Dormston School

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Dormston School is a secondary school for children located in Sedgley, West Midlands, England. The schools has specialist status as a Mathematics and Computing college.[1] The school has approximately 1,100 pupils aged 11 to 16 on the roll, and approximately 80 members of staff (including non-teaching staff). The school's capacity was increased to around 1,400 in September 2016 when it took in some pupils of The Coseley School, although there are no immediate plans for any permanent classrooms to be built.[1]

The school has five year groups, each of which contain eight classes of approximately 28 children, with some 224 pupils starting the school every year. The tutor groups are split into 'X' and 'Y' populations, but within lessons they are split again into higher and lower ability classes for most subjects, while some subjects are taught in mixed ability sets. Pupils are normally taught separately for their lessons when entering the school, although pupils mix for many subjects at GCSE level.

The school has extensive playing fields, which include two football pitches and a multi-purpose outdoor sports area for sports including netball and hockey.


Dormston School was established in 1935. The original site consisted of a single two-storey building that contained 19 classrooms as well as a dining hall, gymnasium, assembly hall and library. This building remains in existence to this day, although substantial alterations have taken place since the mid 1990s and several completely new buildings have been added since the late 1960s. The school was built by Sedgley Urban District council, but since 1966 has existed within the Borough of Dudley[1]

In July 1996, the National Lottery granted the Dormston School £4 million to build the Arts and Sports Center, which was completed nearly four years later. The construction of this complex saw the demolition of the old staff room and toilets, as well as the loss of a playground.[2]

The Dormston Centre, which joins onto the Dormston School, was opened in March 2000. It includes a theatre, sports hall, art gallery and gymnasium. It cost £5.5 million to build. £4 million of the cost came from a lottery grant in August 1996.

In July 2000, the school raised a huge sum of money which went towards a new minibus - the previous school minibus had been destroyed by arsonists. The new minibus was destroyed once again by arson a few days later and never replaced.[citation needed]

In 2000, Dormston School was credited with the Charter Mark in recognition of its excellent standards. Mrs O'Connor's last day (19 December) was marked with a farewell assembly, presented by her long-serving deputy Mr Wally Francis - who retired four years later. Mrs O'Connor was headteacher at Dormston from September 1983 until December 2000, when she retired and was replaced by Stephanie Sherwood.

During December 2001, the school raised well over £1,000 for the Birmingham Children's Hospital Cancer Unit - where a 14-year-old pupil, Luke Edwards, was receiving treatment for lymphatic cancer. He died nine months later after contracting an infection.

A memorial staff garden was created at the back of the main assembly hall in 2007 in memory of former school caretaker Mr John Hopson, who died on 26 September 2005 after a short illness having collapsed in school grounds. He supposedly wore the same red boiler suit every day he worked at the school and was there for about 30 years.[citation needed]

In the summer of 2012, the school achieved the worst GCSE grades in the Dudley Borough. The school was inspected by Ofsted a year later and placed in Special Measures. Stephanie Sherwood retired at the end of the school year in July 2013 and her successor Ben Stitchman took charge in September 2013. The school's move into Special Measures was the result of a long period of decline which can be traced back up to 15 years before. A high turnover of staff, declining pupil behaviour and growing complaints from local residents about incidents involving Dormston pupils in and an out of school hours became increasingly commonplace from the late 1990s.[citation needed]However the school's standard has improved dramatically under the leadership of Mr Stitchman.

The school holds a presentation evening every year for the previous summer's leavers, with a range of awards being given to pupils for their achievements at the school. Several awards are named after pupil Thomas Walker, who died in tragic circumstances at home in January 2005. The Physical Education subject prize is named after another pupil, Neil Skidmore, who collapsed and died while playing football out of school in December 1994.


  • 1935 - Dormston Secondary Modern School is opened, consisting of one building containing 19 classrooms, an administration area, library, two playgrounds, a large playing field, gymnasium and dining hall. It has capacity for up to 600 pupils, with boys and girls being taught separately.
  • c. 1968 - A new Technology and Science block is completed, and boys and girls are gradually integrated together for the first time.
  • c. 1972 - A third classroom block for the teaching of Art, Science and Cookery is completed. Boys and girls are now fully integrated for lessons.
  • September 1972 - Dormston becomes a 12-16 school due to a reorganisation of schools in Dudley, Sedgley, Coseley and Brierley Hill, which is sparked by the Raising of school leaving age in England and Wales. There is no entry of pupils to the school for the academic year.
  • September 1975 - The school's status changes from secondary modern to comprehensive, as part of Dudley MBC's decision to make all of the borough's secondary schools comprehensive.
  • September 1983 - Mrs Barbara O'Connor is appointed head teacher.
  • September 1986 - Computing becomes part of the school's curriculum. A computing department is established, and the first head of computing is Mr Alan Bradford.
  • November 1989 - The local authority gives the go-ahead for expansion of the Dormston buildings, which include a new classroom block as well as the expansion of some of the existing buildings. Plans are also unveiled for the development of an arts and sports centre, which would also be open to the local community, although doubts over funding mean that it may not be built until the mid or late 1990s.
  • September 1990 - Dormston re-opens to 11-year-olds after 18 years as a 12-16 school, coinciding with the introduction of "continuous" year group numbers (years 7-11). A fourth classroom block, D Block, is completed during the 1990/91 academic year and includes a new administration area, new music studio, the school's first purpose-built drama and dance studios, as well as seven new classrooms.
  • 1991/92 - Following the completion of a fourth classroom block, further expansion takes place to the school with the construction of a further Technology workshop and two new Art classrooms. The former Art rooms are converted into Science laboratories.
  • October 1992 - Local councillor John T Wilson officially opens the extensions to Dormston School, with a commemorative plaque being placed inside the main entrance.
  • December 1994 - Pupil Neil Skidmore (aged 15) collapses and dies from a blood clot while playing in a football match for Brierley Hill Bullets.
  • July 1996 - the National Lottery awards a £4 million grant to Dormston School, and contributes towards the cost of a £5.5 million sports/arts centre which is anticipated to be open by the end of the decade, having first been proposed in 1989 but its development has been delayed until now due to a shortage of funding.[2]
  • September 1996 - Dudley College opens a new sixth-form centre at Dormston, in a new temporary building on the school's playing fields.
  • September 1997 - The sixth-form centre gains a second storey as demand for places rises.
  • January 1998 - Construction of the Dormston Centre begins, with a targeted completion date of September 1999.
  • March 1999 - The school excludes or removes 41 girls from lessons for wearing short skirts which were more than 2 inches (51 mm) above the knee. This action was taken after several complaints from various sources, including members of the local community, who had expressed their concern about the way some of the girls were dressing.[2][2][3]
  • September 1999 - A substantial refurbishment programme to A Block is completed. This sees the conversion of the boys' changing rooms and an adjoining office into an ICT suite, while the girls' changing rooms and former careers office are converted into offices for the Year Heads.
  • March 2000 - The Dormston Centre opens six months behind schedule. The complex includes a theatre, sports hall, art gallery, gymnasium and bar.
  • December 2000 - The Dormston Centre is officially opened and Mrs Barbara O'Connor retires after 17 years as head teacher.
  • January 2001 - Miss Stephanie Sherwood is appointed head teacher.
  • September 2001 - The Dormston Youth Club closes following a string of attacks by vandals, which had left the buildings unusable.
  • December 2001 - The school raises more than £1,000 for Birmingham Children's Hospital's cancer unit, where 14-year-old pupil Luke Edwards is receiving treatment for lymphatic cancer.
  • July 2002 - Founder of ICT at Dormston School, Mr Alan Bradford, leaves the school to begin training as a minister at St.John's College Nottingham.
  • September 2002 - The Dormston sixth-form is expanded by Dudley College to include a site at nearby High Arcal, in a bid to gain more popularity among post-GCSE students who up till now were choosing other establishments including Halesowen College as their post-GCSE destination. The school suffers a tragedy with the death of Luke Edwards, who loses his year-long fight against cancer at the age of 15.
  • September 2003 - 'E' Block is opened, housing a Science laboratory and an Art room.
  • April 2004 - Dormston youth club re-opens after a major refurbishment..
  • January 2005 - Pupil Thomas Walker (aged 14) dies in tragic circumstances at his home in Sedgley.
  • July 2005 - Mr John Hope, deputy head and until April 2002 the school's Head of English, retires after 24 years teaching at the school.
  • September 2005 - Mr John Hopson, the long-serving school caretaker, dies aged 63 after collapsing in school grounds from a brain tumour.
  • December 2005 - Mr John Turner retires after 21 years as deputy head.
  • July 2006 - The school is awarded its specialist mathematics and computing college status.
  • September 2006 - Mrs Pat Turton, former Head of Religious Education, dies of heart failure aged 52. The school is closed as a mark of respect on the day of her funeral, which is attended by many current and former pupils and teachers.
  • October 2006 - Miss Sherwood bans the school's pupils from lunching out at local food outlets including Subway - a decision which proves largely unpopular with pupils, parents and the local community; including one local person who criticised the policy as a "dictatorship" in a letter to the Express and Star.
  • November 2006 - Mr Laurence Tozeland, long-serving Technology technician, dies of cancer aged 60.
  • January 2007 - Mr Andrew Turner, former Head of Foreign Languages, dies of cancer aged 58.
  • August 2007 - Mr Peter Hughes, former Science teacher, dies aged 43 in a Cornwall hotel fire which claims the life of two other people including his elderly mother.
  • September 2007 - A new blue and purple school uniform is launched, signalling the end for the red, white and black uniform which had been in place for more than 20 years.[1]
  • October 2008 - The Personal Learning Centre (which incorporates the new library) is opened, the new building incorporating the E Block classrooms as part of its ground floor.
  • July 2012 - Dormston is the lowest ranking school in the borough for GCSE results, with only 40% of pupils gaining 5 or more GCSE's at grade C or above.
  • July 2013 - Following a damning OFSTED report, Dormston is placed in special measures and Mrs Stephanie Sherwood retires as head teacher, bringing forward her planned retirement a year from July 2014.
  • September 2013 - Mr Ben Stitchman is appointed the new head teacher of Dormston.
  • November 2014 - Ofsted remove Dormston from special measures 12 months earlier than planned, but score them a 3 (Requires Improvement). This is however, a much improved result from the last inspection in July 2013.
  • September 2016 - Around 300 extra pupils join Dormston due to the phased closure of The Coseley School.
  • November 2016 - After achieving the best results in the school's history and taking over from Ellowes Hall as the best performing of Sedgley's three secondary schools, Ofsted visit and rate the school as Good. This represents another significant improvement from June 2013 when the school was placed into Special Measures under the leadership of the previous headteacher.
  • November 2017 - Mr John Hope, former head of English and later deputy head teacher, dies of a heart attack aged 70.

School buildings[edit]

Art, Science and Technology blocks were added in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These were expanded in the early 1990s. A fourth block, housing music, drama, dance and English classrooms was built in 1990/91, followed shortly afterwards by three Modern Languages classrooms, two mobile classrooms (mostly for teaching English) and two Art rooms were added. These expansions took place to accommodate the extra pupils following the local authority's decision to reduce the secondary school starting age from 12 to 11, as well as an increase in the school's capacity to hold more than 1,100 pupils. It had provided capacity for some 700 pupils during its days as a 12-16 school. That figure had risen to more than 900 when the age of admissions was reduced, but high demand for places saw it increased beyond 1,000 by the mid 1990s.

Two science laboratories were opened in the autumn of 2003, as was a Sixth Form Centre (owned by Dudley College) in September 1996. The sixth form block was demolished in about 2007 and transferred to the mobile classrooms which had been erected more than a decade earlier.

The school blocks A to E[edit]

A Block

On the school's completion in 1935, this was the sole building, containing 19 classrooms, offices, a library, assembly hall and gymnasium.

The offices for the Heads of Year and Isolation Room were added in 1999 after a remodelling of the former girls changing rooms and the Careers office. The former boys changing rooms and a neighbouring office were remodelled at the same time to create an ICT suite, and the former multigym was divided into the PE Department office and a storage room.

A Block originally contained the offices for the senior management, but on the relocation of these facilities to D Block during the 1990/91 academic year this area was converted into the Learning Support department as well as a Resources centre.

By the 1960s, however, the growing population to Sedgley meant that expansion of the school was necessary.

The library was relocated to the new Personal Learning Centre in October 2008 and the original library was divided into two ICT suites.

Classrooms in A Block are used for the teaching of Mathematics, Geography, History,R.E, English and ICT.

B Block

B Block was added in about 1972. It houses six Science laboratories as well as two Food Technology suites. Two further B Block classrooms - actually within C Block - were added in 1992 and house the Art department, which was previously accommodated in two downstairs B block rooms which were then converted into Science laboratories.

It has not been substantially altered since its construction, although all of the laboratories have been refurbished, as have both of the Food Technology suites.

C Block

C Block was built a few years before B Block in the late 1960s. The downstairs of the building includes two Science laboratories, a CAD/CAM centre as well as workshops for Graphic Design, Resistant Materials (which was opened in 1992 to replace a downstairs workshop in A Block) and Systems & Control. The upstairs of the block is given over to a Textiles suite, and two classrooms which have been used for the teaching of ICT since the 1980s.

The two Science laboratories were refurbished in 2001.

D Block

D Block houses the senior management offices, reception area, music studio, drama studio, dance studio, one music classroom and five Modern Languages classrooms. Its construction was given the go-ahead in 1989 and took place the following year as the school looked to improve its performing arts facilities and provide additional classroom space due to a growing demand for pupil places and the increased pupil numbers that the reduction of the secondary transfer age would see.

It was opened during the 1990/91 school year and was detached from the rest of the school until the Dormston Centre was opened a decade later.

Being a modern structure, no substantial alterations have yet been made to D Block, although major redecoration has taken place since 2003 due to vandalism and general wear and tear of the building's fabric.

E Block

E Block was completed in September 2003 and houses two classrooms used for Art and Science.

Further building work on E Block was completed in October 2008 and a second floor was completed five years later. This houses the new Personal Learning Centre.

Mobile classrooms

There were mobile classrooms at the school from the 1970s, but all of these were removed by 2015. A single-storey temporary building was also opened n September 1996 for the teaching of sixth form students, with a second storey added the following year, but this was removed in 2010.

Dormston Centre[edit]

The Dormston Centre includes a sports hall, fitness centre, art gallery, theatre and cafe.[1] It cost nearly £6 million to build, £4 million of which was provided by a grant from the National Lottery. The go-ahead for the centre was given in July 1996 when the Lottery grant was given, and the facilities were in use by March 2000 - six months behind schedule. The official opening took place on 1 December 2000.

The ground floor of the Dormston Centre is known to students and visitors as The Atrium or White Area, in which student's art work used to be exhibited. It now holds the new cafe for Year 11 students. The staff room for Dormston School is also located in the ground floor of the Dormston Centre.

The theatre in the Dormston Centre has hosted pupil's productions of West Side Story (March 2000), Oliver! (March 2001), Macbeth (July 2001) and We Will Rock You (March 2009). Pupils worked and are working on a series of new productions including, Hairspray (9–12 February 2010), The Blues Brothers was shown in February 2011, Our House in February 2012, Grease in February 2013, We Will Rock You in February 2014, Fame in February 2015 and the upcoming Return to the Forbidden Planet for 2016.

On 5 March 2009 the Dormston Centre hosted an edition of the BBC's 'Question Time' television programme hosted by David Dimbleby.

The Mill Theatre is also used for most house and year assemblies.

The centre's changing rooms and toilets were remodeled in 2009 due to continued vandalism which had already led to the previous changing rooms being refurbished in 2006.

Dormston School's lottery grant

The Dormston School received a National Lottery grant in July 1996 to contribute towards the cost of building a high quality sports and arts centre on its site. Work began in early 1998, with the facilities opening in March 2000 and being officially opened on 1 December that year.[2] Two years later, the Dudley News criticised the project as a "failure" as few people in the local area were making use of it and a number of people did not even know where it was. The centre was first proposed in the late 1980s along with D Block, but had to be postponed for several years due to the lack of funding.

The local Youth Club project[edit]

The Youth Club was run by volunteers several evenings a week for many years. It first closed in September 2001 following an extensive vandalism attack by several pupils and a member of the public. It was re-opened in April 2004 following a refurbishment and the replacement of a mobile building. It was closed again in early 2017 due to an arson attack by local teenagers and demolished shortly afterwards.

Head teachers[edit]

  • Ben Stitchman - Head Teacher since September 2013[1]

Gifted and Talented policy[edit]

Year 7 pupils take a series of "MIDYIS" tests which give the teachers an insight into each pupil's potential. Each pupil's progress in then closely monitored, and some students will be given the option of attending Summer Schools - an event organised by the National Academy at University of Warwick. They can also attend a Science club which is open to Key Stage 3 pupils. There is also an optional day visit to Oxford University for some of these pupils.

Since September 1999, certain pupils entering Key Stage 3 could have been selected for accelerated Key Stage 4 courses which had seen them complete a GCSE in Year 10 and an AS Level in Year 11. There usually are normally 20 pupils per subject in every year group who take each course, but this system has now been made redundant since September 2014.

Mrs Fiona Moseley, Head of English and now one of the school's longest-serving teachers since her appointment in September 2000 initially as a year head, is consultant for the "Gifted and Talented" policy. The previous consultant was Mrs Elaine James.

There is also an annual presentation evening, held every December, for the previous academic year's school leavers. Subject prizes as well as several achievement and effort awards are awarded to students nominated by staff.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Extracurricular activities include:[1]

There are after-school clubs for subjects including Science and Technology.

With access to the state-of-the-art Dormston Centre, the school has regularly performed drama productions; the first of these was West Side Story in March 2000. Each key stage gives an annual Performance Arts Evening for pupils to display their various talents.

Year 10 pupils are involved in the Young Enterprise initiative and in 2005 received a local award for being the "Most Enterprising Company".

Year 9 and GCSE pupils have the opportunity to attend revision and coursework support classes.

Pupils with individual educational needs are encouraged to attend small group or one-to-one sessions organised by the Learning Support Department.

Year 10 pupils have the opportunity to apply to become part of their houses 'Leadership Team', which gives them extra responsibility during their final year of compulsory education.

There is also an active School Council, and each year pupils are encouraged to vote for a pupil in their year group to be elected as their councillor. The school council raises concerns of students in the school to staff. The school also participates in the annual UK Youth Parliament elections.

The '1999 Short skirts débâcle'[edit]

In March 1999, the school made the headlines when 41 girls were either sent home, made to put on baggy trousers or isolated from lessons for wearing excessively short skirts as part of a local crackdown on 'sexily dressed' school pupils.[2][2][3] 21 female pupils aged from 11 to 16 were suspended and the rest segregated away from the other pupils.[2][3]

Notable former pupils[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-03-18. Retrieved 2011-03-05.  ["-05". Archived from the original on 2010-03-18. /]. Retrieved on March 5, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h [1].Retrieved on March 10, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c [2].Retrieved on March 10, 2010.