Rough Notes – September 2016

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As you will have no doubt seen in the press, Woodroffe has been celebrating another year of excellent results both at GCSE and A Level. The way results were reported this year has been very confusing as a consequence of the new performance measures recently introduced by the government. Whichever way you look at it, however, Woodroffe has done exceptionally well.

This year the DfE introduced the new ‘Basics’ measure as their key indicator. This is simply the percentage of students achieving at least a C grade in both English and Maths at GCSE. I am delighted to say that 77% of our students met the criteria – a figure which puts us joint first among the 21 secondary schools in Dorset. The old 5A*-C including English and Maths benchmark was also strong at 73% and well above national averages. The most pleasing aspect of our results, however, is one that would be unlikely to appear in the press releases and that’s the remarkable consistency across all subject departments evident this year. When Ofsted inspect, one of the most frequent comments relates to inconsistency in performance across the school, with some subjects doing well and others less so. At Woodroffe this year, the standards were similar across the school, with the majority demonstrating excellent performance. This is truly a sign of an outstanding school.

At A-Level, results were similarly excellent, with the vast majority of students achieving the grades they needed to gain entry to their chosen universities. And, as usual, we had students setting off to many of the best institutions in the country. We were particularly delighted by Harry Robson’s offer of a place at Magdalene College, Cambridge to study Human, Social and Political Sciences.

Dorset LA subscribes on our behalf to Durham University’s A Level Performance System (ALPS) – a report which measures the school’s performance against a national database and grades the school accordingly on a 1 to 9 scale. Once again, Woodroffe achieved a Grade 3 which is described as ‘excellent’ performance and places the sixth form in the top 25% of the country and somewhere between the 75th and the 89th percentile.

This level of performance isn’t a result of chance but down to a combination of talented, hardworking students and committed, experienced staff, and I am pleased to say that this year’s recruitment round resulted in a new set of outstanding colleagues who have already settled into the school and are doing a great job from the outset.

Last year saw a number of retirements but I am delighted to welcome the following teachers to the school:

  • Mr. Rob Russell – Assistant Head
  • Miss. Kath Hamshere – Science
  • Miss Nuria Agredano Marcos – Modern Languages
  • Mrs. Lisa Gallagher – Modern Languages
  • Miss Charlotte James – GeographyMiss Zoe Trunks – English
  • Miss Fern Andrews – Maths
  • Mrs. Sandra Weatherall – Maths

In addition, the following support staff have joined us:

  • Laura Webb as our new Teaching School Manager
  • Caroline Lambert as the Maths Hub Administrator
  • Sara Kendall, Karen Saunders and Melanie Walding – Teaching Assistants
  • Richard Cross – Deputy Finance Manager

Despite national teacher shortages the school is fully staffed and, more to the point, staffed by outstanding colleagues.

In addition to new teaching and support staff, we welcomed the new Year 7s into the school and around 120 students into the sixth form, and while most school sixth forms are struggling to attract students, the Woodroffe sixth form is expanding with over 200 now on roll. This is a really healthy number which allows us to offer an excellent range of courses (28 A Levels at the moment) and yet still retain the small group, personal teaching which is the hallmark of a good school sixth form.

Every year when funds allow it, we try to make the school a bit better for its pupils. Woodroffe is a difficult site with old buildings and huge ongoing maintenance costs but it has undoubtedly been significantly improved over the last few years. This summer, as you will see from the photographs elsewhere in this newsletter, we have replaced the ancient and dilapidated mobile classrooms at the top of the school (E3 and E4) with two brand new rooms (hair-raisingly lifted into place by an enormous crane from the tennis courts right over the top of the drama studio!). In addition, the Fitness Suite in the Sports Hall has doubled in size and been equipped with a fantastic selection of the latest exercise machines. At the same time we remodelled the changing rooms to make them more secure and fitted a new carpet. There can’t be many schools where students can exercise while looking out across Lyme bay.

The new Lego Innovation Suite is up and running and it is clear that students are both enjoying using the Lego and, more to the point, learning a huge amount as a result. The new Mindstorm systems are incredibly sophisticated and allow students not only to write ambitious computer programs but then build machines to run them on. Schemes of work at Key Stage 3 now include units which integrate the use of Lego into Maths, Science and Design.

On top of all the academic work, students have already taken part in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, even though they have been back at school only a few weeks. Year 8 spent a fabulous few days at Cary Camp – made even more exciting thanks to the thunder and lightning – and we have already had the superb sax player, John Miles, in school as part of a joint B sharp music project. Sports fixtures started quickly, with our teams setting off around the county; a group of Sixth Form French Exchange students are in school; Year 9 Geographers have been on Dartmoor; students have been taking part in the DoE Silver Award; and the annual Art Exhibition at The Town Mill in Lyme is now underway. Year 7 students have been busily preparing for the Meet My Tutor event which features a drama performance, lots of music and a massed choir!

All in all, a fantastic start to the term.

Dr Steward, Headteacher