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Creating a Home from Home 

Jenny Appleton’s career at St David’s has spanned over 21 years. As with many of our long-standing staff, Jenny’s first “dance” with St David’s was when she was asked to come and do some actual dance activities with the new girls in 1999 when St David’s became co-ed. Having been a boys’ boarding and day school for over 30 years, the social education of girls needed expanding and Headmaster Will Seymour at the time reached out to several professionals in the community to offer more varied activities that actually enriched the programme for all pupils. At the time, Mrs Appleton was running a very successful dance school.

We say at St David’s that once you are drawn into the fold, you become a part of the community and this is certainly what happened with Mrs Appleton. After a few years of providing a successful dance activity programme at St David’s, choreographing a tap sequence with the 6th form boys who were in local musical Me and My Girl in Venue Cymru and taking on some residential duties, she became the new Head of Drama in 2004.

“My first classroom was in the Dovecot,” she recalls. “There was a lovely student called John who was so tall that he had to bow his head to enter the classroom.”

“If ever there was a group of kids that would look after a new member of staff so well and make them feel welcome, it was them,” she recalls fondly. “I always look forward to Old Davideans’ Weekend when they return to school. To still be in touch and hear about their journeys is a great privilege.”

Mrs Appleton already knew many of the students from her popular dance activities and this certainly helped when easing into her new role. Her first Year 11 class achieved excellent results in their GCSEs and most of them continued to take Performing Arts A Level.

“ They were all a pleasure to take through to A Level. Their examined piece was the play version of Les Misérables and they all achieved outstanding results. I was delighted!”

In the same year, Mrs Appleton also introduced the LAMDA exams to St David’s in order to support one of the units for A Level called How to Develop Skills while Charting your Progress.

The LAMDA exams were a perfect way to showcase progression because you are provided with written evidence from the examiner,” she explains.

Impressed with the LAMDA exam set up, she then made LAMDA available within the activity programme and once filtered down through the year groups, it became a very popular activity.

“Pupils get the opportunity to receive LAMDA tuition at no extra cost. They will help one another in the activity, give feedback and learn lines together while looking out for drama skills and how they can improve. There is so much for them to gain by working together as a group. The duologue exams are also a great way of working together in an exam. Often the younger ones start with these as it gives them more confidence for their first exam experiences.”

Mrs Appleton has certainly enriched the Performing Arts programme at St David’s and for the last 15 years, the pièce de résistance has been the School Production. Starting off in the Assembly Hall, she then moved the all singing all dancing musical productions to Theatr Colwyn:

“It’s just the best experience for pupils to be in an actual theatre,” she beams. “The school production is an opportunity for so many pupils to become involved. We have those performing on stage, musicians playing in the orchestra and pupils working on the set backstage and operating the technical equipment. This gives pupils taking BTEC Performing Arts to choose both performance and technical modules. We usually have one third of the school population involved from Year 5 to Year 13. And they all support one another brilliantly.”

Over the course of her 21 year career St David’s, Mrs Appleton has taken on roles such as Head of Department, Years 8,10 and 7 tutor, Deputy and Head of 6th Form. During her time as Head of 6th Form, she brought in the 6th Form Team Meetings, introducing meetings that encouraged more responsibility and organisation in an environment where pupils still had the support from staff if needed.

“It was a great experience to move from being a Year 7 Tutor to the top end of the school and to think of ways to prepare our young adults for their next steps. We organised a Careers Fair together and that was a great success. It was opened up to Year 9 and above. We invited companies like Air Bus, Big Ideas Wales, Super Temps (who came in to advise about how to write a CV) and the Fire Service. We also had Parents and Old Davideans who came in to talk about their careers.”

Mrs Appleton is now Head of Faculty (Music and Performing Arts) and Head of Augusta House, our girls’ boarding house. She holds a wealth of experience in pastoral care that she brings to her new role and is already enjoying all aspects of living on site. She even takes the girls for walks during her time off.

“Well I would be going for a walk anyway and the girls are such lovely company. It’s been the perfect opportunity for me to engage with them socially and to get to know our new starters away from the classroom.”

Mrs Appleton’s husband, children and dogs join her in the Augusta Flat. Her husband Ian works on a local wind farm and also helps in the school Outdoor Education Department. Jamie is a pupil in Year 12 and Sophie, an Old Davidean, is an award-winning hairdresser. Their two chihuahuas Kevin and Angharad will greet you when you arrive and are a huge hit with the girls.

“They just love to be cuddled and the girls adore them!” Mrs Appleton proudly exclaims. “They were quite put out when Sophie took them back to our house in West Shore for the night earlier this week!”

Mrs Appleton’s husband Ian has taken on the role of Soup Sunday Chef – a tradition started by Mrs Stevenson, our former Head of Augusta who remains at St David’s as Head of Biology.

“Mrs Stevenson’s housewarming gift to us was a

recipe book called The Soup Bible, Mrs Appleton laughs. “I’m laughing because I am no cook but fortunately Ian is. The girls were keen to continue this tradition, so he has taken up the apron strings!”

Several reports confirm that Mr Appleton’s tomato soup on the first Sunday was “absolutely delicious” and one of the girls who doesn’t even like tomato soup went back for seconds! On their weekend off, Mrs Stevenson still makes the soup because she is on duty in the house.

“It was a lovely gesture for her to offer to do that and I think she is also pleased that the legacy she started is continuing,” Mrs Appleton says fondly. “Last week, the Year 11 girls sat around the table and chose the next few recipes. There are also some soups from different countries in there so sometimes, Ian is going to organise themed evenings. He’s really excited!”

Sophie is also a great baker and the girls have already been treated to her delicious cookies and brownies (I have sampled one during our interview!) Mrs Appleton often makes hot chocolate to accompany these sweet treats that the girls enjoy in their common rooms and in the flat. Once the world returns to normal, Sophie plans to organise pamper evenings for the girls.

The house is warm and relaxed. The smell of Sophie’s freshly baked brownies drifts through their flat and into the boarding house. Girls pop in and out of the flat during our chat and there already seems to be a lovely rhythm that our new House Parents have curated. Sophie disappears with plates of brownies and returns half an hour later full of news of the girls’ excited chatter. The magic formula is that they welcome and enjoy spending social time with the girls whilst creating a comforting “home from home” atmosphere where all the boarders can feel part of an extended family.


St David's College

- Est. 1965 -

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