At Midhurst Rother College, we are proud to educate our pupils who represent a wide ability range from yr7 -13. Our teaching and learning policies stress the need for teachers to provide challenging work suited to each pupil at the appropriate level for them to make best progress.
We are attracting increasing numbers of able learners into the College and we seek to challenge and inspire them from the beginning of their time with us. We aim to make them think hard as well as raising aspirations, ensuring that Midhurst Rother College is an outstanding school for students with the academic ability to aim for top grades. The Director for Challenge is responsible for assessing and improving how well the most able learners are challenged in their lessons, as well as creating opportunities for these learners to find out about exciting career and study paths ahead for those who achieve top GCSE and A’ level grades. Working with other senior colleagues and classroom teachers, here are some of the ways we are stretching our able students;
- Reviewing and planning curricula with each faculty that link learning to important issues and questions that face our world in the twenty first century. We are preparing our youngsters to enter a world that is changing so rapidly, (such that we cannot predict or imagine the changes that lie ahead). We need to ensure that students are well informed, but also curious, creative, and confident enough to want to explore and research new things as well as cope with change.
- We identify able learners early from primary school data as well as a range of tests on entry. More able learners may not all present to their teachers as keen or able; therefore they are flagged up to all teachers on trackers, so that we can keep monitoring, encouraging and challenging them to fulfil their potential. We aim to liaise with parents of able learners and keep them informed of progress.
- We take up all opportunities offered to able learners by our academy trust, United Learning. Students regularly visit other UL schools (in the state and independent sectors) to work with specialist staff, learning together with other able students from across England.
- Training for staff on differentiation. The Director in post is monitoring & challenging our able students, through learning walks, in-service training, work scrutiny and observation of the students in their lessons. More training is also on hand for staff teaching very able students in mixed ability settings to ensure lesson plans stretch every child.
- CEAG – Careers, Education, Advice and Guidance. The College holds events such as the annual careers fair where universities and employers are represented. Careers interviews are provided. Through the Scholars’ club much more guidance and inspiration is given to our “scholars” in yrs 10 and 11
- Scholars’ club; from April of yr 10 until March of yr11, about forty able learners meet weekly with the Director for Challenge. A programme of visiting speakers, visits to work settings and university visits is organised, as well as advice on researching A’ level and university choices. Speakers visit from most professions over the course of the year, including law, medicine, archaeology, finance, conservation, education, leisure, marketing and IT. An increasing number of speakers also inform students about degree level apprenticeships; a growing sector allowing entrants coming into many professional careers to earn whilst they learn and get ahead in their chosen field.
- Each year the scholars can enter a United Learning competition to win places at a fantastic three-day residential course at the University of Birmingham. Our students have won five out of the thirty places for the last two years. They have thoroughly enjoyed meeting their peers from other UL academies, learning about university life from student ambassadors, living in student halls, attending lectures and seeing the lively city centre nearby.
- University visits and speakers. MRC has well-established links with St John’s College Oxford, Churchill College Cambridge, Chichester, Portsmouth and Surrey universities. As well as visiting these places, we invite undergraduates & admissions tutors to address the students, to prepare them for the vast array of higher education choices. We have links with Medical Projects and Channel Trust charities who set up webinars to inform KS4 and KS5 students with many universities in the UK and abroad. These online events allow students to talk to undergraduates and university staff to find out about courses in detail without so many expensive trips to Open Days.
- VI form provision; able students in our sixth form benefit from small classes, EPQ supervision and ample study space. They are mentored weekly to help them stay on track for the top grades they are capable of achieving.
The initiatives described above to challenge, inspire and inform our most able pupils began in earnest in 2016. Since targeting our most able twenty percent of each year group as described above outcomes for these pupils (our Scholars) have improved faster than their peers. All of our 2018 scholars passed English maths and science, with may top grades too, in these and other subjects. At present our data leads us to expect even better outcomes for the Scholars of 2019 at GCSE.