Polam Hall School has hugely increased the size of its teaching team and its student intake as it prepares to become a free, rather than fee-paying, school.
The Darlington school will be free from next September after its decision to make its outstanding offering more accessible was approved by the government in June.
Ahead of the change, which means Polam Hall will be state funded but remain fully independent in a number of key areas, the school has bolstered its highly regarded teaching team with the addition of 17 new members of teaching staff, 12 of whom are teachers. It has also nearly doubled the number of pupils on its books to over 400.
Among the new staff arrivals is junior school teacher Sam Forsyth, who formerly worked in the BBC’s natural history department.
His new role will see him swap elephant filming in Kenya and wild dog watching in Botswana, for the classroom at one of the region’s top performing schools.
Sam is also founder of a social enterprise which enabled young people to make films with a positive social impact.
He said: “I’m very excited about starting my teaching career at Polam. My sister and most of my cousins were at the school and so, for many years, I’ve been aware of what an innovative and creative school it is.
“The free school future promises to offer something completely different to parents in Darlington which I would very much like to be part of delivering.”
Joining Sam as one of 12 new teachers is drama teacher Richard Brighton – a former professional fight director who has worked in film and theatre for several years. He also had a spell working for the Royal Armouries in Leeds as a professional fight co-ordinator.
“I’m excited about the future of drama at Polam Hall,” he said. “The theatre here is an amazing facility that many professionals would be jealous of. This is a fantastic moment in Polam Hall’s history which I’m delighted to be a part of.”
Polam Hall, which was founded by nineteenth century Quakers and is the oldest school in continuous existence in Darlington, stands in 20 acres of picturesque land at its Grange Road site.
Its recent recruitment drive means it now has the capacity to share its extremely high standards of education with over 600 pupils.
The school has a strong focus on closely supporting individual children, developing resilience and character and promoting creative thinking, family values and pastoral care.
It also has a reputation as a centre of excellence in science and maths, music and the arts and a thriving programme of extracurricular activities.
For more information visit www.polamhall.com.