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TADCASTER GRAMMAR SCHOOL

Toulston, Tadcaster,North Yorkshire. LS24 9NB

 

 

Tadcaster Grammar School is committed to providing the best possible environment for teaching and learning, for the development of each individual and for the pursuit of excellence, within a safe, secure and supportive community.

 

1. Introduction

Great emphasis is placed on helping colleagues who are considering applying for posts at Tadcaster Grammar School and in preparing for the process of selection by which members of staff are recommended to the Governing Body for appointment. These notes provide a context for candidates and should be read in conjunction with the details of the particular post for which you are applying.

2. The Area

Tadcaster is a North Yorkshire market town (population 10,000), a short distance from the A1 and the recently opened A1-M1 link. It grew up as a market and trading centre and as a bridging point on the River Wharfe. Today it is a thriving centre of business and home to the brewing industry with John Smiths, Samuel Smiths and Bass breweries all located in the town and employing the largest share of the workforce. Recently considerable residential development has met the needs of the increased population. Its location, 10 miles from Harrogate, 15 miles from Leeds and 8 miles from York, means Tadcaster is well served for cultural and other amenities. The area also enjoys easy access to the beautiful and historic North Yorkshire countryside of dales, moors, and the scenic East Coast.

House prices in the area are generally higher than the national average, reflecting the quality of life, ease of transport and the outstanding natural beauty. The average price of a three bedroom semi-detached house is £85,000.

3. The Ethos

Tadcaster Grammar School is not just another school; we are a thriving, successful, vibrant and energetic school community demonstrating a common purpose - to ensure the very best for our students and our community.

We are committed to enabling all our young people to develop into happy, well prepared and confident adults, secure in the knowledge of the role they can play in their own development. Our school community is friendly but disciplined and our students gain enormous satisfaction from working hard and achieving success. We are proud of the extensive range of opportunities to stimulate and enhance the growth of our students into mature and responsible adults with a sense of purpose.

We pride ourselves on creating a secure framework of personal care and encouragement in which the highest possible standards are the goals for everyone. Our success is based on an ethos designed to address individual needs, foster self esteem and meet society’s changing expectations.

We aim to provide a secure, supportive, hard working and stimulating environment in which each student is encouraged to develop individual talents in the context of openness, optimism, high expectation and the pursuit of excellence.

4. The School

The school enjoys a very high reputation and attracts a large number of students from outside the official catchment area. Currently students attend from 32 primary schools in North Yorkshire, City of York and Leeds Education Authorities. The school is heavily oversubscribed with as many as 350 applications for its 250 places in 10 forms of entry. As a result of successful appeals there are 258 students who joined the school in September 2000 taking the student population to 1490, including 200 students in the Sixth Form.

The school was founded in 1557, originally for the sons of the poor of Tadcaster. Little is recorded about the school until its merger with the Dawson Girls’ School at the beginning of this century. For fifty years it built up a solid reputation as a selective Grammar School of academic excellence, until becoming after World War II one of the first bilateral schools in England.

The school moved from Tadcaster to its present magnificent site in 1960, and became a fully comprehensive 11-18 school eight years later. Standing in 70 acres of beautiful parkland the school buildings present a contrast between the modern buildings and Toulston Lodge, Dower House of the Fairfax family, restored and enlarged in the 1890’s with fine interior carving and imposing marble fireplaces.

The accommodation is of a high standard and is well maintained. Recent restructuring has taken place through an internal redecoration programme, the installation of the National Grid for Learning, the conversion of the library to a self supportive independent study centre and the addition of two new ICT suites with facilities for 25 and 40 work stations. All departments are housed in suites of specialist rooms and supplemented by four new prefabricated classrooms.

The main buildings centre around a large Assembly Hall which can accommodate the whole school and which is well equipped with stage lighting and amplification. Over forty classrooms are complemented by Science laboratories, a recently refurbished Design Technology suite and specialist bases for Art, Food Technology, Textile Technology, Music, Careers and Learning Support.

The Sports facilities within our very extensive grounds are second to none in North Yorkshire and include two gymnasiums, seven tennis courts, many hockey, soccer and rugby pitches, cricket squares and a hard-surface athletics track. In 1995 a superb full size floodlit artificial pitch, suitable for football, hockey, 5-a-side and many other uses was added. All of these facilities are available for private use and these lettings are a substantial income generator for the school. The grounds and adjoining woodlands also provide opportunities for cross country running and orienteering. The school is fortunate to have so much space for sport and recreation and often plays host for area and countrywide trials and matches.

During the current year considerable building works have added new accommodation and refurbished several older Science laboratories and workshops. Five new Science laboratories have been constructed and Food and Textile Technology has become suited. The Expressive Arts Department has taken over refurbished accommodation with the addition of new Music practice rooms and two new ICT suites have been installed in Science and Design Technology. This building programme will be completed in January 2002. Starting in April 2002 will be the construction of a new purpose designed Sixth Form block, which includes a significant social space, kitchen facilities, departmental offices, four general teaching classrooms and a small library and seminar room. This phase of building will be completed by December 2002.

The school is supported by an active and committed Parents’ Association who organise fund raising events and support staff through additional resources.

The staffing complement is 120 including 30 support staff. In September 1998 the school appointed the present Headteacher to build on an excellent foundation.

The school operates a no smoking policy.

  1. Academic Organisation

In Years 7-9 students follow a broad, balanced, common curriculum of English, Mathematics, Science and Technology, together with a Modern Foreign Language (French), History, Geography, Religious Education, Art, Music, Physical Education and Information Communication Technology. All tutor groups are mixed, both socially and academically, and in Year 7 all of the teaching follows this arrangement except in Mathematics where broad setting takes place. Block timetabling allows departments to modify this arrangement to their needs in Years 8 and 9 where setting takes place. In Year 8 a second Modern Foreign Language (German) is introduced. Personal and Social Education is taught to all students in Years 7-9 through a timetabled tutor-led lesson.

In Years 10 and 11 the students follow a common core curriculum which includes Personal and Social Education, Physical Education and GCSE courses in English (Language and Literature for almost all students), Mathematics, Science (Double Balanced Science for all students), a Modern Foreign Language, History or Geography, Design Technology and a short course in Religious Education.

All students follow a further GCSE course, usually an aesthetic/creative subject. The school is currently exploring a vocational pathway for greater balance to the curriculum. The majority of students take nine and a half GCSEs.

The aim is always to provide a broad and balanced curriculum which equips young people, as individuals, to play a full and active part in society.

GCSE results are consistently higher than the National averages (65% of students gained 5 or more A*-C grades in 2001) and over 70% of students continue into further education at a range of centres in the area, with the majority of these remaining to join our Sixth Form. Advanced Level results in 1999 placed the school at the top of the State Comprehensive table with an average student points score of 25.1. Results in 2000 were equally good. In 2001 the school was placed in the top ten of the same table.

The post-16 curriculum now offers the new Advanced GCE courses and vocational courses. Currently 19 A-Level and AS Level courses are being followed, together with an Intermediate and Advanced GNVQ Business course and an Intermediate GNVQ Leisure and Tourism course. The Sixth Form Personal and Social Education modules, Careers programme and General Studies course gives students every opportunity to develop and extend their skills and qualities. From September 2000 a GNVQ Advanced Travel and Tourism course was offered for the first time.

6. Pastoral Organisation

The school is run on a year system with each Head of Year and associated Tutorial Team remaining together through KS3 and KS4. The Sixth Form is led by a Post-16 Manager and Head of Post 16 Studies. Each student is part of a tutor group in which friendships can be made and responsibilities exercised. Each year group has a student committee, which elects a delegate to the School Council of students, staff and Governors. The tutor is a key element in a young person’s growth and development. The Form Tutor and Head of Year take a keen interest in the progress and development of students throughout their time at Tadcaster Grammar School. Newly appointed full time staff are almost certain to be asked to carry out a form tutor role in the school.

Great emphasis is placed on good staff-student relationships and on providing a hard working, well disciplined atmosphere in which students, as individuals, can flourish.

7. Professional Support

All teachers joining the staff can expect to receive a great deal of support and guidance. The Training Co-ordinator has responsibility for organising the extensive induction programme for all teachers new to Tadcaster Grammar School with the aim of integrating colleagues into the team as quickly as possible. This complements guidance given by members of the Leadership Group together with support from Curriculum and Pastoral Team Leaders.

All staff are encouraged to participate in training courses related either to their current responsibilities or to areas in which they wish their knowledge and skills to develop.

The school has a good provision of audio-visual resources and is updating all of its reprographic facilities to include a digital copier. Teachers in the school can expect to receive support from the secretarial and technical staff responsible for these areas.

The school attaches great importance to professional development and publicly recognises the staff team as its greatest resource.

8. Out of School Activities

All staff are actively encouraged to involve themselves in this important part of school life. A wide range of sports flourish at Tadcaster Grammar School. There is a full programme of competitive inter-school games.

Music has a strong tradition in the school and public performances of a high standard are common throughout the year. Instrumental instruction is given to students and there is an opportunity to join the wide range of orchestras, bands or ensembles.

Many other clubs and societies run in the school, including the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, which has the largest number of students of any school in the county with over 100 following Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. Our Young Enterprise Team has represented the North of England in the National finals of the competition. Each year Tadcaster Grammar School students are involved in –

  • Three ski visits
  • A cultural visit to Northern Italy
  • A concert band tour to Belgium
  • A drama visit to Northern Spain
  • Visits to France (battlefields and Le Touquet)
  • School exchanges to France and Germany
  • Sports tours to Holland and Spain
  • A vocational tour to Prague

together with residential field courses, day visits and evening trips to the theatre and general leisure activities.

9. Special Educational Needs

The provision for students with special educational needs is departmentally based, with the support of a Co-ordinator of Special Educational Needs, who works closely with a team of Non-Teaching Assistants and LEA Support Teachers, as well as with a network of departmental representatives. Regular inter-agency meetings are organised by the Co-ordinator where the progress and development of individuals is monitored collaboratively and Individual Education Plans produced. A Spelling and Reading Club, peer counselling, mentoring and activities for the academically gifted all complement the special educational needs programme.

  1. Governors
  2. The school is well supported by its Governing Body, which consists of appointees offering a wide range of experience from an extensive range of backgrounds reflecting local interests, business, financial services, health service management and education. The main work of the Governing Body operates through a committee structure focusing on curriculum, personnel, finance, premises, community education and pastoral care. These committees report to the full Governing Body which meets termly. Members of the Governing Body are linked to departments and pastoral teams and take an active interest in school development.

  3. Community Education
  4. The school values its links with the communities it serves and is committed to meet the needs of all learners, whatever their age. The Community Education programme is managed by the Community Education and Campus Manager who also co-ordinates all bookings for the campus.

    Tadcaster District Community Education operates from the school offering an exciting, varied and diverse programme of courses during the year from a range of venues throughout the district. Community Education employs 50 staff, including Youth Workers and has responsibility for the Youth Service in the District. Over 650 students were involved in Community Education during 2001-2002.

  5. Ofsted

Following a visit from Ofsted Inspectors in October 1999, Tadcaster Grammar School was declared "a very good and still improving school whose strengths far outweigh its weaknesses".

What the School Does Well

  • Standards of attainment are well above average and students make good progress.
  • Teaching is of good quality and a significant proportion is very good.
  • Students’ attitudes, standards of behaviour and attendance are very good.
  • Leadership is very effective and is now focused on raising standards and the quality of provision even further.
  • There is very good provision for students’ social and moral development and for their general welfare and guidance.
  • The school provides an impressive range of extra-curricular opportunities.
  • Overall the school has a very productive ethos in which learning can flourish.

Other Aspects of the School

  • Behaviour - Students’ behaviour and their attitudes to work are very good. This is a strength of the school and contributes successfully to the standards reached.
  • Attendance - Levels of attendance are well above average. Students arrive punctually for school and for lessons.
  • Ethos (the climate for learning, attitudes to work, relationships and the commitment to high standards) - The school enjoys a very productive ethos and a culture of celebrating achievement. This is an ambitious and caring school in which learning flourishes.
  • Leadership and management - Very strong and effective leadership from senior staff and governors. There are some shortcomings in departmental leadership.
  • Curriculum - Broad and balanced and meets National Curriculum requirements. Not enough time is spent on RE after Key Stage 3. Extra-curricular activities are very good.
  • Pupils with special educational needs - Students make good progress. Provision is being reorganised and at present has some shortcomings especially in monitoring the progress of students with weak language skills.
  • Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development - Very good provision for moral, social and cultural development. Good provision for spiritual development.
  • Staffing, resources and accommodation - Sufficient well qualified and experienced teaching staff, who are effectively deployed, though too few non-teaching support staff to work with students with SEN. Resources are good, but some aspects of accommodation, particularly science provision, are poor and hinder students’ progress.
  • Value for money - Good value. Resources are effectively deployed to secure good student progress in a civilised atmosphere.

Standards in Subjects

Students make good progress throughout and in Key Stage 3 tests achieve results that are well above average. GCSE results are above average. Results in 1999 were better than in 1998. A-Level results were particularly impressive in 1999.

Quality of Teaching

The quality of teaching is a major strength and makes a considerable contribution to standards and students’ progress. There is almost no unsatisfactory teaching. Three quarters of teaching is of good or better quality and over a third is very good.