Our approach at Catmose is one which blends high expectations for all, staff and students alike, alongside offering experiences which are not limited to those that take place in the classroom. We deliberately offer a range of activities that challenge, build resilience and develop leadership skills. This is through electives, music, drama, sport, academic competition, trips and visits and Duke of Edinburgh. We know that students who enjoy College life and are engaged by what happens there will tend to attend every day and do better in their studies. We also offer support to all students who are struggling, whether it be with their academic studies or with a pastoral matter. If your child is interested in becoming more involved with extra-curricular activities, please contact the following people: Leanne Mitchell, Director of Drama firstname.lastname@example.org, Matt Sammy, Director of Music email@example.com and Mark Smith, Team Leader for Sport firstname.lastname@example.org If your child is interested in any other activities such as public speaking, the student media team, the tech team or becoming a librarian, please enquire via their form tutor.
This week saw the publication of RAISEonline which is an analysis of college examination performance used to guide our improvement. It would also guide the work of Ofsted should we be inspected, that it is so positive reinforces why we continue to believe our approach is right.
RAISEonline provides a critical look at our students’ performance in respect of how well they do and the progress they have made since joining us from their primary schools. It is therefore pleasing to share with you its key findings which reflect our own analysis which is available through the Transformation Plan.
It lists our strengths as:
- Overall KS4 value added (the progress students have made since Year 6 SATs) was significantly above average.
- KS4 value added was broadly average or above in all subject areas.
- From at least 5 out of every 6 starting points, the proportions of KS4 pupils making and exceeding expected progress in English & Mathematics were close to or above national figures.
- From at least 5 out of every 6 starting points, the proportion of disadvantaged KS4 pupils
- making and exceeding expected progress in English & Mathematics was similar to that of other pupils nationally.
- Attendance was high (in the highest 10% of all mainstream schools nationally).
- Persistent absence was below average.
- No group had low attendance (in the lowest 10% of all mainstream schools nationally).
This is a significant list of strengths which demonstrate our continued focus on ensuring that every student who joins us make the best possible progress they can.
Those of you who know the College well will also know of our inclusive nature supporting students within our special provision that would otherwise need to attend an out-of-county special school. These students are often not entered for GCSEs because of the nature of their additional needs; instead they access a bespoke curriculum, for example studying small animal care. It is unfortunate that these courses are not recognised in this analysis as it leads to their excellent performance not being recognised in the same way as that of our other students. We are however equally proud of what they have accomplished with us.
We are, however, also always looking to improve further and this year, following feedback from you, staff and students, we are focussing on the way in which we provide information about your child’s progress in order that we can all best understand their achievements and support them.
You will have already received your child’s first checkpoint report which shows how well they have done over the last 8 weeks in each subject; you will continue to receive these regularly over the course of this year. The report uses at least three checkpoint tasks which assess how well students have learnt and can apply the skills and knowledge they have been taught recently. These are low-stakes assessments which we have always carried out but will also be shared with students and parents/guardians, creating an open mark book. They will also be in a range of formats depending on the subject and the content being taught.
A task might be:
- A spelling test for which their prep may well have been to learn the words, and for which they will receive a score out of 10.
- A lesson-based task for which no prep was given, but following feedback an opportunity is given to improve their mark; the improved mark being used for the assessment score.
- An assessed prep using an examination-style question to assess their understanding and ability to apply their learning.
There will be a large variety of different approaches taken by teachers but there will also be consistency; all students within the same subject will take the same checkpoint tasks in the same way to allow a direct comparison of their performance with the rest of the year group or tier of entry. This will allow you to be able to track your child’s progress against their target grades and will also allow the College to support students who are not making adequate progress given their ability.
In addition to checkpoint reports you will also receive a detailed academic report from your child’s tutor who will assess their overall academic performance alongside their wider involvement in the College and suggest ways in which they can improve further.
Finally, we have responded to your feedback regarding progress evenings and this year will be trialling offering two opportunities to meet with your child’s teachers. We encourage everyone to attend the first evening in the year but the second evening will be more targeted to those students whose progress is causing a particular concern, whose parents will be specifically invited in order that we can look together at the support in place and ensure that better progress is made going forward.
We will continue to keep all of these developments under review but if you do wish to comment regarding how this is working from you or your child’s perspective I would be very interested to hear from you.