Top uni offers for Taverham High students

Taverham High School is celebrating its best-ever set of offers for Year 13 students from universities, apprenticeships and training providers.

They include Nick Gabriel who has fought back from the devastation of losing his dad to secure a confirmed place at Oxford University to study geography.

Another two students, Ellen Flower and Jack Rolf-Gökeş, have been offered places to read maths at Oxford if they achieve good enough A-level grades in this summer’s exams.

Taverham High head teacher Carol Dallas said she was “incredibly proud and delighted.”

Mrs Dallas added: “Yet again we have high numbers of students entering the top universities in the country and they show a determination to achieve the highest possible academic standards.

“As a school community we have worked exceptionally hard to ensure that all of our students receive the extensive enrichment, preparation and guidance to realise their dreams and aspirations, this does not necessarily mean through the university route with some students have receiving exceptional offers on apprenticeships and training courses.”
Nick Gabriel (pictured, denim jacket) said he was very excited at the prospect of studying at Oxford’s Brasenose College from October. “After my father passed away, I felt as if whole world had disintegrated in front of my eyes,” he added.

“Thus my performance at GCSE was very average in comparison to the rest of my cohort. Nonetheless I am very grateful that this happened, since it motivated me to work harder during my A-level studies, and to prove to my teachers and family, and of course myself, that I am capable of success and exceeding expectations.”

He gained two A*s in geography and psychology and an A in music and, during a gap year, decided to try for Oxford.

Nick remembers heading for home after his two interviews: “I left feeling as if I had been pushed to think outside of my comfort zone, but equally motivated to be educated at the institution.”
Ellen Flower (pictured) had a fantastic week at the UNIQ Oxford Summer School for students from state schools hoping to study at Oxford University and, after winning the problem-solving competition, started to believe she might be in with a chance of a place at the university.

“As part of the admissions process, I had to sit the Oxford Mathematics Aptitude Test. It is fair to say that this test was the hardest thing that I’ve ever undertaken academically,” she said.

Ellen spent an intense four days of rigorous interviews at Oxford and “cried quite a lot!” when she was later offered a place at her first choice, Worcester College.

She added: “ I am so pleased that my hard work has paid off – just the A levels to go now!”
Jack Rolf-Gökeş (pictured) approached the Oxford admissions process with the goal of seeing how far he could get as he had nothing to lose.

“There were multiple points at which I thought I’d blown my chances,” he added.

“First, the admissions test was one of the hardest papers I’d ever seen, so immediately after sitting it I resigned myself to the notion that I would be getting my rejection in the post shortly.”

But he was invited for interviews and was ultimately successful in being offered a place.

Jack added: “I received a lot of support from teachers at the sixth form and at other schools, and I’m glad I have something to show for both my efforts and theirs.”

They did it! Swim pool fundraising success

Things looked pretty bleak two years ago when the air filtration system at Drayton Junior School’s 44-year-old swimming pool packed up.

The pool, used by hundreds of children in the area, had to close and £25,000 was needed for repairs.

But not only did the community rally round to find that sum, supporters went on to raise a total of more than £60,000, safeguarding the pool’s future for another 40 years.

Fund-raising events included quizzes, a 40th-birthday skydive by mum Melanie Coleman who has a son and a daughter at the school, Taverham Lions’ cycle ride and barn dances, Longdale Park Fete, a swimming gala at Riverside Leisure Centre, and proceeds from Taverham High School’s rag week.

The school held a tea party and ribbon-cutting ceremony last month to celebrate a fantastic community effort and to thank two fund-raising mums from the school’s Friends group, who went above and beyond to raise the cash.

Jane Dennis and Cathryn Heseltine were presented with bouquets by grateful head teacher David Oldham for the many hours they spent applying for grants and co-ordinating fund-raising.

Both women had children at the school when the appeal was first launched but carried on helping after their youngsters moved on.

Amazingly, the first £25,000 was raised within 10 months, allowing the pool to re-open.

But a decision was taken to press on and raise more cash to replace the worn-out roof of the pool which was letting in water, said teacher Michael Silvester, who learned to swim there when he was a pupil at the school.

About half the total was raised by the community and half came from grants.

Pupils from many local schools, including those in the Nebula Partnership, use the pool, together with other members of the community, from toddlers to pensioners.

“It’s a community pool that’s based in the school and the reason for the success of this appeal is that so many people use it,” said the head.

“Jane and Cathryn have been fantastic. They have never once given up because they could see it was for the good of the community and now we have a pool that should last another 40-odd years.”

Pictured: Head teacher David Oldham and pupils prepare to cut the ribbon. Bottom: Cathryn Heseltine (left) and Jane Dennis with pupils.



Drayton martial arts pair are world champions

A martial arts instructor and a schoolboy from Drayton have returned from a world championship competition with a clutch of gold medals.

Wayne Baker and Callum Green earned the honours representing Great Britain at the World Martial Arts Games in Orlando, Florida.

Callum, 12, a pupil at Taverham High School, gained four world champion gold medals – in kumite, continuous sparring, team kumite and team points – and three bronze medals.

Wayne, master instructor of the South Eastern School of Martial Arts (SESMA), based in Drayton, competed in five categories and was successful in four, winning silver in Korean Forms, Team Forms, Team Kumite and becoming world champion in the Individual Kumite.

He narrowly missed being placed in Japanese Kata by 0.25 of a point. Callum began his martial arts career aged four at SESMA and, after a break, returned to the discipline as a student with the Black Belt Academy in Norwich.

More than 30 countries were invited to compete at the Orlando games which had to be condensed from three to two days because Hurricane Irma was expected.

Callum’s grandmother, Jackie Green, said competitors had to observe a 48-hour curfew, not leaving the hotel complex where the competition was held, in case Hurricane Irma caused problems.

It had been windy, with trees down and cars damaged, but Orlando had escaped comparatively lightly compared to some parts of  Florida, said Mrs Green.

Since his triumphant return from America, Wayne has competed in two further tournaments, the East of England Championships and the Peterborough Grand Prix Series, winning both the competitions in the Kata/Forms categories.

He will be representing Great Britain again in the European Championships next year in Schaan, Liechtenstein. He has also been asked by the British director of the World Martial Arts Games Commission to be a GB coach and train the British Kumite team.