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Headteacher’s Blog – 21st October 2013

October 21st, 2013

The first half term has been a very busy one for the school. We have had a wide range of activities taking place and I’m sure parents will keep up to date with all the events/ school trips on the school website.

This is indeed a time of change for education as the coalition government presses ahead with its reforms. Within these reforms there are many aspects to change that will affect all of us and, at times, it can be difficult to keep up with what is happening. Throughout all of this however, the only priority for the staff at Harrow Way is to ensure that all students achieve the levels of attainment they are capable of as well as enjoying the rich and varied experiences we offer them. The school is certainly making very good progress in the last 2 years. Since 2011, we have increased our GCSE results (5 A*-C including English and Maths) by an incredible 11%. To put that into context, that is more than double the national rate of improvement using this measure. This is testament to the superb teachers we have at the school and the hard work of all our students.

I am incredibly proud to be leading such a great school as Harrow Way. There are a number of key elements that make up a successful school. It is clear that there should be a well-balanced and stimulating curriculum and that a school should provide excellent pastoral care as children will only learn if they feel safe. However, the third major element in my view is the teaching and learning that goes on in the classroom every day. Professor Dylan Wiliam says that nationally, variability in the classroom is four times greater than at the school level. In other words the teacher really counts. Some of our best memories and experiences at school when we look back as adults is based on an inspirational teacher. That is why choosing the right person for the job and then training them regularly is so pivotal in providing the sort of educational experience parents and pupils expect.

* Professor Dylan Wiliam from the Institute of Education is an Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment. His principal research focus is the professional development of teachers through a focus on the use of evidence about student learning to adapting teaching to better meet student needs.

Following a careful and systematic review of behaviour management policies we have updated our practice so there is greater consistency across the school, enabling all students to make rapid progress in every lesson. As a Level 2 Rights Respecting School, we have also involved the students in putting together a document called our Core Values. This is based on rights and responsibilities. This will also be displayed around the school. It is based on the premise that every right we have in school entails a sense of responsibility. Our Peer Educators will be taking this to tutor groups in the next few weeks and we will be asking all students and staff to sign up to this. Most of our students consistently support the school’s values and ultimately are rewarded with excellent examination results and greater career opportunities. However, where students do not support these core values, there will be a new progressive level of intervention.

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