Celebrating the past, present and future at the first ever Rayner Stephens’ Day
Last week saw students, staff and governors in a high school in Dukinfield, Tameside, celebrating the inaugural Rayner Stephens’ day at the school that bears this local hero’s name. Rayner Stephens High School, a new academy opened by the AspirePlus Educational Trust in September 2017 was named after Joseph Rayner Stephens a local reformer and educationalist who had campaigned for this community in the 19th century. This special commemoration took place exactly 213 years after Stephens’ date of birth, 8th March 1805.
Since establishing the school, leaders have been keen to ensure that the life and work of Stephens would be used to help shape the identity of the school and help give the new academy a sense of tradition. Fay Beach, the school’s headteacher said that “in promoting the school’s core values of ASPIRE we are not seeking to develop new character traits, we are simply emphasising those positive attributes that any successful person or community needs to have in order to thrive. Using the example of Stephens’ to illustrate our values is a very important part of who we are as a school.” On the day, students at the school enjoyed a special celebration assembly and a group of staff and students representing the school went to place a floral tribute to Stephens at the monument to the great man in Stamford Park, Ashton-Under-Lyne.
Making sure that the focus of the day was not solely on the past the school also launched a new community award to recognise the wider positive impact that many students have on the local community and beyond. Headteacher, Fay Beach explained “the pace of life today can often stop us from showing appreciation for the efforts that enrich the lives of those in our community. We want to recognise these wider endeavours from those devoted volunteers who help in their communities, care for others or indeed anyone who makes an uplifting difference to someone’s life. We would like nominations to come from families and the community and we urge you to get in touch and nominate if you know of a young person who attends our school and would deserve such an award.”
Photograph: Head Girl and Boy laying a floral tribute at the Rayner Stephens monument