Witchford Village College transforms from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ in all areas thanks to ‘no child left behind’ mantra and hard-working teachers and pupils

Chris Terry, headteacher of Witchford Village College.

Chris Terry, headteacher of Witchford Village College. - Credit: Archant

Witchford Village College has transformed itself from a school that ‘requires improvement’ to become ‘good’ in all areas thanks to a “no child left behind” mantra and hard-working teachers and pupils.

Witchford Village College pupils.

Witchford Village College pupils. - Credit: Archant

The glowing report comes 18 months after Ofsted put the college - which has 822 pupils - into ‘requires improvement’ in all categories.

In February 2015, the college was told that it needed to shape up and focus on the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.

Ofsted inspectors returned in November 2015 and found that changes were being made but more still needed to be done to make sure it became worthy of receiving the Ofsted ‘good’ goal.

The new report, based on an inspection in October 2016, says “leaders have successfully driven improvement over the last two years across all aspects of the college.

Witchford Village College pupils.

Witchford Village College pupils. - Credit: Archant

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“There is very clear improvement in pupil outcomes across a wide range of subjects including, but not limited to, English and mathematics.

“Pupils make good progress. This results from effective planning, strong teacher knowledge of the subject material and how best to teach it, good behaviour, and effective working relationships.

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“The college’s self-evaluation is accurate, demonstrating that leaders know their institution well.

“They have correctly identified strengths and areas for improvement and as a result their energies have been targeted correctly and effectively.”

Witchford Village College pupils.

Witchford Village College pupils. - Credit: Archant

Principal Chris Terry, who came into the role in September 2013, said: “It is the result of a great deal of hard work and dedication from pupils and staff alike.

“We have worked incredibly hard to secure better progress and attainment for our pupils and have seen a 16 per cent rise in headline results over the last two years.

“This endorsement from Ofsted, recognising the hard work and improvements made, will allow us to concentrate and refine our work further to provide even better provision for our students in the future.”

The Ofsted inspection took place on October 12 and 13.

Witchford Village College pupils.

Witchford Village College pupils. - Credit: Archant

Ofsted’s praise for the college:

• Leaders’ mantra of ‘no child left beiind’ has borne fruit this summer with the progress from their starting points made by disadvantaged pupils being similar to that of other pupils in the college and ahead of that found nationally

• Changes to the behaviour policy have led to much better behaviour. The on-site alternative provision centre is effective at keeping pupils in the college and ensuring that they are making progress, while at the same time managing any challenging behaviour

• Leaders have worked hard to improve attendance. As a result it has improved, but not all groups of pupils attend regularly enough

Witchford Village College pupils.

Witchford Village College pupils. - Credit: Archant

to benefit from the college’s good provision

• The great majority of parents responding to Parent View, Ofsted’s online questionnaire, are very supportive of the college and their child’s experience. A typical comment was: ‘The staff are brilliant and there is a lovely family feel about the school. We are delighted with the school.’ Over the last two years, leaders have successfully retained that ‘lovely family feel’ while raising standards

• Governors have successfully steered the college on a journey that has led to its current improvement

• Learning is most effective in the lessons where teachers challenge pupils to think logically and explain their answers. For example, in a science lesson looking at the properties of gases, liquids and solids, the teacher used questioning skilfully so that pupils could establish whether a sponge was a solid or not

• In the last three years there have been no permanent exclusions, and the number of fixed-term exclusions is low. The college is proactive in dealing with bullying. The college has a mentoring scheme and uses sensible restorative approaches. The ‘on-site alternative provision’ area is effective at re-introducing pupils to lessons in the main college and ensuring that pupils who are not yet ready to re-join classes continue to make progress in their work

• ‘The Cabin’ provides a highly supportive setting for pupils in the college’s specialist provision for children with autism. The care and support in this nurturing environment set them up really well for making progress in lessons in the rest of the college, where they make better than expected progress. This is really effective provision. The progress of pupils who have special education needs and/or disabilities is generally in line with that of other pupils in the college

• There are no pupils being educated off-site

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