School Development Plan

We can be very pleased as we publish the final review of the 2017-2020 school development plan. The document we signed off back in 2017 was hugely ambitious and incredibly detailed. As we review it now we should take great pride in the fact that we have brought this ambitious plan to fruition.  

At the heart of the plan was the desire to continue to achieve the very finest academic outcomes possible. Our Progress 8 of +0.82 in 2019 was the highest in the school’s history and in that same year we also achieved incredibly high value added at A level, +0.33. Taken together there isn’t a school in Gloucestershire that can rival this level of performance. In fact across the 13 local authority districts that make up the Southwest, there is only one school who has a higher combined figure. We should take enormous pride in this and the fact that our performance in 2020 was similarly strong. For four years running Balcarras has been named as the highest performing comprehensive school in the Southwest (2017,18,19, 20) by The Sunday Times and recently we were named as the Sunday Times Southwest State School of the Decade. 

We have made significant strides in the curriculum areas we highlighted during the course of this plan. This year P8 value added in English was above +0.45, maths and science have flourished under new leadership, P8 scores in MFL have increased, numbers into music have also increased and DT goes from strength to strength under Jenny Swanepoel’s leadership. Our work on KS3 has been excellent and we are confident that our new system of assessment is now well established. We have continued our regular review of the curriculum and have made some small changes at KS3. The pandemic forced a change regarding AS levels and as we conclude the 2017-20 the future of our A level curriculum model continues to be a live issue and is likely to form part of the next SDP.  

Organisationally this SDP has seen big system changes. For example, we have introduced a new management system, cashless catering, new payroll systems, a new praise system, a new VLE and a new website. All of these changes have been managed well and I am certain that each of them have helped to take the school forward.  

The work on The High School Leckhampton has been a constant feature of this current SDP. I am delighted with the progress we have made. The appointment of Mrs Helen Wood was the latest piece of a big jigsaw puzzle. It is a puzzle that is really taking shape.  

Linked to this work we have spent a lot of time putting in place the final preparations for our conversion to MAT status. It is fitting that it will take place on December 1st just as this plan comes to an end.  

Although we never envisaged working during a pandemic as part of this SDP, it is worth noting that the final 12 months of the plan have been overshadowed by the onset of COVID 19. The move to review many of the school’s systems proved invaluable as we quickly adapted to life in the pandemic and this is particularly true of the VLE. I believe that the school has responded well at all levels to life in the pandemic. Our risk assessments have been well judged and we have strategically made the right calls, particularly as regards to sticking closely to government guidance.  

I think we can judge the 2017-20 SDP to be a huge success on a range of fronts. 

Dominic Burke