There are four schools between Splott and Tremorfa and it’s about time they had some Inksplott attention! In a bid to get to know more about our local educational establishments, their staff, pupils, achievements and upcoming events, Inksplott will be running a series on local schools. The next in the series is an interview with the Head of Willows High School, Mr. Chris Norman:
Willows High motto is BELONG, BELIEVE, ACHIEVE (and in Welsh: PERTHYN, CREDU, LLWYDDO) and Chris Norman and his team at the school work incredibly hard to instil this ethos into the everyday life of the school. It’s obviously paying off because, for the first time in its 49-year history, it’s expected to be oversubscribed next year. Read on for an insight into the man himself and the latest news from the school.
Inksplott: Hi, thank you for being interviewed for Inksplott. We’re keen to find out more about the schools in Splott and Tremorfa. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your school?
Chris: Hi, my name is Chris Norman, I’m the Headteacher of Willows High School. You can find us at the end of Willows Avenue (in Tremorfa) and we’re going from strength to strength.
Inksplott: What was your journey to your current position? Can you please tell us a little about how you became involved?
Chris: I grew up in a village called Skewen, just outside Neath and went to Dwr-Y-Felin Comprehensive School. I studied Mathematics and Computing at the University of Glamorgan and started my teaching career at Cantonian High School. I moved to Willows in 2006 and have been Headteacher here for the last two years.
Inksplott: What’s the history of your school? Can you tell us a little about that?
Chris: Our school will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year and is named after Ernest Willows who was a great innovator in aviation. He built his first rigid balloon, Willows 1, in 1905. He was just 19 years old at the time and flew the machine from East Moors to the east of Cardiff. He was a determined, resilient and ambitious figure, all qualities that we want to develop in our pupils.
Inksplott: What’s special about your school?
Chris: Apart from the fact that we were splashed all over the T.V. in ‘Educating Cardiff’, we believe that our school has a real family atmosphere. The staff at the school make it so special, they are all willing to go that extra mile to support the pupils and each other.
“Our school motto is Belong, Believe, Achieve and it underpins everything we do.”
We believe that our teaching is among the best in the country and, coupled with the exemplary pastoral care we provide, our pupils are given every opportunity to achieve or exceed their potential. We have a firm belief that everyone can succeed irrespective of their background as long as they are prepared for a bit of hard work to get there.
Inksplott: Are there any achievements that you, your teachers or your pupils have achieved that you’re really proud of?
Chris: There are so many! Our current Head Girl, Yasmin, is currently in London taking part in some exciting work experience. She was one of eight pupils across the whole of Wales chosen to go. A group of pupils took part in a drama competition run by Rudolph Walker who plays Patrick in Eastenders. We were the only Welsh school chosen to take part and the pupils performed their piece brilliantly at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London. As for the teachers, I’m extremely proud of our Performing Arts department who are developing our radio station, Willows Waves, into a community channel which will broadcast 24 hours a day and currently includes bedtime stories written and read by pupils from our cluster primary schools. I’m also proud of the members of the English department who have signed up and accompanied every pupil in year 7 to the library at the Hyb, a first step in instilling a love of reading.
Inksplott: Any exciting plans or events on the horizon?
Chris: We are very excited about our open air cinema event which is happening on Saturday 15th July. We are showing Dirty Dancing and want as many people as possible from the community to attend. We really want to serve the community and provide experiences that involve as many members of the local area as possible. We hold regular Curry and Bingo nights, have held a comedy night featuring the fantastically funny Mike Bubbins and a community bonfire and firework display is in the planning stages. We are always looking for new ideas for community events, so if your readers have anything they’d like to see in our area, we’d love to hear from them.
Inksplott: Tell us a secret or something about Splott that we won’t know!
Chris: The megastar Peter Andre came to Willows to perform for the pupils when he was starting out. I don’t know if anybody who was there has any photographs of the event, I’d love to see them. Just no recordings of his singing please!
Inksplott: That’s great – thank you so much for the interview!