Last Friday afternoon (17 April), pupils from ARK Rose Primary Academy in Kings Norton were rewarded with a chance to learn circus skills from a real-life jester.

The lucky pupils were all selected to watch and learn circus skills because they had shown a real commitment to their education and achieved 100% attendance throughout all of last term.

Pupils were told they would be receiving a special treat for all their dedication. As a result, they were more than a little surprised to see the school hall transformed into a circus skills practice space, complete with with unicycles, stilts, juggling sticks and even a tightrope wire.  And in the middle of all this serious fun was ‘The Fool Monty Jester’, from nearby Solihull.

The Fool Monty Jester
The Fool Monty Jester

Within minutes, the jester had pupils and staff laughing out loud as he introduced the various tools of the jester trade, starting with juggling and finishing with a tightrope walk and a memorable unicycle race around the school hall.

After enjoying the virtuoso display, pupils had the chance to learn for themselves the tricks of the circus trade. The Fool Monty Jester (or Matt Gupwell to his friends) worked with pupils in small groups, sharing his tips and tricks. In no time at all, ARK Rose’s school hall began to resemble the world’s most high-energy circus school.

Emani (left) and Tatyan (right) help The Fool Monty Jester to ride his unicycle
Emani (left) and Tatyan (right) help The Fool Monty Jester to ride his unicycle

ARK Rose Primary Academy places great importance on attendance. ARK Rose Primary Academy’s vision is to be an outstanding school which transforms the life chances of the pupils we serve and achieving this vision requires children to be in school every day, ready to learn. By working with parents and carers to ensure pupils are in school every day, the school can maximise the time available for learning.

Mrs Connolly helps Amani cross the tightrope
Mrs Connolly helps Emani cross the tightrope

Mrs Webb, Headteacher of ARK Rose Primary Academy, said:

 “The circus skills session was more than simply a reward for 100% attendance. By taking part the children were developing the skills, focus and confidence that will help them throughout life. I hope today’s circus skills session will encourage even more pupils to work hard to be in school every day, ready to learn.”

Emani, aged 10, said:

“All the activities were fun by my favourite was learning to ride a unicycle.”

Jordan , aged 11, said:

“I really enjoyed learning circus skills, especially the tightrope. Although the tightrope was low to the ground you could imagine yourself crossing over a high location, which was fun.”

Raghad, aged 11, said:

“It made me feel really happy to know that I had learned to perform tricks with sticks. I just gave each activity a go and found some of them weren’t as hard as they looked.”


  1. That type of thing could encourage sick children to go to school for fear of missing out. Sorry but when your ill any doctor will tell you to rest. This is sending out the wrong message. You could have a fat lazy kid who never try’s being rewarded and a keen bright pupil missing out through an illness no fault of there own. It stinks

  2. I agree with Jeri. This is very unfair. Hard working children who may have suffered illness through no fault of their own are being made to feel as though they have misbehaved..

    In future the school should consider rewarding attentive children and not those who disrupt the class with bad behaviour.

  3. Thank you for your comments.

    ARK Rose Primary takes attendance seriously because there is a clear link between excellent attendance at school and high academic achievement. As a school we understand that a child may find themselves away from school due to illness and we work closely with our families to ensure pupils return to school as soon as they are well.

    The circus skills workshop for 100% attendance is just one of the ways we encourage a positive attitude to school and learning. For example, every Friday we issue ‘REACH’ awards for pupils who have displayed positive character and values in the areas of resilience, engagement, ambition, confidence and honesty. This ensures that all children are recognised and praised for their overall attitude to learning, which extends beyond attendance at school.

    We would be happy to speak to you directly to answer any other questions you may have. Please get in touch by phone on 0121 458 5380 or email


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