David Nieper Academy is at the heart of the Alfreton community, seeing many generations pass through its doors, dating back to its first opening in March 1939 by Alderman W. Mortimer Wilson, MA. After serving the community as a businessman, lawyer and chairman of the County Education Committee, it was a testament to his commitment and dedication to the community, that his name was borne by the school for almost 70 years.
Mortimer Wilson School opened as a non-selective establishment with two separate schools within – the boys and girls being educated separately. The first headmaster of the boys’ school was Wilfred Dawes OBE – the youngest headmaster in the country – and the headmistress of the girls’ school was Miss Cresswell. In his first year at the school, Mr Dawes welcomed not only his first 150 pupils, but 350 evacuees from Birmingham during the Second World War.
After a lengthy headship, Mr Dawes retired in 1974. In that time, the school had grown exponentially with 1,320 students and 70 members of staff. Both Mortimer Wilson and Wilfred Dawes are recognised as significant educational influencers of the district – guiding and moulding the lives of hundreds of children who became some of the first pupils in the country to enter university from a Secondary Modern School. Tributes to both men are found nestled in the grounds of the school they cherished so dearly, in the form of the ‘Mortimer Wilson Sports Hall’ and the creation of a ‘Wilfred Dawes Memorial Garden’.
Moving forward to 2008, the school gained specialist Arts College status. This enabled the school to specialise in the performing, visual and media arts, hence being renamed Alfreton Grange Arts College. Funding from this status allowed for numerous upgrades to the current production facilities – such as apple mac software, specialist music tuition and an industry-standard performance stage. In keeping with tradition, the school also became a community ‘hub’ for other organisations such as Alfreton Choir and the local amateur dramatics society. In the years succeeding the transition to Alfreton Grange Arts College, the heart of the school could be found in the performing arts, with many exceptional performances remembered by the local community to this day.
This brings us to another significant period of the school’s history: the opening of the David Nieper Academy in 2016. Following in the footsteps of our founding members, the academy continues to thrive with its local employer links – not least the sponsorship of David Nieper Limited. As a result of this unique partnership, the school has benefitted from a superb new building, complete with state of the art classroom and sporting facilities and a brand new uniform. The academy has gone from strength to strength with the unwavering leadership of Dr Kathryn Hobbs and support of its Chair of Governors, Christopher Nieper OBE. By celebrating both the academic, and the vocational, the newest generation of Alfreton pupils can expect an excellent education as well as valuable life skills for future employability – something we believe Mr Dawes and Mr Wilson would be proud of!