Principal’s Blog – 12th May 2017

University of Leeds Logo

STEM Challenge

During the February half term, a number of students from Minsthorpe entered a Maths competition hosted by the University of Leeds. Over 350 students from the West Yorkshire area took part and two of our students, Ella and Cobey, really impressed the judges and have been invited to attend a special prize giving ceremony at the University on May 17th 2017. Congratulations to these students, this is some achievement to be recognised by a Russell Group University and I will report on how the ceremony went in my Blog next week.

Improving The College Envelope

It is hard to believe but Minsthorpe Community College celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2018! We will be looking for ideas to mark this illustrious landmark. However, those 50 years have taken their toll on the original fabric of the building. Like so many schools built in the 1960s and 1970s under the Consortium of Local Authorities Special Practice (CLASP) scheme, we are experiencing problems with the building. CLASP buildings are notoriously cold in the winter, hot in the summer, fall into disrepair quickly and need updating in order to meet modern life safety regulations. Like so many schools, we are unable to afford the millions of pounds needed to carry out this remedial work and have been replacing the old modular CLASP exterior with thermally efficient external cladding every time that we have been able to secure funding from the government. In January 2017 we put in a bid to renovate the central block of the school – this includes the Social Sciences/Vocational Education area and the Main Hall.

In April 2017 we learned that our bid had been successful and that we are to receive £2m in funding in order that we can continue with our long term programme to refurbish the college. Of course, this will cause disruption but it will also make a core part of the college safer and more thermally efficient. It is our plan to continue to seek further funding in order that we can tackle the remaining CLASP buildings in phases over the next 3 years, hopefully cladding the final areas of Maths, the Carnegie block and the Sports Hall by 2020.

In the time leading up to our 50th Anniversary it is good to know that we are turning our proud past into a hopeful future that still incorporates the old but that is also embracing the new. A fitting metaphor for the college as we continue to seek to renew what we do without ever forgetting our foundations.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 5th May 2017

University Of Sheffield Achievement Awards

Year 11 Progress Files

On Friday May 5th Year 11 students received their Progress Files. This is a personal development portfolio that students have been working on for some time and it is a record of their academic achievements and personal goals. The Progress File is a detailed record of the experiences, progress, and achievements of each student. It is a continuous record which follows the student through his or her time at school. At the end of Year 11 a summary of the main elements of the Progress File is compiled for the student, which s/he may use in applying for jobs or for entry into Further Education. We are fast approaching a number of key milestones for Year 11 as they come near to end of their compulsory education. The Year 11 Prom is not far off and, of course, the GCSE examination period. What we do hope is that students navigate these times successfully and that many of them return to us in September 2017 to begin their Post-16 studies. For those leaving us to go to work or college, we wish you every success.

Achievement Awards

On Tuesday May 2nd a number of Year 11 students went to the Achievement Awards Ceremony at Sheffield University. Sixty five students met the targets of the award – which included both attendance and punctuality being at 95% or above in Years 10 and 11 and the Minsthorpe awards went to Charlotte Clift and Sam Shelley. Well done everyone!

You have to be here!

Attendance is a key factor when it comes to student progress and there is a proven link between attendance rates and examination success. Last week’s attendance was 94.6% which is the best week since the 3rd week in September 2016 and a clear 1% improvement on the same week last year. It is vital that parents support us in our current attendance drive by ensuring that your sons and daughters are in college, on time. Please help us to help your children.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 28th April 2017

  • Direct Marketing Challenge Final
  • Young Firefighters Image 1
  • Young Firefighters Image 2
  • Katie at English Schools Cross Country Championship
  • humanutopia Logo


Highly Commended

On Friday April 7th three of our Year 8 students took part in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ pitch for The Prince of Wales Hospice in competition against a number of other Wakefield schools. The final was held at the National Coal Mining Museum and the group pitched a Gift Bag idea for the Hospice and designed and made a bag for the event. It was a great community focused activity that was made even more relevant to our students by being for a charity that is close to our hearts here at Minsthorpe. The students showed great teamwork and communication skills. They came a close second to a team from Castleford Academy but the group was really awesome and the judges complimented the students on their excellent presentational skills. The school lead on this, Molly Morgan, takes up the story.

Young Firefighters

I was proud to be able to attend our Young Firefighters Passing Our Parade on April 7th. Seven Post 16 students went through the training and treated us to a thrilling display of their teamwork and firefighting skills and a superb water carnival display as well. The event was attended by proud friends and family.

English Schools Cross Country Championships

We are proud of our own Katie in Year 7. Her consistent running performances have seen her selected to represent Wakefield and then West Yorkshire. Katie is the first student from Minsthorpe to represent our county at Cross Country for a considerable amount of time and performed incredibly well in the English Schools Cross Country Championships before Easter. She ran the 4km race in 12 minutes 25 seconds and was 4th in the West Yorkshire team and 43rd in England – excellent running, Katie!


On April 25th and 26th Year 9 students experienced the inspirational Humanutopia workshop. The aim of these workshops is to help young people make positive changes and to improve their life chances as a result. The students were given information, practical examples of coping strategies and took part in activities designed to lead to improvements in their hope, confidence, happiness and relationships that, in the process, should enhance their employability skills.

At times it was an intensely emotional experience for both students and staff as difficult issues such as image, bullying, self-harm (and the impact that these can have on a person’s success at school) were examined in an uncompromising way. A number of brave students shared with their peers the difficulties that they faced and how sometimes they have been made to feel as a result of the words and actions of others. The overarching message of the conference was that students have a duty to look out for one another and to support each other. Rachael Paul, the CCTL for Year 9, described this as the best experience that she had ever had as a Head of Year. It was truly powerful stuff.

At Minsthorpe we work hard at whole person development. Yes, exam results are important, but not if this makes our young people troubled and unhappy and the college prides itself on also developing the crucial life skills that will help our young people put their qualifications to good use by being able to handle both success and setbacks equally well.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 7th April 2017

  • Tempest In The Park Students
  • Mini Convoy


Model Citizens

Last week a dog slipped its lead at the South Elmsall railway station and, sadly, was killed by a train. I am so proud of the four Minsthorpe students who immediately went to the aid of the dog owner and, having appreciated how devastated he was by the incident, called the police requesting that help be immediately sent out for him. A member of the public informed the college of the kindness and thoughtfulness of these students, praising them for the quick thinking that could have prevented this situation becoming even more of a tragedy.

O Brave New World

For the third year in a row, thirteen Minsthorpe students impressed audiences at the Honley Shakespeare Festival with this year’s performance of William Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. The Festival moved to an outdoor venue in Beaumont Park, Huddersfield, where ten schools collaborated to produce the entire play. They performed in the evening of Friday 31st March against the stunning backdrop of the Bandstand.

Our students, from Years 7, 8, 9 and 12, learnt and devised a scene from Act Three in rehearsals over the last eleven weeks, and wowed the large crowd of parents (and curious members of the public) with their enthusiasm, projection and emotion. They developed resilience, resourcefulness and respect by demonstrating exceptional team-work skills, and supported each other throughout the whole process. Well done to all of the students involved and to Miss Wildman and Mrs Keith for helping in rehearsals and over the festival evening. Special thanks go to Sally Thompson whose passion for Shakespeare fires the students up and encourages them to greater and greater heights every year.

Year 10 Mock Interviews

Last week all Year 10 students had a mock interview with someone from a business. This is a great preparation for the trials of a real interview and our students were an absolute credit to the college and the interviewers praised the quality of the students’ CVs, their composure and said that the standard this year was the best yet. We really prepare students for the world of work.

Women And STEM

Also during last week, Ms Hart took 10 Year 10 girls to an event aimed at exciting, informing and sparking girls’ curiosity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths put on by the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. The girls were a credit to Minsthorpe, getting engaged and having a go at everything from Candy Floss making (chemical engineering), Virtual Reality machine (Computer Science), to guessing the equations for a Human powered glider! The feedback from the girls was very positive – one stating she "didn’t realise how many opportunities there were for her" and others saying they "definitely want to go to University now". Others got a taste in careers they had heard of, including Radiography and Ocean Engineering – designing submarines! This is what we do at Minsthorpe – we help build dreams and open up doors for our young people.

A Tribute To Brad

A former student, Brad Parish was buried on Friday March 31st at St Luke’s Church in South Elmsall. Brad loved classic Mini cars and it was touching to see a flight of Minis turn up to provide him with a Guard of Honour on his final journey. Brad was a lovely lad, full of fun and we will miss him.

More photos of the Mini convoy can be seen on the Yorkshire Evening Post website.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 31st March 2017

  • Red Nose Day 2017
  • Frickley Athletic


At Minsthorpe Every Day Is A Day In School

Buoyed by the good Ofsted grade that we received for our SCITT, the next step for Minsthorpe is to use our teacher training record as a foundation for a bid to become a Teaching School. Launched in 2011, there are now almost 700 teaching schools across the country and their role is to work with other schools and colleges to provide high quality training and support for school improvement in their local area. To become a teaching school, a school must be judged to be at least good and have a proven track record of delivering ITT and supporting other schools. We passionately believe that Minsthorpe is able to provide high quality teacher training and that we are also well placed to help other schools develop their professional practice, developing our own in the process.

Red Nose Day

Many, many thanks to the staff and students at Minsthorpe. On Friday 24th the college managed to raise over £1,200 for charity. Thanks to everyone who gave.

Education – It’s Frickley Minsthorpe!

On Friday March 24th Frickely Athletic held open trials for their Education Academy Programme. This is a joint venture between the football club and Minsthorpe that will see the youngsters develop as potential professional footballers whist also receiving a quality A-Level education at Minsthorpe, should they not go on as professional footballers but want a career in which they are still able to play football to a high standard. 18 students turned up on the night for the trial and beat a weakened Frickley youth side 8-0. The lads will be returning with their parents to the college on Friday April 7th to view our sporting facilities and to look at the educational offer that we can provide.

Careers – It’s An Education

On Friday March 24th we were visited by the Head of Schools for the Careers and Education Company, Alastair Falk. The Careers & Enterprise Company is a government-backed organisation that is connecting and galvanising schools, colleges and employers to deliver effective careers support to young people. Their vision is to become the only place that schools, colleges, employers and providers go to if they want to invest efficiently and effectively in preparing young people for the future. We were chosen because we place such a great emphasis on the value of careers education here and Alastair was simply blown away by the quality of the support that we provide here at Minsthorpe. He described what he saw as "Stunningly impressive!"

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 24th March 2017

  • Year 1 Multi-Skills Event
  • Forensic Science Club
  • Red Nose Day 2017


Year 1 Multi Skills Event

On Friday 10th March, we played host to over 260 children and their teachers in the annual Year 1 Multi-skills event. The event is designed for children in our local feeder schools to experience their first taste of inter-school competition. Six of our pyramid schools brought their whole Year 1 class to Minsthorpe to compete in a variety of relay races, throwing and jumping events. The children demonstrated great effort, focus and skills and a group from Northfield, the Bat Team, were our overall winners. Our Post 16 Sport students supported the event, acting as group leaders, coaches, officials and scorers. They showed a great level of commitment and maturity throughout the morning and we would not be able to run events like these without them.

The Tale Research Programme

Last week we were visited by Dr Lexi Earle from the University of Nottingham to look at how the teaching of Shakespeare remains vital in the modern education system. This is a project run in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company and is part of Minsthorpe’s commitment to being at the forefront of cutting edge educational research. Lexi’s blog pays a huge compliment to our project lead, Sally Thompson and to the quality of the lessons that students get here. Have a look for yourself by following this link –

CSI Minsthorpe!

Several Year 8 students have been taking part over the past few weeks in a Forensic Science Club after college. They have been furthering their practical skills looking at techniques ranging from fingerprint collection and shoe print casting to crystal making and evaporation techniques. Students will be aiming to learn the techniques required in order to solve a ‘crime scene’ at the end of term.

BBC School Report

One of our students, Jacob, won the competition to have an article filmed for the BBC News Report. His feature was filmed at the end of February and went live on the BBC website last week and ties neatly in with World Down Syndrome Day this week. Already the feature has been getting a lot of great reaction on Facebook, receiving over 8,000 views! Take a look.

Sporting Success

Huge congratulations to the Year 7 Boys’ Football Team who won the Wakefield Cup on Tuesday March 21st against Catleford, beating them 2-1. The winning goal came from a spectacular volley from Eddie Anderson.

Red Nose Day

Friday March 24th was Red Nose Day and, as ever, the college got fully involved. This year we used the event to launch our Time to Change initiative and in P&A time students were invited to consider the work that we have been doing this year with CAMHS and the Kooth Counsellor that is aimed at tackling mental health issues amongst young people. Minsthorpe is proud to support the Time to Change programme. Next week I’ll let you know how much we raised for Comic Relief.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 17th March 2017

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  • Kenya Donation Image 2
  • Kenya Donation Image 3
  • Kenya Donation Image 4


Minsthorpe Students Focus On University

On Tuesday March 14th students from Years 11, 12 and 13 took part in a HE focus group session on behalf of Revolution Viewing – a digital agency based in Leeds. They produce videos and virtual open days for universities to help them to recruit students and have worked with over 70 UK universities in the past 12 years. Whilst universities are their clients, prospective students are their audiences, and therefore it’s really important that they continually research what prospective university students think of their solutions so that the promotional videos they produce and their products are fit-for-purpose.

Minsthorpe is involved in the massive four year Go Higher West Yorkshire Project that is trying to increase the number of students considering going to university by 2020 and we are going to be able to offer many free activities to our students designed to increase their attainment and support their careers education and guidance. In all 24 students took part in this valuable consumer research and each one received a £15 Amazon voucher as a thank you for taking part.

Kenya Donation

Minsthorpe is always looking to help other schools and students no matter where they live. The story of our latest charitable donation is taken up by Laura Trusdale…

"I was approached by a friend and colleague from De Lacy Academy, Lindsey Anfield, to donate any old PE equipment for a village called Maungu in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya. She was travelling there with some friends over the February half term break and the chief villagers had requested a variety of things for the local people and schools.

Minsthorpe PE department along with De Lacy Academy and Castleford Academy managed together to donate over 40kg of balls, nets, cones and bibs for three Kenyan primary schools. We were able to give each school a full kit bag with a variety of sporting equipment. Pupils and staff from the schools were delighted and, as you can see from the photographs, the equipment was immediately put to good use!"

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 10th March 2017

New Employer Of The Year Award

Minsthorpe Community College Wins New Employer Of The Year

Organisations from across the Wakefield District attended the Wakefield College Apprenticeship Awards Ceremony held at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on Monday March 6th 2017. The event aimed to acknowledge and celebrate the exceptional contribution that apprentices are making to local businesses and to pay tribute to employers who are committed to developing the next generation of employees through the apprenticeship programme. The Right Worshipful the Mayor of the City of Wakefield Metropolitan District and Mayoress were both in attendance and heard from the apprentices themselves what a difference the apprenticeship programme has made to their lives and their career prospects.

In the New Employer of the Year category, Minsthorpe was up against stiff opposition in the form of PCTI Solutions Ltd and Bosch Rexforth Ltd but was awarded the prize because of the commitment the college has shown to the apprenticeship programme. Minsthorpe employs a number of apprentices and intends to become a training provider for school apprentices in the next year and, in partnership with Wakefield College and Future Works (Yorkshire), provides a number of apprentices to local schools and colleges. In addition, the college leads on Initial Teacher Training and is working with City and Guilds and a consortium of Buckinghamshire schools to design a Qualified Teaching Status apprenticeship that will allow future teachers to develop their skills entirely in the classroom.

We are proud to receive this prestigious award and it reflects our commitment to the apprenticeship programme here at the college. We see apprentices as the next generation of employees and schools are major employers in the Wakefield District as well as being places of learning. Apprentices are given the opportunity to earn and learn at Minsthorpe and are a valuable asset for the college.

Year 10 – A Revised Opinion

Year 10 are just incredible and are showing a huge commitment to their studies. Mr Max continually drums home the message that success is all about effort and what an effort this year group is showing. Mr Wilkinson reports unprecedented numbers of students staying on after college for revision – over 170 students each week for the past two weeks. Normally we would see over 30 as a good turn out so this shows how impressive these numbers are! I am so impressed with the pride of these students and told them so in their assembly on Thursday.


On Tuesday Ofsted published the Summary Report of all schools based on their GCSE results for summer 2016. With our Progress 8 score of +0.13 I am pleased to inform you that this now makes Minsthorpe what is called Sig+ This means that students here achieve between half and just below 1 grade above the grades that other students achieve nationally. Our GCSE results of summer 2016 were better than 25% of schools judged to be outstanding and 67% of good schools and it shows the direction of travel here at the college. This is the result of the hard work being put in by staff, students and parents as we build a culture of success here at Minsthorpe.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 3rd March 2017

  • Future In Mind Logo
  • World Book Day 2017 Image 1
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  • World Book Day 2017 Image 4
  • Girls Rugby Tournament


Minsthorpe Has The Future In Mind

I was privileged to attend the formal launch of the Wakefield Future in Mind Project on Friday 24th February and to listen to our Assistant Principal (and FIM project lead) Jeanette Collins show colleagues the massive impact that the project is having on staff development in schools and in providing timely help for young people experiencing mental health issues. It is a sad fact that schools are seeing an unprecedented rise in the number of cases of students suffering from mental illnesses and we need to find ways of getting help to these young people as soon as the problem emerges and in a place that is convenient to them – either in their school or local community. For well over a year now, Minsthorpe has been leading the development of this project for the SESKU area and we have a KOOTH counsellor based in the college who provides training for staff and support for Minsthorpe students and students in primary schools in the area. This is just one more example of the raft of support strategies and access points that we have developed at the college to try to provide a wrap-around care package for our students. Students know that they can approach the MAP Office, the Anti-Bullying Ambassadors, the Peer Listeners, the Youth Hope Team and staff if they feel troubled or in need of a helping hand.

Do Something Booky!

Thursday March 2nd was World Book Day and, as we have done every year, we used the day to show students the excitement that comes from getting lost in a story. At the beginning of every lesson staff read to students an excerpt from The Darkness Out There by Penelope Lively. The story is written in the third person and is set in English countryside in the home of an elderly widow. It begins with the story through narrative. However, as the story progresses the narrative gives way to dialogue as Sandra (the protagonist) discovers that not everything is what it appears to be, and people have dark inside of them! Ask your child to give you a summary of the story and how the tension built over the day!

Rugby Tournament

On Wednesday of last week we held a girls rugby tournament here at Minsthorpe welcoming over 120 students from 8 local schools including; Kings, De Lacy, Castleford, Featherstone, Crofton, Airedale and Hemsworth. We ran the tournament at two age groups – Years 7 & 8 and Years 9 & 10. Our Minsthorpe Year 7 & 8 team were superb and finished runners up losing narrowly to a very strong De Lacy team who finished on top of the tournament at that age group. At the Year 9 & 10 age group Featherstone finished runners up as they were defeated in the final by Castleford Academy who did not drop any points throughout the tournament, winning 8 games. It was a fantastic evening with over 100 students from the Wakefield area taking part and enjoying a great experience with lots of talent on show. What a great advert for Minsthorpe and girls rugby league.

A big thank you to the Minsthorpe Year 10 and 11 students who refereed over 40 matches. Aaron Lloyd, Tyler Lloyd, Todd Bethell, Kieron Walker, Taylor Goodwin, Ben Pickin and Callum Holling. Also a big well done to Zack Keeton and Jordan Lambert who helped make the event run smoothly.

Thank you to staff; Mr Max, Miss Bird, Mr Johnson and Miss Trusdale who played a huge part in the running of the tournament and thanks Mrs Merritt, a member of the leadership team, for coming down and supporting.

Choices, Choices

Tuesday February 28th saw the Year 8 Preferencing Evening take place at the college. Two packed houses listened to Mr Gilmore explain how the Choices programme worked for GCSE and gave students and parents some key words of advice to support the important GCSE preferences process. Every options subject was represented in the Training & Conference Centre and parents went from the presentation to the subject stalls to find out what each subject would cover over the next three years. It was a lively, buzzy atmosphere and my thanks go to all the staff involved and to the parents and students who turned out in such large numbers, showing the importance they attached to the next stage of the educational journey that we provide at Minsthorpe.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 24th February 2017

  • Barnardo's Logo
  • Stationery


Speak Up!

Minsthorpe prides itself on being an inclusive college and we want our young people to be educated in an environment in which respect and acceptance are the norm. It is a sad fact that any form of difference – gender, disability, SEN or sexual orientation – can lead to prejudice and discrimination and the college is determined to challenge stereotypes and to make our students appreciate that difference is not something that needs to be feared or abused. I am proud to announce that our efforts have come to the attention of Barnado’s who have chosen Minsthorpe as one of 200 schools to help them develop their Anti-HBT Bullying Programme. This is a three year programme that aims to help schools combat homophobic, biophobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying. Funded by the Government Equalities Office, Barnado’s will work with schools to develop robust anti-HBT bullying policies that can then be rolled out across the country.

Bullying behaviour often comes from a lack of understanding, ignorance and fear. Incorporating lessons around gender and sexuality into our curriculum and making it part of our college culture will help to increase understanding and awareness. It can generate safe spaces for open discussions where students can explore and challenge each other’s attitudes safely. We hope to be able to trial the use of the tootoot app that has been developed as part of a massive government investment into a range of innovative schemes that are designed to tackle bullying in schools. This online app lets children report cyber bullying using screenshots of social media and will give them access to round-the-clock support including in school holidays, with advice on tackling bullying and tips on how to block and report abuse on a range of online platforms.

Steve Oversby, Director of Barnardo’s East Region said:

"Barnardo’s aim is to make sure LGBTQ young people have a safe environment where diversity is celebrated and difference is accepted. We welcome this great opportunity to make a real difference to young people’s lives, when HBT bullying can have a terrible impact. We are confident that we can recruit 200 schools and that we can deliver the tools to combat HBT bullying to any other schools that need it. Schools that are not recruited through the programme can buy in services through Barnardo’s to support them to create inclusive school environments."

Equipped To Learn

This past week has been the worst that we have experienced in terms of students coming to college without even the basics with which to learn. Many students had to be sent to year offices to borrow pens, pencils and rulers. Every teacher wants the best for their students – but it’s not always an easy task, especially when they’re coming to class without the right equipment. We all know that turning up to school with correct supplies makes teaching and learning a lot easier. It means less time searching through cupboards for a spare ruler or in drawers for a pen, more time getting stuff done.

Can you please check that your son or daughter has at least some basic equipment packed in their college bag, please? The college also sells stationery at cost price. Let’s spend the time effectively, helping our students to learn instead of scrabbling around for stationery!

Ray Henshaw