ABOUT THE ACADEMY
We are a geographically-based Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) formed in September 2016. All schools in the MAT are governed by one Trust, with clear lines of delegation to Local Governing Bodies which operate in each school. As a vertical MAT, our schools provide education from the age of 4 through to 18 and benefit greatly from cross-phase working.
The Trust is a company limited by guarantee and an exempt charity. The funding we receive is linked to the number of students being educated in the Trust. The Stowmarket area is undergoing considerable expansion in terms of housing developments and this will impact on all JMAT schools. The Trust’s strategic plan accommodates this growth, whilst ensuring that the Trustees, Executive Officers and Central Services remain close to the localities they serve.
John Milton has close links to the East of England and to the Stowmarket area in particular.
He was born in Bread Street, London in 1608 to parents John and Sarah and into a century of revolution — in politics, print, science and the arts. By the time he died, in 1674, Britain had experienced the governments of three different Stuart monarchs, the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell – as well as the English Civil War. Milton was at the very centre of this this turbulent period in English history.
Before attending St Paul’s School, he had lessons with “my excellent tutor” Thomas Young who was later to become Vicar of Stowmarket and Master of Jesus College Cambridge. Milton himself matriculated at Christ’s College Cambridge, graduating BA in 1629 and MA in 1632. He became a proficient linguist, writing in Latin and Greek and learning Hebrew. After university, he continued to write and study before travelling widely in Europe.
Having postponed his early poetic aspirations to support the Republican cause, he served in Cromwell’s government as the Secretary for Foreign Tongues from 1649. During this time, he devoted himself to polemical, theological and historical prose – much of which remains relevant to readers today through its exploration of personal, religious and political freedom.
His old tutor, the Rev Dr Thomas Young, held the living of Stowmarket from 1628 to 1655. There is a commemorative inscription to him in the church as well as a painting. Milton is thought to have been a regular visitor to the town and, particularly, the vicarage (now the Registry Office). Tradition links him to the mulberry trees in the vicarage garden. The mulberry leaf and colour are the inspiration behind the Academy Trust’s logo. (Secondary students were commissioned to produce drawings for our logo and primary pupils selected the final design.)
After the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, now blind, politically out of favour – and lucky to escape with his life – Milton returned to his first love, poetry. During this time, he produced his greatest masterpieces, including the epic poem Paradise Lost which he dictated to amanuenses. It was published in 1667 and immediately hailed, in the words of his fellow poet John Dryden, as one of the most sublime poems this age or nation has produced.
Although chiefly remembered as a poet, Milton wrote many pamphlets and prose works. The shortest of these, Of Education, was published in 1644 at a time when he was running a small school for boys and was doubtless also visiting his tutor in Stowmarket. One paragraph seems oddly prophetic:
First, to find out a spacious house and ground about it fit for an Academy, and big enough to lodge a hundred and fifty persons, whereof twenty or thereabout may be attendants, all under the government of one, who shall be thought of desert sufficient, and ability either to do all, or wisely to direct, and oversee it done.
In the rest of his essay, Milton explores his ideas for the education of the sons of gentlemen in a place which is at once both school and University. Between the ages of 12 and 21, men should receive a complete and generous education that which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully and magnanimously all the offices both private and public of peace and war.
He divides the day’s work into three parts: Studies, Exercise and Diet. Studies include grammar, classical languages, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, physics, agriculture and anatomy with religion being taught before bedtime. More unusual topics to be covered in Milton’s curriculum include fortification, architecture and navigation and the helpful experiences of hunters, fowlers, fishermen, shepherds, gardeners and apothecaries to provide a real tincture off natural knowledge as they will never forget.
Exercise would involve weapons training, wrestling and other military disciplines interspersed with music. This is a reminder that Milton was writing in the middle of the Civil War. There would be an early form of work experience to allow hidden strengths to emerge and a version of a gap year (delayed until age 23 or 24).
The diet for Milton’s school would be plain, healthful and moderate.
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