The first stage of our application to create the Harington School is a bid to the New Schools Network. If it is accepted they will support our full application to the Department for Education, their support is critical with 84% of free schools accepted onto their programme ultimately having been successful in 2012. A key part of the application process is demonstrating the need and support of parents for the proposed school, we are currently in the process of writing the rationale and I thought it would be useful to share our progress.
I have previously written about:
- the performance of post-16 providers in the 2013 performance tables (summer 2012 results);
- Post 16 – desinations after studying at various providers
- Post 16 – Consultation Responses (March 2012)
- Post-16 – the need for objective data (March 2012)
The data all points to the same conclusions, the most academic post-16 students of Rutland (those achieving 5 grade Bs at GCSE or higher) are currently poorly served by the current provision easily available to them. They have a stark choice; to travel for an hour or more or to pay significant fees to access independent schools; for students from a poor socio-economic background neither of these choices is feasible. The situation is exacerbated by the contrast with 11-16 provision where all provision is at least Good with outcomes reflecting some of the highest performance nationally.
The county of Rutland is the smallest nationally, falling into the sparse rural category and ONS data demonstrating an average income below that of the national average. The small size of the county and it sparse population makes transportation difficult and expensive. Therefore, travel outside of the County can be difficult for all but the most determined. Students whose main need is to access applied or vocational courses are well served by a number of local FE providers based in Stamford and Melton. In order to access academic provision, students need to travel to Leicester, Peterborough or Corby which for many students will involve travel times of over one hour each way.
The number of children projected to live in Rutland within the 15-19 age range is set to grow reaching 3000 by 2015 (from SNPP England 2008). This will place significant place pressure on the only provision currently available in County, CBEC (Casterton Business and Enterprise College colloquially know as Rutland County College).
The current outcomes for Rutland’s most able students is poor, as is demonstrated by the latest Local Area Interactive Tool (LAIT) which can be accessed here: http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/strategy/research/lait/a0070240/lait
To best illustrate the need for a provision that better serves Rutland’s most academic students, we have extracted key data from this tool. The Harington School provision we are proposing is designed to enable all students, but in particular those from lower socio-economic backgrounds access to the best universities. This requires students to achieve the AAB grades at A level demanded from these institutions. Rutland is performing very poorly when this benchmark is considered over the three years CBEC has been managing state provision in Rutland as ‘Rutland County College’. The percentage of students achieving AAB in 201 was 9.9 %, in 2012 0% and in 2013 9.1 %, this places the county in the lowest quartile, D, significantly lower than our statistical neighbours (approx. 19%) and nationally (approx. 20%).
When looking at the performance of the most able (those achieving at least three grade As at A level), you can see that there is a similar pattern. In 2011 only 4.2% and in 2012 0% of students achieved this benchmark.
In respect of the performance of students who are eligible for free school meals, the picture is similarly worrying. In 2010 29% of Rutland students in this category achieved a level 3 qualification, in 2011 31% but in 2012 only 21%, again placing the authority in lowest quartile of D. The county is now performing lower than the national, its statistical neighbours and the East Midlands. There is a similar pattern when looking at the inequality gap.
The data from the DfE for the last few years clearly demonstrates a need for an academic provision locally such as the Harington School. We are proposing for it to become a reality, however we need the support of parents in order to demonstrate that there is also a demand for it. If you would like to support the proposal please do complete the form on our website www.haringtonschool.com.
The use of new technology at the College is a topic I have written about on a number of occasions (new technology, video wall, ipads). This year my new Year 10 Physicists have experienced some of the latest developments in this field with the use of a drone to illustrate how motion graphs can be used to analyse the speed of an object. We are trying a new approach this year with a website being used to share notes, homework and resources instead of a text book and notes copied from the board. This gives us more time to develop our understanding of the more difficult topics in greater detail and make greater use of practical physics in order to better understand the applied elements of the course. To better see how this works in practice click through to have a look at the lesson on motion graphs using the drone, here.
The website, aptly titled ‘hard physics’ aims to make a subject that is sometimes thought to be difficult much more accessible and engaging. It can be accessed at http://hardphysics13.wordpress.com/.
Feynman made famous the following demo regarding conservation of energy, it looks dangerous but in fact is perfectly safe provided you trust in Newton’s laws!
We have been very pleased by the recent coverage in the press regarding our Harington proposal; we featured on the front cover of the local newspaper twice as well as appearing on BBC radio Leicester. An article in the Rutland Times can be accessed here. There are inevitably many questions regarding this proposal which our website and the prospectus will address in the next few weeks. It was good to see a letter in this weeks edition of the Rutland Times in support of the proposal which demonstrated just how well informed the people of Rutland are.
However, there were a number of comments made in the local press by the NUT teaching union (who are philosophically opposed to all free schools, not just Harington) which I think are are worth addressing:
- Harington will widen the choice of providers of 16+ education: in a competitive education market, Harington will provide a more academic range of courses and learning experiences which will serve the needs of students for whom the current local providers don’t necessarily cater. We believe that the Harington School offer will complement the existing providers and ensure that all students are well served by the range of local providers.
- The argument that there’s no demand for Harington is wrong: the significant number of students who have to travel for hours every day is strong enough evidence to suggest that local provision is not meeting their needs. Catmose carried out a full consultation and analysis in 2012, the summary of which can be read here: http://spwilliams13.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/post-16-consultation-responses/, an analysis of destination responses from 2012 can also be read here: http://spwilliams13.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/post16destination/ and results here: http://spwilliams13.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/post-16-performance-tables-2013/. These will be updated as they become available.
- Harrington will mean that Catmose College and Uppingham Community College will attract the highest quality teachers to teach at 11-16 and within Harington.
- Harrington will only employ well-qualified staff who have the skills and experience necessary to teach A-level courses to a very high standard.
We make no judgement regarding the quality of provision. I am however concerned, as are many in the College community about the large numbers of students who choose to travel to Melton, Stamford, Leicester, Grantham and Peterborough to attend post-16 and in particular those students who are wishing to gain the highest grades at A level (aiming for at least AAB) . We have tried to address these concern directly to the LA and to CBEC’s principal, Vicky Crosher, offering support in order to improve the situation; sadly we have had no response to this offer of help. We therefore feel there is no choice but to address these concerns directly by proposing a free school offering a particular set of courses and experiences which will complement existing providers but offer experiences that have proven so popular in independent schools locally.
The Harington provision is not a criticism of any of the local providers but a response to a need that is clearly identified by national performance data in respect of outcomes for Rutland children. I have uploaded an analysis prepared by the government for Rutland LA use which can be accessed here: Rutland Post 16 Performance 2008 2012.
The public consultation we will shortly launch will help to refine our ideas further about the shape of the provision with participation from students and their parents who are currently in year 9 or younger will be critical to ensure we create a provision that will meet a local need.
Once we have published the website and prospectus we will be looking to engage with a small group of parents who wish to support the further development of this proposal, if you are interested please contact Catmose College or Uppingham Community College directly.
Why the name Harington for our proposed sixth form?
The name Harington is synonymous with Rutland, due to being the name of one of our oldest families, from Exton; a family that supported the Royal family despite great personal cost. It was that willingess to serve others and the strong connection to Rutland that made their family name an ideal choice for a new Sixth Form designed to cater for the needs of our most able students who currently have to travel significant distances in order to access a post-16 provision that meets their needs.
We will shortly be publishing a full consultation which will include a prospectus that will outline the Harington philosophy for a Sixth Form education; its curriculum, uniform and admissions criteria. This is an exciting development but we will need the full support of the Rutland community to make it a reality.
Our plans for the next 12 months:
The current post-16 provision for our most academic students within Rutland is poor and statistics from 2012 suggest a decline. In 2011 9.9 % of students gained A level grades at AAB or better and in 2012 no students gained these grades, placing Rutland in the D quartile.
Students in Rutland have to search hard to access suitable provision – our Year 11 students go to over 16 different providers. Academic students have to travel considerable distances to access high quality Sixth Forms such as Kings in Peterborough and QE in Leicester. In many cases this causes stress. Alternatively they have to pay for independent schooling. This seriously disadvantages able students from low income families (transport to Leicester is over £2,000 per year). The local independent schools’ fees are beyond the reach of low and middle income families.
Catmose College and Uppingham Community College have therefore decided to put in a joint bid to open a Post-16 Free school which will provide for academically able students, with a special emphasis on those from low income families. This has been agreed upon by both governing bodies and work has begun on the prospectus which will outline the new school’s vision and ethos. Harington, an old Rutland name, has been chosen for the sixth form and a logo has been finalised, along with a uniform. Work has been completed on areas such as the curriculum and admissions, research is underway for a suitable site, although this is not essential for the DfE bid.
The New Schools Network has four windows per year in which to apply for a place on their development programme which advises on the DfE bid and provides some financial support. We are intending to apply in the January round.
ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED
- Completion of the prospectus (end of November)
- Support within the community for Harington through promotional resources, public meetings and events.
- Application for the NSN development programme
- Application to the DfE
- Secure a suitable site
- Establish the Governance of Harington
- Creation and staffing of a management structure for Harington
- Creation of policies which support the vision and ethos of Harington
- Promotion of Harington within the community to recruit students
Want to find out more about the Harington family? Wikipedia has publish a full article on the family which can be viewed here.
JOHN HARINGTON – 1ST BARON HARINGTON OF EXTON
John Harington (1539/40 – 23 August 1613), was an English courtier and politician.
Harington was the eldest son of James Harington (lawyer). Sir James Harington (c.1511–1592) of Exton Hall, Rutland, and his wife, Lucy Sidney (c.1520–c.1591), daughter of Sir William Sidney and his wife, Anne Pagenham. His family was said to have held ‘the most extensive estates in Rutland during the late sixteenth century’.
Harington was knighted in 1584. He joined the Inner Temple in 1558, and was Member of Parliament for Rutland (UK Parliament constituency) in 1571.
He was commissioner of the peace for Kesteven from about 1559 to 1593, servant to Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester in the Netherlands 1585, keeper of Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, for Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick (1588–90), High Sheriff of Warwickshire (1582-3), and knight of the shire (MP) for Warwickshire (UK Parliament constituency)|in 1586. He accompanied Mary, Queen of Scots, through Warwickshire on her way to Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire 1586, MP for Rutland in 1593 and 1601, Deputy Lieutenant of Rutland and Warwickshire during the 1590s. He was also High Sheriff of Rutland in 1594,1598 and 1602.
Sir John Harington was created Baron Harington in July 1603 at the coronation of James I of England, the first Baron Harington of Exton, Rutland. He was made guardian of James’ daughter, Elizabeth of Bohemia. The high cost of entertaining the Princess ruined him. As partial recompense Harington was granted a licence to mint the first copper farthings by the King. Princess Elizabeth married the Frederick V, Elector Palatine, to become the “Winter Queen”. Lord Harington accompanied her to Bohemia, but died on his way back in 1613.
Catmose College enjoyed another really successful evening last night, we welcomed approximately 1000 guests to have a look at our facilities and meet with staff and students. It was by all accounts an enjoyable evening for all involved, many parents commented to me as they were leaving how well our prefects had looked after them and how articulate and welcoming they were. The range of activities on offer really engaged the students who are considering us for their secondary school and there was a real buzz throughout the entire event.
I spoke about the College’s ethos and how central it is to the success of the College.
We are in many respects a very traditional school having high expectations regarding uniform, behaviour and contributing to the life of the College. However, we also fully exploit new technology and facilities. This unique approach of blending the best of the old with the new offers our students an incomparable experience.
We offer a huge range of extra-curricular activities as part of our electives programme but also before, during and after College. Our sports teams compete very well across the region, and have been national finalists in a number of events. Around a quarter of students learn a musical instrument, in our most recent musical production the College band performed the score live. Our musical productions offer up to 200 students the chance to get involved by dancing, acting, directing or as part of the technical team. Trips and visits are central to the life of the College, we offer the Duke of Edinburgh scheme but also opportunities such as the recent expedition to Ghana, supporting the local community to build a new orphanage.
Our examination results over the last five years speak for themselves, as we are one of the highest performing comprehensive schools nationally. Perhaps the greatest endorsement of our approach is from the parents and students who speak so warmly of their experiences at the College.
The presentation I used to frame this speech can be view by clicking the link here.
Each year we review all aspects of the College’s performance in a document called the Transformation Plan. As part of this process we identify the areas we will look to improve upon further. A key part of this process is the use of surveys of staff, students and parents which identify areas we are particularly strong at as well as those that need developing.
This image shows what parents think we do well at:
It is encouraging to see all three groups of stakeholders recognising the range of opportunities as being a strength but also how good teaching is alongside excellent facilities and also the continued emphasis on the individual student being at the heart of what we do. However, we are not complacent and continually strive to improve. This year we have identified the following areas for improvment:
There continues to be national changes to GCSE and the KS3 national curriculum that the College needs to respond to in order to ensure we are best meeting our students’ needs. We are responding by looking at IGCSE courses for our most able, alongside traditional GCSEs and applied options to ensure every student continues to be successful at the College.
HARINGTON FREE SCHOOL
The College has for a number of years been concerned about the quality of the local post-16 provision, particularly for our most able students who struggle to afford to travel or find the fees for an independent school. There is good provision locally for foundation courses and those wishing to pursue an applied route. It is our intention to consult on creating a Free School with Uppingham Community College that would cater for the needs of our most academic students.
There have been a number of changes to teachers’ terms and conditions over the last 12 months including the introduction of performance related pay progression. We have not yet as an academy explored the possibility of introducing different contracts for teaching and support staff but see advantages in doing so. The purpose of this strand is to ensure the successful implementation of the former and explore with Federation directors the advantages of the latter.
The professional development strand was very successful last year and has firmed the view that we are well placed to consider an application to become a teaching school. The College has been appointed as a National Support School which recognises its capacity to bring about improvement in other schools. It is our intention to offer training to teachers from across the locality which would encompass initial teacher training through to preparation for headship. This will be an effective way to both train our own staff and retain our existing staff through the opportunities this would bring.
Assessment is becoming more important with the national trend towards linear examinations, it is therefore critical that we are using high quality assessments throughout the academic year that accurately predicts student outcomes. This will enable parents to support their children more effectively and the College to intervene.
Due to the link with pay progression and the changes to the Ofsted framework it is critical to ensure our observations of teachers are accurate. We also need to ensure that the new performance reviews are consistently carried out so that all staff are treated fairly.
BEYOND THE CLASSROOM
We already offer a broad range of activities that are designed to promote independence and resilience whilst broadening students’ experiences. This year we are looking to extend this to include a range of scholarship opportunities to offer our most talented students experiences that will allow them to compete nationally in sport and music, as well as academically.
The College has made a significant contribution to developing the use of technology to improve the student experience. To sustain this requires significant investment in staffing and resources. Our aim remains to have a national reputation in the use of technology.
The Federation organisations of the College, Primary and Nursery are all maintained to a very high standard. It is the intention this year to explore an extension to the College to allow an additional 180 students to attend. We are looking to source a building suitable for the Harington Free School. Catmose Nursery is very successful and over subscribed
The last five years has seen a year-on-year increase in the number of admissions for the College’s 180 Year 7 places. In 2012 we saw 266 applications, however the pattern of applications was unusual with a significant number of siblings applying for places and so this should not be taken as the norm.
I therefore thought it would be useful to clarify how school admissions work and in particular the Catmose College policy. This explanation should be read in the context of the College’s admissions policy which is how a decision to admit or decline a place is determined. In addition, this explanation should only be used as a general guide in respect of the principles we use and not to determine whether or not a particular application will be successful.
All school admissions must follow the school admissions code which can be viewed here.
A key principle of the admissions code is that all schools must determine who gains a place based on their policy and not the order of preference that a parent places them on the applications form. In fact, local authorities do not share the parents’ preferences with the school. This is important as it means that parents are free to choose which school is their first, second and third choice without fear of losing a place at a school at which they would rank higher according to the school’s admissions policy.
ADVICE: If, having explored all of the possible options, Catmose is your first choice of school for your child, make it your first preference, but please choose two other secondary schools in case you are unsuccessful.
Catmose College does not have catchment areas (since 2013), an application could therefore be successful from any distance but this will depend from where applications are received as well as the other criteria within our policy. Our policy prioritises applications based on:
- Looked after children;
- Children who attend our feeder school Catmose Primary;
- Children of staff;
- Late applications
Please read our Admissions Policy for a full explanation of these criteria.
ADVICE: Although not guaranteed in the future, we have in the past always been able to offer places to children covered by criteria 1-4. In 2013 this accounted for 103 successful applications. It is important to read the school’s Admissions Policy in order to familiarise yourself with the criteria they use.
Each year we rank the applications for a place (independent of their preference) and return a rank order to the local authority who will then determine who is offered a place at the College. The local authorities try to offer parents their highest preference first, then their second and finally their third. Schools are then informed who has been offered a place. We then maintain a waiting list, the order of which is determined by the criteria 1-5 above, at Catmose we often have a second round of offers if some parents decline a place. Parents are also given the opportunity to appeal a decision to refuse a place. We have always been able to offer places under criteria 1 to 4 (in the past), it is distance which serves as the final determining factor.
ADVICE: If you are initially unsuccessful please do contact the College, there is the chance of a second round of offers and the option to appeal to an independent panel.
The pattern of applications to the College changes each year and this makes it difficult to predict whether an application from a parent which requires a determination based on distance will be successful, however parents may find the trends over the last few years useful. This graph show the distance from the College at which applications have been successful in the last three years:
Here it can be seen that applications from up to 16 miles away from the College were successful in 2013 (compared with 13 miles in 2011 and 2012), this however masks the effects of other criteria on applications to the College. It should also be noted that there were a greater proportion of successful applications in 2013 from much closer to the College (reflecting the new admissions policy). In the admissions policy, sibling link has a significant affect on admissions in 2013 as there were more siblings applying than ever before. This had a disproportionate effect on admissions than at any other time in our recent history, which is demonstrated in the graph below:
This chart shows the affect of the new admissions policy with much smaller numbers being admitted through the catchment and feeder criteria (CAT/FEED) with only Catmose Primary being a feeder school. It also demonstrates how we had an unusual year last year with a very high number of siblings applying (SIB). This had a disproportionate effect on overall admissions and was the key factor in reducing the distance from which we accepted places. It is unlikely that we will see such a high number of sibling applications again (although it is of course possible). The effect of this can be seen in the chart below which shows how many children were admitted from a particular distance from the College:
Here we see that in 2013 the maximum distance we accepted places from under the distance criteria was less than 6 miles compared to 12 miles in 2012 and 13 miles in 2011. It is impossible to predict at exactly which distance applications will be successful this year but this gives a reasonable guide to parents based on the past. It is worth noting however that 2013 was unusual because of the impact of a high number of sibling applications. The graph also illustrates the affect of removing catchment as a criteria, in 2013 the distance criteria was used to admit children who lived within five miles of the College in the past the catchment area or feeder school criteria had been used.
I hope this guide is useful but if you have further questions please do contact me at the College. firstname.lastname@example.org.