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Belper School and Sixth Form Centre is a foundation secondary school located in the north-east of Belper, Derbyshire, England. In October 2014, Ofsted reported that its overall effectiveness is 'Good'.
It has received Healthy Schools status and the Artsmark Gold award. The current headteacher is Mr. Martyn Cooper.
Belper School is larger than average, catering for 1,311 students as of academic year 2015–2016, a 10.5% reduction since 2012–2013 when the school taught 1464 students between 11 and 18 years old – a decrease attributed by the headteacher to variations in birth rate. The majority of the school is white British with below average numbers of cared-for children and children identified as having special educational needs or disability.
The 2009 Ofsted report had this to say about the school: "Belper School has a distinctive ethos which stresses positive relationships between students, staff and parents as the key basis for learning and personal development. Students wear no formal uniform and use the first names of teachers, resulting in an informal atmosphere around the school, but one where the students feel well supported by adults. 'It is what gives our school a unique flavour and enables us to view our teachers as equals', one student said."
The school, previously known as Belper High School was created in 1973 from an amalgamation of the existing 'Herbert Strutt grammar school founded in 1909 and two secondary modern schools. Belper High School was built as a 13–18 high school (upper school) and took shape in a barely complete, largely open-plan new building, built adjacent to the local sports centre. Roland Mathias, the poet, was headmaster of the Herbert Strutt School from 1958 to 1964. Herbert Strutt School had around 650 boys and girls.
Three tier education
The new school, opening on a new site in September 1973, was built with the adjacent new leisure centre, which it still jointly owns and runs with Amber Valley Borough Council. Michael Tucker was the new headmaster.
From 1973 until 1991, the school was part of an experimental three-tier educational system, with a number of local primary schools feeding into two larger middle schools; the former Herbert Strutt Grammar School (renamed the Herbert Strutt Middle School) and Parks Middle School, located on Belper's Park's Estate. These two middle schools then fed pupils into Belper High School.
Two tier education
In 1986, this system was changed to a more conventional two-tier system, in which Herbert Strutt Middle School became Herbert Strutt Primary School. The Parks Middle School was subsequently closed, and the school buildings, which were in an awful state were demolished. In 2008, the Herbert Strutt Primary School moved into new accommodation, while the historical Grade II* listed building still remains on the A6, located directly opposite Babington Hospital.
In 1994, it became one of the United Kingdom's first Technology Colleges. It was the first Technology College in Derbyshire, and was officially opened as such by Gillian Shepherd (Education Secretary) on 15 November 1994. Thorntons, the confectionery company once based in the town of Belper became major sponsors. At the ceremony, members of the NUT handed out leaflets condemning the public-private involvement. Support from Thorntons and other local firms has helped the school remodel most of its accommodation to suit an 11–18 school population.
It continued to expand in numbers and a new Sixth Form block and science laboratories were added in 2002, while a new £1.4 million Art block was opened in 2006. In September 2006, the school rebranded with a new logo as 'Belper School and Sixth Form Centre' and abandoned its use of the "Four Gates" logo. The logo, comprising four intertwined gates, symbolised the four surrounding villages of Ambergate, Bargate, Openwoodgate and Shottlegate.
The school has recently expanded further with the introduction of a new block of 12 classrooms for Foreign Languages and Media Studies. This block opened in early 2010. An hourly updated webcam image of the extension work was available on the School's website.
Chemical spill and fire
On Wednesday 17 September 2004, the school made national news after a chemical spill occurred within the Science department. Iodine crystals were dropped by a teacher when they collided with a student in a corridor. As a result, two pupils had minor burns and 36 were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.
On 6 September 2007, a small fire broke out in the Technology Department's "laser room", the location of a relatively small laser cutter. The fire itself was extinguished immediately after it was found, but the fire alarm was still raised at around 1:35 pm. The school was evacuated, and the fire brigade called to ensure that the structure was sound. The building was declared safe soon after. The Technology Department was closed for a short while to assess the damage. The laser cutter, estimated to be worth £24,500 was destroyed, while three panes of window glass were also damaged. The damage of the fire slowed down GCSE students projects, some of whom were 100% reliant on the laser cutter.
Notable former pupils
- Ross Davenport, Gold medalist swimmer (1984– )
- Alison Hargreaves, Mountaineer (1963–1995)
- Nigel Vardy, Mountaineer (1969–)
The Herbert Strutt School
- Sir Alan Bates CBE, actor in 1960s kitchen sink realism films
- George Bosworth (1927–35) CBE CEng, Director from 1969 to 1977 of Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic
- John Bowmer, former Chief executive of the world-wide Adecco Group from 1996 to 2002 and chairman from 2002–5, and chairman since 2007 of the Kellan Group
- Reginald Coates, Professor of Civil Engineering from 1983 to 2004 at the University of Nottingham and President from 1978–9 of the Institution of Civil Engineers
- Timothy Dalton, actor notably in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill
- Cyril Fogg CB (1925–32), Director from 1973–5 of the Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment (ASWE)
- Prof David Leslie Hawksworth CBE, mycologist and lichenologist, Research Professor since 2001 at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Complutense University of Madrid), President from 1986–7 of the British Lichen Society, from 1990–1 of the British Mycological Society and from 1994–7 of the International Union of Biological Sciences, and Editor from 200–8 of Mycological Research
- Mike Ingham, Chief Football Correspondent since 2004 at BBC Radio 5 Live
- David Kinnersley, economist (educated as a wartime evacuee), and first Chief executive from 1973–6 of the North West Water Authority
- Prof Larry Rotherham CBE, metallurgist, President from 1964–5 of the Institution of Metallurgists, and from 1965–6 of the Institute of Metals, expert on creep-resistant materials heading the team that discovered how metal fatigue brought down early de Havilland Comet airliners, and Vice-Chancellor from 1969 to 1976 of the University of Bath
- Prof William Watson CBE, Professor of Chinese Art and Archaeology from 1966 to 1983 at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and President from 1981–4 of the Oriental Ceramic Society
- Harold Wilmot CBE, Chairman from 1949 to 1965 of Beyer, Peacock and Company
- Shirley Edwin McEwan Wright, Chief executive from 1972–7 of the Livingston Development Corporation
- Guardian 9 May 1976, page 22
- "2014 inspection report" (PDF). Ofsted. 15 October 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
- "2009 inspection report". Ofsted. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2011.[permanent dead link]
- "BBC's coverage of the chemical spill". BBC News. 17 November 2004. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
- Herbert Strutt School Archived 3 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine., Belper Research. Retrieved December 2009