Rough Notes – April/May 2018

I often wonder why so many parents have so little trust in the work we do at Woodroffe nowadays but then I look around at what’s going on in schools both nationally and locally and I begin to see why. We are constantly assailed in the press by stories of disastrously underperforming or mismanaged schools, academy chain bosses swindling the finances, newly built schools closing, headteachers resorting to four-day weeks, and lurid accounts of students running riot. The west country usually appears to be an oasis of calm amid the chaos but the news is often fairly alarming locally: Heads leaving due to stress, schools plunged into special measures by Ofsted, dire recruitment problems, desperate searches for Maths teachers, and schools on the edge of financial ruin. To the casual observer, things look pretty grim.

I do have to point out, of course, that it’s not like that here. Whenever I visit other schools, I often return to Woodroffe and breathe a huge sigh of relief, not only because of the nature of our students but because of the expertise and professionalism of the staff. All our teachers are specialists and all are highly trained. And they keep up their training so as to keep pushing the school forward. I therefore have to remember that many parents, especially those new to the area, assume that the school will be like the disasters so lovingly described in the tabloid press. Hence the lack of trust. If only it weren’t so!

I can shout about the expertise of our staff but it is always useful to have evidence to back it up. I can, of course, point to our examination results (the best in the county), our Outstanding Ofsted judgement, our Teaching School Status and our role as a national Maths Hub, but in order to keep making the point we need to keep being successful – and that’s not an easy thing to do. So, what’s been happening lately?

I am sure parents will be pleased to learn that in addition to our Maths Hub status we were recently invited to apply to become a Language Hub. This was by invitation from the Department for Education (DfE) and an application has now been submitted. We have also applied to be part of a national PE Pilot programme which would see a member of our PE department funded for a day a week to develop PE both at Woodroffe and in other local schools. We are also part of the DfE’s Priority Schools Building Programme and we are currently waiting to see the extent of the building work that will take place as a result of our involvement. A new block is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

More immediate successes include our recent designation as an Institute of Physics Lead School for their Stimulating Physics Network. This is a really exciting development to be run by our physics specialist, Dr Loaring, which will involve all sorts of new opportunities for our students. A more individual success has come in the form of an invitation: Ms Webb, our Assistant Headteacher, has been invited to Number 10 Downing Street to an event hosted by the Prime Minister to celebrate the outstanding work of teachers. The shiny red high heels have been ordered.

So, the successes continue. It’s a shame that the national perception of schools as temples of mediocrity casts a long shadow over the work we do at Woodroffe.

Have a good half term.

Dr Steward