Academy Life

Good News 2021-22

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The 'Fairfax' Eisteddfod on s4c Wales

Welsh to English translation:
If you were to ask people in Wales to explain what an Eisteddfod is, most people would be able to answer you.
Many of us have fond – or perhaps uncomfortable – memories of competing during our time at school.
Although the competition is a familiar part of childhood here in Wales, it is rare to see children folk dancing or competing annually for the chair beyond Offa’s Dyke – except possibly in Patagonia.
But it is not necessary to travel to Patagonia to find an Eisteddfod beyond Wales, as Eisteddfod tradition continues in a small corner of the Midlands.
One school has held an annual Eisteddfod for over 60 years.
Although Fairfax Academy is based in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham, pupils have competed in the school Eisteddfods since 1961.
The first Eisteddfod was hosted by the school’s founder, Gordon Philpott, after he founded the academy in 1959.
Secondary school teachers are not sure why Mr Philpott decided to introduce the Welsh tradition to an English-medium school.
Some suspect that the tradition began after a suggestion from a Welsh mathematics teacher who was a member of the school staff in the early years.
Despite the mystery surrounding the origins of the Eisteddfod, the school’s pupils are keen to compete every year.
“The pupils love it,” said Rachel Boyce, one of Fairfax’s deputy headteachers, and Eisteddfod Coordinator.
“There are so many of them taking part, and there’s so much enthusiasm for getting involved.
“It’s a unique feature of the school and it’s an attraction for parents to send their children to our school.”
The Fairfax Eisteddfod includes traditional elements that are familiar to us, such as recitation and creative writing.
But it also includes some that are rare in Wales, including a cookery competition called ‘Cogydd’ -the ‘Chef Cup’.
Mrs Boyce said the school is proud to host an annual Eisteddfod and the opportunity it gives pupils to be creative and participate in the arts.
“It’s an opportunity for leadership, it’s an opportunity to improve confidence, there are so many opportunities for pupils to develop as individuals,” he said.
“We see some pupils we never expected to see on stage and pupils join dance and music clubs after the Eisteddfod.
“It’s very exciting and it’s almost the biggest event at school every year.”
Mrs Boyce added that the impact of the Eisteddfod on the pupils was incredible and other schools should consider introducing the competition.
“A member of Fairfax told me that she was on a plane and was sitting next to someone else who went to Fairfax, and the first thing she asked was: ‘Are they still holding the Eisteddfod?
“It’s obviously what stays with people after they leave, and they never forget it.
“We can sell four times the number of tickets for Eisteddfod nights because parents and former pupils want to come too.
“I would encourage other schools to look at the example of the Eisteddfod as a way of celebrating culture, arts and performance in the school.”
Caleb Darwin s4c

Netball Success

Congratulations to the Year 7 girls who attended the Sutton Schools’ friendly competition this week.
In the team’s first games they drew with Bishop Walsh 3-3 and beat Arthur Terry 4-1.
Well done to all of our players!

ARKS Assembly


ARKS Congratulations to our latest awardees – who have received 12 merits: 3 for Ambition, 3 for Respect, 3 for Kindness and 3 for Safety – Well done everyone!

Thank you to all parents and carers who attended the assembly.  






Remembrance Day


Thank you to members of the RAF Veterans Association, the Royal Welch, the British Caribbean Veterans Association, the WRAF Women’s Royal Air Force and the British Legion, who joined us on 11th November.

Our thanks also to staff and students who attended the local services at Walmley and Sutton Town Hall.  



Tutor Time Reading Programme

We are really excited about our Tutor Time Reading Programme. Twice a week, during registration, students are reading a book together with their form tutor.

Each year group is reading a different book:
Year Seven: ‘Checkmates’ by Stewart Foster and ‘Back Home’ by Michelle Magorian.
Year Eight: ‘Trash’ by Andy Mulligan and ‘Bone Sparrow’ by Zana Fraillon
Year Nine: ‘The Boy who Steals Houses’ by C.G. Drews and ‘I am Malala’ by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
Year Ten: ‘The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling’ by Wai Chim
Year Eleven – Thirteen: ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama

Why are we doing this?
There is growing evidence to suggest that reading is one of the best ways to improve academic performance in the long-term.
Texts have been selected extremely carefully to ensure that the narratives address age appropriate themes as well as giving students the opportunity to explore diverse life experiences, cultures and identities while increasing their reading skills and vocabulary knowledge.

Tutors and students are really enjoying reading the books! Please do ask your child about the book they are reading.

European Week of Languages

Staff and students at Fairfax celebrated the European week of Languages with a series of fun activities, led by the Modern Foreign Languages team.

During the week of 27th September each day was dedicated to a different European language and students were encouraged to answer registers in all lessons using the greeting of the day. 

Every morning in registration, there was a quiz about the country of the day. The winning tutor group was K01, who received a box of Celebrations to share amongst the form.  

Then at lunchtime students got involved in a language themed activity – such as bingo in French, watching Black Panther in German and learning some new phrases in Spanish. 

Students in years 7 and 8 also took part in a flag challenge, where they had to find the ten teachers around school who were wearing flag badges for the week and identify the country they were representing.  Well done to Keira Ly and Thom Ashworth (in year 7) and Henri Hoxha, Primrose Hobday, Grace Corbett (in year 8) who won prizes for finding all ten. 

Every student who took part in any of the activities during the week also received points towards their Language Colours.

Language Ambassadors

October 2021

The Modern Foreign Languages faculty are really excited to be appointing our very first Language Ambassadors at Fairfax.  GCSE French and German students in year 10 were invited to apply for this new role by writing a letter about why learning languages is important for them and why they believe languages are an important part of an enriching curriculum.  As a result, 12 lucky students have been selected and they are beginning their roles.  Their aim is to be student role models and to promote French and German to the rest of the school.  They will encourage, help and encourage students to choose languages as part of their GCSE options.  The ambassadors will also help the MFL teachers to organise language-based activities throughout the year.

Language Colours

October 2021

For the first time, all students in year 7 have the opportunity of achieving their Language Colours at Fairfax.  By participating in a number of key language activities, students will gain points towards their colours.  When they have reached each milestone they will then have to complete a written verb challenge before receiving their badge.

JUNIOR COLOURS- French/German Pin Badge   

Participation in 5 language based school activities or competitions, plus the revision and conjugation of 5 common verbs in the present tense in your language.

 HALF COLOURS- French/German Badge

Participation in a further 5 language based school activities or competitions, plus the revision and conjugation of 10 common verbs in the present and past tense in your language.

 FULL COLOURS- Languages Bar Badge

Participation in a further 5 language based school activities or competitions, plus the revision and conjugation of 15 common verbs in the present, past and future tense in your language.

 Examples of language based school activities and competitions:

  • 12 days of Christmas word competition.
  • Open evening volunteering.
  • Language Ambassador meetings.
  • Online vocabulary/work challenges.
  • Participation in European Week of Languages.
  • Participation in cultural competitions related to your language.
  • Suitable extra-curricular work.
  • Year 7 research project.

For more details please contact Mr Young, Head of German.


Hockey News

October 2021

Well done to our U15s Hockey team, playing in the Sutton Schools Hockey Tournament! #makingfairfaxproud

Thank you to Fairfax PTA for providing our ‘team kit’ too!

Are you ready for 'ARKS'?

September 2021 
Following the success of our ‘ARKS’ programme last year, we are looking forward to rewarding our students who display the Academy’s key values. 

10 September 2021

It’s good to see you! 


All students have returned to Fairfax after our staggered start, and we are so proud of how well everyone is settling back into school life.
It is a pleasure to see students working hard in their lessons and displaying our ARKS values of Ambition, Respect, Kindness and Safety.

Summer Exam Success

Fairfax Examination Results August 2021

Congratulations to all our GCSE and A Level students! We are hugely proud of all the hard work and

achievements of our students, especially after such a tough and disrupted year, our students showed maturity and resilience throughout extraordinary times and we are so proud of how focussed they were on returning to ischool following the winter lockdown. Our teachers and staff worked tirelessly to ensure student progress, and we wish all of our students every success in their next phase of education or training or employment.