A warm welcome to our new academy

The official opening of the John Curwen Co-operative Primary Academy. Pictured are Helen Curwen, Sue Balfour-Bellamy (Principal), Patric Curwen, Dave Boston (Chair of the schools co-operative society), Coun Jim Dodds (Deputy Mayor of Kirklees) and Carol Dodds (Deputy Mayoress)
The official opening of the John Curwen Co-operative Primary Academy. Pictured are Helen Curwen, Sue Balfour-Bellamy (Principal), Patric Curwen, Dave Boston (Chair of the schools co-operative society), Coun Jim Dodds (Deputy Mayor of Kirklees) and Carol Dodds (Deputy Mayoress)

Pupils at The John Curwen Co-operative Primary Academy are settling into their new school after a special official open day.

The Cleckheaton academy is part of the expanding national network of almost 800 co-operative schools that share in the belief that a strong partnership between children, parents, teachers, support staff and the wider community is needed to ensure children can be given the help and support they need to unlock their potential.

Jo Cox MP opens the garden at the school with children and parents.

Jo Cox MP opens the garden at the school with children and parents.

The school is named after John Curwen, an English congregationalist minister and founder of the Tonic sol-fa system of music education.

He was born in Heckmondwike in 1816 and the academy welcomed his great-great grandson Patric Curwen and wife, Helen, to the official event.

Addressing the school at the opening, Mr Curwen said it had been an honour to be invited to the school.

He said: “John Curwen was a Methodist Minister who was born in Heckmondwike, nearly 200 years ago. He realised many people could not read music, so developed a system anyone could use, the Tonic Sol-fa (Doh Re Me). He then set up a music printing company and a college near London to teach it. John Curwen was a man with vision. He has helped people all over the world to enjoy and sing music ever since.

“What a superb event. Both Helen and I were very moved by the whole day. The classrooms were full of ideas to stimulate the children, and the central courtyard garden is exceptional. The children were really heartwarming, the concert delightful and the finale of “Doh Re Me” was particularly wonderful!”

Mrs Sue Balfour-Bellamy, Principal at the Academy said: “We are proud to belong to the Y-OUR Co-operative Academies Trust and feel privileged to be their first academy. This is the start of an exciting journey together and as our academy vision says, ‘a new way of thinking’ about how we ensure that we provide excellence as standard.”

The school has also opened their Courtyard Garden, designed by the Foundation Stage Leader, Samantha Smith, her team and landscape architects from Arcadia Landscape and Design who also built the garden. The play area is tailor-made to meet the requirements of the Foundation Stage Curriculum for three to five-year-olds to help them to develop the physical and language skills they need.

The academy were particularly delighted that Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was able to officially open the Courtyard Garden last week, joined by Foundation Stage parents singing of the Foundation Stage children.