Balcarras School

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Balcarras School
Balcarras logo.png
Motto From Strength to Strength
Established 1986
Type Academy
Headteacher Mr Dominic Burke
Location East End Road, Charlton Kings
GL53 8QF
Coordinates: 51°52′53″N 2°02′39″W / 51.88133°N 2.04420°W / 51.88133; -2.04420
DfE number 916/5408
DfE URN 136474 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Capacity 1,217
Students 1,354
Gender Mixed
Ages 11–18
Houses Foley, Graveney, Selvey, Ottewell.
Colours Green, Yellow, Red and Blue
Website Balcarras Website

Balcarras School is an academy school for 11- to 18-year-olds, located in Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England.


Balcarras School was opened to pupils on 2 September 1986 replacing Charlton Kings County Secondary School, which was closed as part of a secondary education re-organisation scheme in Cheltenham.

The secondary re-organisation re-shaped the local education system resulting in school closures and also marking the demise of single sex education in the town (except in the private sector). It also gave birth to a new comprehensive school in Charlton Kings, Balcarras, with an intake between the ages of 11 and 18.

The official opening, which was hosted by the new Headteacher, Nigel Cooke, took place on the afternoon of Wednesday 12 November 1986. The guest of honour was the Mayor of Cheltenham, Don Perry, T.D. and the vicar of Charlton Kings dedicated a sundial in commemoration of the occasion. The Chairman of Governors, Barrie Anderson, also welcomed the four patrons of the school: Winifred Foley, Tom Graveney, O.B.E., Gordon Ottewell and Peter Selvey. Each of whom had a house named after them: Foley, Selvey, Graveney and Ottewell. Each house has a head of house, and one or two assistant heads of house. Also in the house each year group has one or two tutor groups.

The accommodation originally comprised ten classrooms, an assembly hall, with a stage, a canteen, a gymnasium with changing rooms and showers, a library, science and rural science laboratories and special rooms, (in some cases also used as classrooms), for woodwork, metalwork, domestic subjects, art, needlework and light crafts.

This original building is just a small part of what Balcarras has become. Firstly the Science block was added, followed by the building which now houses History and Maths. After that came the Dining Room block and then the addition of a Sports Hall temporarily brought the building programme to a close. The playing field boundary was marked by a hedge which had at its centre the Balcarras oak tree, the field was extended towards the foot of the Cotswold Hills and the oak tree now stands proudly in the centre of the field.

In the mid-1990s the numbers of pupils entering post-16 education was increasing, and local young people were having to travel across Cheltenham to find schools. This created a demand for a sixth form in the eastern part of the town and the school was extended to provide accommodation for 16 to 18 year olds. In September 1998 the Balcarras sixth form was opened by HRH Anne, the Princess Royal. A new headteacher, Chris Healy, supported by staff and parents, led Balcarras into continued expansion requiring further building. In 1999 the six-roomed Modern Languages block was built and formally opened on 23 March 2000 by Philippe St. André, a former French rugby international.

In October 2001 the new Music accommodation was opened and celebrated by the first annual House Music Competition. 2002 saw two major developments; the opening of the astroturf pitch and pavilion, largely funded by Sport England, serving the school and local sporting community, and the extension to the modern languages building, housing the geography department and ICT.

In the autumn term of 2005/2006 Ofsted inspectors visited again and gave a positive review of the school.

Finally in 2006, a new art block was added onto the other end of the modern languages block, giving Balcarras some of the best art facilities in the county. Two of the old art rooms were converted into science labs, 'A' level Biology, Chemistry and Physics their own laboratories.

In the spring term of 2008/2009 Ofsted inspectors visited again and gave an outstanding report of the school.

Balcarras has doubled its numbers since 1986 from 650 11 to 16 pupils to its position today as an 11 to 18 school of 1,300 pupils and students.

The school is working together in partnership with Pittville School. The partnership aims to raise the achievements and aspirations for pupils and schools.

In the winter of 2011/12 a special needs block was added and a larger caretakers garage was added (replacing the rather flimsy "caretakers shed")

During the Summer Holidays of 2015 a new astroturf was added replacing the old one and loads of decorating, new lighting and re-laid paving were added, a new roof for the Science Department was also started (Finished around December 2015).

On 22 July 2016, Chris Healy (Head Teacher) retired after 20 years working at Balcarras. He had turned the school around and took it from not being recognized in Cheltenham to being one of the best schools in England, through determination and commitment. He never takes credit for what he has achieved. Christopher Healy was Head Teacher from August 1996 to Summer 2016. He announced his retirement on the 4th January 2016. Read More about him leaving here:[1]

On 2 September 2016, Dominic Burke became the new Head Teacher of Balcarras; he was previously Deputy Head.

In August 2016 plans were released about extending the small music block to gain extra capacity and facilities for musicians. This project will be funded largely by Julian Dunkerton, wealthy founder of SuperDry who visited the school in 2016. It will mean the school will gain four new small practice rooms on the ground floor. On the first floor a new classroom with a grand piano, an office, a small practice room and a computer laboratory or group practice room will also be built. If the project is given the go ahead, the work will start in July 2017 ready for school to start again in September 2017. There is reason to believe the project has been accepted, 1. 2 trees have been cut down outside the current building possibly making way for builders and also in a vacancy description for a job in the music block Dominic Burke - head teacher said "The facilities are good and will soon be amazing. The department is being extended and totally refurbished this summer. This is as a result of an extraordinary donation by a local benefactor and it will give the department the sort of accommodation they have dreamed about!" [2] Read more at [3]


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