A Level Results 2017
A message from Mr Willis and Mr Domville (Chair of Governors):
We wanted to improve on last year's result at 53% (A* - B), expected about 55% and hoped for 58%. To get 62% is really remarkable. We have many departments that have really excelled themselves. This is the consequence of extremely hard work given the scale of curriculum reforms with which teachers and students have had to contend.
At the top end four students from Wallingford School will be starting courses at Oxbridge this year and a third of all A Level exams sat were A or A*.
It is really impressive that, as a group, the young people who sat exams from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who received bursaries did remarkably well. A disadvantaged student at Wallingford achieves more, on average, than their non-disadvantaged counterparts nationally. That means the school has wiped that disadvantage out and given these young people a crack at life beyond school on better than equal terms.
Success like this is always a community effort. It requires parents, staff and students who all believe in what we are trying to achieve. This ensures that the very brightest are celebrated and encouraged and they in turn show patience and appreciation for those who need to work hard to overcome things that make achievement more challenging. This is underpinned by having not just high expectations for yourself but wanting the best for those around you; adults and young people alike.
Wallingford is always a great place to work but on days like today: just wonderful.
A Level Results 2017
Number of pupils: 93
% of entries A* to A: 33
% entries A* to B: 62
% entries A* to E: 99.6
Measuring Exam Success
This year there are so many new performance measures (some worthwhile and some about doing what the government wants) that every head teacher will be claiming their school has done a brilliant job. Every announcement will say best results ever, top school in the world, most progress ever seen, etc.
While I am unlikely to say publicly that we have achieved results that stink the place up I do want to be honest about what, in our eyes, would constitute success. An honest school measures itself through student progress, which we won't know until next term. On results day the measure is about attainment. On that we would say the following:
For us, a reasonable performance would be about 52% A* to B. That would signal progress that is a fair bit better than national average across the board.
If we get 55% or more we have done a really good job, even better than the high levels we have been used to.
58% or better and the school will be punching the air, and you can expect our value added to be very strong indeed, despite our great GCSE performance with this year group two years ago.
EBacc, Progress 8, Attainment 8 etc. are measures to do with making students follow courses that fit league tables. We may decide not to publish them, though our EBacc score is always very strong.
The subjects everyone takes, and which are very difficult to game, are English and Maths. They are also pretty important for young people starting off in the world. For that reason we are judging ourselves against this measure.
We want 70% students taking Maths to be at Level 4 or better and the same for English to say we have done a decent job.
If we get 76% it will be a very successful year indeed. This should hit the top 20% nationally for progress.
78% would be terrific and it has been the very top end of our ambition, perhaps top 5% nationally for progress.
At level 5 we want 50% to be good by our standards, 55% to be very smug indeed and we set a very ambitious target of hitting 62%. It is not impossible but beyond what could reasonably be expected of staff or students, even those as talented as ours.
I am aware we are making ourselves a hostage to fortune by stating this before the results are published but wanted you to be able to trust us when we say we feel we have done a decent job and for it not to look like sour grapes when others may make a fuss about what we see as less genuine measures.
You can see that nothing we have aimed at is safe or mediocre. Even so, if we fall short we will acknowledge that and not pretend otherwise. If we say we are pleased with our performance you can tell that we have good grounds.
- Mr Willis
A Couple of Important Things to Note About Uniform for Next Term
We are chasing the holy grail of knee-length skirts, without slits and which are not tight.
To avoid slits and stretchy material we have added a requirement that skirts be bought from the school shop. This is now school policy.
We want to be sensible and helpful. We are aware of cost and that for some girls the fit may not be quite right. For this reason we are not going to insist on the rule for its own sake. If a student turns up in a knee-length skirt that is not made of stretchy material and doesn't have a slit it will be fine. We will not be checking labels for the sake of an argument.
If someone turns up in a short skirt that is tight or has a slit, it clearly won't be from the shop and we will insist that this is rectified. In most cases we will provide a skirt, send an invoice and insist it is worn. We will not be teaching students alongside their classmates if they don't turn up in proper uniform, neither will they be allowed to mix with others in social time.
The fashion for boys has shifted from baggy and round the knees to skin tight and bunched at the ankles. It isn't fair on the girls if they are asked to adhere to a traditional school uniform but the boys can customise things according to fashion. We are going to insist that they buy trousers that are tailored, not gathered at the ankle. If there is any doubt that they are appropriate, they probably aren't. Chinos and jeans are not school trousers. Nothing with a pocket on the outside qualifies.
This is a choice parents will be making when they send their children to school in, or out of, the correct uniform. It would be unreasonable to send a child into school dressed in the wrong skirt or trousers and complain when we react in exactly the way we have said we will.
Please let us know if money is an issue and we will happily help out. You don't have to be on free school meals. There are times when most families find this sort of expense just one bit too much, especially where more than one child is concerned. The school does not take one penny out of the uniform budget for anything else. We work hard to keep costs down. This is simply about making the uniform so that students look ready for study and nobody can be singled-out or form groups to be seen as more 'cool' than their peers.
I hope you understand. We are keen not to have parents surprised by enforcement that comes out of the blue. We hope to reassure those who complain that the infringements of uniform let the school down, while limiting the chance of parents looking miserable on the front of the local paper with their child at home because being dressed for a party doesn't, in their view, affect their child's education.
Thank you. I love working here and support on matters like this, especially from those who don't fully agree, is a major reason why it is such a great place to teach.
I hope everyone is enjoying a great summer, despite the weather.
- Mr Willis
European Open Agility Championships
Year 8 student Rory and his dog, Sonic, have won a bronze and silver medal representing Team GB at the European Open Agility Championships in Luxembourg. He lost out on gold by just a few hundredths of a second.
Well done Rory!
Young Furniture Makers 2017
Last year, ex-student Ella Lemaire was a joint winner for the Furniture Makers Company School Design Prize. In this video Ella describes her experience since exhibiting her product and what she plans to do next.
Ella completed her A Level Product Design course at Wallingford School in 2016.
House Wildlife & Nature Photography Competition
Last month the Science Department organised a House photography competition with the theme of wildlife and nature. This proved to be a very popular competition, with over 200 entries!
A big well done to all students and staff who entered. Judging commenced last Thursday with the winning selection announced on Friday. Please see the winning photographs below.
We Care About Mental Health - An Officer Initiative
One of the areas that School Officers have been focusing on this year is mental health. We recognise how important this is, particularly for young people who will inevitably encounter many stresses throughout their education. Our aim has been to make sure every student in the school knows what help is available to them, both in school and elsewhere.
As such, we have created some 'Mental Health Help Cards'. These have been given to all students in all year groups today.
We thought we'd share the background of this initiative:
Lake District Revision Trip - May 2017
Sunday morning was a very early start (for some more than others) as we set off for the Lake District. Our journey was smooth, with most people trying hard to get some shut-eye. The highlight was reaching our destination, which was beautiful, and we were all excited about the week ahead.
Applying to University - Top Tips from an Ex-Student
Ex-student Maya Parchment was interviewed by The Guardian for an article about applying to university, having gone through the process herself. Here's the advice she had for sixth formers.
SEND Forum Meeting
The next SEND Forum meeting, for parents of students on the SEND register, will take place on Wednesday 24th May, 5.30pm - 6.30pm in the SEND department.
Ryan Bradley (ASC outreach) will be talking to parents about managing children's transition between Key Stages, particularly Years 6 - 7 & Years 9 - 10. As many students struggle with these transitions the meeting should be both informative and helpful. Parents of Year 6 pupils with ASC are welcome to attend.