Monk's Walk School
Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
About Monk's Walk School
Who we are
We are a mixed school of about 1,350 11-18 year old students in Welwyn Garden City, a Hertfordshire new town on the outskirts of London. Transport links are superb – direct rail links to London in less than 30 minutes; M1, A1(M), M11 and M25 all minutes away. WGC is a pleasant place to live – it even has John Lewis! The school is situated in a greenbelt area in the prosperous northwest corner of the city. Our grounds are magnificent and the view from the school is lovely, the view of our buildings slightly less so – this is an area we are constantly working on within the usual financial constraints. In September 2019, we started construction of a new block to replace one of our older teaching blocks.
Monk’s Walk is a genuinely comprehensive school, although the intake profile is changing – the prior attainment of students coming into the school is rising. The number of students with learning challenges is below the national average, with 11.6% supported at school action plus or with an Education and Healthcare Plan (EHCP). Our support for students with SEND is a real strength of the school. We have a small number of students with visual and hearing impairment. We have a few students with autism. The school has an extremely effective behaviour policy and in general behaviour is very good indeed. Our students want to learn and our parents are, on the whole, extremely supportive.
Parental confidence in the school is high; there were 737 applications for 226 places in Year 7 for September 2020. We have been allocated up to our PAN and there are 60 on our waiting list for September. Each year we hear appeals for students wishing to join the school.
There is a genuine ‘buzz’ around the school and we have a very strong reputation in the city. In February 2018, the school was judged once again by Ofsted to be ‘good’ - please read the inspection letter which can be found on our website (or on Ofsted’s) should you wish to apply. We were really pleased with the comments made by inspectors. They won’t be back until 2022, all being equal.
GCSE exam results in 2019 were excellent. A Level results were also very strong; we were delighted as we have been working on these as a priority for several years now. We are very proud of the destinations of our sixth form students, with almost all students who applied making it to their first or second choice university or high quality apprenticeship. Students access a range of universities, including Oxbridge and the Russell Group.
In terms of progress, disadvantaged and SEN students better in the school than they do nationally. BME students attain very well and have good progress, as do each of the ability groups. We pride ourselves on the fact that Monk’s Walk is an inclusive school.
The school has about 230 in the sixth form. We are also a member of a consortium with four other schools which provides a wide range of opportunities for students. At Monk’s Walk we concentrate on providing A Level only, with large numbers of students studying the facilitating subjects. Vocational programmes can be taken at Oaklands College or in other consortium schools.
We do not pursue academic achievement at the expense of the wider development of the individual, however. Form tutors, heads of year and heads of house all have important roles in the social, personal and academic support of individuals. Our house system is strong, providing a range of all-ability competitions and activities for mixed-age groups. Recently we have become the first school in the country to have a recycling machine with the credit going as house points. Over 12,000 bottles have been recycled since May. All members of staff are allocated a house.
The range of extra-curricular opportunities, trips and visits plays an important role in the lives of our students and we guard this expansive programme jealously because we believe that busy, stimulated students make successful students. Last year our students had the opportunity to take part in over 200 trips and visits, including trips to New York, Paris, Madrid and the Belgian battlefields. We have large groups undertaking World Challenge and DofE at bronze, silver and gold level. A range of staff, including support staff, involve themselves in these activities which further enriches school life for both them and our students.
Being a large school has enabled us to maintain a very broad curriculum at all key stages. Music is a particular strength; over 1/3 of our year 10 and 11 students study towards an examined Music course and over 250 peripatetic lessons take place each week. We have a full orchestra that sounds pretty good.
Knightsfield School (a special school for hearing impaired children) is co-located with Monk’s Walk School. We have an outstanding partnership arrangement; at key stage 3 Knightsfield students join classes in Drama, PE and Art. Some students are also integrated into GCSE groups. Knightsfield students join ours for lunch every day in our canteen in B Block.
The school became an academy in September 2012. The decision to convert was purely pragmatic and trustees have no intention to make changes to teachers’ pay and conditions beyond those made as part of national agreements.
Induction, training and continuing professional development have a very high priority in the school. All new members of staff take part in a comprehensive induction programme on joining the school. We have a proven track record in training teachers and we have both School Direct and PGCE trainees. We take an active part in the Alban Teaching School Alliance.
If you are a newly qualified teacher, you are offered a comprehensive induction programme to make sure you have a flying start to your career in teaching. You will also find that we have an innovative support programme throughout the NQT year, organised with local schools. This provides training on key aspects of teaching such as assessment and behaviour for learning, as well as providing a local network of support with other NQTs in similar subject areas. There is also the opportunity to visit other schools to further your experience in the NQT year. The course builds on the support of a mentor and the extended support of a professional mentor in school.
All staff are supported by a broad programme of continuing training and development. Individual staff are supported on programmes of further study/professional qualifications. The school runs a well-developed performance management system. All staff are actively supported to achieve their individual targets.
In addition to competitive salaries, subscription to the Teachers' Pension Scheme and for Support Staff the Local Government Pension Scheme, Monk's Walk School has a great deal to offer those that work there.
Staff are provided with free tea and coffee during break time.
The School also offers a generous relocation package for teachers moving to the area to take up a post. Please see the School website for further details.
Where progress is particularly strong, it is as a result of teachers' deep subject knowledge, which they use to check pupils' understanding, clarify their misconceptions and challenge their thinking- Ofsted 2018
You provide strong and passionate leadership that is guided by your desire to do 'what is right' by the pupils who attend your school- Ofsted 2018
Pupils are well behaved and have positive attitudes to learning. They are grateful for the high quality support that they receive from adults in the school.- Ofsted 2018