Christopher Whitehead Language College in Worcester has achieved Flagship School status.
Promoting Equality and Diversity
Christopher Whitehead Language College is a larger than average, stand-alone Academy in Worcester, with 1198 students on roll including the sixth form. It is a thriving 11-18 secondary school that prides itself on superb pastoral care, actively promoting equality and diversity and is therefore an extremely welcoming, inclusive and caring school. Everyone is fully committed to maximising the achievement of every student and is in a constant state of review evolving its educational and inclusive practice for the benefit of all involved. This is a place that provides a happy, stimulating and vibrant learning environment that focusses on helping students to develop as effective independent learners and positive members of their community and society. It is clear from the evidence of this online review and previous reviews that the school’s actions to care for its students are superb.
Sources of Evidence
Meetings and discussions during the review continued to demonstrate the school’s superb, natural inclusive ethos. The evidence I accessed from the wealth of information provided by the school in terms of documents, prior to the review and during the review included pictorial evidence, social media and from the school’s website supported the discussions and the school’s superb inclusivity. Over the course of the review staff actively engaged in meetings to discuss in-depth the review of the previous action plan and future developments. There was also in-depth discussion about the new Flagship Project for 2020-21. The meetings with key staff demonstrated their professionalism, enthusiasm and passion for teaching as well as the fundamental inclusive principles that naturally occur in the way that they educate, care for and nurture their pupils. It is clear from these conversations that the staff at Christopher Whitehead Language College and Sixth Form are extremely invested in what they do and view what they do as a vocation. This has an enormously positive effect on their peers and their students and is something, they should be proud of.
Total Commitment to Students and Their Families
The initial meeting with the Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher and Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for Inclusion looked at how the school has moved forward since the last review in terms of inclusion, how they had successfully managed to continue operating during lockdown from a leadership perspective. Their impressive support included looking after and educating the children of keyworkers and vulnerable families; supported the families within their community through a foodbank, providing meals every Tuesday evening; the production of weekly newsletters; delivering food parcels; providing a click and collect library service for over 100 students each week; providing access to a counsellor who was available full time in the school and communicating with families and students through online assemblies, online meetings and over the last few weeks face to face meetings in school with Year 7, 8 and 9 students. A superb and extremely well thought out and executed plan with differing levels of support to suit the differing needs of students and families and tailored to their needs and also the needs of staff, using a variety of different methods to ensure appropriate and timely contact and support. We were also able to talk about their well-developed plans for getting the school fully open in September protecting both staff and students. A fantastic achievement that says a lot about the calibre of staff at the school and their naturally inclusive nature, that also suggests a total commitment to the students and families in their care and is a testament to the effort and planning that has been undertaken to make it happen. The staff should be congratulated for their efforts in this regard.
Supporting During Lockdown
Further meetings included how the school was adapting their curriculum and mapping it across all subjects to incorporate their plans to ensure all students recover from the extended closure successfully with a discussion about the use of Google Classrooms, online lessons and the extended use of mobile technology, that was supported by an appeal that saw the local community donate unused laptops and tablets to the school to be used by students and families who didn’t have access to them. A fantastic level of support that highlights the school’s standing in their local community. There was a detailed and in-depth discussion and update on the extensive work carried out with Year 11, support for new staff in the current climate including how this has been managed remotely, with extensive support put in place for staff who had been interviewed remotely and how they were going to be supported moving forward and the ongoing development of CPD across the school. All backed up by reference to a wealth of documents supplied prior to the review.
Supporting Mental Health
Another meeting looked at the impact of the school’s work on Mental Wealth rather than Health. That is described quite succinctly as – Everyone has mental health but learning how to look after your mental health creates ‘Mental Wealth’. By making yourself rich in mental wealth you can then spend it on taking care of yourself and others, a very interesting and inclusive way of supporting the Emotional Health and Well-being of everyone in the school, supported by the re-development of the school garden to provide an area for quiet reflection for both staff and students. We also looked at how the staff have supported students with SEND during lockdown with the deployment of Learning Support Assistants and the use of the BLUES Programme funded by Royal Mail and delivered by ‘Action for Children’ to reduce early signs of adolescent depression or anxiety and promote prevention through a six week course for an hour each week that has shown real success with the cohort in Year 9 prior to lockdown and has been offered online since the school’s closure.
Supporting EAL Students
There was an opportunity to talk to the school’s EAL Co-ordinator and recently appointed Assessment and Intervention Co-ordinator about her role and how she and her team have supported students and addressed the impact of the extended closure on their EAL population. They regularly work with 80 students and with 30 more closely, where their parents struggle to understand English and therefore need support in helping their children to access work at home. It will be interesting to see how the support for EAL students and their families has continued to evolve at the next review and to see how the new intervention role has developed.
IQM Flagship Project
In the final meeting we were able to look at the school’s Flagship Project for 2020-21, ‘Post COVID-19 recovery curriculum at CWLC & SF.’ That is a key aspect of the school’s plans and is an integral part of their superbly inclusive approach to recover post COVID-19 that, while sensitive to the needs of staff and students, will allow students to move forward with their education and close any gaps identified and be supportive in a highly focussed manner, having the mantra, ‘Recovery starts with quality teaching in the classroom’ at the forefront of everything that happens from September onwards.
Ensuring Everyone is Nurtured and Included
Everyone who works or is involved with the school clearly has inclusion ingrained as a natural part of themselves and is enacted daily in all they do, supporting students encouraging them to reach their full potential no matter their starting points. A setting that is constantly and consistently looking at ways to develop for the benefit of their learning community with a mutual respect and care that is evident across the staff body. Everyone involved with the school should be extremely proud of what they achieve with their students and the emphasis placed on ensuring everyone is nurtured and included.
IQM Flagship School Status
The school continues to move from strength to strength in terms of its superb inclusive practice. Having completed a thorough online review and having discussed and agreed the Flagship Plan 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 I am of the opinion that Christopher Whitehead Language College and Sixth Form remains a school with the Inclusion agenda at the forefront of everything it provides for its students. They have proved their expertise over the years of IQM accreditation and I believe they have the drive and capacity to be a Flagship School. I recommend, without reservation, that the school moves to Flagship status and is reviewed in one year’s time.
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