‘Robust plans in plan’ to raise attainment at Richmondshire secondary school

The Wensleydale School and Sixth Form.

Education chiefs say there are “robust plans in place” to improve attainment levels at the Wensleydale School and Sixth Form after a drop in the GCSE exam pass rate and pupil numbers.

Figures released last week by the Government reveal that just 23 per cent of pupils at the school obtained a grade 5 or above in both their maths and English GCSE exams last year — down from 39 per cent in both 2017 and 2018.

The percentage of pupils achieving grade 4 or above in maths and English was 44 per cent — down from 68 per cent in 2017 and 54 per cent in 2018.

Colleges usually require students have at least a grade 4 in the two subjects to enter, with many requiring a grade 5 or above.

In 2019, the school’s progress score — which measures progress made by pupils between the end of key stage 2 and the end of key stage 4 — was -0.58, which placed the school as ‘well below average’ nationally and the lowest of Richmondshire’s four secondary schools.

The school was rated as ‘average’ for progress made in both 2017 and 2018.

Figures released by North Yorkshire County Council also show a drop in the number of pupils studying at the Wensleydale School.

There were 355 children enrolled at the school in January 2020, compared to 385 in January 2019 and 392 in January 2018.

In contrast, numbers rose sharply at both Risedale and St Francis Xavier schools over the same period.

This table shows the enrollment numbers for all four of Richmondshire secondary school’s.

Spring Term 2018 Spring Term 2019 Spring Term 2020 % change from 2018 to 2020
Richmond School 1361 1325 1314 -3.45
Risedale School 485 512 538 10.93
St Francis Xavier 483 519 541 12
Wensleydale School 392 385 355 -9.44

The Wensleydale School is still rated by Ofsted as ‘good’ following a positive visit by inspectors in February 2017.

Judith Kirk, North Yorkshire County Council’s assistant director of education and skills, said the school was one of the authority’s “highly-valued small secondary schools, with 355 pupils and 86 students in the last Year 11 intake”.

She added: “We work really closely with the Wensleydale team as we would with any of our schools supporting areas such as standards, finance, staffing and the curriculum.

“The headteachers, governors and staff have robust plans in place to continue to raise attainment rates and ensure pupils achieve their full potential while at the school. We are working closely with them in this respect.

“The school was rated good at its last Ofsted in 2012 and a short inspection in 2017 concluded the school continued to be good, both the school and ourselves are working hard to ensure this continues.”

Headteacher of The Wensleydale School, Julia Polley said: “Last year had been a particularly difficult year for many students on a personal level.

“We are very proud of the resilience and determination they demonstrated in both their academic and personal lives and proud to have supported them through this period.

“Our focus remains on achieving the best possible outcomes for our students and ensuring that each and every student achieves their full potential.”

Cllr Karin Sedgwick, North Yorkshire County Council ward member for the Middle Dales, said: “As members of the community we wish to support the school in its endeavours to provide a well-rounded education that promotes students’ wellbeing and continue to foster relations and communications between the community and the school.”

The Wensleydale School has this week announced a £300,000 investment in its changing facilities.

The work is due to start after half-term.

For more information on the Government league table date click here.