Students and staff at the new Didcot secondary school headed towards the end of term with celebrations marking a major milestone since first opening in September.
The Aureus School held an afternoon of special events yesterday (Tuesday, March 27) to mark 200 days since it opened its doors for the first time. Tours and afternoon tea allowed guests to take a look at the new facilities enjoyed by both the school and the wider community. An original celebration planned to mark the school’s first 100 days had to be postponed due to snow in December.
“We have all been looking forward to our official opening and everyone has worked really hard to contribute to our history which is very much in the making! Our Aureus community are very proud of our school, and everything we have achieved in our first two terms. The students who lead the opening ceremony embody everything we stand for as educators. The feedback from our guests was overwhelmingly positive as they recognised our vision, our values and our forward-thinking approach,” said Executive Headteacher Hannah Wilson.
Among the 120 invited guests was William Darley, a local resident who found the Aureus gold coins the school is named after, with his metal detector.
The Mayor of Didcot Jackie Billington, councillors Nick Hards and Reg White and the Chief Executive Officer of GLF Schools, Jon Chaloner, also took part in the celebrations.
Aureus School student council members Natalie Orpin, Malik Bendardaf, Edward Smith, Oli Alison, Sameera Jeetun, Lillie Martin and Harry James also gave speeches about their ‘Magic Moments’ at ‘Glorious Aureus’ during the event.
The school opened with its first intake of Year 7 students and will continue to grow in numbers each year with 240 expected in 2018. It was commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council and has been designated a STEM school (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) but has become a STEAM school to reflect that the Arts at the Heart of their culture and ethos. Since opening the school has already engaged in a number of collaborative partnerships with local artists to create installations for the impressive building.
“We believe that the arts are an integral part of the holistic development of the whole child,” said Ms Wilson, who added that Tuesday’s guests had been impressed by the school.
The Thrive and Sensory Rooms were officially opened as part of the opening ceremony by Dr Neil Hawkes, founder of the Values based Education movement.
Dr Hawkes, a former Oxfordshire Headteacher commented: “I was so moved to be there and to experience the energy and creativity that you have established at Aureus. I am proud to name it as an example of how the profession can develop a values-based school”.
The school, a member of the multi-academy GLF Trust, has an artist in residence, a community art gallery, art therapy room and holds termly creativity days and weekly STEAM careers assemblies. The school’s values- led culture and ethos includes a ‘family dining’ experience for students.
“Our holistic approach at Aureus includes values-led leadership, values-based education and a wellbeing programme that develops mindfulness strategies,” said Ms Wilson, who is also executive head teacher of the new Aureus Primary School which is due to open for pupils in September.