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Girton Glebe Primary School

September 2006

Girton Glebe Pool

Situated right in the heart of Girton, the Glebe School provides a fitting focal point for village life. A village school was established in the Cotton Hall by the Rector's daughter, Anna Maria Cotton, in 1845, which became a state-inspected Endowed School in the 1870s. In 1945, a century after the original foundation, a new local authority school was planned, which opened in 1951 on former church or 'glebe' land. A family-based community school now only historically connected with the church, its current roll is 208 pupils under head teacher Philip Atkin. Originally the school comprised only three classrooms, but as the school population has grown classrooms have been added, not forgetting also the school's swimming pool, which opened in 1961, and the hall (1970), where the school hosts the annual Girton Show.

The official catchment area of the school is the village of Girton, but when there are spaces, children from outside the village can attend. Of course families move in and out of the village at various times of the year, and with a legal requirement to limit class sizes to 30, it sometimes unfortunately happens that a Girton child can't be accommodated. With more families moving into the village, especially in the Wellbrook Way development, Mr Atkin is well aware of the need for possible future expansion, with the aim of offering a place to every Girton child who wants to come.

A typical day at the school starts at 8.50, when the children go to their classrooms for registration. Since 1989, lessons have to follow the National Curriculum, and mornings at the Glebe are usually devoted to literacy and numeracy, or 'Reading, Writing and Arithmetic' as they used to be known. The school assembly is in the main hall, at 10.10 on most days, but on Fridays one of the classes leads the assembly, so it starts at 9.00 a.m. to make it easier for parents to attend.

At lunchtime the school is proud to have been setting the trend for healthy eating well in advance of Jamie Oliver's 'School Dinners' campaign. The meals are predominantly prepared in the school's own kitchen, and over the past 18 months the school has worked hard on the quality of the food. This has paid off in terms of numbers taking school meals, which have gone up from 15% to around 40% in the period. In keeping with the ethos of a community school, parents have been invited in to partake of the meals and provide feedback, and there are initiatives afoot to increase the proportion of locally sourced ingredients. Then after the lunch hour play period, it's back to lessons, with the school day officially ending at 3.20.

But does everybody then pack up and go home? By no means. There is a huge variety of after-school clubs and other activities which run until 5.00, and then the delightfully named Goose Club ('Goose' is derived from 'Girton Out Of School') takes over, run by a committee of parents, governors and the head teacher, until 5.45. It also runs from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. during the school holidays, offering supervised play and other activities.

A special feature of the Glebe's activities is music. Under the auspices of CIMA (Cambridgeshire Instrument Music Agency), pupils can learn violin, 'cello, flute or clarinet from age 7, during normal school hours, with parents paying a small fee. Currently 20+ pupils are studying instrumental music on this scheme, and the school boasts an orchestra under the direction of Heather Thorne (herself the parent of a former Glebe student), which puts on a concert each term.

Any successful school will testify to the importance of the involvement of parents and the community, and in this sense the Glebe is a true community school. Girton Town Charity has been active in its support for the school, such as funding coaches for sporting activities and artists to run the Art Club. The very active and supportive PTA runs a swimming club after 4.15 and at weekends, as well as during the summer holidays. The fees raised pay for the upkeep of the pool, so everybody benefits. The PTA has also provided play equipment for the outside play areas.

It will be clear that at the Glebe there is a strong emphasis on physical activity. Every child from the reception class up has swimming lessons and every child leaves school able to swim. There is a range of sporting activities to pursue after school, and the Glebe was proud to win an award as a Cambridgeshire Health Promoting School. In the context of recent complaints that our children are growing into a generation of couch potatoes, we can say: not at the Glebe, they're not!

All this activity depends on a committed staff. In addition to the head and 10 regular teachers (some part-time), there are 2 specialist part-time teachers for art, design, technical and creative work, 8 classroom teaching assistants, 1 play leader, 2 administrative staff, 2 cleaners, 2 catering staff, 1 caretaker, and regular visits from the music teacher and the School Nurse. And let's not forget the 3 midday supervisors, who are among the longest serving members of this team and one of whom, Doreen Tyrell, is herself a former pupil. Finally, there are the 15 school governors, drawn from staff, parents and the local community.

Truly pursuing the educational ideal of 'a healthy mind in a healthy body', the Glebe is doing Girton's children proud.

Contact information:
Girton Glebe Primary School, Cambridge Road, Girton, CB3 0PN
tel. (01223) 276484
email office at

'Focus on Girton' is a series of occasional articles on the public service, commercial, charitable and other organisations of Girton, for the information of local residents. Articles are written independently by members of the Editorial Staff of GPN, with the consent and cooperation of the organisation concerned. The selection of organisations featured in this series is entirely at the discretion of the Editorial Team. The articles do not in themselves represent an endorsement of the products or services of the organisation. No connection exists between the publication of an article and any advertising in the GPN, and the article does not form part of any marketing or other promotional activity on the part of the organisation.