“Thousands of our most able secondary-age children are still not doing as well as they should be” the Head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said last week, however one of his teams found that this is not the case at Matthew Moss, where “There has been a significant emphasis placed on improving the progress that the most-able pupils make. As a result, the progress that they are making is now above their peers nationally.” Indeed, we are one of the best schools in Rochdale in this respect.
The recent Ofsted inspection found other significant strengths, too. “The behaviour of pupils is good.” “Pupils are polite, welcoming and confident.” “Pupils behaviour seen outside the classroom is calm and orderly.”
They also saw a leadership team which has “worked assiduously”, and the inspectors stressed “there is no doubt that the school is going in the right direction to ensure sustained success.”
In a previous blog, I wrote about the imperative for our inspection team to be fair and accurate. They were, in fact, incredibly impressive: expert and professional, they were appreciative of the strengths of the school yet surgical in their investigations. Our self-evaluation said that we were close to a “Good” judgement for Overall Effectiveness, but not quite there. The inspectors agreed, the Lead Inspector saying that it was the most honest and accurate self-evaluation he had ever seen. Ofsted’s gifts of unflinching critique and wise counsel about the ways forward spur us on and we have already taken next steps, including the re-arranging of classrooms and the appointment of new staff for September.
In all honesty, it was excruciating to be so close to an Overall Effectiveness judgement of “Good”, especially as we are neighboured by schools with either lower or similar results which are still judged to be “Good”. However, a school which out-performs others nationally in ensuring bright learners do well, can only be a few short steps away from achieving the badge of honour it deserves.
Watch this space.
Matthew Moss High School is a different kind of school; it is different because it is absolutely focused on developing your child so that when they leave us they are ready for the world and able to create happy, successful and productive lives for themselves. In order for this to happen, young people need three things from their schooling; knowledge, skills and a real sense of direction about their next steps. Many schools focus on servicing only the first need. At Matthew Moss we provide an educational experience which offers all three.
Requiring the least explanation is the 85% of time spent acquiring knowledge, via National Curriculum and examination subjects. However, at Matthew Moss subject areas are exceptionally well-resourced and our staff teams work together to ensure that lessons are always engaging, interesting and highly productive.
In addition, we have academic learning opportunities beyond the school day and at weekends. For instance, every Saturday on average 130 Matthew Moss learners choose to attend school for the D6 scheme, which involves fours hours of extra study supported by Rochdale Sixth Form College Scholar students.
Less usual is the 8% of curriculum time which is focused on helping students develop the vital skills they need to ensure that they can be effective learners, problem-solvers and self-managers, not only in school or college or university, but for life. Challenging project-based learning is used to grow adult dispositions such as resilience and strategic awareness in learners. Moreover, we have been building expertise in this difficult field for some years now and with significant success. For instance, the Innovation Unit’s influential publication “10 Schools for the 21st Century”, lists only one UK school as effectively preparing young people for the complexities of today’s world and that school is Matthew Moss. Similarly, we are the only UK school noted by the International Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation as a centre for learning innovation. Furthermore, very recently we have become one of a handful of UK schools to be awarded “Changemaker” status by the prestigious Ashoka organisation.
Final confirmation of our strength in this area comes from our global reputation for excellence in project-based learning, which, every term, brings visiting professionals from the United States, Scandinavia, New Zealand and Australia to our school.
Too many young people leave school without a firm grasp of their own strengths, what they would like to become and what their next steps should be. They are then left to catch up with this vital thinking in a very short space of time as 16 and 17 year olds, making critical life-decisions as they go. Sadly some then find themselves having to navigate significant career changes in later life, often in the face of weighty financial commitments.
At Matthew Moss, we work hard to give young people high-quality experiences which will put them ahead of the game in understanding where they might place themselves in the world. About 5% of curriculum time for older learners is devoted to My Future, a programme which allows them to investigate, in authentic and realistic ways, their future lives. For instance, a student might choose a work experience placement, or to study A Level Mathematics, or attend university lectures, or go to college to pursue motor vehicle mechanics, or to follow an Honours programme to align them for application to Russell Group universities such as Oxford and Cambridge. In this way students try out the actuality of the things they might want to pursue in life.
So, yes, we are different. Matthew Moss High School has gone above and beyond to create a highly-developed curriculum experience, purpose-made to ensure that the young people within our care get not only the knowledge, but the skills and sense of direction they need to live happy, successful and productive lives. A very good reason, then, to be different.
Composure - We remain effective under pressure.
High Standards - We expect much from ourselves and others.
Agency - We know how to learn and make things happen.
Numeracy & Literacy - We master our use of numbers and words.
Growth Mindset - We learn to succeed through practice.
Empathy - We care about others as well as ourselves.