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Schools grow stronger together

ByDave Stopher

Sep 23, 2016

Spirits will be high when young people return to Churchill Community College and Norham High School next week, after pupils at both schools performed exceptionally well in their GCSE exams.

The impressive results, which saw a complete turnaround at Norham High School, have been down to the help the two schools have given each other over the last year, as well as their determined staff and governors and the support they receive from North Tyneside Council.

In August 2015, the head teacher of Churchill Community College, David Baldwin and his team were tasked with changing the fortunes of Norham High School.

Mr Baldwin was brought in as an executive head of the two schools by the local authority after his leadership at Churchill Community College, in Wallsend, saw exam results transformed as well as it gaining an outstanding Ofsted rating.

And with a huge 19 per cent increase in the number of young people achieving A* to C GCSE grades, including in English and maths, at Norham High School last month, the hard work is really starting to pay off there too.

Cllr Ian Grayson, cabinet member for Children, Young People and Learning said: “I would like to thank and congratulate David Baldwin, his staff, the governors and the pupils at both schools; the partnership has proved to be a brilliant success.

“We have shown that our approach, of schools working in collaboration with support from the council, can dramatically transform results and improve outcomes for our young people.

“With our vast knowledge and understanding of our schools, our families and our local area, we are best placed to tailor support to help any underperforming school, which is why 92 per cent of our schools are now rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted and our borough continues to be one of the top performing nationally.”

In agreement with pupils and their parents, changes at Norham High School have included extending the day by an hour for Year 11 pupils, as well as entering students into exams early.

They’ve also run initiatives that have been successful at Churchill Community College, including GCSE preparation and revision sessions, exam ‘survival kits’ to help pupils relax and unwind, mock interview days to prepare students for the world of work, establishing an after-school STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Maths) club and running a Women in Engineering programme.

And while Norham is on the up, Churchill Community College also continues to go from strength to strength, achieving its best ever A-level and GCSE results again this year.

Leaders at the Wallsend-based school have acknowledged the support they have received from Norham High School in helping them to do so.

Staff from both schools have been sharing their expertise with one another and this has had a huge impact on the educational performance at the two schools, as demonstrated from the latest results.

David Baldwin has also put the success down to the lessons both schools have learnt from one another and the support they have received from the council.

He said: “Working in partnership with North Tyneside Council’s school improvement service and the board of governors at each school, we have been able to bring about significant improvements. I have always been very clear – it’s much easier improving a school when you have the support of another.

“Everyone is determined to make a difference and ensure students get the education they deserve, and we were absolutely delighted last month when 72 per cent of pupils at Churchill and 54 per cent at Norham achieved five or more A*-C grades, including in English and maths.

“Although we are thrilled with the achievements so far, we are not complacent and we will continue to work hard to raise educational standards and build on our success.”