I would suggest to you that 80% of school business is common to all, with teaching and learning and other common goals being shared by all schools. However, the remaining 20% is vital in separating the ‘outstanding’ schools from the ordinary. We work in an environment second to none - an area of outstanding beauty, and any visitor to the site would recognise how well students respond to this beautiful setting and to our small community.
The ethos that prevails at Winchcombe School is what sets us aside from most others in that we have less than 500 students, thus ensuring that every single youngster is valued and recognised as an individual in their own right – we are not a faceless institution where staff don’t even know each other’s names, never mind those of the students!
We create pathways for all our youngsters and don’t buy into the culture of one size fits all. This ideal is prevalent even before youngsters join the school, with personal visits for each and every one of our prospective students in their home primary schools from our Head of Year 7, induction days in the summer term prior to joining the school and even a summer school in the first two weeks of the summer holidays aimed at making the transition as smooth as possible.
This personal touch continues throughout the five years that students spend with us and even when they leave us via our career guidance that Ofsted describes as 'outstanding'. We believe that a major strength of our school is that students are able to complete their ‘core’ education (11-16) with us and are then given a choice of well over 20 further education establishments to choose from which cater for their needs and career aspirations, rather than staying on to a sixth form through a misplaced sense of loyalty or friendship reasons. This year all our Year 11 leavers were able to secure places in further education establishments such as Cheltenham College, Balcarras, Pates, South Worcestershire College or in the world of work. In this present economic climate we feel very proud that we are able to guide our youngsters so successfully on the next stage of their journey because we know their individual needs.
Achievement in the classroom is of the utmost importance and we consistently perform above the county average in both our KS3 and GCSE performance, and. because we know all of our students as individuals, we are able to set individual targets for all students in all subjects - no-one is able to slip under the radar. We place a strong emphasis on our Gifted and Talented strategy and are able to ensure our most able students are given challenging tasks which will ensure that they will maximise their ability.
Having said all this, we are not an exam factory and youngsters' personal development is equally as important as their academic success - indeed I feel the two are inextricably linked - happy, secure, safe children succeed and Ofsted recognises Winchcombe School's strength in this area when it describes pastoral care as 'outstanding'.
The personalised opportunities available to youngsters at Winchcombe School allow pupils to develop wherever their talents may lie; where else would 75% of Year 11 youngsters apply for, and be given, positions of responsibility; over 50% of Year 10 be involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Well over 50/60% of all youngsters in the school represented school sports team last year – we have sport leaders, science leaders and around 15% of the whole school are involved in the forthcoming school production.
We expect the highest possible standards of behaviour from all our students and indeed we are a lead behaviour school, one of only 20 in the country, and have been asked to share good practice with other schools at both primary and secondary level.
I would describe another partnership at the school as our triangle of learning between pupils, staff and parents and feel that training parents in the use of our VLE will enable them to play a more active role in their children's education.
We are a popular school and are over-subscribed – with this in mind we will be increasing our pupil admission number from 92 to 98 from September 2013. We have also extended our bus routes through Bishops Cleeve, Gotherington and Prestbury and into Cheltenham. However, we have no intention of a massive increase in numbers as this would eradicate the uniqueness of our school where individuals matter.
I feel that Winchcombe School is a focal point of the local community and we are involved in a number of joint projects with groups such as the Town Council, Youth Club, local G.P. practice, etc. and play host to a number of community events such as the annual Poppy Concert, Country Fayre, etc.
Winchcombe may well be a small Cotswold town but we feel our students have every right to embrace cultural diversity and with this in mind we have organised exchanges/visits with youngsters from India, Japan, China and France.
Neil Hall - Headteacher
- Contact Name
- Mr Neil Hall
- Contact Position
- Head Teacher
- 01242 602233
- GL54 5LB