Walbottle Campus occupies a large, beautiful site in the Tyne valley. It could be described as a city school in rural surroundings, as 1000 students are bussed to school each day. There has been a school on the Walbottle Campus site for over 50 years. Initially there were three buildings that made up the site and they were organised as a grammar school and two secondary modern schools. Since those early days there have been many changes, not least being those of the last few years.
Our stunning £35m new school has received acclaim from parents, carers, staff, students and the wider community. Although the new building looks fantastic, the most important factor is that it all comes together under one roof and works fantastically well for us too. Please visit our website and click on ‘Explore’, where you will be able to access a short video showing you the wonderful facilities that we boast. I am confident that you will be thrilled and will want to visit and work in such outstanding facilities.
However, buildings alone do not make a good school. We have a brilliant staff here, who regularly go the extra mile for our students. From the Ofsted’s inspection report, it was noted that
‘The Headteacher’s outstanding leadership has transformed staffing in the school, driven improvements and established a completely new senior leadership team. This team is accelerating improvements by effective implementation of their roles and responsibilities. Together they are creating a culture of striving for excellence in teaching and learning, and an environment in which every individual feels safe and valued. There is a calm, purposeful atmosphere in this vibrant, happy school. Students’ behaviour is good, and they feel safe and secure in school.’
All staff have their own personal laptop computer, a data projector and interactive whiteboard in every classroom to assist with their teaching and to ensure learning is motivating and interactive and we have an excellent VTLE, which is forever developing and evolving.
We have a truly comprehensive intake, with 1704 students presently on roll including 252 in the Sixth Form. Many of our students progress to university, while many others have their learning needs met through a wide range of support throughout the school.
We are very proud of our school and the way our community of students, parents, staff and governors work together to provide an engaging learning environment so that each student achieves their full potential. We all learn best when we are happy and valued, supported, challenged and encouraged, so at Walbottle Campus we take care to ensure our students' education is both enriching and enjoyable. Academic excellence is at the heart of our school, but we nurture equally creativity, personal and physical development, independence and spirited, inquiring minds.
All students are individuals, and there can be no single pathway to success. Consequently, we endeavor to build on the raw talent and energy that all students bring with them, to help him or her to achieve personal success. Our school motto, Offering Opportunity and Valuing Achievement is reflected in every day life at Walbottle, and each student will have a real sense of these values throughout their time with us. We will support students as they explore their learning with confidence and creativity, and encourage them in finding a positive sense of achievement and fulfillment.
Our Key Stage 4 examination results have improved significantly over the past three years, with the Ofsted’s inspection report stating ‘There has been a strong trend of rising attainment at GCSE since the previous inspection In 2011, the proportion of students gaining five or more A* to C grade passes was significantly above the national average, and 2012 almost every student achieved this pass rate. Students’ progress is good in many subjects, partly because of the excellent way the school makes sure every individual is fully involved in school life and work. In the majority of lessons students makes good progress, because teachers expect them to work hard and support each other. Reading, speaking and listening are well promoted in most lessons because students work together to gather information or talk to each other to solve problems.’ This year we achieved 99% 5+ A*-C; with 44% of students achieving 5+ A*-C including Mathematics and English. 100% of students achieved 5+ A*-G and 100% of students achieved at least one qualification.
We know we can do even better and we have developed internal tracking to ensure that assessment to support learning is at the heart of everything we do, so that every student makes or exceeds their expected levels of progress.
Our Ofsted report recognised many strong and good features, one of which was the Staff Training Programme. The early finish to the teaching day every other Wednesday has allowed us to focus our training sessions on Assessment to Support Learning, including Learning and Progress. It is making a positive difference and has brought recognition from other schools and the Local Authority.
The Ofsted Workforce Reform survey rated the school as ‘good’ and stated, ‘Walbottle Campus is a welcoming, responsive and inclusive school that strives to provide an appropriate education for all of its students. Members of the reformed workforce make a positive contribution to the education of a range of students, especially the most vulnerable and those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.’
As an Investor in People (IiP) school, we place great emphasis on staff development with a comprehensive internal CPD programme running throughout the year. We have an excellent induction programme for new staff and we pride ourselves on the number of staff that gain promotion, both internally and to other schools.
We have many aspects to be proud of at Walbottle Campus, including:
- A strong Student Voice, which recently was awarded the Investors in Children award for the second time. Our students also voted and had a major role in designing our uniform of a shirt, tie and jumper.
- We have a thriving Sixth-form of 252 students, with an ‘A’-level pass rate of 100%+ and a fantastic extra curricular programme that has an enviable reputation.
- Sport is very strong within the school, with international performers participating in a range of sports. We also have Sporting Academies in Football, Basketball, Dance and Golf, where we have strong community links with local professionals.
- Performing Arts and creative subjects are very popular and are most certainly developing with fantastic shows and performances.
- Learning Support, which includes a wide range of professionals, is dedicated to improving the life chances of some of our most needy students and our vocational curriculum at Key Stage 4 has been transformed over the past 5 years, including an onsite Hairdressing Salon, a Construction Workroom and an Animal Care Room.
Ofsted visited out school in May 2014 and the following strengths were highlighted:
- The proportion of students who gain five GCSE grades A* to C, including English and mathematics, has increased steadily since the last inspection.
- The dedicated headteacher, supported well by a talented senior team, has put in place well thought out strategies to further raise achievement. Consequently, this is an improving school.
- Governors know the school well and hold the leadership to account with rigour.
- Teaching is improving and there are examples of outstanding teaching in the main school and in the sixth form.
- Students feel safe and behave well. The school’s work to ensure its students are secure is good.
- The provision for students with autism is of a very high quality and, as a result, they make good progress.
W Paul Sampson