Dear Parents and Guardians,
We reach the end of what has been a busy but exciting term at school and we continue to build on the successes of the last two years. Parents will be aware that we fully anticipated that results in the Summer would be our best ever set of outcomes and I’m pleased to confirm that this was the case. This is testament to the hard work and dedication of the pupils and also to that of the staff. We’re incredibly proud of this achievement only two years in to our improvement journey. Pupils at Penketh made more progress than ever before and many of our outcomes are significantly above the national average, for example the proportion of pupils leaving Penketh with at least a grade 4 in both Maths and English was 7% higher than the national average, as was the proportion of pupils leaving Penketh with at least a grade 5 in these subjects.
You will know that since September 2017 we have worked tirelessly on raising standards and expectations at the school to be more in line with the capability of our pupils. We have increased the academic focus at the school and the proportion of our pupils undertaking the English Baccalaureate suite of subjects (English, Maths, Science, History, Geography and Languages) at Penketh is significantly higher than both the national average and also of schools in Warrington. Our pupils are extremely capable and so it’s vitally important that our curriculum matches these capabilities in order to support them to maximise their potential.
The creative arts have always been a strength of the school and these subjects support the pupils’ wider curriculum offer as part of their options, but our performance in the academic core subjects is now significantly better so that we have that balance of strong performance across all subjects.
A huge feature of improvement at Penketh has been the appetite of staff to deliver this improvement, their dedication and determination to deliver a better educational provision and experience for our outstanding young people is inspiring. They have committed to an array of professional development opportunities beyond the school day and this has facilitated a greater degree of purpose and a climate focused on progress in classrooms. A key feature of this has been their work in completely redeveloping curriculums for delivery this year. We wanted to ensure we invested quality time in this process and so staff have been working for the entirety of the 2018/19 academic year, behind the scenes, to ensure the new curriculum was ready for delivery from September this year.
Parents, I’m sure, will have noticed a greater emphasis on the curriculum as we have published the curriculum bulletin documents this term so that you have greater insight into what it is that pupils are studying across their subjects. There is also a greater level of information for parents on our school website relating to the curriculum that pupils undertake. It’s essential that we provide you with this information so that we can work together to fully support pupils and their development.
This work really underpins our commitment to keep striving for improvement at the school. Part of this work has been to improve classroom based experiences for pupils to help them maximise their progress. Our overarching goal is to provide pupils will greater life chances and opportunities to continue to be successful once they leave Penketh. A good set of results is one aspect that provides a platform for future success as it ensures that no door is closed as pupils pursue their chosen path. It’s these positive life chances and the opportunity to prepare pupils for lifelong success that is our driving force and the thing that inspires us every day to secure further improvement at our school.
Of course, enrichment is a big feature at the school since launching our enrichment programme in September 2018. Across last year there were over 50 enrichment clubs for pupils to access during lunchtime sessions. I’m pleased to report that this year we have offered over 60 different enrichment clubs. It’s these additional experiences and our comprehensive careers programme which help to develop pupils in different ways, providing them with alternative skills and experiences to their academic studies, often helping to develop passions for life or inspiration for future study.
It’s this combination of academic and holistic development that we feel will provide pupils with not only the best experiences at school, but also a range of skills that will support them in later life.
We’re pleased to be able to say we achieved the school’s best ever results, but what this represents is more important to us. We can say that pupils have achieved better results; so they leave us having made a greater degree of progress and are better equipped for future challenges within both further education and the work place.
This rapid improvement means that the school is in a very different place than it was, though we are aware that we have to battle with some outdated perceptions and opinions of our school, often formed a number of years ago. Do we have challenges? Of course we do, like any school or organisation with nearly 1000 people, but the support systems to support pupils with these challenges are not only effective, but well thought of by those I routinely invite in to scrutinise our practice. I do so to validate our work and ensure that our practices are continuing to drive improvement for our outstanding young people.
We’re determined to keep making strides, working collectively with our pupils and our families to provide pupils with positive experiences and a platform for inevitable future successes.
Attached to this letter is the latest edition of the Penketh Pages newsletter which includes a range of stories that are celebrating successes from across the term.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support in helping us to achieve the vision we have for the school and to wish all of our families the very best for the holiday period, and for 2020. We look forward to welcoming pupils back to school on Monday 6th January, 2020.
Mr J Carlin.