Author: mitch

R.E.A.L. learner Archie was proudly honoured at the Mansfield Rotary Courage Awards in March, for his sheer resilience and determination over the last few years.

Sadly, Archie’s Dad passed away several years ago, which was understandably a devastating time for him. Archie withdrew into himself and struggled with his anxiety which stopped him from going to school.

Since then, Archie along with the support of his family, and staff at R.E.A.L., has managed to take huge steps that a few years ago he didn’t feel was manageable.

The Mansfield, Ashfield and Sherwood News Journal has featured Archie and the awards ceremony in their latest paper, which includes a brilliant write up of Archie’s story. 

We’re so proud at R.E.A.L. of Archie winning a Courage Award and for the big changes he’s made. Well done Archie!

R.E.A.L. Independent Schools have been nominated and shortlisted for yet another national award: the Education Today, Independent School of the Year award.

They are one of five independent schools to be shortlisted for the award, the winner of which will be announced on the 1st December at a ceremony to be held in London.

Nikki Purcell, current Head of Schools said: “Just to be shortlisted for national awards like the Education Today awards and the TES awards, is a real honour. R.E.A.L. Education plays such a vital and positive role in many learners’ lives and to be shortlisted from a national cohort of schools for this is recognition of staff hard work, dedication and commitment.”

On 11th November, the learners and staff across R.E.A.L. observed the national two minutes silence for Remembrance Day.

In honour of the day, artwork and window displays had been respectfully created by learners to remember those who lost their lives in wars around the world.

Learners at RIS Blidworth joined the Royal British Legion’s and National Literacy Trust’s live assembly, which brought together learners from across the whole of the UK.

RIS Ilkeston had war veteran Anthony Flanagan, speaking to learners about Remembrance Day and what it means to him.

Claire Bishop, Deputy Head of RIS Ilkeston said: “It was an honour to listen to Anthony speak about his time in the army. Anthony is a parent of one of our learners, so with him being a big supporter of R.E.A.L, we asked if he would mind coming and sharing his insight.”

Anthony served in the Falklands and Afghanistan, and his father and great uncles had served in the army too.

Claire said: “It was a pleasure to have him onsite sharing his passion for Remembrance Day. He brought in artefacts from World War 1, which was very moving for learners and staff to learn about.”

We know, you may think it’s too soon to start thinking about next year, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about your future career goals.

We can already reveal that next year’s careers fair will take place on Thursday 9 March at Mansfield Town Football Club.

The 2022 fair had a great turn out and it’s set to be the same for next year.

R.E.A.L. prides itself on making sure learners are equipped with the right knowledge and understanding of what they can progress to post-education.

If you’d like to find out more, email

Nikki Purcell started her career at R.E.A.L. in 2010 and over the years has led on several Ofsted inspections. As she now hands over the reins of her position as Head of Schools, Nikki reflects on what it means to her receiving a successful Ofsted report for the last time in her role.

“This was our third standard inspection for R.E.A.L. Independent Schools, Blidworth since it opened in September 2013. I have had the honour to be Headteacher and lead on all three inspections. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed showcasing what we do on every occasion and I’m rather sad that this will be my last one ever as Head.

On this latest Ofsted visit, the inspectors recognised the “outstanding progress” that most of our learners make with regards to their behaviour and attitudes, which was a really emotional moment for our team.

They identified the “strong relationships” staff have built with learners and how skilled staff are at “motivating learners and keeping them focused on their learning.” Yet again, parent and learner feedback was very positive and sometimes overwhelming, with one parent saying that, since coming to our school, their child’s confidence has “sky-rocketed.”

Blidworth was our fourth school to be inspected by Ofsted in the last 15 months and, as with our previous visits, inspectors identified the same areas for development that we have placed within our school improvement plan.

This was reassuring for us and I know that Stephen Schmidt, the new Head of Schools, has already started work with the team to further improve our schools and take them on the next phase of their journey towards becoming outstanding schools.”

A former R.E.A.L. learner came back to share his experiences and achievements from his time at R.E.A.L with those at Sandhills.

The learner left R.E.A.L. at the end of the last academic year and now studies at Chesterfield College. He explained his journey through R.E.A.L., from starting as a 2:1 learner, to going into group lessons before eventually becoming a student mentor.

Claire Colley, Learning Manager said: “The current learners were very interested to hear how far he had come and that he was now doing his GCSEs.”

He’s now on a mechanics course and is also studying for his Maths and English GCSEs.

Claire said: “It was a really inspiring talk for our learners to hear from someone who’s been in their position.”

We are pleased to announce that our Year 9 online options evening is now live!

This was due to take place on Thursday 21st January in school, but due COVID restrictions it is now online.

Please see our Options Page for information about submitting your child’s options, along with the options grid and online form to submit their options by Friday 28th January 2022.

Wirksworth Leisure centre, Arc Leisure Matlock and Ashbourne Leisure centre will all be running free one day holiday activities programmes at each centre during in partnership with Derbyshire Dales District Council’s Sports Development Team.

Matlock Arc January 4th 9am-3:30pm ages 5-11 years
Wirksworth Jan 5th 9am–3:30pm ages 5-11 years
Ashbourne Jan 6th 9am–3:30pm ages 7-16 years

The programme is part of the ‘Holiday Activities and Food Programme‘ from the Government.

Those on free school meals are eligible to apply for a place on the following dates:

Matlock Arc January 4th 9am-3:30pm ages 5-11 years
Wirksworth Jan 5th 9am–3:30pm ages 5-11 years
Ashbourne Jan 6th 9am–3:30pm ages 7-16 years

This is a pilot project for chosen schools in the local area. The day will have a mixture of enrichment, sports and physical activity sessions and includes a free lunch. There will also be a ‘smoothie bike’ so children can make their own smoothies on arrival.

Places are limited to 24 per site and MUST be booked before Dec 30th so we can give advance notice to our food provider of expected numbers.

Please book using this link: