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A school in Clare continues to flourish as it celebrates its tenth anniversary




The tenth anniversary of the opening of Stour Valley Community School (SVCS) in Clare, one of the first Free Schools in the country, was celebrated last month.

All staff, current and former trustees and governors, and the many individuals and community groups which have supported the school - which has students from both the Haverhill and Sudbury areas - since inception came together on its grounds, sustained by canapés prepared and served by students.

A number of presentations looked back to the school’s origins, it’s early years and the pandemic years and took a look into the future.

Guests gathered at the tenth anniversary celebration for Stour Valley Community School. Picture by Sarah Kemp (51639373)
Guests gathered at the tenth anniversary celebration for Stour Valley Community School. Picture by Sarah Kemp (51639373)

Rachel Kelly, CEO of Stour Valley Educational Trust (which includes Clare Primary School) and the head of SVCS, said: “Our 10th anniversary saw us celebrate how SVET is built on firm foundations with a committed team and governors and staff from its inception.

"Central to our vision is the belief in the uniqueness of every student, and that every young person has gifts to discover and share with others. It is our responsibility to nurture and develop those gifts.

"Today Stour Valley Community School and Clare Primary both have a strong reputation for being nurturing, friendly and welcoming places where children thrive and achieve well academically.

Christine Inchley, centre, Stour Valley Community School headteacher from 2011 to 2018, with current head Rachel Kelly, right, and Rebecca Loader, headteacher of Clare Community Primary School. Picture by Sarah Kemp
Christine Inchley, centre, Stour Valley Community School headteacher from 2011 to 2018, with current head Rachel Kelly, right, and Rebecca Loader, headteacher of Clare Community Primary School. Picture by Sarah Kemp

"They are both schools rooted in their local communities and have strong relationships and support from their parent bodies.

"The whole school community has stood together through the recent challenges posed by the pandemic and I am proud to say that we stand strong and set for continued success in the coming years.”

It was 2006 when Suffolk County Council decided to close all middle schools, including Clare, and a local parent group was formed, the Campaign for Local And Rural Education (C.L.A.R.E.), which took the fight to the local authority and to central government.

In 2011 the Government approved the establishment of Stour Valley Community School, at a cost of £4.8m and it opened in September 2011 with 170 students.

Keith Haisman, Chair of Trustees, is shown chatting with Stour Valley Community School staff members at its tenth anniversary celebration. Picture by Sarah Kemp
Keith Haisman, Chair of Trustees, is shown chatting with Stour Valley Community School staff members at its tenth anniversary celebration. Picture by Sarah Kemp

By September 2012 the intake was 350 and the school has been oversubscribed since then reaching its current student number of 600.

Each year has also seen steady improvements in academic success and well-rounded students going on to the next stage of their education.

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