13 July 2017
Dear parents and carers
In February, I wrote to you following the publication of our Ofsted inspection report outlining several of the key areas that inspectors had raised, and our plans to address the areas for improvement identified.
Given that we are now several months further on, I would like to update you on a number of changes that have been happening to improve our school in response to the inspection report, and to seek your feedback on how we are doing and your thoughts on how we can improve further. In addition to this letter, we are also sending you a link to a short survey. The first 12 questions of the survey are the ones that were asked in “Parent View” and we have added a further question so that you can give feedback on your views to our response to Ofsted, with the opportunity to share your thoughts by giving us some written feedback. I would very much appreciate any thoughts or ideas you may have to help us to continue to improve our school. The link to this survey will be sent to you in a separate text within the next 24 hours.
In relation to the points raised by inspectors, I am pleased to update you on the following:-
- Improving the security of the site – we now have full-time supervision at both the front entrance to the school and the crossroads where the footpath passes through the school site. Staff at these points are trained to be welcoming but are also there to ensure the safety of children at all times. These gates are constantly supervised from 8.30 am – 3.15 pm. We have upgraded the CCTV cameras at these points and we have installed a security centre, which is also a student services point, at the crossroads. In addition to this, we have recently upgraded our emergency evacuation procedures to include a “lock-down” procedure, which we ran successfully for the first time on Thursday 29 June.
We submitted a bid to the Government for funding for electronic locking gates at the front of the school last December, but unfortunately, this was not successful. I have written to the Secretary of State for Education and have included their response in the submission of my appeal against the decision. We will find out the outcome of this appeal during the next 2 weeks. It is still our intention to fit electronic locking gates at the front of the school, and we will always continue to have a member of staff on duty at the crossroads where the footpath meets the school drive.
- Leadership and Management – following the inspection I carried out a restructure of the leadership team and we put in place new procedures for improvement planning which include weekly monitoring meetings against milestones for improvement.
- These have proved very successful in supporting us with rapid school improvement. In addition to the two new deputy heads who have started recently, we will have 2 new assistant head teachers joining us in September. Aoife Galletly who is currently the head of our Communications faculty, and Vanessa Hall who is an experienced assistant head teacher from another local authority. In addition to this, new curriculum leaders in Humanities (Jenny Burton) and the Technology faculty (Angela King) have recently joined us.
- Governors – we have conducted a rigorous external review of governance, which has made several recommendations, which include the restructuring of Governors’ committees. We will soon have a new Chair of Governors, and Vice Chair of Governors following the retirement of our current Chair & Vice Chairs.
- Disadvantaged Pupils – Since the inspection, we have produced a new pupil premium support plan and we have created numerous measures to support this group of students in school. We have put in place additional mentoring for the students. In Year 11, we run an additional qualification to support any of our young people who were struggling to pass a full range of qualifications and we have changed the curriculum in Year 7 next year to increase the level of support for literacy and numeracy for this group of students and for all of our students.Analysis of mock examination data in both Year 11 and Year 10 shows that the gap in attainment between these groups is successfully narrowing and that the attendance of these groups of students in school has improved considerably.
- Examination Results – as I mentioned in my last letter our examination results from 2016 at KS4 placed us amongst the 4 highest schools in the City for progress, and post 16 our results were above the national average. The most recent assessment data for current Year 11 suggests that our 2017 results will improve on 2016, in particular the number of students achieving a Grade 4 and above in English & Maths (equivalent to Grade C) shows strong improvement. Mock examination results showed good improvement in results in Science and a considerable amount of work has taken place to support students in the Humanities subjects. Post 16 mock examination results suggest that there will be further improvements on 2016 results.
- Learning Environment – an extensive programme of painting, along with the addition of many new notice boards around corridors and classrooms have transformed our learning spaces. They have made the learning environment and the corridors more pleasant spaces to be and both classrooms and corridors are full of creative and colourful displays with some wonderful examples of students’ work.
- Quality of Teaching & Learning, and Assessment – our deputy head teacher Martin Brailsford has continued to work closely with staff across the school, and leads our very rigorous programme of quality assuring the work of our teachers. We have seen significant improvements in the quality of student presentation and written feedback, but these will continue to remain areas of focus for us over the year ahead. We have improved the way we share information about disadvantaged and SEN students to ensure that all teachers can plan effectively to meet the needs of children in their classrooms and we regularly assess the quality of this through learning walks, and by looking at the quality of work in students’ books. Teachers have been working hard to ensure that every child has high expectations of themselves and is challenged in their work.
- Attendance – our deputy head teacher Matthew Shenton oversees attendance and has been working with our team of directors of house, achievement managers, Education Welfare Officer and tutors to improve student attendance. A number of new initiatives were already being brought into place prior to Ofsted and have continued to have an impact in this area. Our overall school attendance is now above the national average and the percentage of our students who are persistently absent (have attendance below 90%) is now better than the national average.
- Behaviour for Learning – Since the inspection we have introduced our new behaviour cards, which are now carried by all students and have led to big improvements in the quality of uniform and appearance. We have increased Leadership presence around the school during lesson times and have increased the level of staff supervision at break times, lunch times and lesson changeovers. Our students have responded extremely positively and enjoy the opportunity to be rewarded for good behaviour, being smart, and punctual. In so many ways, they are a great credit to you, and to us. On the rare occasions where we identify low-level disruption around the school, we are quick to intervene to support teachers. We have also managed to significantly reduce the amount of supply teachers we have in school.
As a result of a lot of this work, the number of exclusions this year has dropped by over 25%. Also, since myself and one of the deputy heads personally collect any child who has received a C3 during the school day, for their after school detention, the number of C3s received by students (punishment for disruptive behaviour) has reduced significantly. If anything, I am keen to further increase the level of staff visibility around the school to support our teachers and our children with their learning.
Despite these actions, we know there will still be plenty of other areas where we can improve. I would therefore very much appreciate you taking just a few minutes to complete our survey when the link is sent to you in the 24 hours, to share your comments and ideas to help us improve further.
Our Parents’ Forum meet regularly to discuss many of these and any other issues, and it is a great opportunity for you as parents to meet with the Headteacher and discuss issues that are important to you. If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also take this opportunity to thank you for your consistent support throughout these last few months. As difficult a time as it has been, it has also been a time when my staff and I have been over-whelmed by the support and loyalty of our parents and our children. We very much appreciate your support.
Mr K Gritton