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The North Devon Sinfonia, conducted by West Buckland School's Director of Music, Emma Kent, as well as a number of our own pupils, parents and visiting music teachers, has made it through to the last three in the BBC series All Together Now: The Great Orchestra Challenge.  The group of amateur orchestras are competing for the honour of performing at Proms in the Park, in Hyde Park, London.

The second episode of the four-part series was aired last night when each of the four remaining orchestras had to get to grips with the challenges of opera.  The North Devon Sinfonia were given Lensky’s Aria from Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky, a dark Russian opera, which they performed to a high standard, under the expert guidance of Emma Kent.

For four of our pupils, featuring in the series is a once in a lifetime experience and they have risen to the challenge.  Pupils playing in the orchestra include Kelsie Cooling and Hugo Spear, currently in Year 12, as well as Kai Smith and Christian Turner, both of whom completed their A levels this summer.

Head judge, Paul Daniel, former Music Director at the English National Opera, said that the orchestra did “a great job” and they made it through to the last three!

If you missed the first two episodes, catch up with them on the BBC iplayer and watch next week’s episode on Tuesday 14th September on BBC4 at 9pm, with the final on BBC2 the following Saturday.

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Children returning to the West Buckland Nursery and Prep School this week have been greeted with an exciting new playground and equipment.  The children have a new climbing frame with slides, along with a happy, smiley caterpillar!  The new play area enables outside play even in wet weather and meets the highest safety standards. 

The Nursery is busy and thriving along with the rest of the Prep School, which starts the new academic year with a spring in its step after welcoming the largest intake of pupils in five years.  Forty-four new pupils have started this week, including many who have joined Reception from the Nursery.

Prep Headmaster, Andrew Moore, says: “We are delighted with the new equipment for our Nursery children.  We are also thrilled to be welcoming such a large intake into the Prep School this year and we’ll be doing all we can to help them settle in and thrive as we go forwards.” 

We would like to thank the generosity of donors and the work of the West Buckland School Foundation who have made the installation of the new play equipment for our nursery children possible.

Wednesday 31 August

Students Go for Gold

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While our GB athletes were collecting silverware in Rio, 16 West Buckland students were doing the same in North Wales as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Awards challenge. 

Holly Comer, Yasmin Wafai, Hannah Higgs, John Hancock, Matthew Gentle and Will Haines, all in the sixth form, completed their four-day Gold assessed expedition, during which time they had to endure three days of awful weather before the sun finally appeared on the last day and they were able to summit Snowdon as their final peak.

Their expedition included navigating over 45 miles in rather damp and windy conditions, carrying all their own food and equipment.  According to Matthew Gentle, morale remained high throughout.  “I enjoyed the challenges of the expedition, making decisions under pressure, as well as the team camaraderie that the Gold DofE Award promotes.”

In addition to the Gold Award team, thirteen of our students, many from the school first and second rugby team, swapped rugby boots for walking boots and completed a Mountain Skills course and completed their Gold practise expedition. Once again, the pupils had to endure gale force winds, lashing rain and, on the final day, scorching hot weather.  The students returned from the exhibition to receive their GCSE results, many gaining notable success both out in the pastoral fields and in their academic achievements.

Next year students will have the opportunity to complete their Gold awards in Wales, Dartmoor and the Tatra Mountains in Poland.

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GCSE students at West Buckland School have delivered an excellent set of provisional results with over half of all exams passed at the highest A* and A grades.  52.4% of exams were awarded the highest grades, with nearly a quarter of these achieving the top A* mark.

Over 40% of the 61-strong year group gained seven A*/A grades or more, and there were some strong performances from the boys, with Rory Bardner, Harry Palmer and Tom Smaldon leading the way as they secured nine A* grades plus an A grade each.  Elizabeth Barbeary also achieved an excellent nine A* grades and an A grade, whilst English Schools’ athlete Issy Wakefield  showed top form in the classroom as she was awarded an impressive eight A* and two A grades.   Alex Blackburn and Jack Jarvis both achieved six A* grades and four A grades.

Over many years West Buckland’s GCSE performance has been consistently strong and it is the third time in four years that over half of all exams have been awarded the top A* or A grades.

West Buckland’s new Headmaster, Phillip Stapleton says:

“GCSEs are a crucial qualification and success here opens doors in sixth form, the workplace and university as they will form the only results when applying to university.  I am delighted our students have secured the grades that will give them options and opportunity to apply to the best universities. 

“At the top end our students have achieved an excellent set of results and I am sure they will recognise the hard work and support of their teachers and families when celebrating this achievement.  In addition, over two thirds of students studying our most popular subjects: Geography, Art, French and RS gained A* or A and over 80% of our scientists and mathematicians gained a B grade or better.  I am delighted for them and all those who have realised or achieved beyond their expectations.”