Dear Parents and Carers,
I am writing to thank those of you who participated in the parental survey at the end of last term and to share with you some of the results. There were 161 responses in total.
On the whole, respondents felt well informed about the school, with only 17% saying they didn’t feel informed about the school or school events. Slightly fewer people didn’t feel informed about their child’s progress at 14%, and fewer still, 11%, didn’t feel informed about their child’s behaviour. As we continue to improve out communication, we hope to reduce those figures further. We are making more of an effort with twitter this year, though the huge majority of you said that you preferred to stay informed through email or through my newsletters.
The responses on ambition and academic progress concern me. Nearly 20% of respondents didn’t think their child’s learning needs were being addressed and were unhappy with their child’s progress, and 25% doubted that the school is ambitious for their child. That last point in particular worries me because I am extremely ambitious for all of the children in the school as well as for the school itself. However, I realise that the recent past has provided an often less than satisfactory experience for some of our students, particularly those who have had a lot of temporary or supply teachers. I hope that as the school continues to improve, that sense of ambition will be one of the things to really take off.
On the topic of school improvement, the vast majority of respondents agreed that the school is improving, with only 12% disagreeing. The same small number felt that behaviour hadn’t improved whereas the majority felt that it had. In fact, respondents agreed that many aspects of the school were improving, including communication, rewards and provision for high prior attainers. Less than 10% didn’t feel that leadership and management had improved which I’m pleased with, though would like to be lower still. You were even more clear about your children feeling safe here, with only 7% saying they didn’t. I am determined that every child should feel safe here, so if you were one of the respondents who said that, please get in touch so we can talk about how to address whatever the problem is.
One area where people were less sure that the school is improving was in teaching and learning, with over a quarter of respondents feeling that it didn’t improve last year. I agree – the number of temporary teachers last year made it difficult to really focus on that as an area to improve substantially. This year, now that we are fully staffed with teachers on permanent contracts, it is right at the front of my plans.
The comments section was interesting to read. There were a lot of very positive things there – thank you for those. People recognised the efforts to rethink the curriculum, improve staffing and increase communication. The things which came up regularly as things that irritate parents were sanctions being given without notice, the lack of a long term calendar and teachers not always responding to emails in a timely fashion. The behaviour policy clearly states that students will be reminded of our expectations at every stage of the C process. If that isn’t happening, we will address that with individual teachers. Regarding the email responses, again our policy states that we will reply within 48 hours. If you email a teacher and don’t get a response within that timeframe, please let me know. Someone mentioned that it would be helpful to have staff initials on the meet the staff page of the website. We will do that. We will also publish on the website a list of all the planned trips.
The School Development Plan
In arriving at the school improvement priorities this year I have sought the advice of the senior leadership team, the staff, the governors and the parents’ panel. This survey has also been extremely useful. The three priorities for improvement are clear to me:
- Raise achievement in every key stage
- Improve the quality of teaching and learning in every subject area
- Raise standards and expectations in all aspects of school life
Although ambition isn’t mentioned specifically there, I hope those priorities show the ambition that we have for both the school and the students. Those are the things that the school development plan is built around; those are the things that governors will be asking me about; those are the things that every member of staff’s targets for next year are based on.
Beneath those three priorities sit fourteen improvement strands which are listed alphabetically below:
- Achievement and assessment – How well are students doing and how do we know?
- Appraisal – Is staff performance assessed and supported effectively?
- Behaviour – How can we make further improvements?
- Boys’ engagement – Are we doing everything we can to allow boys to achieve highly?
- Celebration – How can we communicate more positively about the good things that happen here?
- CPD – The continuous professional development of all staff through research and group practice
- Curriculum – Why do we teach what we teach when we teach it? Are students learning in enough breadth?
- HPA and aspiration – Are we encouraging every student to aim as high as they can and giving them the stretch they need to be successful?
- Personal development – How can we enrich students’ experiences through the new personal development curriculum?
- Pupil premium – How can we support children from all backgrounds to achieve highly?
- Reading and literacy – Are we doing enough to support all students to become fluent, avid readers?
- SEND – How can we further support students with special educational needs or disabilities?
- Sixth form – How we ensure the sixth form is an excellent provision for the whole of Haverhill and beyond?
- Teaching and learning – What can we do to support all teachers, including those who are already excellent, in developing their skills so that students learn more?
Each of those strands is the responsibility of a senior leader and has its own discrete set of improvement objectives. It wouldn’t be appropriate to share the detail of the plans with you, but I hope those headings give you a sense of where we want the school to go.
In response to the question about recommending the school to another parent, only 55% said they would, with a further 26% being unsure and 19% saying they wouldn’t. Given all of the staffing turbulence in past years that doesn’t surprise me. I sense that figure might change if we repeated the survey now – this years’ Year 7 students are seeing a very different school to the outgoing Year 11 students and I’m very pleased that they are. As a parent myself, I am very aware that you only get one shot at an education. We are going to continue to improve. I hope that as we do we will continue to gain more and more of your confidence.
I’ll be repeating the survey later this year.