‘Unique’ Swanage school gets results in classroom and on race track

With extra curricular opportunities like driving a racing car, The Swanage School in Dorset has been praised for the outstanding personal development of its pupils following an inspection by Ofsted.

Graded as good overall, the school, which was described by the inspector as “unique”, was commended for offering students an innovative curriculum, preparing them for the future and providing wider experiences.

The Swanage School

The Swanage School, formed in 2013 offers lots of extra curricular activities. The school’s performance of Matilda will be at The Mowlem in Swanage from Thursday 22nd to Saturday 24th February 2024

“We’re getting results”

One particularly noted opportunity was the chance to be part of a Formula 24 racing team, not a regular school activity!

The team has built the car, attracted sponsors and has already raced on the famous track at Goodwood in West Sussex.

The Swanage School race team project manager, Harrison said:

“Getting to compete at Goodwood was amazing but also a very stressful day as initially we had a faulty brake light and had to get that fixed before getting back in the race. We ended up coming 58th out of about 90 teams – which wasn’t bad for a first attempt against much more experienced competitors.

“We’re now looking to enter three races this coming season and hoping to do well. We’re a really efficient, fast team and we’re getting results – we can get our car up to 25 mph and the top maximum speed is 30 mph.”

The Swanage School at Goodwood 2023

Competing at Goodwood was an amazing if at times stressful experience

The Swanage School at Goodwood 2023

The racing car was made possible by sponsors including Swanage and Purbeck Rotary and Purbeck Media

Celebrating 10 years of The Swanage School

The Swanage School was formed in 2013, when a group of parents, taking up the opportunity of the new free school system, argued the case to create a secondary school in the town.

With the reorganisation of education in Dorset and the scrapping of Swanage’s middle school, the new free school meant that children from ages 11 to 16 could continue their education locally.

The school’s headteacher Jenny Maraspin said:

“As a school we’re really committed to offering our students extra opportunities and bringing big world experiences to our small seaside town. Driving a race car round the playground is just one of those examples. That’s why Ofsted gave us ‘outstanding’ for personal development and we’re really pleased about that.

“We get good academic results too – but we’re not an exam machine. We recognise that valuing our students builds confidence and along with teaching digital literacy, problem solving, collaboration and public speaking, it creates the skill set that an employer wants, giving our kids the edge.”

Swanage school race team

Headteacher of The Swanage School Jenny Maraspin (right) was delighted to host Lytchett Minster School’s newly formed race team along with their headteacher Andrew Mead (left)

Swanage school race team

Former The Swanage School pupil Pierre (centre) returned to his old school to show the Lytchett team what could be achieved

“Bring this brilliant opportunity to Lytchett”

One of The Swanage School’s former students who has plenty of confidence is Pierre.

He was a founder member of the school’s race team and when he moved to Lytchett Minster School to attend the sixth form, he persuaded his new headteacher Andrew Mead to let him create a Lytchett Minster Formula 24 racing team. Pierre said:

“It’s fun and instead of doing lots more studying or more Duke of Edinburgh type things, I wanted to bring this brilliant opportunity to Lytchett. It’s a way of applying what you learn in the classroom in a really practical way.

“For instance, Callum is studying business studies and he’s brought entrepreneurship to the team, already securing sponsorship from Poole Rotary and Audi Poole.”

Swanage and Lytchett school race team

Working together – The Swanage School race team and the Lytchett Minster School race team

Swanage school race team

Alexis aged 15, takes the Formula 24 race car out for a spin in the playground

“We’ve a good relationship with The Swanage School”

So with Lytchett Minster School following in the tyre tracks of The Swanage School, they came over to Swanage to pick up tips on how to progress the building of their car, which is still in the planning stage.

They still need more sponsorship to get the £3,000 required to buy the basic car kit parts.

Lytchett Minster headteacher Andrew Mead said:

“We like Swanage and we’ve a good relationship with The Swanage School, taking many students into our sixth form. Fun extra curricular activities like this are part of our school’s vision. It’s good that two local schools are blazing a trail, giving oportunities that are often restricted to private school pupils.

“While this is very focussed on engineering, it also provides opportunities for media skills and fashion and branding expertise for students of all ages. Seeing young people working together is really positive!”

Lytchett minster race team

The Lytchett Minister race team see what is possible

Swanage school race team

The Swanage School project manager Harrison discusses with headteachers Andrew Mead and Jenny Maraspin, the teams plans for three races this season

“It’s all about creating good humans”

In addition to being graded as outstanding for personal development, The Swanage School was recognised in the Ofsted report as good for quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, and leadership and management, with a good grading for overall effectiveness.

Of the 19 mainstream secondary schools in the Dorset Council area, The Swanage School is one of only five to have achieved an outstanding judgement against one or more of the criteria.

Jenny Maraspin added:

“We’re proud of the judgement and what it says in the report. We all work so hard to give the children wider experiences as well as getting good grades. Our staff are really relentless in their dedication to continually driving the school forward.

“It’s all about creating good humans. We want our students to look back at their school days with great fondness – I think we’re achieving that!”

Swanage school race team

The electric race car heads out to the playground!

Watch the race car

Further information

  • Follow The Swanage School and it’s race team on Facebook
  • For sponsorship opportunities of the Lytchett Minster race team, contact the headteacher Andrew Mead
  • Read the full Ofsted report on The Swanage School

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