One of the UK’s newest private schools is up for two major awards at the independent education sector’s ‘Oscars’.
Myddelton College, in Denbigh, just five years since it was founded, is the only school in Wales to make the prestigious short-list for the Independent Schools Association awards.
The school, which was the country’s newest independent school in 2016, is nominated for Outstanding International Involvement and for Outstanding Sport in a Small School.
Headmaster Andrew Allman said: “We are delighted to have been selected on the three-strong shortlist for each of these important awards which we believe recognises the tremendous strides we’ve made in just five years.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and a tremendous accolade for the staff and the pupils here at Myddelton.
“We might be a relatively small school but this shows we punch well above our weight and demonstrates the breadth of the education that we offer and that we’re so much more than an exams factory.”
Myddelton College began reaching out to schools across the world in 2020 when the English department used Microsoft’s Flipgrid platform to establish links with Morton East High School, in Cicero, Illinois.
This year those links have been extended to the Lycée St Paul, in Cambrai, in Northern France, and Gymnasium S.V Baymenova in Pokhvistnevo, over 750 miles east of Moscow, in the Samara Oblast region of Russia.
That culminated on UNESCO’s World Poetry Day in March when the three schools shared poems in Russian, Welsh, English, French and Spanish and then when Head of English Alan Biles-Liddell took a class with pupils from Russia while a Transatlantic Book Club has also been set up with the school in Illinois.
Alan Biles-Liddell said: “During lockdown and remote learning I became all too aware of the isolating nature of learning for our pupils and how many, if not all of them, stuck here in North Wales, would have a very narrow view of the world.
“So I decided to reach out to other teachers across the globe to see if we could engage and link up our pupils
“What occurred was spellbinding as our students opened up and shared their common experience of lockdowns, restricted learning and in some cases personal loss.
“More than this though they started to learn about each other’s culture and break down any stereotypical views they might have had.”
The school’s sporting achievements and provision have also earned them recognition and though pupil numbers are below 300 they still offer football, rugby, netball, gymnastics, basketball, hockey, badminton, tennis, rounders, athletics, equestrian, climbing and orienteering.
Students from the school have competed at international level in sports as varied as tennis, sailing, wheelchair basketball, fly-fishing and showjumping while their regular Outdoor Learning days involve walking, scrambling and climbing, canoeing, kayaking and orienteering.
Director of Sport and Assistant Headmaster Mike Pearson said: “This year alone we have launched football and tennis academies as well as opening the equestrian facility which stables pupils’ horses and ponies.
“We also developed physical education programmes for our students during lockdown to support their physical, social and mental well-being while we have also appointed four young sports ambassadors to help promote and run school events.
“We believe in providing a sporting curriculum that offers outstanding provision, top class facilities and a programme that meets the needs of all individuals, regardless of nationality, background, or ability.”
Myddelton College, a co-educational day and boarding school, was the UK’s newest independent school when it opened in the autumn of 2016 and is the only school in North Wales with a 5G network.
The school currently has 280 pupils, 75 of them boarders and 70 staff, 35 of them teachers and Mr Allman added: “The school has integrated into the local community very well and we have formed sporting partnerships with a number of local clubs.
The Estyn Report issued last year praised the way the school celebrates its diversity, said that pupils’ behaviour was “exemplary” and was also impressed by the high level of support and guidance provided by the “committed staff”.
Andrew Allman added: “We have some great support for the pupils and the foundations have been set very successfully.
“We want to provide to well-rounded education and give all our pupils a breadth of opportunities, indoors and outdoors including the chance to work with and form bonds with people and countries all over the world.
“At the same time we are fortunate to be here in a beautiful part of North Wales and our local links are important to us and we have formed strong bonds with the local community.
“I want it to be a calm, kind, happy school where pupils have mutual respect and can thrive and reach their goals.”