Polam Hall School and Sixth Form

Polam Hall is a Free School with boarding school in Darlington County Durham in the North East of England

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Mr Fleetwood’s last blog as acting Head

A truly fantastic end of term was had by both the Junior school and the Senior School.

The evening of Thursday July 6th saw the whole school come together to celebrate the creativity and the depth of talent of our dancers both in traditional ballet and modern. Pupils performed brilliantly and the support and leadership given by the senior school dancers to the young rising stars was truly inspirational. Miss Rachel and her team are to be congratulated, not only on the quality of the show but also in helping to provide life to the cultural heart of our school.


Y13 Leavers Ball

The Y13 Leaving Ball was on the same night and students, parents and staff both past and present came together to celebrate. Some of our students leaving this time have been at Polam from Nursery while others had joined much later on in their education coming to us at Y12. Each and every one of them shared a genuine love of Polam Hall and the unique educational experience it has to offer. We all wish them the very best at university and beyond and I for one am sure that they will go on to be successful young adults in life as well as outstanding ambassadors of our school.


The Junior School Prize-giving Evening was a huge success. It was wonderful to celebrate the success of so many of our pupils and to continue the tradition of awarding prizes and cups that have such a long history and therefore are so important to what we as a school stand for.


Sports Day

Speaking of prizes, we finally managed to squeeze in sports days for all the infants, juniors and seniors once the weather finally settled in the last week of term. It was great to see so many parents join us and my thanks go to the PHPA for providing refreshments for everyone. Congratulations go to those taking part, not least those who tried their very best for their House and to those who broke records such as Luke Bean, Harry Huloui and Ross Lesley.

The final Junior School Assembly and Senior School Reading were both tinged with end-of-year sadness as pupils said farewell to their older peers moving on. Memorable highlights were the juniors who memorised and performed a Wordsworth poem and the way in which Y6 said their goodbyes in song. The seniors, meanwhile, did a splendid job applauding the achievements of their younger peers.

My own farewell

It has been a privilege to be Headmaster at Polam over the last two terms and I have been touched by the kindness of everybody. Polam has so quickly became part of my emotional DNA that I will miss all the pupils and staff very much. That said, the future looks rosy. I know that the new principal, Mrs Reid, will not only grow to love Polam as much as the rest of us but she will also enable the School to flourish even further as a place of excellence in which everyone can be proud.


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Principal’s Blog 3/7/17

Fabulous Fortnight

What a great two weeks we have just had!

It began with yet another spectacular theatre production – this time from our talented Juniors who followed swiftly on from the Senior production of Bugsy Malone with an equally entertaining and highly-polished performance of the Lemonade Kid. Humour, dance and singing were spliced together with some excellent comic timing and I cannot thank enough all those pupils and staff who worked so hard to make this production the success it was. The entire theatre came alive and it was lovely to be able to share this with so many parents and their families.


Meanwhile, Darlington Carnival saw many of our pupils take to the streets on Saturday as part of our homage to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the magical land of Narnia. Aslam’s magnificent head led our school’s procession and is now enjoying a well-deserved rest in the Junior gym!


Senior School students have successfully completed their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Gold expeditions. Navigating and working as teams is such a brilliant way of developing invaluable interpersonal and leadership skills, all of which are bound to prove useful in their future lives. Well done to everyone involved.

Y6 transition

Our Y6 children enjoyed two days of transition work last week as they joined the Seniors to see what ‘big school’ was all about. They met pupils from other primary schools who are to join us in September, as well as our new Principal, Mrs Reid, who visited us for the day on Thursday. Children worked together in lessons and took part in team building exercises and it has to be said that their behaviour and commitment was outstanding throughout. It was also lovely to meet next year’s new reception pupils and their parents and to see the excitement of the other primary years as they moved up and worked with their new teachers.

Prom night

The U5 Prom at Headlam Hall last Thursday was a wonderful evening. Everyone looked amazing in their prom dresses and suits and it was an honour to sit down to a delightful meal in such an historic setting amid so many mature young people and hard-working staff. What a pleasure to watch this year group celebrate their journey so far at Polam. I wish them all the very best in Sixth Form and beyond.

U5 prom 2


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Principal’s Blog 19/6/17

A busy start to our final half term

The last half term of this academic year began at such an exciting and explosive pace, starting not least with the great teamwork of the Y6s and the confident manner in which they faced the challenges of the SATs. Likewise, our Y11s and Sixth Form students have been exemplary in their attitude towards exams and I am so proud to have seen them show resilience and a determination to succeed.

Meanwhile, we also enjoyed a brilliant Y2 Junior Assembly. Not only did we get to understand the importance of ‘urban habits’ but we also witnessed how much the children have learnt and developed as strong individuals. It was a very fitting way in which to share with parents their last assembly before moving up to the Senior School.

Creative talents

This year’s Sixth Form and U5 Art Exhibition was truly stunning. As these pictures testify, there was such a depth of talent on display. The translation of so many concepts into imaginative highly-skilled pieces of finished work is a credit to both students and staff.


Speaking of talent, since when did Polam’s seniors become such amazing performers?! This year’s Senior School production of Bugsy Malone saw students and staff uniting to bring 1920’s America to life. It was a scintillating performance packed with live music and dance and with comic timing and acting talents aplenty!


At the same time, our sporting teams in both the Junior and Senior schools continue to go from strength to strength and we will report on some of this term’s achievements in cricket, athletics and tennis in the next parent newsletter.

Finally, I am so pleased to share with you the truly awesome achievement of two of our pupils in their lives outside of School. Many of our students participate and succeed in a wide range of out of school activities and this term my congratulations go to Emily Ogilive Donald and Alyss Peterson for their two-night professional run in Swan Lake. Ballet is a particular passion of mine and the girls’ dedication and hard work put in week after week to get to this demanding standard, not to mention the ongoing support required from their families, wins my heartfelt praise.


Sam Kitson, a Y12 student and one of the lead parts in Bugsy Malone, has been planning a 5-week learning visit to Peru over the summer and has been raising funds in support of his research.  Here’s a link to some of his recent activities:


If there was any way you could offer Sam your support I am sure it would be very welcome.



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Head’s Blog 7/4/17

Seasonal Hustings

The School’s strong tradition in developing leadership of young people and the active involvement with the democratic process by all students continued last week with the final round of elections for the Deputy Student Leader, House Captains and their Deputies. Once again the good natured competitive manner in which the hustings were conducted was yet another credit to all the candidates and the Upper School body as whole.

New Principal

You will have received the letter this week informing you of the successful appointment of Polam’s new Principal. In wishing Mrs Kate Reid my deepest congratulations, I wanted to take this opportunity to say how proud I was of the pupils and staff who took part in the selection panels on the first day of the interviews and of the whole school community in contributing to the formation of formidably probing questions.

Meanwhile, my thanks go to all of the PHPA members and school staff who made Saturday’s Easter Egg Hunt such a wonderful success. It is a privilege to work in a School where the whole community is a big family and where fun and enjoyment are still valued by everyone.

It has been a week of House Competitions in terms of football and Netball matches. The team spirit has been truly amazing and you can read a full report from Mr Wilkinson at our School Sports Blog here.

This Wednesday’s Junior Assembly sharing the Story of Easter was not only brilliantly performed by the pupils but also reminded us all of the real importance of this time of year.

We ended the term in a celebration Reading to say thank you to last year’s student leaders and promise our support to our new leaders. We shared the many successes of the students and wished each other, as I wish you now, a peaceful Easter; an enjoyable end to Lent and a heartfelt goodbye until we all meet again on the 25th April.

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Headmaster’s Blog 24/3/17

At the end of my last blog I talked about the success of our Junior School choric speakers in a local competition. Following on from that myself, staff and pupils were treated to two performances from the contest as part of an assembly. One student recited an extract from Wind in the Willows with dramatic impact while a group of pupils of various ages worked together to deliver two poems, with accompanying actions and humour. All must be congratulated on their excellent sense of timing and ability to communicate so effectively with their audience.

The Senior School begun last week with our hustings for the election of Head student. Three candidates gave speeches and answered questions from staff and students before voting opened on Friday. Their campaigns gave a sense of how they would lead and support the School as well as showing us who they are as individuals and what they believe in and stand for. The tragic attack on Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament in the middle of the campaign led us to offer our thoughts to the families and friends of the victims, as well as to remind ourselves of the importance of democracy, reflected so wholeheartedly in our own School elections.


This years Red Nose Day led to the school into a whole series of activities organised by the students to raise funds for those less fortunate than ourselves. The Great Polam Bake off saw a huge number of creations being brought to School. Both our Sixth Form organisers and judging staff assured me they were delicious! The energy and commitment behind the event was a timely demonstration of our students’ true compassion.

The week not only ended on this wonderful note of helping others but also with our pitch perfect vocal ensemble achieving a set of stunning judges’ comments at the Shine Music Festival in Redcar.








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Headmaster’s blog 15/3/17

Parents may be aware of the current debate that is going on nationally about how the demands of the curriculum placed on upper schools as required by the new measures of Progress 8 and Achievement 8 have meant that there is less time to engage our children in the Arts.

As a leader of learning I too know and understand these pressures, and so it is with great heart that I have been delighted to see that at Polam Hall, at least, staff continue to do their best offer pupils a wide curriculum experience thereby avoiding any marginalising of the Arts.

A recent case in point was last week’s Senior House Music Day. In the morning 70 students volunteered to undertake an externally audited audition to gain points for their House while in the afternoon the whole of the Upper school came together to share in the Musician of the Year Competition and to join in with the Inter House Big Sing Contest.

The day was organised, once again, with the help of many of our mature and capable sixth formers and the event was a resounding success.

My thanks and appreciation go to everyone involved and in particular to the winners who are:

Cherry Chang, Piano

Genevieve Ferrari, Woodwind

Charlotte Allison, Brass

Laila Riley, Strings and Guitar

Janie-Leigh Tassi, Singing

Brandon Kowalak, Drums

Cherry, Justine and Ivy, Ensemble

Genevieve Ferrari, Young Musician of the Year


As regards the Houses, Tees House won the Big Sing while Kent was awarded House winner overall.

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Headmaster’s blog 7/3/17

The first week back after half term saw a whirlwind of activity that once again brings to the fore what makes Polam such a unique school and privilege to be part of.

World Book Day

World Book Day came in two parts. Volume 1 unfolded on Wednesday with a fantastic Junior School Assembly where we were all able to sense the excitement of getting into character through inspired costumes and enjoy the wonder of reading. Raising money for charity added another meaningful layer to the day.

The Senior School celebrated the event the day after and carried on the passion for literacy throughout the School. Staff revealed their own childhood literary favourites which was great fun! I confess to being a huge fan of  Jill Murphy, in particular her story ‘Five Minutes’ Peace’ which I’m sure many parents have also enjoyed over the years!


Culture vultures

Later last week I was lucky enough to be part of the Senior School’s challenge – ‘3 Operas in 3 nights’ and joined a group of 14, 15 and 16-year-old students in a visit to the Royal Northern Opera Company in Newcastle. As the name suggests, we attended performances on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings – more of a pleasure than a challenge and I was especially impressed with the quality of humour and sheer talent of the cast of Cinderella on the Thursday. It was delight to share the 3-day experience with pupils and I cannot speak highly enough of their maturity and positive appreciation of this memorable event.


Sporting heroes

The Junior School Cross Country on Friday saw heroic performances in very wet and muddy conditions. I am so proud of everyone for joining in and meeting personal challenges in completing the course. My thanks go to staff and parents for supporting the afternoon.