runs they had covered a staggering 366 miles, the equivalent of 14 marathons. Together they raised an impressive £291 which will go towards Robyn’s personal fundraising target of £1,800.

Principal, Rachel Skates, said: “We are delighted that Mountford Manor Primary School children, staff and parents joined us today in helping to raise money for Miss Robyn Bailey our Year 1 teacher, who is completing the London Marathon in April.

“As a values based education school, the children have today shown, pride resilience, respect, tolerance and patience in completing this challenge and we are extremely proud of each and every one of them. Every child from the age of 2 to 11 has taken part in completing laps of the school perimeter which has equated, in total, to over 14 marathons.

Miss Bailey is raising money for Clic Sargent who provide support for children with cancer. Today we have raised over £250 in donations from selling cakes and refreshments with sponsorship money still to come.”

“Thank you also to our fund raising committee who have also supported this event.”

Robyn is not a complete running novice, she has been running half marathons for a few years and wanted to push herself to a greater distance. However when she crosses the line on April 24 she will have an extra reason to celebrate:

“The marathon is actually on my birthday this year, when I saw that I thought why not – what better time to do it. The training hasn’t been easy – I’ll be ready by the day but it’s definitely had its hurdles along the way.”

Talking about her chosen cause, Robyn said: “Obviously being a teacher I was adamant I wanted to run for a children’s charity. Also knowing lots of people that have been affected by cancer I thought Clic was definitely the one I wanted to run with.”

To contribute to Robyn’s marathon fundraising efforts, you can visit


Kids are so proud to be loud for charity

Published in Swindon Advertiser 8th October 2015. Click here for full article and photos kids 5

IT WAS all neon and technicolour at Mountford Manor Primary School yesterday as youngsters dressed up to raise money for children’s respite care charity Hop Skip And Jump. Staff and pupils at the school in Walcot dressed up loud as part of Heart radio’s Make Some Noise campaign.

The campaign aims to get schools and organisations to raise awareness and donations for local charities which rarely get the attention they deserve. Hop Skip And Jump, based in Upper Shaw Ridge Farm, provides respite care for children and teenagers and offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities to engage and inspire children with disabilities and special educational needs.

“It’s a global initiative so it’s not just Heart, and its all about raising money for charity,” said Heart Angel Emma Matthews, who visited the school yesterday. “The Swindon charity is Hop Skip And Jump and we’re going around the schools taking part, like Mountford Manor. “The idea is for everyone to dress loud and to help raise some money to help disadvantaged children. “It’s just more fun that way. The children really enjoy getting involved and they’re more interested in taking part in all the activities too.”

During the day the school helped to raise £130 for the charity by donning items which made them stand out. “It’s fun and it’s raising money for charity and disadvantaged children,”said 11-year-old Kirstyn Harris, who had dressed colourfully. “We are all dressing loud and bright and crazy and we had to bring in a donation.”

Mountford Manor’s assistant principal Louise Dance said: “All the children dressed loud and they all brought in £1 to donate to the charity, which this time is Hop, Skip And Jump. “We really want the children to understand that there are other children who might not have the opportunities they do and all of them are very keen to help where they can. “Because the charity is all about children as well it is something they can relate to.

“It’s been a really good day and all the children enjoyed themselves while raising money for a good cause.” To donate to the Make Some Noise campaign visit the website which can be found at

Four top teachers honoured at Teacher Of The Year Awards 2015

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Published in The Swindon Advertiser on 12th Sept 2015. Click here for full News Article

FOUR exceptional educators were honoured at the Adver’s Teacher of The Year Awards 2015 this week. The quartet of teaching talent attended a glittering ceremony at the Hilton Hotel, Great Western Way where they were presented with cash prizes by hotel manager Steve Rycroft. Christopher Fox from Mountford Manor Primary School, Amber Gunning from CovinghamPark Primary, Zoe O’Brien from St Mary’s RC Primary School and Victoria Reynolds from Oliver Tomkins Infant School made up the winning quartet.

Sponsored by the Hilton Hotel, the prestigious awards were designed to honour terrific town teachers who go the extra mile in the classroom. Overall winner and year two teacher Victoria Reynolds is set to swap the staffroom for five-star luxury with her prize of a luxurious all-inclusive stay at the Hilton Taba resort in Egypt, complete with £300 towards flights.

The 24-year-old, from Moredon, said nurturing the next generation was the best part of her teaching career. “It’s a bit surreal. I feel quite proud of myself that I’ve achieved this,” she said.”Teaching can be difficult at times but it’s all about the impact you have on the children, that’s the most rewarding part about being with the children, knowing you make a difference and helping them go on to have great lives.”

Pupils and parents nominated their top teachers, with 30 entries whittled down to the final four. Victoria’s three fellow classroom champs were awarded £750 cheques.

Year five teacher and part-time archer Christopher Fox, from Rodbourne, was recognised for his efforts in bringing extracurricular activities to Mountford Manor. The 28-year-old said: “This award is testament to the hard work of the pupils and it’s great to be recognised in this way. “We’ve started a few clubs such as the archery and tag rugby clubs which have become so popular because it brings something different to the school. “Every day is a new challenge in teaching. I like to bring something different to the class every day and just have fun with them.” Christopher plans to split his prize money between a holiday to Bordeaux, France with his stepson and partner and a medieval re-enactment costume.

Year five and six teacher Zoe O’Brien, 23, from Stratton, has just started her third year of teaching and plans to use her winnings to take a sunshine break with her partner. “It is absolutely amazing to be here, a real surreal feeling. I think I was nominated for the relationship I build with the children. I just love seeing the children overcome difficulties and helping them through,” Zoe said.

Year six teacher Amber Gunning, 28, from Covingham, plans to spend her £750 prize on a new car. “It’s really great to be standing here today and it’s nice that people appreciate what I’m doing every day, I feel that I’m just doing my job but it feels like I’m making a difference,” she said. “I just try and make it as fun as possible every day, if they enjoy themselves and learn at the same time that’s all you can ask for.”

Steve Rycroft paid tribute to the talented teachers and said the hotel was proud to support their achievements. He said: “It’s exceptional and we’re pleased to have sponsored the event and present these fantastic teachers with their prizes. “We have a belief in the youth of tomorrow in and around the town so it was great for us to honour those people that help the next generation.” The six remaining staff superstars in the top 10 will each receive a bottle of champagne.



Pupils join in their own Race for Life

Children from Mountford Manor Primary School take part in their own Race For Life
By Elizabeth Mackley  Wednesday 29 July 2015 Swindon Advertiser (Click here to view full article)

Suzanne Gregory, Mountford Manor parent support officer, said: “On Friday, July 10, the whole school took part in a Race for Life. “Laps of the field were completed starting with two laps for the nursery children aged two to four increasing the older the children got. Parents were invited and we were delighted when some of the mums joined in with their children completing their laps.” “We are thrilled that we have raised £775 to date completing our Race for Life and the children are already asking if we can do it again next year,” Suzanne added. Tamzyn Harris, a school parent governor who looks after sports and nutrition at the school, said: “Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer and this is a great way for the children to come together as a school and raise money for Cancer Research.” To carry on the fundraising, some members of staff are spending the summer preparing to take part in the five kilometre Pretty Muddy event at Lydiard Park on Saturday, September 5.

Teacher of the Year 2015

Monday 20th July 3015 published in Swindon Advertiser. Click here for full news article WE have asked all pupils and parents across Swindon to send us their nominees for Teacher of the Year competition, sponsored by the Hilton Hotel, Swindon. Pupils and parents have shared many wonderful and fantastic reasons why their favourite teacher should win, but now it’s over you. We are asking you to read through the profiles of our 30 nominated teachers and vote for the one that you feel is most deserving. The winning teacher will enjoy an all inclusive holiday at the Hilton Taba Resort, Egypt plus £500 towards flights. They will be able to take in breathtaking Red Sea views from the Hilton Taba Resort & Nelson Village. Congratulations to Mrs Christopher Fox who was nominated for Teacher of the Year 2015 as follows: MR CHRISTOPHER FOX Mountford Manor Nominated by: Mrs K E Gillespie, Jan Jelley and Mr R Gillespie “He is a dedicated teacher. He puts every effort in to bring out the best in all his pupils, and they all respond to him. I think the best way to describe is like a modern Mr Chips. He gives his students a sense of pride in themselves and self worth.”

SHARPEN your pencil, get your books out, answer the register – and take off your shoes

Published 24th January 2015 in the Swindon Advertiser – Click here for full story and pictures Those are the preparatory steps pupils at a Walcot school are taking to get ready for lessons as part of a new learning style for which it is claimed preparing pupils’ feet could be as important as preparing their brains. Years 3 and 4 at the Bothwell Road school are trialing shoeless learning, which means they take off their shoes at the school door and wear indoor daps or slippers in the classroom, in a bid to improve study. Suzanne Gregory, parent support officer at the school, said: “Many countries around the world have adopted shoeless learning, including China, India and, most successfully, Scandinavia. “Scientific studies have shown that children learn more effectively with their shoes off for a number of reasons. “Some of these include the reduction in noise levels, the reduction in disruptive behaviour and the more relaxed atmosphere being more conducive to learning.” Year 3 teacher Chris Fox, whose class is among those trialling the style, discovered it by accident. “All of the Key Stage 2 classrooms were fitted with brand new carpet over the Christmas break and the Year 3 teacher was particularly keen to keep the new carpet clean,” Suzanne said.

“He asked all the children and adults to take their shoes off before entering the classroom and noticed that the children seemed to like it. “He then did some research into shoeless learning and realised the benefits that could be gained. “The vast majority of children have fully embraced the ethos. All of the adults working in Year 3 and Year 4 are finding that children are keen to engage in lessons. “Although it cannot be proven that taking your shoes off directly improves your learning, there is definitely a calm and focused atmosphere within the classroom.”

Pupils make Christmas a cracker

Published Thursday 11 December 2014 Swindon Advertiser –  Click here to access the full article and photos CHILDREN have been spreading Christmas cheer across Swindon by hosting events for the community. On Tuesday, Year 11 pupils from Royal Wootton Bassett Academy hosted a three-course meal for the elderly while a choir from Mountford Manor Primary School visited Elizabeth House sheltered accommodation to give a performance. The academy, in Lime Kiln, welcomed 50 guests to their assembly hall with a carol service and a raffle taking place. Josephine Finnegan, head of Year 11, said: “It was a successful day. We welcomed lots of elderly residents and they seemed to enjoy themselves. Our Year 11s did a great job, theyenjoyed themselves and we are so proud of them. “As a school we try to do a lot for our community and the meal was just one of the ways that we give back. “We received some great feedback.” The academy wants to thank those who donated raffle items and Sainsbury’s who provided table decorations and crackers. While this was going on children from Mountford Manor Primary School went to Elizabeth House, in Queens Drive, to sing Christmas carols. They also took with them four hampers which included items that parents had donated.

Suzanne Gregory, the school’s parent support officer, said: “The children absolutely loved performing and having the chance to chat with the residents after their performance. “We’d previously had really good links with Elizabeth House and we are trying to rebuild them.” Mountford Manor Primary School plan to welcome the sheltered accommodation’s residents to some of their forthcoming events.

School’s donation rekindles an old friendship

First published Friday 21 November 2014 in Swindon Advertiser – Click here to access full article and photos

HISTORIC links between Mountford Manor Primary School and Elizabeth House were resurrected with a food donation to the sheltered housing scheme last week. The Bothwell Road school, in Walcot, which last month received a good rating from Ofsted, had food left over following its kitchen switch to external supplier Caterlink. And, after a recommendation from one of its governors, who noted the old links between the school and the housing complex in Queens Drive, it was decided two crates of supplies would be donated to residents. The shool’s parent support officer, Suzanne Gregory, said: “One of our governors suggested there had been a relationship with Elizabeth House in the past, but it had fizzled out.” The two crates, which were taken over to the 52-bedroom home last Friday by Suzanne and two colleagues, included pasta, macaroni, tomatoes and hot chocolate. Suzanne said the Elizabeth House was delighted to receive the donation and plans were afoot for more activities which will strengthen the new bonds between the home and the school. On December 9 it has already been arranged for the school choir to attend Elizabeth House and serenade its tenants with a collection of Christmas carols.

The word has also been put out for more food donations from parents in the hope a Christmas hamper might be donated.

Teaching young to remember

report by Beren Cross, Swindon Advertiser – Click here for full article and photos

ROYAL British Legion Riders Branch members motored into Mountford Manor Primary School yesterday for a lesson on the importance of Remembrance Sunday.  Pupils aged seven to 11 hung on the every word of Allen McIlvar and Andy Sleep, who stood at the front of the group with their motorcycles.

“Last year I worked at a different school and we organised for the RBL to come in and do some work with the kids, but I felt bringing them in here would be even more appropriate with the centenary,” he said. “I teach Year 3, seven and eight-year-olds, and I know they understand the importance of the remembrance calendar, so I’m confident they will get something out of this. “What they don’t understand is exactly what the RBL does for those current and ex-service personnel to help them lead a normal life, if they have been injured. “The importance of all this should be pounded into them. Just because it was a long time ago doesn’t mean they shouldn’t remember. “It was a remarkable thing those people gave up and it’s still happening now. “The benefit of having people like Allen and Andy in, is the fact they can answer questions first hand as ex-servicemen themselves.” Yesterday’s talk will act as a launchpad for the school’s own plans across the Remembrance period. One hundred balloons, full of poppy seeds and wild flowers, will be released on Tuesday as a way of giving thanks for the sacrifices made by the fallen. Andy Sleep, an RBL member for 32 years after 24 years in service, said: “This is tremendously important in showing the children exactly what the legion does.”

It’s good news all the way for school

report by Beren Cross, Swindon Advertiser – Click here for full article and photos

A BOOST in rating from Ofsted for Mountford Manor Primary School is about more than just a number on a page for one of the hardest-to-shift schools in Swindon. Nick Capstick, CEO of The White Horse Federation, the multi-academy trust which sponsors the school, said Mountford was notorious throughout the industry as a poor performer. In an inspection which took place in early September, inspectors found the Bothwell Road school was now considered good, rather than requiring improvement, as had been the case in 2012. Mr Capstick said: “This is an outstanding achievement. For years it has been known as a hard-to-shift school. “This isn’t just about moving from a three (requires improvement) to a two (good), this is a phenomenal achievement for a school which has struggled. “Just a few years ago, just as we took over the school, it was in the bottom 200 of all schools in the UK. “Failure has been endemic and systemic for years. This school has habitually failed to perform and is now performing at a good standard. Ofsted has raised the bar too. “This is not a good standard in comparison to two years ago. These are enhanced standards. “This is down to strong leadership. Lauren Connor (executive principal) has put in some significant, magnificent work. read more…

Serving up school meals in real style

First published 05:30 Thursday 4 September 2014 in Newsby Elizabeth Mackley – Click here for full article and photos
LUNCHTIME was better than ever for pupils starting the new school term atMountford Manor Primary School after a full refurbishment of the kitchen. During the summer the school’s kitchen was given a refurbishment in order to meet the increased demand for school dinners after the Government’s Universal Free School Meals policy came into effect at the start of the new term. At the end of April, Mountford Manor Primary School were awarded Academy Capital Maintenance Funding (ACMF) of £60,508 by the Education Funding Agency to make the necessary improvements.

She said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, I’m over the moon with it. “The original kitchen was installed in 1958 and we were still using the old equipment, but now the meals are tastier because the equipment is better and everything is timed to a T. “We are now providing 161 meals and that’s not just for Mountford but for Nylands school as well. “The increase in the number of meals hasn’t really bothered us. We just get on with it really.” Last September the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that all children in Years 1, 2 and Reception class around the country would be entitled to receive free school meals from this September. It could mean that parents save £400 a year for each child, as well as giving youngsters the nutrition they need to develop their learning. Rachel Skates, headteacher at the school, said: “I think it’s a great idea. Anything we can do to make sure the children have nutritious food, and it also alleviates the pressure from parents too. “Having nutritious food means that children can have a hot meal and it helps them to concentrate in the afternoon.” Many of the children at Mountford were also making the most of the new scheme, tucking into their free school dinners. Ruby Scott, who is in Year 2, said she enjoyed eating school meals and her favourite was having a jacket potato for lunch. The six-year-old said: “I sometimes have school meals but not all the time and I do quite enjoy them. My favourite is having a jacket potato with beans because it’s really nice and tasty. “It’s good we can have school dinner because it means you don’t get hungry in the afternoon.” Liz Matthews, Project Manager for the White Horse Federation, of which Mountford Manor is part of, said: “The funding has meant that the kitchens are now using state of the art equipment. Wall to wall stainless steel and anti slip flooring has been installed by local contractors. Gone are the antiquated sterilising sinks, now a new dish washer and prep area takes its place. New steamers and ovens have also been installed to improve the efficiency. The whole kitchen has been repainted and looks fabulous. We have also purchased much needed new tables and clearing stations to improve the experience for the children too. “Local contractor RCM Catering pulled out all the stops working weekends and evenings to get the kitchen ready in time to start the new year, and I know the catering staff were so excited to now work in a fresh, efficient cooking environment.”

It’s smiles all round at new play equipment

5:30am Saturday 24th May 2014 – Swindon Advertiser Reports – Click here for full article and photos   YOUNGSTERS at Mountford Manor Primary school were swinging from the rafters when teachers at their school unveiled new play equipment this week. Around 250 pupils at the Walcot school were delighted with the welcome surprise, which came about as the result of a £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund and £2,000 raised by their own fundraising committee. Parent support officer Suzanne Gregory said there was a buzz about the school when the youngsters finally got to have a go on the monkey bars, rolling beam and other equipment. “It’s a brilliant piece of equipment and the children were absolutely thrilled,” she said. “We bid for a grant from the Big Lottery Fund and raised £2,000 through our own fundraising committee because the school has never had any static play equipment. “Where we used to be a separate junior and infants school we have two fields and a lot of outdoor space. “It’s great for healthy living and encouraging them to play outside. Before they had balls and hoops and skipping ropes they could only really get out when it was sunny. “We decided to keep it a secret about the grant until we had the play equipment in place so they could actually see it. They were so excited.”

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