Rough Notes – October 2017

In my introduction to last month’s edition of Rough Notes, I was proudly able to proclaim that Woodroffe was the highest attaining secondary school in Dorset with 84% of students achieving the benchmark figure of 5 A*-C/4 grades, including English and Maths. Students enjoyed phenomenal success in the new, harder and more demanding GCSEs graded 9 to 1, with 91% of students achieving the benchmark 4 and above in English and 88% in Maths. I am now pleased to report that, with the publication of the DfE’s national performance tables, things look even better this month. Not only were we the top school for attainment, we were top of the table for progress, with a Progress 8 score of +0.39. This means that students at Woodroffe make nearly half a grade more progress in their GCSE subjects than students nationally.

There is more good news since the latest predictions for current Year 11 students suggest that their performance is going to be equally as impressive.

Of course, this kind of performance doesn’t happen by accident: it is achieved by a combination of excellent teaching and student commitment. Nor is it simply a matter of working hard in class. Part of the reason students do so well here is that they get involved and take advantage of the superb range of opportunities on offer to them, something we try to promote from the moment they arrive in the school. The recent Meet My Tutor evening is an excellent example of this philosophy in action.

This year’s event was particularly impressive. The performance of Where the Wild Things Are, complete with a very entertaining rendition of the rock classic Wild Thing, encapsulated the blend of energy, commitment and enthusiasm which we try to instil in our students. This was followed by two excellent solo pieces, one from Hannah Dare on violin and one from Belle Ford who sang When I Grow Up from Matilda. How brave of them to stand up and perform in front of nearly 500 adults! The set piece climax to the show, however, is the most powerful symbol of what Woodroffe is all about: 173 Year 7 students, all on stage and all looking immaculate in their uniforms, singing their hearts out with a real sense of group identity and delight in simply being there.

While the national media generates panic around mental illness, drugs in school, obesity, radicalisation etc., it is important to remember that the impact of issues such as these on schools like Woodroffe is minimal. The vast majority of students here are committed, hard-working and healthy – as the faces of the Year 7s made clear at the end of half term.

Dr Steward