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?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants