Sam Northwood, Headmaster

Sam Northwood, Headmaster

As the Headmaster here, I could not be more proud. I moved to Cumbria with my family from the Midlands, where I was a Head of Modern Languages, for a better quality of life — and was naturally thinking of my own children’s future education as well as my career when I joined NTS. It was a major upheaval at the time but the more I observe what goes on here — the dedication of the staff, the standard of behaviour, the sheer quality of the teaching, the more I am convinced that this is the right place for them and for me.

I challenge you to find a better school in Cumbria — private or comprehensive. Indeed, The Nelson Thomlinson School was the first secondary school in Cumbria to be judged “outstanding” under the new Ofsted framework. (See the Ofsted section for the full report.)

In my previous role of Deputy here I was subject to a steep learning curve. Having previously taught only in the private system, I was clinging on to distant but happy memories I had of the state comprehensive I attended as a child but more importantly I was acutely aware that the comprehensive I had now joined was like no other. Seven years down the line I am more convinced than ever of the school’s uniqueness.

The Nelson Thomlinson School is different as you may have noticed from our deliberately low-key, no-frills prospectus. Moreover, our uniqueness is a great source of pride and we defend it to the hilt. Our uniform is traditional, we expect the highest standards of manners and behaviour and our primary foci are our pupils’ academic achievement and their attitude to learning.

The demands we make of our staff are equally high, and strict monitoring and ‘supported accountability’ ensure that our pupils receive the best possible service. We do not jump on band-wagons and we adopt a no-nonsense approach, keen not to take our eye off the ‘teaching and learning ball’. For example, this year we are focussing, amongst other things, on the effective use of technology as a learning and teaching tool.

We are also determined that there will be absolutely no bullying and whilst we ensure that our pupils will be stretched academically in line with their potential, equally we do our utmost to ensure that they are both safe and happy.

In terms of examination results, a quarter of all A-level entries are typically A or A* and the vast majority of our students are successful in securing their offers for University, apprenticeships or work-related training. Our Oxbridge track record is outstanding: on average about 5 students take up places every year at Oxford or Cambridge; last year one student went to Yale University in the States. At GCSE level around 80% gain 5 or more ‘higher grades’ and about two-thirds of pupils tend to gain 5 or more ‘higher grades’ including English and Maths. More details can be found in the results supplement.

I should reinforce here that you as parents are part of a three-way partnership. We continue to be ambitious on behalf of your children – our pupils – and expect in return your support on matters such as homework, behaviour, uniform and respect for others. It is equally paramount that you tell us when you have concerns or when we might have got something wrong.  The school prides itself on its attention to detail and when things do need fine-tuning then I would like to know.

Sam Northwood, MA, MEd
Headmaster