One of the newest private schools in the UK has scooped two major awards at the independent education sector’s ‘Oscars’.
Myddelton College, in Denbigh, which was only founded five years ago, was the only school in Wales to be honoured at the Independent Schools Association awards.
Headmaster Andrew Allman and his team came away with two prestigious prizes, for Outstanding International Involvement and for Outstanding Sport in a Small School.
It has been a meteoric rise for Myddelton, the UK’s newest independent school when it opened in 2016 on the former Howell’s School campus on Denbigh’s Park Street.
Andrew Allman said: “It’s a huge honour for us to be recognised with two major awards at such a prestigious event and it is a tribute to the staff and students that we’ve been recognised at a national level.
“We believe that a school shouldn’t just be an exam factory and that it is also important that our students receive a well-rounded education.
“We want to 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.”
The International Involvement award paid tribute to the Myddelton College’s pioneering role in reaching out to schools in the USA, Russia and France to form a shared learning network.
In the depths of the pandemic lockdown Myddelton’s English department used Microsoft’s Flipgrid platform to contact Morton East High School, in Cicero, Illinois, in 2020 and the two schools began working together.
That success encouraged them to extend their links to Gymnasium S.V Baymenova in Pokhvistnevo, over 750 miles east of Moscow, in the Samara Oblast region of Russia and then to Lycée St Paul, in Cambrai, in Northern France, and most recently with a secondary school in Turn, in Italy.
Their initiative culminated on UNESCO’s World Poetry Day 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.
The American, Russian and French schools are now also working with each other while the Italian school is due to join soon and Myddelton College Head of English Alan Biles-Liddell said: “It has just been so successful and now we are going to include the project on the curriculum and grow it.
“During lockdown we were very aware of how isolating it was becoming for our students and that was why we wanted to reach out across the world.
“For World Poetry Day we had students from each school reading poems that were special to them and a student from Illinois from a Hispanic background actually chose Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ which was great for us here in Wales.”
The judges were impressed at the diversity of Myddelton’s sporting provision for a school whose numbers are below 300 with football, rugby, netball, gymnastics, basketball, hockey, badminton, tennis, rounders, athletics, equestrian, climbing and orienteering all on offer
Students have competed at international level at 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: “We’re delighted with the award. Just to be nominated was an achievement but to win was brilliant.
“I think what helped was the sheer variety of opportunities we offer and the number of competitions we enter and we encourage students to take part in sport and be active when they’re out of school as well.
“That was especially true of lockdown when we organised an on-line sports day they could do in their homes and gardens using everyday objects and we learned a lot of lessons that we can go on to use in future.”
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.
“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.”