Our GCSE results day started with excellent news for our English teachers, Miss Tabatha Sheehan (Head of Department) and Mrs Sally Price, who once again have a reason to celebrate. According to Miss Sheehan "English is about, and therefore for everyone", and we couldn't agree more. With 56% of our students scoring levels 7-9 (formerly A-A*) in their English exam, the outstanding results are a great testimony to the incredible effort our English department put into supporting students as well as to all the hard work and commitment our students invested in preparing for their exams.
The results also demonstrate once again the school's exceptional ability to add value: The difference between the forecasted grades for the cohort at their point of entry in year 7 and their actual grades now at the end of Year 11 is 96 grades for 32 students. This means that the school was able to bring out the students' full potential, improving their performance by about 3 points per student in the five years they have spent with us. This extraordinary result is another example of why Westonbirt is rated amongst the top 5% schools in the UK for Valued Added.
Undeniably, a lot of hard work goes into achieving such outstanding results. At the beginning of the last academic year, when the students embarked on their Year 10 studies, Miss Sheehan and Mrs Price decided to enhance the support they provide to our students to ensure they succeed and can pursue their dreams. They offered extra revision sessions and personalised support and guidance sessions, as well as encouraged the students to choose books they truly love and are interested in, instead of following the recommended list of books that most schools feel is the safest option.
This innovative approach comes from Miss Sheehan and Mrs Price recognising that student motivation and engagement plays a significant part in their academic performance. Allowing the students to choose their own books has increased the students' commitment to their studies, and made the process of revision much more enjoyable and personal for them because they felt empowered and trusted with their choices.
While this shift in their teaching approach was successful in keeping our students inspired and engaged, Miss Sheehan and Mrs Price also offered the students a lot of 1:1 time to help them prepare for their exams, to ensure the students are not at a disadvantage when compared to students at other schools who follow the standard, 'safe', reading list. This level of support is only possible because our school is committed to small class sizes and personalised learning experiences, and we are delighted to see this ethos of the school to manifest itself in how our English department approaches their student engagement.
Congratulations to our students and to Miss Sheehan and Mrs Price on these exceptional results, and thank you, everyone, for your hard work and passion for English Language & Literature!