17th March 2017 - Developing Great Teachers
I would like to thank parents, carers, grandparents, friends, neighbours and any other adults who were pressed into service as a result of the whole school INSET Day on Wednesday of this week. INSET is an educational acronym that stands for ‘In-Service Training’ and it is an opportunity for the teachers in the school to spend some time working collectively as a group of professionals on the agreed priorities of the School Development Plan. On Wednesday, we were able to use this incredibly valuable time to explore together new and innovative ways of encouraging reflection and debate in our lessons; to update all staff on our progress towards achieving the NACE Challenge Award (another acronym, NACE is the National Association for Able Children in Education and is an important part of our work to improve provision for our more able students as well as provide appropriate challenge for all our pupils); to focus on the latest developments to do with safeguarding and paramount importance of keeping all of our children safe, at all times; and examining the Ofsted framework and our current self-evaluation process, so that, as a school, we are thoroughly and properly prepared for when we are next inspected.
Having time together as teachers to share good practice, discuss key issues and do some practical work aimed at improving all our teachers is absolutely vital and enables me, as the Principal, to ensure that we are all operating to the same level and that our systems, processes and expectations are really clear. Of course we have our staff meetings and other meetings in school that happen on a weekly, bi-weekly and termly basis, but that block of time together is vital in moving our school forwards by identifying excellent practice and using that practice so that it becomes common practice. We are grateful for your forbearance, and I want you to be reassured that we make the best use of any time we have been given to make the experience for your sons and daughters here at school even more safe, purposeful and challenging.
10th March 2017 - SIAMs – Good With Outstanding!
I am delighted to be able to share with you the final report and verdict of the SIAMs (Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools – the Church’s version of Ofsted) Inspection which took place earlier this year. The overall judgment is that ‘’the distinctiveness and effectiveness of the Marlborough school as a Church of England School are good’’, with a secondary judgement that ‘’the school is outstanding at meeting the needs of all learners’’. This is great news for us as a community and great credit has to go to all the staff, pupils, parents and Governors who were involved in the process itself. Of course, the actual inspection is simply a ‘snapshot’ of what we do, and the real work that was so positively recognised by this Inspection has been going on for a long time now and it is most pleasing that the things that have been recognised as outstanding are the things that we have been really focussing on over the past two years: the culture and ethos of the school; the relevant and living values; the clear vision that informs how we treat each other on a daily basis; the expectation of excellent behaviour and high aspirations; and the caring, inclusive and outstanding culture we have here that means that all people are valued and respected.
What is also particularly pleasing about the report is that it reflects our guiding principle of putting the students and their needs at the heart of the school. The culture they praise is not simply one that cares for each other, but one that is now increasingly ambitious and purposeful. One key section of the report states that ‘’the pupils are excellent ambassadors for the school, demonstrating its values consistently through their courtesy and eagerness to learn’’. It talks of a ‘’team’’ of staff working ‘’relentlessly’’ to ensure the best outcomes and progress for our pupils, especially the most vulnerable: ‘’strategies for Pupil Premium pupils, known as Marlborough Scholarship Students, are helping these pupils to flourish. The vision and ethos has helped to create resilient and self-aware pupils with strong aspirations both for themselves and for their peers’’. The report mentions lots of other strengths of the school: the opportunities available to all students, particularly through Electives; our Whole School Assembly; our opportunities for prayer and reflection; the dramatic and ‘’amazing’’ development of RE in school which now makes an ‘’outstanding contribution’’ to our community; improving attendance; working with Governors; and the place of the Ormerod Resource Base at the heart of our school.
You are now able to read the report yourselves on our website. For us as a school, I feel that we have, in some ways, broken a ‘glass ceiling’. I have made no secret of the fact that I want our school to be outstanding – and I have meant that in every way possible, not just in ‘Ofsted’ or ‘SIAMs’ terms. The report recognises that we are on a journey, but that the progress we have made to get to this point is at the ‘top end’ of good and in some crucial areas, genuinely outstanding. And I believe we have achieved this by creating a school where people – all people in the community – are listened to, valued and trusted. This is an important report, not just in itself, but in the affirmation it gives to the work we are all doing, parents included, to create the right environment for our young people to flourish. They are proud to be part of our school, and you can be proud too.