St Cyres Secondaty School pupils queuing in the rain for the GCSE results. They turned out to be the best the school’s ever had
The GCSE results released this morning show what’s being described as a “phenomenal “ turn-around in the performance of Penarth’s St Cyres Secondary School – and today the head, Dr Jonathan Hicks, has been telling PDN just how this unprecedented transformation was carried out .
Last year’s school inspection reported that St Cyres’s performance in English GCSE was “declining” and Maths was “flat-lining”. The 1100-pupil school was one of three secondary schools in the Vale of Glamorgan which were sent formal warning letters in accordance with the School Standards and Organisation Act…. but now that’s all history.
Many pupils entering St Cyres looked worried – they needn’t have been.
Today’s GCSE O Level results confirm what was already evident from last week’s A Level results; the head, Dr Jonathan Hicks, and his staff have carried out a total transformation of the fortunes of the St Cyres and the prospects of its pupils.
At 8.30 this morning Year 11 pupils were queuing in pouring rain to be admitted to the main hall where they would be receiving their results – results which turned out to be the best-ever in the entire history of St Cyres.
The school’s benchmark “Level 2 Plus”score (which comprises the percentage of pupils getting at least 5 GCSE passes including English and Maths) has risen from only 49% last year to 61% this year – an increase which the school describes as “truly phenomenal” .
They needn’t have worried. Today’s results were really something to cheer about – and mark a turning point for St Cyres
Headteacher Dr Jonathan Hicks with some of his many successful pupils at St Cyres today – with above then, some of the messages which help reinforce the culture and the ambience of the much-improved school
A hug for the Head of English from Year 11 pupil Ffion
The headteacher has congratulated all the pupils and publicly thanked his “tremendously committed and skilled staff” for their hard work .
And that was something which was certainly being recognised in the hall today where many pupils went out of their way to thank the staff who had helped them achieve their results.
Dr Hicks told PDN the turn-around strategy had actually been embarked upon last year – in the period leading up to the school’s controversial (and critical) inspection.
Dr Jonathan Hicks Headteacher at St Cyres Secondary School
He had personally had face-to-face discussion with several headteachers of successful schools in the North of England and in London (including Westminster School) – to see which of their ideas and educational practices could be adopted by St Cyres.
As a result a number of different strategies have been implemented at St Cyres including “small group extraction“, lunchtime tuition and a programme to win the support and involvement of parents by getting them into the school to “see what was happening”.
One of the novel ideas introduced at St Cyres School was to help pupils overcome their natural fear of examinations.
To familiarise them in advance with the unique experience of sitting a GCSE exam, pupils were brought into a “exam simulator” – to sit in the room in which , in due course, they would actually be taking their exams. Here pupils were “talked through” previous examination papers which were projected on a big screen. This pre-familiarisation meant that when students came to undertake the real examination they weren’t being confronted with the unexpected.
All these young students gained impressive results and will be in the sixth form in the new St Cyres building next year
Today’s results combined with last week’s A Level and Welsh Baccalaureate results are said to be the best ever for St Cyres. Dr Hicks says “These two wonderful sets of results, plus our recent excellent Key Stage 3 results allied to the huge leap in our attendance figure all show that St Cyres School can move into its new building in November buoyed by the knowledge that we are providing an excellent education for local children. “
High-fives and broad smiles were the order of the day at St Cyres
After today’s outstanding results the school says it will be”endeavouring to improve on them” in 2015