News: First Visit to Downlands School

Posted on 10th July 2019

Young Engineers Steal the Show

BHBPA Members and Friends made a visit to a new venue this week. On Tuesday morning we met for a breakfast event at Downlands Community School at 8am, and an excellent event it turned out to be.

Breakfast was very welcome, especially as the bacon rolls and Danish pastries were delicious and for me coffee is a must at that time of day.  A huge amount of networking was evident in the time before we sat down for presentations, as the room was alive with the buzz of chatter. I reckoned there were 40 people in the room for the presentations by Holly-Jade Ryder of MSDC and by the Head of the school, Mark Wignall.

We heard a brief call from Nick, of MSDC, for businesses to allow their employees to submit to a free health MOT through the Wellbeing programme, before Holly told us the details of the micro business grants which MSDC have made available. There has been a good response locally as many small companies have taken up the offer. There were a number of questions after the presentation, which suggests that it is a successful move on the part of the Council.

The Head of Downlands then told us about the progress the school has made in recent years. His problem now, he said, was how to move the school from ‘outstanding’, its recent Ofsted ranking, to great. The school, which was under 900-strong for decades, has now grown to be over-subscribed at 1200.  It serves a wide area which is largely rural but includes a fast growing town in Hassocks, which has seen a large number of new housing projects recently

After words from several of his key staff, Mark introduced two Year Seven girls who had been winners in a national engineering competition.  They each described confidently the new gadget, they had invented, to much applause from the audience.

After the presentations, the audience was invited to have a look at the new amphitheatre which has been funded and developed for school and community use in the grounds. This is an excellent example of a thriving state community school, free to access for all in the local area, where staff always work tremendously hard and with limited resources at the present time. We are pleased to have had the chance to bring business people there for a event. Many thanks to the Head and staff at Downlands.

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Mike Oliver, Owner
(Mike Oliver Associates)

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(Burgess Hill Town Council)

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