Fun in the fields, hi-tech in the classroom

Boarders at an idyllic state school in Shropshire work hard and play hard, reports Amy McLellan

Add classrooms with the latest computer wizardry, a performing arts centre and exam results in the top 5 per cent, and you have a setting worthy of some of the country's grandest private schools.

Yet this is a state school: Adams' Grammar in Newport, Shropshire. The school, founded by a wealthy London haberdasher in 1656, is today a specialist technology college. It takes 800 boys, including 100 boarders, with girls accepted in the sixth form. Education is free but there is a fee to cover the costs of boarding, which stands at £6,807 per year.

Boarding facilities are impressive. Younger boys live in Longford Hall, the Georgian mansion set in 100 acres of grounds and five-minute mini-bus ride from the main site. Seniors live in 18th-century town houses on the main site.

The boarding community includes pupils from Germany, Hong Kong and England, but most are drawn from families in the local catchment area. For many of these families, boarding is the best solution to busy modern lives. Year 9 pupil Iyare Nehikhare from Wolverhampton boards because both parents work long hours, while for classmate Oliver Snelling, bus routes to and from school are a problem. These are hands-on parents. "When you look at the sports touchline or the audience for the school play, a greater proportion of boarding parents are there," says the headmaster, Jim Richardson.

Boarders may be modest in number but their presence has an impact on the whole school, with day pupils benefiting from the many after-school activities. The list is extensive: sport figures highly but the youngsters also go for sign language, tobogganing, tree houses, fishing, the cadet force, musicals...

George Shi, now 17, started boarding in Year 7. At the time his family lived in London. "You don't have time to get homesick," he says. "When I first started I forgot I was in boarding school within a couple of hours. Because it's a small school, you make friends very quickly."

There is a strong emphasis on academic standards. As might be expected of a selective school, exam results are good: last summer, 69 per cent of A-level entries got top grades of A and B, and 97 per cent of pupils scored A*-C in their GCSEs.

Boarders are thought to have an edge in the academic stakes. Lee Hadley, the housemaster at Longford, explains: "If a boy is not performing well at school, it comes to me and we address it that night. That wouldn't happen with day boys. There's also a significant adult presence, with tutors on hand while they do their prep."

The school has to turn would-be boarders away because of lack of space, but there are no plans to expand. Instead, there is a programme of refurbishment and rebuilding.

Adams' is looking ahead to its 350th anniversary next year, a prospect that must have seemed bleak during the 1970s when it was regularly threatened with closure. Those dark days are long gone.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Administration Assistant / Apprenticeship Industry

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity for an e...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders