It is with a heavy heart, to quote Dr Watson, that I take up my pen to write these, the last words in which I shall ever record the singular gifts by which our wonderful students are distinguished.
The common thread running through all the articles I’ve written for this Newsletter over the last two years has been this: I am very proud of our students. Indeed, I have never worked in a school quite so blessed. Our students are – without exception – friendly, polite, mature, caring, funny and hard-working young people; they have always made me feel very welcome and valued.
When I leave Wensleydale this summer I will miss them.
So why, you might ask, am I going? I was appointed in 2010 when the school was ‘satisfactory’. I was asked by governors to help the school move from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘good’. Part of my job – as well as the day-to-day running of the school – was to improve the way the school used systems and structures in order to monitor and review its performance at all levels. I was also asked to develop our curriculum in order to ensure it meets the needs of our students both now and in the future. And I was asked to track student progress and put in place programmes of support for those students in danger of missing their targets.
I am very proud that the systems and structures I helped put in place proved so important during our recent Ofsted inspection, that inspectors praised the curriculum, and that our exam results have continued to rise to record highs.
It is because of these successes and because the school is now ‘good with outstanding features’ that I feel the time is right to move on to my next challenge.
The school is now in a very good position and is poised to become ‘outstanding’ by 2014. The right structures are now in place to ensure the improvements we have made are sustained in the future.
I truly believe a school should renew its leadership team every few years; that it is important for other people with a fresh approach to join the school and lead it in a new direction. I think this is precisely the right time for ‘new blood’ to take the school forward and I wish them– and our staff and students– all the very best of luck in the future.
It has been a pleasure serving this school and living and working in this fantastic community.
Let me end my final dispatch by sharing with you some of the findings of our recent Ofsted inspection– we are delighted by the report not because it rubber-stamps what we already knew about our school (although this is true), but because it rewards all the hard work put in by all our students, staff and governors: it is the result of a real team effort.
The report said that The Wensleydale School & Sixth Form was a “good and continuously improving school” and “some of the aspects of the school’s work were outstanding”. It pointed out that “GCSE results show that stu-dents’ attainment is significantly above average”.
Farewell and good luck.