Thorp Academy

Outcomes focused, child centred

Elite coordinator proud of netballers

FOUR Thorp Academy netball talents have had county calls and the challenge is for more to follow them on to that stage.

FOUR Thorp Academy netball talents have had county calls and the challenge is for more to follow them on to that stage.

That was the message from Fern Coulson, the new coordinator of the Elite Performer Programme at Thorp, after seeing the quartet rewarded for their progress under her watch.

Stella Graham, Jude Lapworth, Georgia Kendall and Ellie Gardener (pictured) have all received Durham county colours ahead of an exciting year. Miss Coulson has coached the girls for Thorp and for Ryton Ladies.

Miss Coulson, 24, pictured below, said:“I have played netball for years. When I was 14 I was on the England pathway alongside playing for the county, at university I played for Team Northumbria and I’m currently playing in the regional league for Greencroft in Stanley.”

This is Miss Coulson’s second year at Thorp and she is excited to be leading the sport scholarship programme, the EPP.


The EPP concentrates on ensuring scholars fulfil their potential academically and in a sporting sense. Football, rugby, netball, badminton, cricket and athletics will be the key areas.

The footballers receive top coaching from the Back 2 Basics team, which consists of former professional footballers Gary Bennett, Dean Gordon and Kieron Brady. Thorp’s promising golfers will head to Close House, the home of the British Masters 2017, for coaching.

Miss Coulson, who has coached netball for the last four years and has been backed by England Netball and has close links with Sport England, said: “I want to make sure the EPP continues to contribute to our students’ development.

“I like working alongside Elite performers and it has been great to see Thorp’s netball girls reach high standards as players. They are all committed and want to work hard.

“It would be fantastic to see children develop on to a national level in a wide range of sports while they are at Thorp. There are some already here and it would be fantastic to see more.

“I know that there is talent coming through. Ryton Primary has very successful football and rugby pupils and that is one of our feeder schools. We have a student playing for Sunderland academy and another has just signed for Hartlepool United.”

Thorp Academy is inviting applications from Year 7 to join the scheme. Forms must be submitted to Miss Coulson and places will be confirmed in January.