Museum plan for Doncaster school
A Doncaster primary school could soon become the first in the borough to have its own museum.
Plans are being drawn up to create the facility within the grounds of Castle Academy – one of the oldest schools in the borough and dating back over 100 years.
It is the latest proposal to be drawn up at the school which has seen a succession of changes over the last two years and has just been upgraded from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’ by Ofsted just two years after being taken over by the Astrea Academy Trust.
The school’s new headteacher, Ann-Marie Mason, who took over in April 2018, is keen to bring in something to reflect the heritage which dates back to 1901.
Some of the pupils’ parents and grandparents are former pupils, and the school recently did work with a scheme called Pit Sense, which looked at the heritage of the school and the area, and resulted in the pupils creating a banner depicting their history.
Old school logbooks and photographs surfaced during the scheme.
Mrs Mason now wants to move forward with a museum project, and already has an areas of the school in mind. She wants to site it in a part of the school that would allow the general public also to visit.
She said: “I would like us to have a school museum – we have some fantastic historical artefacts. I’ve never felt that felt that sense of history in a school before, and because there are family links with the past, there are a lot of pictures going back many years. A Castle school museum would be fantastic.”
She believes the project would also link in well with local history and teaching British values, and would help develop pride in where they come from.
“I have an area of the school in mind, and I’m hoping to have the museum in place by the end of 2020. We’re seeking funding to help with the project, but we want to do something regardless of that.
“It can be separate from the school so that it can be used by visitors. We’re also looking for famous ex-pupils.”
The museum plan would be another development at a school which has seen a number of changes borough in over the last couple of years.
Mrs Mason is one of those changes, arriving at the school in April 2018. She had previously worked at a school on a British army base in Germany for forces children.
Prior to that she had worked at primary schools in Doncaster and Lincolnshire.
Since arrived she has had made a number of changes.
Among the first things she did was bring new measures to encourage good behaviour among pupils. She brought in a new rewards system they call golden time, with pupils rewarded with 10 minutes 'golden time’ on each day they behave well. They can then use that banked time on the Friday to take part in fun activities, including craft, sports and baking.
She says it has improved behaviour.
The school has also brought in a pupils’ council to give pupils an interest in what is going on in the academy. They have done things like organising a stall at the Christmas fair, and helped audition pupils for a school talent contest.
And she has introduced school teams, granting team points to pupils who show good behaviour and attitude. The youngsters named the teams themselves as Dragons, Bears, Lions and Turtles.
They have brought in a new library. Parents have helped raise the funds to stock it with books. Some families have donated their own books to the facility, and the children are helping run it on a voluntary basis.
With the library in place, the school is looking to get the children to read more, and a scheme has been put in place to encourage them to read more at home. Youngsters who reach certain reading milestones are awarded points, which earn rewards, up to a top limit of 50 milestone points. No one has yet reached 50 points, although one pupil is currently on 32.
The school is also looking to broaden the opportunities available to pupils. On the back of having introduced language lessons for the first time, it has also now run its first international trips.
A group of year five and year six pupils took part in a cultural visit to Chateau de Tertre, in Normandy, France. Children visited local markets, and ate out, ordering their own meals in French.
There have also been cultural trips to the theatre, and children have started their own craft club as part of the same enrichment programme. And younger children are taking part in a ‘forest school’ scheme, which sees four to seven year olds learning outdoor skills like making fires, whittling wood and making shelters.
At present there are only 150 pupils at the school, which has a capacity of 210.
Attendance rates among those pupils have improve significantly over the last two years and are now in line with the national average, said Mrs Mason.
Now they hope to grow the number of pupils on the roll, and already some new families have joined this year.
“We’re trying to grow, and hopefully the good Ofsted judgement will help that,” said Mrs Mason. “That has given the community a real lift.”