On the 23rd and 24th November, Darwen Vale received its termly visit from Jane Fletcher, the CEO of Aldridge Education and her central team to review the current position of the school by looking at the progress we have made since their last visit in the summer of 2022…we were very pleased with what they found.
Jane and her team felt that tutor time effectively covered PHSE in a relevant and engaging way, helping to support your child’s personal development in understanding the many complex issues that they may encounter within themselves and within their experience of the wider world.
They also felt that entrances to the school in the morning and entrances to the exam hall (Y11 were in the middle of their mock exams) were conducted superbly well. This was partly due to the excellent attitudes to learning that many of our students bring with them daily but also as a result of the number of highly visible staff on duty outside school on morning routines and transitions to lessons. In a nutshell they thought, “Classroom entry routines are well embedded in the school.”
It is also true that the quality of teaching and learning within the school has steadily got better and better over the past few years and further improvements were noticed by the team, with some of the stand out comments being:
The PE team are highly motivated, they managed exceptionally well in adverse weather conditions.
The Subject Lead for Create (Miss Ramsey) spoke articulately and confidently about the curriculum. Her passion for the subject and love of teaching really shone through – she was inspirational. All students were actively engaged in Create lessons and when asked could explain what they were doing and why; how it linked to the project they were working on.
The clay sculpture work upstairs is stunning – it shows a clear progression in skills from KS3 to KS4.
Very strong teaching was seen in most of the school, but particularly in English, Year 7 geography, Year 10 maths, Year 10 history, Year 7 PE, art and food technology. As a result of this, far more student talk is taking place in all classrooms which is enhancing student experience and engagement.
Mr Redfern, our Head of Humanities, was commended for articulating his curriculum intent with passion and enthusiasm. He was clear on areas to develop and could talk through ways to address these in a well thought out manner.
The rewards policy is well appreciated and widespread across the students in KS3 and KS4, who know how to achieve the rewards, and are very proud of their work. They are happy to show this pride in front of their peers and when talking to external visitors.
In general the staff voice session spoke highly of the school. They are incredibly proud of the journey the school has come on and feel supported by leaders to implement the new behaviour policy. They praised the consistency of application and how much it has helped them to focus on teaching and learning.
Students in the student voice session were clear about what was expected of them; they felt safe and verbalised that staff were supportive and consistent in their approach around how they manage behaviour.
Obviously, the comments mentioned above indicate the hard work and dedication of all the staff and students at the school. We are 100% committed to providing an outstanding school for the people of Blackburn and Darwen and this visit was one indicator that we are getting closer to achieving this.
Thank you for your continuous and ongoing support.
Mr A Venables