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Schoolchildren celebrate first graduation in recognition of efforts in Covid lockdown

  • Fernhurst pupils don caps and gowns for first-ever ceremony following hard work and acts of kindness during Covid
  • Schoolchildren undertook combined 15,000 hours of?additional learning and activities outside classroom
  • Graduation ceremony supported by University to encourage young students to continue learning journey


PUPILS from a West Sussex school have celebrated their first graduation held to recognise their dedication to learning and acts of kindness throughout the Covid lockdown.

Nearly 100 students from Fernhurst primary, near Midhurst, donned caps and gowns at the ceremony which was presented by teachers and the University of Chichester. Pupils were given certificates and awards?after jointly participating in more than 15,000 hours on additional learning and activities outside of the classroom.

Fernhurst primary’s headteacher Mrs Jennifer Thornton, who took over management of the school in September last year, commended the pupils and their commitment to learning.

Fernhurst headteacher Mrs Jennifer Thornton took over management of the school in September last yearShe said: “Covid has affected everyone in different ways and we have had to adapt our learning approach – which is why the children’s achievement is even more impressive. They have all shown their resilience in the face of the challenges of the last year, and each one is capable of amazing things – we are proud of them all.”

As part of the year-long initiative, which started in September 2020, Fernhurst pupils each undertook 190 hours of additional learning outside of the classroom – including showing support to nearby residents shielding from the Covid virus to planning activities with their families.

Others?demonstrated their technological skills by undertaking science experiments and musical challenges online for their classes, as the government reintroduced its stay-at-home rules for the second lockdown in January.

Fernhurst primary became one of the University of Chichester’s first sponsored schools when it established its Academy Trust in 2013. It has since grown to 210 pupils, from reception to year six, and was praised by Ofsted in its last inspection for the high-quality of its education.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Longmore, the Chair of the Board on the University of Chichester Multi-Academy Trust, congratulated the children on presenting the certificates and awards. She said: “We are incredibly proud of you and the dedication you have shown to additional learning and self-development.

“But don’t stop here – carry on doing good things because the world becomes a better place if you do as many good things as possible. Additional learning is very important and if you keep it going throughout your lives, you will achieve great things.”

In total, Fernhurst pupils?spent 5,727 hours developing life skills, 5,824 hours on teamwork, and 5,350 hours on problem solving. The initiative was part of the Children’s University scheme which encourages students to reach their potential by participating in extra-curricular activities in and outside of school.

Headteacher Jennifer Thornton and University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Longmore praised the children at the ceremony for their resilience during the pandemic

Fernhurst will continue the initiative next year with support from teaching students at University of Chichester.

For more about Fernhurst Primary School and how it supports its community to develop go to Read about the University of Chichester Academy Trust at