Let’s tackle the elephant in the room, or the elephant just off the M1 (J16/18): Daventry is much easier to get to than you might think, if, in fact you are fully aware of where it actually is – I wasn’t when I first applied to teach at the school! So please take a look at Google maps to check how far away we are or use the table I have helpfully created below:
|Northampton (Sixfields)||10 miles/18 mins|
|Northampton (Weston Favell)||20 miles/33 mins|
|Coventry||20 miles/31 mins|
|Wellingborough||29 miles/45 mins|
|Milton Keynes||30 miles/42 mins|
|Leicester||30 miles/44 mins|
Right, so now we’ve established that Daventry is quite easy to get to and Parker is located on the outskirts, you need to know a bit more about us as a school and a faculty.
A lesser elephant in the room to deal with is our current Ofsted category: requires improvement. While, of course, you would expect me to say this, it is just a matter of time before we receive a good rating or better and, as a staff body, we’re pretty desperate for Ofsted to come in and more accurately reflect where we are as a school. Last year was our #BestEver results with 55% A*- C and the English Faculty weighed in with our highest ever (as an academy and before) English results of 70% A* – C. What we’ll get this year, obviously no-one knows for sure but we have done a lot of work on training and moderation to make sure our marks are accurate and then done some relatively complex modelling using Exampro data to work out some grade boundaries that are as good, if not better, than anything anyone else has come up with.
It’s not only in trying to make some sense of the maelstrom of change we’re all fighting through at the moment that the English faculty is pretty much at the cutting edge of. Despite our successes last year we are constantly looking to innovate and develop, for example, creating mini-textbooks and using knowledge organisers off the back of a visit to Michaela Community School, Brent last year. While the level of challenge and expectations of our Year 7s has been considerably raised this year, there’s more that can be done. So while we will be looking to apply many of the advances we have made with Year 7 to other year groups, we will be redesigning Year 7. Several of the ideas for this (and the requirement for it) have come from ‘Making Good Progress’ by Daisy Christodoulou.
Hopefully what is coming across is that we are extremely committed to long-term CPD in terms of exam specifications and pedagogic approaches (we’re just about to start a 6-week CPD programme looking at cognitive science applications to the faculty) but, as a Head of Faculty, I’m extremely committed to trying to reduce the workload of the rest of the faculty. One project that we are currently running in year 7 is looking at giving more frequent, whole-class verbal feedback as opposed to deep or triple marking that many English teachers up and down the country are saddled with by their SLT.
In terms of SLT, you’ll find them very approachable and very understanding with the issues and challenges we face…at least partly because the faculty includes two vice principals, an assistant vice principal and, technically, the principal himself! The principal has completely turned around the culture of the school since he has arrived, to the massive benefit of staff and students and is very much committed to continuing this positive shift into the future.
So where might you fit in? Well, the English faculty includes media, music and drama as well, so not only could you teach English from key stage 3 to 4 to 5, you could in these other subject areas too. We teach both language and literature at key stage 5 as well, so if you want to develop your subject expertise within those areas then you would be very welcome to. In terms of immediate responsibilities, if you had an interest in running a project, an extracurricular club (for example, being involved in one of our school productions – ‘Oliver’ is up next and we performed ‘Grease’ the previous year) or even Key Stage 3 English, that is definitely something we can accommodate. Also, because so many of our faculty members are either SLT (or have other responsibilities), it is likely in a couple of years’ time for progression opportunities such as head of literacy and/or second in faculty to come along.
Ultimately though – get in touch! You’d be more than welcome to have an email or twitter or even phone conversation with me about the faculty and where you might fit it. Even better, come and see us and find out in person what we as an organisation are all about. In the process, you’ll even come to realise that Daventry isn’t as far away as you think!