|Chairman of Governors||Dr Simon Mardel OBE|
|DfE URN||141106 Tables|
Chetwynde School is a non-selective coeducational free school in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England. It includes a nursery, primary school, secondary school and sixth form. The school is situated on a 17-acre (69,000 m2) site.
Founded as an independent primary school, it was known as Our Lady's Chetwynde School and Chetwynde Convent Preparatory School at different periods of its history before it expanded to being a coeducational independent school for children aged 3 to 18. Before 2014 it was Barrow's only independent school and the only one in the town which educated children from nursery all the way to sixth form. The school became a state-funded free school in September 2014.
Chetwynde was founded as Our Lady's Chetwynde School in 1938 by Sister Aquinas and her nuns as a girls' school. In 1976 the school became mixed and independent from the church, though it retained its Catholic faith and ethos. Under Margaret Stones, the school's first headteacher, Chetwynde achieved high levels of sporting and academic success. The next headteacher was Isobel Nixon; during her time as headmistress the school dropped the "Our Lady's" prefix from its title and the school's record of high academic and extra-curricular achievement was maintained. New laboratories were built with the help of the John Fisher Foundation and many other modernisations took place.
It was initially a junior school for children up to age 11. In 1984, the age range was extended to 16. By then the school had outgrown its premises on Abbey Road and moved to its current site. The Sixth Form was opened in 1989. The first male headteacher, Russell Collier, was appointed in 2010.
Threat of closure
Due to the economic climate and falling pupil numbers, in March 2012 the governors made the decision to close the school as of July 2012 due to it no longer being economically viable. The possibility of converting Chetwynde into a free school was explored as Barrow MP John Woodcock wrote to the Minister for Education Nick Gibb about a possible late application that year. However, it was found that Chetwynde did not meet the necessary government criteria.
A group of parents against the closure formed the "Chetwynde Support Group" (CSG) to collect funds from the local community and businesses in hopes of keeping the school open. As of April 20, 2012 the total was £370,000 raised in just three weeks. By May the total had reached £461,000.
A meeting held by the board of governors, representatives from Barclays Bank and the CSG took place on May 16, 2012. Two days later it was announced that the banks supporting the school were "satisfied with the work that has been done" and all parties agreed that the school would remain open for the 2012-13 school year provided there was a minimum enrolment of 220 pupils. The board also took the decision to stand down from their positions of responsibility and a new interim board was appointed, consisting of some CSG members.
On May 25, 2012 it was announced that the school would open in September after an eleventh hour purchase from a currently unnamed purchaser. The school, which will remain under the leadership of current headmaster Russell Collier, will return with a new board of governors, the majority from the Chetwynde Support Group (CSG). The school began to offer new bursary programs to make it more accessible to the local community and to increase enrollment.
Free school application
On November 8, 2012, in a meeting held between governors and parents, it was announced that the school intended to apply for free school status beginning in September 2014, as based on pupil numbers the school's long-term future was in doubt. The application was processed by January 2013, with a decision from the Department of Education to be made by May 2013. Initial reception from parents was extremely positive and Chetwynde asked parents in the area to register their interest in order to aid the school's application. On May 22, 2013 Chetwynde announced that it had been successful in its application and became Cumbria's first free school in September 2014.
Chetwynde is consistently ranked as one of the county's top non-selective schools. In the 2011 GCSEs, pupils achieved a 100% pass rate with all gaining at least five "A*" to "C" grades, making Chetwynde the best school in Cumbria for GCSE results. That same year it also achieved the best A-level results in Cumbria, with 86% of grades at "A*" to "B".
In 2013, Chetwynde School Sixth Form maintained its 100% A-Level pass rate for the fourth consecutive year. In the same year, 96% of Chetwynde's GCSE students achieved five or more A* to C grades.
Chetwynde is known for its highly successful swimming team. The school has achieved a number of national titles, being the only school to have won medals at every English National Schools' Primary Championship since their inauguration in 1995. They have represented England in international tournaments.
Notable former pupils
- Ben Palmer - Director of The Inbetweeners Movie
- Ben Harrison - Super League and National Rugby Player. Currently playing for Warrington Wolves.
- Matt Bowe - Commonwealth Games swimming Silver Medalist
- Jack Hawitt - West End Theatre Actor/Singer
- Dame Stella Rimington - the first female DG of MI5 and Author
- "All smiles as camera comes to Chetwynde". North West Evening Mail. 10 November 2008.
- "It's a celebration!". The Cumberland News. 2 October 2008.
- "Chetwynde nears its £500,000 target". North West Evening Mail. 18 May 2012.
- "Chetwynde appoints first male headteacher". The Cumberland News. 28 January 2010.
- "Private school makes big loss". The Cumberland News. 28 August 2007.
- "Chetwynde School in Barrow to close". North West Evening Mail. 30 March 2012.
- "MP asks if Barrow private school can be given free status". North West Evening Mail. 18 April 2012.
- Chetwynde Support Group
- "Governors Announcement". chetwynde.co.uk. 18 May 2012.
- "Barrow School Saved". 25 May 2012.
- "Head's pride as school students excel in exams". The Cumberland News. 13 January 2010.
- Schools in Cumbria - GCSE 2005
- "Hard work pays off Chetwynde pupils". North West Evening Mail. 28 August 2009.
- "Chetwynde School GCSE results". Westmorland Gazette. 25 August 2011.
- "Secondary school league tables in Cumbria". bbc.co.uk. 21 March 2012.
- "Chetwynde School - 'A record breaking year'". http://chetwynde.co.uk.
- "TEAM OF THE WEEK: our Lady's Chetwynde swimmers". Westmorland Gazette. 23 February 2001.
- "Medals bonanza for Chetwynde". North West Evening Mail. 2 December 2008.
- "Chetwynde pupils are splash hits". North West Evening Mail. 7 July 2007.
- "Swimming - National Medals For Tiny School Team". Westmorland Gazette. 3 July 2001.
- "Here Come the Girls". North West Evening Mail. 7 April 2012.