Welcome to Sir Thomas Wharton Community College
There is a saying that goes ‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got’. Whilst we have considerable good practice across the college and with our work in the community, I and the staff know we need to do things differently and better to become an outstanding school.
Visitors to the college continue to praise the ethos and care they witness when they enter and tour the building. Our students feel a strong sense of loyalty and like the staff are hurt by the perceived criticism. Their thoughts are typified by the comments of student council member Kirsty-Jo Nelthorpe in Y11. However, they like us recognise we have to work harder and increase the pace and depth of our learning.
It is now three months on from our Ofsted Inspection and much has happened in that time to both plan and secure improvements to teaching and the leadership of teaching. Our college has been appointed one of Her Majesty’s Inspector (HMI) of schools to both challenge and support us through the next 18 months in our journey to overcome ‘serious weaknesses’. He paid his first visit to us on Monday 20 March to evaluate both the Academy Trust’s ‘statement of action’ and the ‘post-Ofsted action plan’.
The ‘statement of action’ was approved and is available to view here. The ‘action plan’ requires further amendments to include the external support the college has commissioned and clear timelines set out in phases over 18 months. The formal letter relating to this visit will be available on the Ofsted website from 12 May 2015.
Since the visit much of the work has been in addressing the areas of improvements to teaching as identified through our own self-evaluation and endorsed in the areas for development in the Ofsted report.
There have been some significant changes to leadership of teaching including a re-structuring of leadership and job roles with a much greater emphasis on the leadership of improving and quality assuring teaching. Only through ensuring all teaching becomes good or outstanding will we attain examination and progress outcomes for our students that reflect their potential. For most staff this will be secured through staff development programmes to help them plan more effective lessons that focus on progress, high expectations, challenge and engagement. Support staff managers in all areas are being challenged to re-think their teams to ensure their energies primarily support improvements to learning and progress, whether that be through supporting students to remove barriers to learning or through supporting teachers to be more effective.
We are also changing the curriculum for September 2015 to be more effective. Plans to extend students’ learning time with an increase in curriculum share going to core subjects of English and Mathematics was approved by the HMI. Staff, with the support of schools graded outstanding by Ofsted, are currently planning new schemes of work and assessments that build on the skills our students arrive with from primary school and address the demands of new GCSEs and A levels.
The impact of an increase in curriculum time means that students will have longer lessons in most subject areas to enable deeper learning. This will alter the length and start of the college day. The college day will move from 6 x 50 minute lessons to 8 x 40 minute lessons with most lessons taught in a double of 80 minutes. The college day will start earlier but finish at the same time. Bus times will be adjusted accordingly. The proposed model and consultation letter can be found here.
Two outstanding schools and their headteachers are providing challenge and support, adding their expertise to benchmark teaching, support staff development and quality assure our plans and progress. Beryce Nixon, a National Leader in Education, from our closest Primary school, Hilltop is supporting improving teaching, especially at Key Stage 3 and in the development of the curriculum so transition builds on the skills attained in Key Stage 2. Helen Redford-Hernandez, a Local leader in Education and headteacher at Hungerhill School, is also deploying key leaders at senior level and subject level to support us. This is further supported by Hungerhill’s imminent status as Doncaster’s first secondary ‘teaching school’. English and Mathematics are already working closely with their Hungerhill counterparts.
The involvement of Hungerhill and Hilltop schools will help us to accelerate improvements in the short term, help build capacity and expertise, so that once removed from the Ofsted category ‘serious weaknesses’, we can rapidly move towards our aim of being outstanding like our partners. This remains our ambition and intention.
How to apply
If you want to apply for courses, you will need to contact Sir Thomas Wharton Community College directly.