Headmaster's Welcome

Headmaster's Welcome

Thank you for reading our Autumn Admissions Update which is designed to give you the latest information on the admissions process, as well as news and developments at Crackley Hall and Little Crackers. We also hope that the newsletter will convey a feel for the family atmosphere at Crackley and a taste of the many achievements of the children in our community, from academic to sporting and the arts.

Since our last edition we have continued to thrive in our 'outstanding in all areas' rating by the Independent School Inspectorate following their inspection in October 2017. The report was a real vote of confidence for everything we do at Crackley Hall and a recognition of the positive impact a Crackley education has on our pupils' lives. I would encourage you to read more about this in the News section or visit the ISI website for the full report.

As a result Crackley continues to be very popular, we have limited places available in certain year groups from current Reception to Junior 6. We maintain small class sizes to provide the level of attention needed for each child at this critical time in their development.

Crackley retains the small-school feel that makes it so special, but with a wealth of opportunities, often delivered by larger schools, that stretch and challenge all. It's a place where the children are individuals who are known to every member of staff. Our children are very happy and this matters so much to us.

We look forward to welcoming you to Crackley Hall and Little Crackers Nursery soon.

Robert Duigan


Natural New Look For Little Crackers Nursery

Over the summer Little Crackers Nursery has been transformed with an exciting natural makeover.  The Nursery’s new look has remodelled its spacious rooms, it includes new furniture, flooring, decoration and a completely new indoor/outdoor Garden Room with a decked area and a sunken sand pit, covered by a glazed roof with retractable folding doors that open up to the woods behind.  

Improvements have also been made to the front nursery playground and the nursery children will now also enjoy regular visits to the newly opened woodland at the back of the main school, where Forest School sessions will ensure plenty of den building, bug hunting and adventures will be on the learning menu. The changes mean that the children will now be able to enjoy outdoor learning experiences in three very different settings.

As part of the makeover the different nursery rooms have adopted new animal names to reflect the back to nature woodland theme, with the Terrific Twos becoming Dormice, the Thrilling Threes changing to Hedgehogs and the Fabulous Fours transforming into Badgers. 

Comments Susan Glen-Roots, Assistant Head – Early Years and Key Stage 1, “This is an exciting project which will really transform our children’s experiences in nursery.  A more natural environment inside creates a sense of calm whilst stimulating interest and providing the children with a blank canvas in which to learn and develop. This, coupled with more opportunities to take their learning outdoors and explore the wonders of the natural world will reap fantastic rewards in terms of self-confidence, imagination and physical development.”

Special events to celebrate the completion of the makeover will take place on Wednesday 18 September, when nursery families, the Stay ‘n’ Players and prospective families have been invited to see and enjoy all the improvements.

Little Crackers Nursery now offers a beautiful learning environment where children can really thrive and grow.


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Prize Giving Is Culmination Of Another Exceptional Crackley Hall Year

Prize Giving at Crackley Hall is the culmination of the academic year, it is a chance to reflect, a chance to celebrate and a chance to give thanks. This year’s Prize Giving took place on Tuesday 2 July with the Lower School receiving their awards in the afternoon and Junior 5 and 6 in the evening.

Crackley was delighted to welcome a number of special guests to the celebrations including Chair of Trustees, Mrs Liz Griffin, Trustee, Bernard Warner and Senior Foundation Headmaster, Ed Hester.

Headmaster, Mr Duigan gave a thought provoking speech, he gave thanks to the many who give so much to the school in so many ways. He challenged every boy and every girl to learn something new every day and reminded that those who succeed have to be brave enough to fail. He encouraged all the children to strive to do their best, to never limit themselves and to smile becasue it is free. 

Crackley Hall’s pupil leaders gave their reports speaking movingly about their time in office and their Crackley journeys, and the memories and friends they will take with them as they move on to secondary school.

And then there were the awards, book awards for progress, effort and diligence, school spirit and kindness, contribution to school life and achievement. Followed by cups and shields and trophies galore, all recognising the diligence, effort and excellence that abounds at Crackley Hall.

It was difficult to pick winners for this year’s Special Awards as there were many worthy potential recipients so it was with great pride that Mr Duigan awarded the following:

St Joseph’s School Spirit Award – Francesca Kelly

Scholarship Award – Dylan Williams

Sister Mary Patrick Trophy for Caring – Annamaria Kordas

PTA Crackley Hall Shield – Caitlin Horan

As the ceremonies concluded, all Crackley pupils were encouraged to reflect on their achievements during the year, as prize winner or not, all should be rightfully proud.


Spectacular Summer Production Brings The House Down

This year’s spectacular summer production took place on Friday 21 June at Leamington’s Royal Spa Centre.  A ‘Spoonful Of Naughty’ featured two much loved, musical classics; Mary Poppins and Matilda The Musical.  Crackley’s children confidently took to the stage bringing the audience to their feet as they performed their numbers with passion and pizzazz.

The show opened with the story of Mary Poppins; faced with a new nanny, the Banks children are pleasantly surprised by the arrival of the magical Mary Poppins, together they embark on a series of amazing adventures, with Mary’s friend Bert, that help them all learn what is important in life.  Full of plenty of familiar singalong songs, including A Spoonful of Sugar, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Feed The Birds, Chim Chim Cher-ee and Let’s Go Fly A Kite, colourful costumes and snappy dance routines, Reception, Juniors 1, 2 and 4 and the principals from Junior 6 delivered an opening act that was a real crowd pleaser.

Matilda The Musical came next, Roald Dahl’s much loved story providing a roller coaster of a second half, delighting the audience with engaging characters and energetic toe tapping songs.  The story of a genius of a girl and her wonderful teacher pitched against her awful parents and monster of a headteacher, the odious Miss Trunchbull, with ultimately right overcoming wrong.  The cast delighted the audience with more brightly coloured costumes and clever routines delivered in style by Junior 3 and Junior 5 with the lead roles played by members of Junior 6.  Everyone enjoyed the modern day classics that included Naughty, Bruce, When I Grow Up, The Smell of Rebellion and the amazing finale of Revolting Children.

All through the show, the crowd greeted each performance with applause and when the final number was complete, the appreciative audience went wild, clapping and cheering. Headmaster, Mr Duigan looked on proudly, Mrs Wildey, Mrs Olden and Mrs Paphitiss were all delighted that after all the endless, tireless rehearsing the show was a triumphant success.

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Firecrackers Win Best Engineered Car At Jaguar Primary School Challenge National Finals

Crackley Hall School’s Firecrackers won Best Engineered Car at this year’s National Finals of the Jaguar Primary School Challenge.

On Tuesday 11 June the team of five Year 4 pupils travelled to the British Motor Museum at Gaydon, Warwickshire to take part in the competition.  They were one of 39 schools that had won through from local Regional Finals.

Team ‘Firecrackers’, comprising Junior 4’s Amelia Hunt, Jasper Nicholls, Woody Osborn, Henry Verity and Thomas Zanyi, had been working hard, after school, all year to prepare for the day. 

The challenge requires teams to research, design, manufacture, test, promote and race the fastest car possible using standard chassis and engine housing nets with a car body made only from card. It is a technical brief but one that has proven to really engage potential future engineers.

Each team took part in an Engineering judging where the team were examined on their car design and manufacturing process; a Verbal presentation where the judges were looking at technique, composition and knowledge of subject matter and a Portfolio and Pit Stop Display inspection where the team had to carefully explain their displays to the judges.

During the day, the Firecrackers also had to complete an Additional Design Technology Challenge to design and manufacture a car of the future.  The focus of the exercise was once again to test the team’s ability to work together, delegate, design and manufacture.

Finally, the Firecrackers had to race their car head-to-head down the racetrack.

Standards were incredibly high but the children had worked so hard.   The Firecrackers waited calmly but confidently, and when the results were announced, they could hardly believe it.  They had they won the award for 'Best Engineered Car'.

Mrs Hardwick and Mrs Spillane who helped guide the Crackley Hall team were jubilant, “What an amazing day. Our Crackley Hall pupils have worked so hard. They’ve dealt with the pressure of competition brilliantly and we are so very proud of them.”

Seven Crackley Athletes Qualify For Independent Schools National Athletics Championships

An unprecedented seven Crackley Hall athletes qualified to take part in this year’s Independent Schools Association’s National Track and Field Championships reflecting the breadth of sporting excellence nurtured through class and extra-curricular sporting opportunities at the school.

On Thursday 6 June a team of 37 Junior 4, 5 and 6 pupils travelled to Birmingham’s prestigious Alexander Stadium to compete against 31 schools in the Midlands Regional ISA Athletics Qualifier.

Many of the children put in amazing performances and the school was delighted that a record number of athletes were placed in both track and field events. Crackley children numbered in the top eight in 34 of the competition’s 42 events and the school was delighted to finish in third place overall.

PE teacher Mrs Kat Vaughan praised the outstanding attitude adopted by the Crackley team. “It was a long and exciting day,“ commented Mrs Vaughan. “There were many excellent achievements with children achieving new personal bests. It was our most successful outing ever and I am very proud that so many children have qualified for the National Championships.”

Crackley’s highlights included Elle Weir qualifying in the 600m, Max Kiely qualifying in the 60m sprint and the 600m and Wilf Grindal qualifying with his Cricket Ball Throw. Freddie Knott finishing in 2nd place in the High Jump and has also been selected to represent the Midlands at the Nationals. Alistair Darnell also finished in 3rd place in the 80m sprint.

On the day, every Crackley relay team qualified for the finals and the Year 6 Boys, Alistair Darnell, Freddie Knott, Oscar Glover and Bobby Chapman won the Year 6 Boys Relay and qualified for the Nationals. The Junior 4 Boys just missed out with a 2nd place finish in the Relay.

Finally the Year 6 Boys finished 1st overall, the Year 4 Boys placed 2nd and the Year 4 Girls 3rd.

Nous Saluons Le Retour De Junior 6

Back in May Junior 6 enjoyed a spectacular six days away in Normandy. Their packed itinerary included a range of cultural, historical and leisure sights and activities, as well as the opportunity to put into practise some of their French language skills.  A total of 51 pupils and six staff travelled from Kenilworth to Normandy by coach and ferry and stayed in a picturesque gîte in Clinchamps-sur-Orne near Caen.

During their week away pupils had the chance to visit the Vieux-la-Romaine Roman museum and archaeological excavation site, they also learnt how to make bread, toured the town’s beautiful Basilica where, in the Crypt, they were able to attend Mass. D-Day has featured in their History studies so a visit to the bunkers near Arromanches, with its 360˚ cinema experience and a walk across the sand on the landing beaches was always going to be a poignant experience.

Alongside all the educational activities there was also time to play and everyone had a fabulous day out at a local theme park, ‘Festy Land’, and enjoyed an evening BBQ. The children also visited Bayeux to take in the famous Bayeux Tapestry and the town’s Cathedral and on the same day the group also visited the nearby War Cemetery where the children were momentarily silenced by its sheer scale.

All in all the trip was judged a resounding success and provided many magical memories for Junior 6 to take away with them. 

Junior 3s’ Take On Ancient Greece

In May Crackley Hall’s two Junior 3 classes, travelled back in time to explore Ancient Greece courtesy of history specialists, History Off The Page. Some 2,500 years ago, Ancient Greece was one of the most important places in the world made up of small 'city-states’, such as Athens, Sparta, Corinth and Olympia. Its people were great thinkers, warriors, writers, actors, athletes, artists, architects and politicians and their ideas started a way of life that is similar to the life we lead today.

Junior 3’s Ancient Greece Day transported the children back to 490BC to the city-state of Athens and news that Persia has invaded Greece.  Crackley’s school hall was transformed into the Athenian Agora (an assembly and marketplace).  Dressed in ancient Greek costumes and taking on ancient Greek names the children adopted traditional roles making their own artefacts using skills prevalent at the time.  They worked as wax tablet makers, potters and painters, sculptors, fresco painters, pavement makers, lamp makers and even physicians.

As news of the impending invasion came, the children gathered to make a democratic decision to ask for help from the warriors of Sparta.  Although the children were not at all impressed to discover that in that early democracy slaves, metics (foreigners), children and even women weren’t allowed to vote!  However, they did enjoy hearing about the famous Battle of Marathon and how the Athenians managed to defeat the Persians despite being outnumbered by them.

In the afternoon the children celebrated with a banquet, they enjoyed Greek foods including feta, figs, dates, pitta and cooked meats.  There was also entertainment with dancing and a performance of the myth of Pandora.  It was yet another fun-filled, fabulous learning day.

Modern day Junior 3 teachers Ms Holmes and Mrs Van Zyl were very impressed, commenting, "The day was really engaging, it really brought history and our ancient Greece topic alive.”

Junior 1 Take A Peek Into Warwick Museum’s Old Toy Collection

Junior 1 pupils were treated to a hands-on history lesson when they took a peek into St John’s Museum’s old toy collection.  The museum, which is based in Warwick, brought a range of real and replica toys and games into school on Thursday 16 May to run an interactive workshop for the children as they approached the end of their topic on ‘Toys’.  They gave a talk on the history and construction of the toys in the museum’s collection before letting the children loose to investigate.

The workshop consolidated the children’s studies supporting both the History and Design Technology curriculums. The collection included toys from the Victorian era through to the 1970s.    The children explored how toys have changed over the years as technology and materials have developed.  They found out interesting facts such as Victorian toys were developed to teach children important skills.  Although that did not stop Victorian children from having fun!

Assistant Head – Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, Susan Glen-Roots commented, “It was a fascinating workshop, the children were really interested and listened beautifully before playing very carefully with the old toys.  I am very proud of them and it was wonderful to see them having so much fun.  Sessions like these really do help to bring the curriculum to life.”

Crackley Hall Embraces Outdoor Learning

In May Crackley Hall School joined thousands of schools worldwide in taking lessons outside in celebration of Outdoor Classroom Day.

Forest School practitioner, Verity Clark had organised a range of resources and activities to encourage her fellow teachers to take their classes outdoors.  On the day Reception, Junior 1 and Junior 2 together with the Junior 6s spent time working in the school’s woods.  Other classes made the most of the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine, with for example Art lessons taking place in the school grounds.

Outside learning teaches critical life skills such as problem-solving, teamwork and creativity and spending time outdoors supports positive mental health.  Whether constructing a simple rope swing, examining invertebrates or taking part in role-playing games it was clear that all of the children enjoyed their time outside.

Mrs Clark explained, ”We run regular Forest School sessions here at Crackley but Outdoor Classroom Day has given us the opportunity to celebrate our outdoor learning even more.  We have our own wonderful wood on site that we are slowly opening up for the children to use.  Children really do thrive in the outdoor environment and get very excited about their learning.”

Crackley Victorious At Nuneaton Festival Of Speech And Drama

This year Crackley Hall School competed in the Nuneaton Festival of Speech and Drama at the Abbey Theatre, Nuneaton.

Crackley Hall’s Key Stage 2 Choral Speaking Club entered the Juniors section against stiff competition from other schools including performing arts specialists and previous winners Pattissons College and Milverton House.  Despite trepidation at taking on schools with such a tradition in the Performing Arts, Crackley’s Choral Speaking group wowed the audience and the judges with their outstanding performances of The Old Wife and The Ghost and Matilda.  The Group were awarded first place and ‘Distinction’ with the judge commenting on their excellent clarity of diction, facial expressions, volume, energy and witty and charming artistic expressions in the poems they performed.

Drama teacher, Nicola Wildey commented, “Mrs Paphitis and I were truly humbled by the group’s superb team effort, commitment and talent.  To come first is such an achievement; it is an outstanding result. The children have made us, their parents and the whole school very proud.”

Both Junior 2 classes also took part in the Infants section. J2H performed Wet Play and My Grannies while J2M performed Skipping Steps and Hide and Seek. Both classes scored 84/100, were ’Commended’ and finished in joint third place.  Mrs Wildey, was delighted continuing, “It was their first time performing in a competition and they were so mature and took the stage and the bright lights all in their stride.  It was a great result and shows real promise for the future.  Well done Junior 2s.”

OP Ian Bell Coaches Crackley Cricket Masterclass

Crackley Hall was delighted to welcome, Old Princethorpian and Cricket Ambassador for Complete Cricket, Ian Bell MBE into school on Tuesday 11 June for a special Batting Masterclass.

Complete Cricket, who are one of the largest professional cricket coaching providers in the UK, run a co-curricular cricket programme at Crackley Hall.  They had organised the masterclass to provide 24 Junior 4, 5 and 6 pupils with a unique opportunity to be coached by an England and Warwickshire cricketing legend.

Alongside Complete Cricket’s coaches Jamie Spires and Sam Montieri, Ian put the awestruck boys through their paces.  From the start he stressed the importance of getting the fundamentals right, looking at grip, stance, backlift and alignment, his message was ‘cricket is simple if you get the basics right’. Over the two-hour session, you could see the boys’ cricket improve as they worked in groups to put Ian’s advice into practise. After all the drills there was just time for a quick game so everyone could put their new skills into action.

The session finished with a question and answer session.  Ian was enthusiastically quizzed by the boys, with questions ranging from ‘Who was the most challenging bowler you faced?’ and ‘Where were the most difficult pitches to play on?’ to ‘What was it like to play with Freddie Flintoff?’  They even quizzed Ian on his time at Princethorpe.  Ian answered all their questions good-naturedly explaining that he had always enjoyed sport and had first played for Warwickshire in their U10 squad.   He encouraged the boys to play all sports, talking about all the opportunities he had at Princethorpe and the inspiration and support he had received from the College’s former Director of Sport, Gwilym Price.  He said, “I loved sport and at Princethorpe I played everything - rugby, football, hockey and cricket.  I was 16 when I finally decided that cricket was what I wanted to do.” 

Jamie Spires, Sales & Marketing Director at Complete Cricket, explained, “Here at Complete Cricket, we are dedicated to helping all of the players we coach enjoy the opportunities that playing this great game offers. Not many young players get the chance to work with, or learn from, true legends of the international game; therefore, we are very proud to be able to work with Ian Bell in delivering fantastic coaching to the children at Crackley Hall School.  It was a superb session and we would like to thank Ian for his insight and fantastic coaching tips and also the Crackley Hall pupils, who showed real enthusiasm to develop their skills.”

Crackley Hall’s Assistant Head – Co-curricular, Charles Lamprecht said, “Huge thanks to Ian, Jamie and Sam from Complete Cricket for an inspirational masterclass.  The boys were thrilled to have a cricketing legend coaching them and I am really looking forward to seeing them put their new batting skills into action.”

Science At The Forefront Of Princethorpe’s Vision For The Future

Princethorpe is putting Science at the forefront of its vision for the future with plans for a new state-of-the-art Science building. Planning for the two-storey, £8 million building, which will see Biology, Chemistry and Physics sited together in one dedicated location, has now been approved and construction will start on the project within the next two to three years.

This is the latest in a programme of capital investment in the infrastructure of the College, including recent projects such as the refurbishment of the Clarkson Theatre and the Roundhouse for the Performing Arts, the Limes Building for Modern Foreign Languages, English and ICT and restoration of the wooded lake area known as Switzerland for outdoor education.

At just over 1,600 sq metres, the building will provide contemporary, spacious and well-equipped accommodation for the three Sciences including ten new laboratories, preparation areas, staff bases and toilets.

Comments, Headmaster, Ed Hester, “In a demanding world, where scientific progress is essential across the spheres of discovery, development and innovation, we need to provide the very best facilities for teaching and learning to stimulate the intellect, ambition and creativity of our pupils. This tremendous new building will enable us to do just that.”

The main entrance of the new block will face the Lime Walk and the side of the building will abut the existing Limes Building at the top of the North Lawn. The two buildings will be connected on both floors creating free flow for pupils and staff between them. The area in front of the new building will be attractively landscaped with a central square feature.

The project will also enable the College to redevelop and cluster other departments, providing permanent homes for Economics, Business Studies, Geography and Classics and dedicated laboratory areas for Academic PE. Plans are also afoot to provide additional catering and seated dining facilities. This last major phase of the upgrading of the school’s accommodation will benefit all of the College’s 900 plus pupils.

The project has been designed in collaboration with Leamington-based AT Architects.

Pinnacle And Minnacle Showcase Extraordinary Work

The Pinnacle showcases excellent and extraordinary work.  

The latest edition showcases ability and flair across many subjects and year groups, including an award winning poet and a number of Princethorpe's budding sports stars.  It also includes some superb examples of Modern Foreign Languages work and there is also coverage of the wonderful GCSE and A-level Art and Photography, which appeared in our Summer Art, Photography and Design Show.

A double-sized Minnacle is included too, with equally impressive work by Crackley Hall pupils from Nursery to Junior 6 and Crescent pupils from Reception to Class VI. It's wonderful to showcase their talents too!!

Click here if you would like to download a copy of The Pinnacle and here if you would like to see The Minnacle.