I write this piece for the newsletter in the week that the Department for Education (DFE) releases the official School and College performance tables. There is a great deal of detail in these tables showing the progress our students have made and allowing comparisons with other schools locally and nationally. In the local newspaper we were ranked as the top school in the town on the five A*-C including English and Maths measure, but I would draw your attention to one point which is not explained by the DFE. The government made a change to the rules for compiling such tables which allows only the inclusion of the first sitting of any exam. Therefore the students who did resits and improved their grades are not included in the tables. Our view is to do what is best for the students so any decisions about resits are made on this criterion. Our Key Stage 4 percentage of students achieving 5A*-C GCSE including English and maths appears as 67%, which was the highest in Swindon but the actual figure achieved by our young people is 70%.
Our Year 11 and Sixth form students have been receiving feedback on their progress following the Pre- Public examinations and we hope this will help them understand what they need to do in these crucial months ahead. Many departments are offering extra revision sessions and support for students in the run up to the exams and I am sure this will have as big an impact as it did last year. It was good to see so many parents attending our Academic Tutoring this month and to talk with many of you about your experience of the college.
Mrs Bailey, Miss Foley and I are currently spending a lot of time meeting students who have applied to our Sixth form. It is a great pleasure to discuss with these young people what they might do in the years ahead and to encourage them in their aspirations. We have had over 150 applications this year and are looking forward to welcoming so many students into this final phase of secondary education.
Although we had our very good Ofsted in November, we are not complacent about our self-evaluation and have scheduled a review of Teaching and Learning in February. Mr Giles and I will be joined by an external Deputy Headteacher, who is also Ofsted trained in conducting the review so that we have a clear picture of the quality of Teaching and Learning in the college.
I have been asked to speak this month at a national conference for secondary Headteachers and I look forward to telling them about St Joseph’s Swindon and praising the work done here by our students and their teachers.