Last week saw the first interview session take place between the Student Leadership Team and Durrington High School’s Head Teacher Ms Marooney. We drafted out a series of questions about future plans for the school and what plans there are for further development and these were the responses;
How do you see the GCSE results going in 5 years time?
Firstly we don’t know what the new examinations will be called because there’s a huge curriculum review out at the moment. But whatever results system we have, I would hope we would reach even more children and young people to give them fantastic opportunities.
What are your key methods at raising achievements and results at the school? As things have really improved since you started here.
Now that we’ve got 10 years behind us, we’ve got a real track record of success so that people see that it isn’t a one off. There’s no quick fix, it’s not rocket science, it’s about creating the right culture and ethos in the school. It’s about recruiting and retaining the best poosible staff in the country and it’s about ensuring the students and staff have the best possible equipment and environment to enable them to achieve. It’s also important to constantly review where you are and where you want to get to, making sure that you are always moving forward and making progress and not standing still.
How has the range of subjects improved or changed since you came to the school and are you open to new suggestions?
Thats a good question! We’re always open to suggestions, as long as it’s in the best interests of the students and we’re able to resource it. We’ve run a few courses over the past few years and supported it in year 1, but if numbers don’t stay up in year 2 then we might not manage to keep it running. As other areas have improved with success we’ve appointed additional staff into those areas. We’ve increased the range of subjects and a number of subjects have disappeared from the curriculum and i’m not sure if you’re aware of the current curriculum review, but we’ll be talking to students and parents as well as staff, because this change is the biggest in education for many years. Subjects such as media didn’t use to be on the curriculum but we have now introduced that. We also included and extended our range of vocational courses and have added triple science which we didn’t have 10 years ago, but it is now one of the strengths of the school. I’m not sure that a huge number of subjects have come on or come off but what has improved is the success within those subjects.
What’s the most rewarding thing about being a Head Teacher at such a popular and successful school?
That’s a good question! In a very simplistic way, the fact that we’re successful means that there are many, many more happy faces throughout the school and when the students leave us. The best parts of my day are going round to lessons and seeing students and staff working together, doing what they do best. They don’t always have to be “whizz bang” lessons. I was in a maths lesson this morning where a teacher was explaning terms to a year 11 class, and it was inspiring to hear that students had found the topic difficult, but with a more detailed explanation they then managed to understand and could re-explain to someone else. We’ve also had some fabulous performance with practical subjects such as PE, Drama and Dance, and Science experiments. The opportunities to see students and staff working together is the best part of my day.
You’ve already touched on GCSE results but if the school ever reached 100% what would be the next step?
Then it would be about improving the progress levels for those subjects. That would imply that everyone was a C and above, so then it would be about increasing the percentage of A*’s, A’s and B’s within that subject.
We all know about the Bistro opening and the new reward system but what else do you plan to bring into or start up in Durrington that students should be excited for?
I’ve always got ideas but what I most value are the ideas coming from the students and to see if we can factor those ideas into where we’re going and I think that’s been a feature of the success of our school and the decision making is far more of a shared process. The Bistro’s partnership with Northbrook is going well and it’s about developing greater partnerships within the community. With the rewards system, it is still in the early stages and I think we all need to work to achieve the success that we want it to. I would be most interested to hear yours and other student’s views and ideas.
Do you see a Sixth Form being added to the school in years to come?
I think all of us would love that, however, what we would want and what we’re able to have legally are two different things. The way that the County Council saw education in the Worthing area means that we still have middle schools, which means the majority of students don’t go to a High School until they’re 12. It was decided for college provision in the Worthing area to be seperate to high schools, such as Northbrook and Worthing Sixth Form. To get approval for a Sixth Form you have to get approval from the County Council and approval from the DFE and then it needs to be funded. So there are a number of constraints that so far are out of our control, but yes, if there was a possibility it would be great, but it’s unlikely.
Tomorrow is the 24 hour danceathon, what do you think of this idea to reaise money for Rock Challenge, do you think it’s a good idea?
I think it’s a great idea, I did something very similar in my last school. It’s great fun, it’s absolutely exhausting and I hope it goes well.
What do you think about the new student blog that has been set up and what do you think the benefits to students are of having this?
I’m really pleased as I like us to be at the forefront of modern technologies and developments and I think it’s about finding a way that works for the school and the students. We are willing to expand how we communicate, how we learn, how we work, and involve new technologies because young people are at the heart of everything we do and technologies are at the centre of everything we do in work, school and in our social time.
What aspect of the school has been particularly successful this year?
A whole range of things, our general environment and ethos around the school. Walking around the school, being part of learning and feeling the energy. I am really proud of the fact you can walk around the school, say hello to anyone and everyone is really helpful and friendly. The positive feel around the school is great and it’s what people comment on when they visit us here.
Our continued improvement with academic success because that means our students leave with more options and chances, the rewards aspect i’m really excited about because that’s about rewarding extra-ordinary work and students that do a lot for the school.
The student leadership team would like to thank Ms Marooney for giving up her time to speak to us about these important issues. We are looking to interview different subject teachers after half term. Please let us know who you think we should be interviewing and what you want to know.
We will also be interviewing subject teachers about work and their subject. Let us know who you want to hear from and what you want to know.