It’s only a few weeks until Year 11 students the length and breadth of the country sit their GCSE examinations and a time where the focus is very much on the future and next steps as they prepare to move on from school. Henry Fleming, Head of Science, Head of Careers and Head of Post-16 at Wings School Cumbria, tells us how the school prepares students for a successful move:
At Wings School Cumbria, I’m delighted to say we have a strong track record of students doing incredibly well exams wise, not just in their GCSEs, but in gaining a multitude of other meaningful qualifications which go directly to helping them prepare for their next steps as they move on from Wings Cumbria.
Working towards a successful transition to a positive destination involves a very individualised, tailored and lengthy process, with lots of planning, support and guidance well in advance. It’s a process, really, which starts in Year 8 and continues as a young person progresses towards Year 11 and their move.
From Year 7 onwards we have a Cross Curricular Map to Careers which takes into account lots of different elements of preparing for a move on from Wings Cumbria including development through careers, employability and enterprise education, learning about careers and the world of work and developing career management, employability and enterprise skills.
While GCSEs and the National Curriculum are central, sometimes not all young people are able to perform at their best in exam situations. What we aim to do is help pupils develop a ‘portfolio’ of Ofqual accreditations over the course of two years which is a back-up and provides them with the qualifications they will need to reach their goals. It helps to alleviate pressures during examinations by giving them a regulated qualification that offers transferable credits towards a post 16 course of their choice.
Transition preparation in Year 11 starts early, around November, and visits to onward placements happen in the Spring term when students themselves visit the college or destination they’re moving on to, sometimes more than once. It alleviates their anxieties, there’s a chance to meet future SEND teams, tutors and SENCOs.
They can visualise and work on planning their transport. In some cases, young people might have specific worries about public transport, for example, and we often help them liaise with their local authority on other forms for transport, with the aim of doing all we can to make their future placement successful, and attendance high.
If we look at last year, for example, the young people in Year 11 all left with GCSE qualifications. Two young people demonstrated spectacular individual achievement with nine GCSEs and 10 GCSEs each. It was a ‘bumper’ year with students achieving on average 12 qualifications each, 100% of young people gaining qualifications in Maths, English and Science and 100% of students achieved photography GCSE (grades 3-7).
Across the school students achieved 62 GCSEs at grades 1 to 9 in a wide range of subjects including History, PE, Art and Design, Business Studies and English Literature as well as the STEM subjects. And as well as GCSEs, students achieved a wide variety of qualifications including in IT and enrichment and vocational qualifications.
Perhaps most importantly, 100% of students moved on to confirmed positive further education and training destinations. That is really what we are always hoping to help them achieve and what all of that preparation from Year 8 onwards has been about.
Students regularly go on to Sixth Form colleges both locally and further afield, depending on their choices and we have developed good relationships with mainstream and specialist colleges both nearby and further afield. Currently, for example. One Year 11 is looking to study agriculture at a college in Wales, and we are helping them work towards making that aspiration happen.
Looking ahead at this year’s Year 11, their prospects look equally bright with a range of GCSEs being taken including Maths, English, Science, Art, History and Photography when the exams start in May.
We are already looking at destinations for them as they prepare to move on and those include Coleg Cambria in Wales (Agricultural college), Kendal College in Cumbria (Motor Vehicle Studies) and Lancaster and Morecambe College in Lancashire (Health and Social Care). Other specialist provisions have been sourced where a more tailored and bespoke post 16 provision can be offered for specific students who require a more unique post 16 journey
While it’s not possible to predict the future, we know that the Year 11’s at Wings Cumbria have worked incredibly hard to prepare for their next step and their chosen positive destination and that the planning, preparation and support in place will give them the best possible chance of success.
Wings School Cumbria website.