The Cooper School in Bicester has achieved Flagship status.
This is a larger than average secondary school with approximately 1300 students on roll from year 7 through to year 13. The Post-Sixteen Centre, which opened to students in September 2011, continues to attract students, with 205 students attending. The move to a Multi Academy Trust from September 2014, in partnership with the campus primary school Glory Farm, forms the current Bicester Learning Academy Trust. There are plans to expand the MAT in the future. There is also a closer working partnership with the nearby Special School. The school remains a part of the Bicester Learning in Partnership (BILP) group which facilitates more widespread secondary and primary partnership collaboration. The Headteacher and other members of staff evidence their work with schools across Oxfordshire and beyond by the dissemination of excellent practice, by leading on aspects of learning and teaching, using new technologies and flexible learning spaces and by professional development reciprocal visits.
Recent Ofsted Inspection
The partnership with Glory Farm Primary School is having a positive impact on pupils’ progress overall, with staff across both schools often sharing their expertise and these strategies ensure that pupils make the transition from school to school with much greater confidence, as evidenced in the recent Ofsted Inspection of The Cooper School in June 2017 where they maintained their status as a Good school, where the close ties between the two schools was favourably commented on and with which I concur from a visit to Glory Farm and conversations with the Headteacher and staff during the review. Ofsted commented, “There is a caring, nurturing and inclusive ethos that permeates the school” and “a staff body who genuinely care about the pupils and wants the best for them. As a result, pupils are keen to learn and make good progress from their starting points. Pupils have great confidence in their teachers and very much value what staff do for them”. A fantastic accolade for the school and its staff and one with which I agree from the evidence seen during the review.
Inclusion is at the Heart of Everything
Thank you for inviting me back to your school to carry out your third Centre of Excellence Review. I enjoyed my visit immensely. It was a pleasure to talk to staff and students some of whom I had met last year who were all extremely supportive of the school and spoke about the progress made since the last review, I was again impressed by the welcoming nature of the school and the dedication of all staff to ensure that the needs of the students are continually met. Over the course of the review it was clear to see evidence that inclusion is at the heart of everything that happens in the school and is highlighted by the school’s mission statement “Dream Big, Work Hard, Be Kind”, and “Where Learning Matters”.
Students are Valued as Individuals
A school where all students are valued as individuals. This is clearly encapsulated in everything that happens here as a school and as a part of the local community. This is a school that is clearly at the heart of its community where inclusion is ingrained in the very fabric of the school and care, nurture and support is at the very heart of everything that occurs here, for staff and students alike. It is an extremely impressive, inclusive learning environment where students are encouraged to achieve their full potential, where everyone involved is committed to the inclusion of all students.
The Shared Vision of the Staff
I was again, impressed by the confident and happy students and by the shared vision of the staff in the school, who are committed to inclusion in its broadest and best sense. Staff are inspired to develop as individual learners and to contribute to the inclusive ethos of the school. There is a happy, stimulating, learning environment throughout the school with a focus on helping students to develop the skills, which they need to be effective and are encouraged to become independent learners. Students I observed in lessons during a tour of the school, at break and lunchtime are friendly, polite and able to talk honestly and confidently about their learning and their experiences at The Cooper School. During the review, I met a wide variety of staff and students to discuss and thoroughly explore both the review of last year’s actions and the Action Plan for the year ahead which also enabled me to build up a picture of the superb inclusive practice at the school. Everyone I met was helpful and spoke very positively about their experiences at the school, often at length.
Inclusive Ethos and Culture
During the review, I saw the school at work and experienced the truly inclusive ethos and culture that is embedded in everything the school does; it is ingrained and is very tangible to all who visit the school. Students are valued for who they are and who they will become in the future. The staff are exceedingly positive about the school and go the extra mile and beyond to ensure that the students’ needs are met. There is a superb quality of support, care and nurture that is continually evolving to enhance provision at the school. All staff I spoke to in meetings or around the school were very positive and they are clearly very enthusiastic, highly motivated, professional and work exceptionally hard to ensure that the needs of all students in the school are met. There is an excellent rapport between the staff, and between the staff and the students in the school. They are committed to ensuring every success for their students and themselves, for example, ensuring that students can access life changing experiences such as on the Tall Ships Programme for PP students, and the ‘Great Get Together’ initiative that the school is looking to make an annual event whilst ensuring every student is known and stretched to achieve their full potential.
Flagship Status Conferred
Having completed a rigorous and thorough review and having discussed and agreed the targets cited in the report and their involvement in, and capacity to, support and attend Cluster Group meetings and understanding that their involvement will form a significant part of their next annual review, reflecting their capacity to maintain their Flagship Status, I recommend that the school moves from Centre of Excellence status to hold Flagship status and continues to be reviewed annually for the next three years.
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