It’s fair to say that the 2020 Covid19 Crisis has challenged everyone – and especially schools. Expected to teach and care for pupils, not just at a social distance, but totally remotely, the way Hulme Hall Grammar School staff and students have coped is testament to just what a truly special school this is.
Originally on Hulme Hall Road in Cheadle Hulme, Hulme Hall is now based in Davenport, following a tradition of superb independent schools such as Hillcrest and Oriel Bank. The Hillcrest building was designated for education, so it made perfect sense to take over the site. Hulme Hall school was founded back in 1928 and its rich history adds to its cachet – the stunning stained-glass windows and original oak panelling of the old Hillcrest School main building are particularly in-keeping. This is a school that children are proud to attend; and that past pupils are proud to have attended. Hulme Hall has educated hundreds of Bramhall and Cheadle Hulme children over the past century.
I Love Bramhall caught up – at a distance, naturally – with Assistant Headteacher, Jackie Smith, who is rightly proud of her school, not just during trying times, but all the time. Hulme Hall‘s commitment to students’ pastoral care is renowned. Jackie tells us “Now more than ever it is vitally important to give students and their families pastoral support. We really keep in touch with our families”. Many children – and their parents – are understandably anxious about current events, the impact on their children’s education and, ultimately, their future. The Hulme Hall pastoral team continually ensure that everything that can be done to support them, and their wellbeing, is done. The school has of course remained open for vulnerable children, and for those of key workers.
Summer term is the highlight of any school year, and Hulme Hall is just the same. With end-of term celebrations, Leavers’ parties or Proms planned, everyone has had to adjust rapidly since lockdown was announced. Jackie is full of praise and admiration for staff and students throughout this never-seen-before situation: “It is amazing how resilient and adaptable children are. Our teachers have modified lesson plans and ensured we still deliver the high level of education and support that makes Hulme Hall so special.”
Delivering lessons on Microsoft Teams has allowed face-to-face contact for pupils and their teachers – fabulous, under the circumstances. Crucially, it also gives students the opportunity to ‘see’ their school friends and so further fosters the sense of school community. Technology has been a saving grace through lockdown, allowing communication with students. Hulme Hall use a homework app so children and parents can clearly see what is set and when it should be submitted. Staff are also communicating with, and supporting, students via email – in term-time and through the holidays.
The school’s closure must have been a crushing blow for Year 11 students, whose time at Hulme Hall ended so abruptly. Staff worked hard to make the most of the students’ last day, with takeaway pizza and a celebratory assembly. They also put together a heart-warming leavers’ video. Parents sent pictures of their children’s time at Hulme Hall, so it was a real team effort. The staff also recorded their own heartfelt messages. Jackie confides “that resulted in a few tears being shed amongst our school community. I think the videos that we put together summed up Hulme Hall.”
It does indeed. Hulme Hall is a small school – which is a big part of its appeal. There is a genuine family ethos – a camaraderie and community spirit – rarely found in the bigger schools. The dedicated and talented teaching (and non-teaching) team at Hulme Hall play a big part in that. Many have been with the school upwards of 10 years – Hulme Hall’s longest serving member of staff is retiring this July. After an impressive 33 years working in the office, Irene will be greatly missed. Jackie herself came to Hulme Hall temporarily, to cover maternity leave. That was 17 years ago… Hulme Hall equally welcomes newer teachers, who often bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm into the existing, experienced team. That balance creates a challenging and interesting environment for everyone.
Staff at Hulme Hall also benefit from fabulous support from parents and pupils, who praise the care and individual attention that each pupil receives. Many families showed this on ‘Thank A Teacher Day!’ Lots of lovely video messages and cards made for an uplifting surprise during what must be unsettling times.
Hulme Hall has always focused on each and every individual so a Hulme Hall education goes above and beyond academia. Every child is nurtured to ensure they achieve, if not exceed, their full potential, be that academically or otherwise. Drama, sport, the arts and music are all given a spotlight. Prospective parents are encouraged to contact the school – via email to [email protected] in the first instance – to learn what Hulme Hall can do for their children.
As life slowly begins to return to some sort of normality, Hulme Hall is preparing to welcome back pre-schoolers and Year 10 students. With the support and care given at Hulme Hall Grammar School, you know the children are in safe hands. Hulme Hall Grammar School is proud to be a small school with a big heart. Here, students aren’t just given the skills to take on the World. They are equipped to try and make it a better place.