Headteacher Steve Garthwaite, of Ysgol Y Grango in Rhos, this week became the third headteacher to sit down with Wrexham.com to tell us a bit about his school. This follows on from previous articles on Mr Hulland at Ysgol Clywedog and Mr Harding at Ysgol Rhiwabon.
Mr Garthwaite – in his third year at the school after a career which has seen him teach in Whitchurch, Northamptonshire, and Portugal – was quick to agree to be our third interviewee in this series. It’s clear from talking to him that he’s keen to spread the word about Grango, telling us that the key thing he wants the school to do is “to bring out the best in people – students and staff – and provide them with the opportunities to achieve their ambitions and life goals.”
He’s in no doubt as to the school’s main strength. “It’s a really strong community school, right at the heart of the community, where it belongs. Rhos is a unique community and Grango serves it very well. It’s a small school, where each and every student is known by each and every member of staff, and we nurture them through the school. As well as knowing the children, we get to know the parents as well – in all my years teaching I’ve never been at a school where the families are as supportive as they are here, and that means that we’ve built up really strong links between families and staff.”
In addition, Mr Garthwaite describes the importance of extra-curricular activities as “huge”, and the importance of “developing the whole child.” Hearing about the opportunities available at Grango, it’s clear he practices what he preaches! He told Wrexham.com of the more far-flung opportunities – last year the History department took a party of students to Auschwitz, while this year it’s the turn of the Geography department to run a trip to Italy – before moving the conversation closer to home. While he’s a Mancunian himself, and returns there regularly with his three children to see his beloved Manchester City, he first moved to Wales to come to university, doing a degree at Swansea and a PGCE at Bangor. He’s clearly taken the country to heart and is enthusiastic about making sure his pupils get the chance to see the very best of Wales. “I think it’s really important to celebrate Welsh heritage and culture. We run some wonderful trips to places like Llangranog, Machynlleth and the national Eisteddfod – where we have pupils performing. In addition, last year saw our students perform with the fantastic Rhos Orpheus Male Voice Choir.”
As an English and drama teacher, you’d expect Mr Garthwaite to be especially keen on the performing arts, and you wouldn’t be disappointed. The school has great links with the Stiwt Theatre, and put on a showcase of West End hits last year, while he’s hugely excited that students will be putting on a big production later on in this academic year. There’s also a big smile on his face as he tells us of the strength of Grango’s Street Dance team! “They’re brilliant. There’s one boy, in particular, who’s getting national attention because he’s so talented.”
Despite the challenges faced by all schools in Wales at the moment, with the government’s stated aims to tackle literacy and numeracy and reduce the impact that deprivation has on educational attainment, Mr Garthwaite is definitely confident that the school can fulfil his vision and make sure that all pupils can achieve, regardless of their background.
Prospective parents who want to find out more about Ysgol Y Grango can visit the website at www.ysgolygrango.co.uk or contact the school by phone on 01978 833010.