‘They have shown a maturity beyond their years’ - teachers’ praise for Archbishop Sancroft pupils after ‘challenging’ year

GCSE RESULTS: Archbishop Sancroft High School deptuty headteacher  Rob Connelly, left, with headteacher Richard Cranmer. Photo: Zach Ward.
GCSE RESULTS: Archbishop Sancroft High School deptuty headteacher Rob Connelly, left, with headteacher Richard Cranmer. Photo: Zach Ward.

Teachers in Harleston have praised a “super” year group after students earned some of the best grades in the school’s history – against the backdrop of a tragic accident.

At Archbishop Sancroft High School, 65 per cent of students gained at least a grade 4 in both maths and English as teenagers collected their GCSE results on Thursday.

To sit in here and cry with some Year 11 students says a lot about us a school, how much we value everything about the whole person

Richard Cranmer, headteacher, Archbishop Sancroft High School

Deputy headteacher Rob Connelly said the school community was “rocked” after the death of three teenagers in a road accident in Pulham Market in April – including two former Archbishop pupils. The school opened during the holidays after the crash to offer support to students.

Headteacher Richard Cranmer paid tribute to the year group – saying they showed maturity beyond their years.

“I’ve gone through more boxes of tissues – not just for me – I’ve cried in here with students and I think the fact we have been able to be open and share our emotions with them says it really helped them understand how we felt,” he said.

“I think it enabled them to see we are not an exams factory, we are not a machine, that we are humans and, for me, that has been one of the biggest learning experiences in a world where everything seems to be standards and league table positions.

“To sit in here and cry with some Year 11 students says a lot about us a school, how much we value everything about the whole person.

“There has been some really amazing experiences that I have no doubt will enable those youngsters to be better parents themselves and really good friends to those who need help.

“It has been, unquestionably, the most challenging year Rob and I have had both personally and professionally. The accident in April rocked this community.

“It rocked our Year 11s, particularly as that was their friendship group. It happened in the Easter holidays at a time when we had set up revision days – it was the last push to prepare these youngsters for the exams.

“The challenge that presents is a bit more of a moral one – do you push these grieving youngsters into revision classes, or do you say ‘hang on a minute, we need to support you personally’.

“It is about celebrating the success of these students given the challenges they have been through – and this is very close to a record-breaking year. I think it is the second best results the school has ever known.

“The students have grown up incredibly through living those experiences and, I hope, through seeing the way we have supported them and trying to manage what was a challenging situation.”

Mr Connelly added: “Staff have responded in a way that you would hope they would in terms of the first and foremost priority, the care of the young people in our community, and they have done that.

“We give our lives to this because we have an absolute passion and a love for what we do.

“I spend more time with the children here than I do with my own children – and I don’t resent or regret any of that.”