Serina Hartwell on Bingley Grammar School Investing in its Students and Celebrating its Achievements

Behind The Cold - SeenYear on year, raw talent continues to come through the doors. Young undeveloped minds pour into the school, looking to find their path in life…

Many of you may not be aware that author Serina Hartwell has a day job! When I’m not writing blogs/articles, poetry and novels, I run the library at Bingley Grammar School. Over the ten years that I have worked at the school, I’ve looked on as students have come through its doors. I’ve watched as they have gone out into the workplace, their many gifts nurtured through the hardworking staff who taught them and supported their daily education and emotional needs.

We have had some really talented people come through this school and today I want to look back at some of those who have gone on to shining careers and what work still goes on behind closed doors.

The Marmozets – I recall being assigned a new class to work with. Still quite new to the school, my job was to assist the class with their studies. One student stood out in particular, not because he was super talented or had any redeeming features that made him exceptional; he was a pale, petite boy who had the best imagination I’d come across in years, but his imagination was causing him to be completely distracted him from his learning. I soon learnt about him and other members of his family at the school, and realised that I was working in most of their lessons. As time went on, I got to know this great group of kids. They were optimistic and level-headed and just lovely children, but had left me with no lasting impression until one night when my own daughter had to choose her secondary school and was looking around on an open evening. I remember walking into the music block and seeing that they had set up a demonstration of students to show what the school was working on. It was this family. I hadn’t even realised that they were all musical. To me they were hard-working students, and then they started to play. I recall standing there gob-smacked. My students had an energy I’d never seen and were so purely talented that I stood in amazement, covered in goosebumps. Today you know my ex-students as the Marmozets. They see more and more success and my pride increases with every post about their music.

THE SHERATONS            The Sheratons – Today, I am currently working with yet another band alongside their studies – The Sheratons. These are another driven group of current Sixth Form students who show amazing talent and the motivation to succeed. By day they are Bingley Grammar School students, by night they are rock legends. I see great promise in this band. The spark that I saw in my former students – the Marmozets – I also see in them. There is a hunger to be true to their music and I wish them every success in the future. In the meantime, watching them grow as students and as musicians in the public eye is tremendously inspirational. It’s gratifying to know that they are getting it right.

Rebekah Tiler – European Weightlifting – If there was ever a sport that you wouldn’t expect a lady to take part in, it has to be weightlifting. Girls and weightlifting are not images that you would dream of putting together without some pointREBEKAH TILER of reference, but Rebekah Tiler left Bingley Grammar School to go on and become a triple bronze medal winner in the European Weightlifting Championships. Her Olympics selection looks promising. This is a girl who just keeps going from strength to strength. She always showed great determination at school and I will be watching her career closely. I wish her continued success in her sporting career and I am proud to have been around her while she was working to get there.

But what of the future? Is our work finished?

Year on year, raw talent continues to walk in through the doors. Young undeveloped minds pour into the school, looking to find their path in life from the doctors and nurses to the architects and master chefs; we have the most important job of guiding our students to develop their personal skills. It sounds easy, but children don’t know what they want to be when they get older until they are inspired and exposed to different things so they can realise their talents. One thing that I am really proud of is how Bingley Grammar School brings professionals and specialist people to the school and sees what they can do to expand their student’s school experience. We all think back to our school days and have a mixture of memories about those years. It’s the things that we did off timetable that stay with us – the extra-curricular activities that taught us just as much in an afternoon, because they were presented in a different way, with an interesting visitor they brought in to tell their story. These experiences are easily omitted due to budgetary constraints in the Education sector, but I’m glad that Bingley Grammar has been brave enough to continue to invest in their students.

Simply nip onto their Facebook or Twitter account to see the wonderful things going on throughout the academic year. Most schools would be glad to have a school ski trip every year. That would be their annual event and would tick a box, but Bingley take things a step further. Looking after their language students, future explorers, humanitarian students and future aid workers, they have a connection with a school in Nairobi – in Kenya, Africa. The relationship between the two schools is invaluable to both. The enrichment and inspiration to students at both schools is immeasurable.

Future horticulturalists, scientists and even astronauts are being inspired by the school’s science teachers, who have received their seeds from space. Inspired by their arrival, the greenhouse has had a make-over. I ask how many students are exposed to seeds that have spent time on the International Space Station with the British astronaut – Tim Peake of the European Space Agency.

Our budding medical students were taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary on a trip to check out their new wing and to meet with the staff there who gave them a feel for working in a hospital environment.

Three years ago, a group of teachers made it their business to bring together students and staff to experience the bard in a different light – for this they made a bid to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company. They had to compete against other schools and won. For the last three years, our drama students have been guided by the best. I see those students present an added confidence that wasn’t there before the Royal Shakespeare Company began to work with the school. These teachers have shown their students that there is a wide world of media and theatre waiting for them outside of Bingley Grammar and those big things are possible and should be worked towards with determination. I’m sure that their influence will last far beyond their students’ academic lives, and the various media industries will see Bingley Grammar School students in the future.

WORLD BOOK DAY WRITING CONTEST 2016 WEBSITE VERSION 2.1.1            To support our writers and editors, I asked a friend of mine if he would do me the biggest favour and he came through for me without hesitation. Darren Shan, the author of the Cirque du Freak series, The Demonata seriesThe Saga of Larten Crepsley series, Cirque Du Freak: The Manga series and his latest book, Zom-B Goddess (Zom-B, #12), which is part of the Zom-B series amongst many other works helped me put together a writing competition for the school. The competition winner’s pieces are available to view on Darren Shan’s Official Facebook page  and on my Serina Hartwell blog. The work to support reading and writing in school is always ongoing by our hard working English Department and our SEN Team who support our students with extra learning needs, but it is a personal pleasure to support Bingley Grammar School’s young authors and editors on an individual basis. Beginning to enter the Publishing and Editing industry can be difficult and guidance is hard to come by, so I guide young writers where I can. The school also bring in authors to assist students. Peter Murray visited recently and James Nash came in to concentrate on writing prose with some of our older students. Work is being done to fine tune students’ learning throughout the year.

The last thing I want to talk about is a venture that was started by one of the Assistant Deputy Heads – Mr Cook. Back in September 2015, he dreamt up the idea of planning a project that would tie into the new school ethos of BELONG, GROW, SUCCEED. He needed a project that could easily involve every student in the school and every member of staff. The project that he came up with was to carry out a Lip dub.BGS ON THE FIELD A Lip dub is a video that is filmed with everyone taking part lip dubbing to a music track. The school was turned into one big stage, everyone invited to join in. The involvement of the entire teaching faculty and student body had its own challenges to overcome, but required team participation, fast thinking and problem-solving skills to get this massive undertaking off the ground. He managed it and with great success. But that’s not where the story ends, because after the dust had settled, a Bingley Grammar School student, Will Humphreys sent the link off to CBBC, who liked what the school had done and wanted to do one of their own. See the full story on the school website and watch the short interview at the beginning of the video – CBBC Lip Dub.

To my fans that are still in school, perhaps you’re already reading The Hidden saga, which is based in a school setting, and you’re looking for inspiration. This novel began as an idea in someone’s mind; imagine what you can do if you put your mind to it and work together to get your idea up and running. Bingley Grammar has plenty of special events going on that you can take inspiration from. There are times when I wish I could go back to school. It’s not until you leave, and look back to reflect, that you realise how your school days were the best days of your life.


Serina Hartwell Author of Hidden–The Hidden Saga Book 1
Goodreads Author
Amazon –



Bingley Grammar School –

The Marmozets

The Sheratons –

Photography by The Sheratons

Rebekah Tiler – European Weightlifting –

Photography by Andrew Ward Law –

Nairobi –

The horticulturalists – Seeds from space –

The future medical students –

Working with the Royal Shakespeare Company –

Writing competition –

Visit from author Peter Murray – and

Visit from author James Nash –

Lip dub– Full Story –

Lip dub-

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