John Willmott School

Hundreds of students write to the King to tell him about school’s ‘Royal’ name change

Monday 18th December, 2023

Hundreds of students write to the King to tell him about school’s ‘Royal’ name change

The King will have a little light reading to do this Christmas, after hundreds of Sutton Coldfield students wrote to him to tell him about their school’s ‘Royal’ plans.

The pupils at John Willmott School – which is part of the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership – wrote to His Majesty King Charles to tell him how their school will be reborn as the ‘Royal Sutton School’ in September, complete with new school colours, logo and uniform.

Dawn Ward CBE, Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands, visited the school on Thursday, December 15 to collect the hand-written letters, ready to deliver them to the Palace. Some students also chose to write to the Princess of Wales.

The Deputy Lieutenant, who is one of the Monarch’s official representatives in the region, also met headteacher Nicola Gould, school staff, students and local Councillor Richard Parkin.

She said:

“It’s absolutely wonderful to be invited in the meet such fabulous young people, who are a real credit to the school, and to receive all these amazing letters. “I’ve looked at just a few of them and the detail in them, the handwriting and the thought and consideration that has clearly gone into each and every one of them is incredible, and it will be a great pleasure to pass these on now to His Majesty and the Princess of Wales.”

Student Caitline O’Neill, 11, said she had told the King about the changes being made at the school, which has also readopted its historic motto of ‘Potential into Reality’ and introduced a number of improvements to encourage students to develop important life skills and values.

She said: “When I was writing my letter I felt proud, because I was telling him about my school, and all the things we are doing here.”

Student Hannah Bakarat, 11, revealed she has asked the King to visit the school in her letter.

She said: “We have learned about the times in the past when the Royal Family have come to Sutton, so I felt confident that he would be interested to visit now to find out about the good things about our school.”

The school was originally founded in 1958 as Sutton Coldfield County Grammar School, and was renamed in honour of John Edward Willmott, a much-respected local figure, in 1975.

A consultation into the change of name to ‘The Royal Sutton School’ received nearly 500 responses, which were overwhelmingly supportive of the changes. The town’s MP, Andrew Mitchell, has also expressed his support for the change.

The school’s new name reflects Sutton Coldfield’s historic status as a ‘Royal Town’, with the 500th anniversary of its first Royal Charter set to be celebrated in 2028.

Headteacher Nicola Gould said: “We are very grateful to the Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands for visiting us and collecting the letters which our students have written to the King.

“Each of them put a huge amount of effort into their letters, telling His Majesty about themselves and their ambitions, and the journey our school is on – from the new ‘Royal’ name we will adopt in September, to the community engagement they are involved in, to the system of Moral Virtues that is helping them learn important life values.

“We were really impressed by how the students took great pride in their letters and hope that, once they arrive at the Palace, His Majesty will see how much they enjoyed telling him about their school.”

Councillor Richard Parkin said: “I think it’s marvellous what the school has done. They have had a great response from the kids, with more than 200 beautifully written letters. The school is really going places and the leadership is doing a fantastic job in instilling pride in the children.”

Ian Smith-Childs, Secondary Strategic Lead at the ATLP, said: “I’m really proud and inspired by the students and what they have achieved in terms of the letters they have written. The quality of the letters sums up the standard expected at the school, and how they want to aspire to reach higher and higher standards.

“I know the children were really excited by the opportunity to write to the King and tell him about their Royal name change. I know they are really excited about the prospect of a Royal visit too, which reflects their new sense of aspiration.”