Olympic swimmer inspires pupils at local school annual speech day

20 July 2015

The headteacher Belmont Grosvenor school in Harrogate celebrated the ‘unique’ setting and the ‘special bond’ between parents, staff and pupils at Belmont Grosvenor School’s annual Speech Day and Prize Giving Ceremony.

Jane Merriman, headteacher said it had been a remarkable year of achievement for the school which has seen academic, sporting, music and drama successes “well beyond what our size might suggest is possible”.

Deputy Mayor of Harrogate, Coun Jennifer Travena and her consort, Mrs Liz Mann, were guests of honour at the annual event, held in a marquee in the school grounds.

A packed audience of parents, staff and pupils listened as Mrs Merriman described how the school’s 20-acres of grounds set Belmont Grosvenor apart from many other academic institutions and helped secure its recent ‘outstanding’ inspection report.

But, she said, it wasn’t just the setting, it was the school’s full use of the grounds through its Forest Schools programme, Learning Outside the Classroom, Eco Schools initiative and Enrichment afternoons.

Mrs Merriman said:

It is the envy of many other establishments. Discovery, application and communication are essential elements of the curriculum which make the teaching and learning creative.

If children can talk articulately and with confidence about their understanding, having followed an exciting and engaging process, then they have learned in the best possible way.

Olympic swimmer James Kirton, who spent a morning at Belmont Grosvenor earlier in the year to help pupils in a fundraising event for their adopted charity for the year, the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, was guest speaker at the event.


The Yorkshire-born athlete, who competed for Great Britain in the 200m breaststroke event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, inspired the audience when he spoke about his journey to swimming success and how he put in the “extra three per cent” to catapult him from being one of the best 20 swimmers to number six in the world!

James Kirton said:

When I met all you pupils earlier in the year, I was really impressed by you all – you were awesome. But we can all be better. I was just three per cent away from being in the top 10 in the world – it would have been easy for me to have been satisfied with that. But the difference between someone who sails through life doing well and someone who really achieves his or her potential is that three per cent.

Mr Kirton handed dozens of prizes and awards out to pupils for a range of traditional subjects as well as the Headteacher’s Award for Consideration to Others, Recognition for Endeavour Cup and the boys and girls award for courtesy.

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