Stratton Upper School
Central Bedfordshire, United Kingdom
About Stratton Upper School
Stratton Education Trust
Stratton Education Trust was formed on 1st February 2012. Its key function is the provision of education to students aged 9 to 13 at Gamlingay Village College, Gamlingay and students aged 13 to 19 at Stratton Upper School, Biggleswade.
Stratton Upper School
Stratton Upper is a 13 to 19 school of approaching 1,200 students. This includes just under 400 students in our Sixth Form. We are the only upper school provision directly serving Biggleswade and the surrounding villages. This has both advantages and responsibilities. An advantage is that any competition from neighbouring schools is minimal and this has enabled us to develop increasingly collaborative relationships between them. Our unequivocal responsibility however, is to ensure that we support the needs of all students within our catchment. It follows that we accommodate students from across the ability spectrum and are truly inclusive.
Detailed information concerning our 2014 exam outcomes for both KS4 and KS5 is included in this information. Over recent years we have been embarking on an ambitious programme to raise standards, transform our curriculum and help our students realise what they are truly capable of achieving. Naturally, we are pleased to see the green shoots of this work firmly reflected in our 2014 outcomes. 2014 was our most successful year across the school, our Sixth Form is now in the top quartile for student progress nationally, whilst our GCSE outcomes are also above national average. Our ambition for school improvement continues with even more purpose, driven by our commitment to open as many opportunities for our students as we possibly can.
The holistic experience of being a Stratton student is of vital importance to us. Our staff are incredibly giving of their time, which means we can offer a vibrant extracurricular range of activities. In 2014 we took part in a humanitarian expedition to Peru, and are planning a similar extended visit to Borneo in 2016. Performing and visual arts are a strength with regular multimedia exhibitions, drama, music and dance productions. Our debating and public speaking groups compete at a national level. Our sports facilities are excellent and support a full range of individual and team sports and our students have enjoyed particular success in racket sports over recent years.
An unusual feature of Stratton, of which we are enormously proud, is our Farm. Originally this was set up at the time when there were far more employment opportunities within agriculture. These days this is less relevant in the local job market, but the farm provides a wonderful learning resource in its own right. Each year we produce thousands of plants, as well as highly prized meat from rare breed pigs, lambs and poultry.
We are shortly to enter the building phase of a multi-million pound expansion project of the Stratton Upper School site. As indicated elsewhere in this document this is because of demographic growth. The project will consist of a large, dedicated Science suite of 13 laboratories and associated support services, new Sixth Form facilities and improved dining arrangements. In addition, these new facilities will enable us to reconfigure areas of our school (for instance, the existing Science labs) to provide more versatile teaching and administrative accommodation. This project is due to be completed in the Autumn of 2016.
Gamlingay Village College
Gamlingay Village College was the last of the original group of Cambridgeshire Village Colleges that opened in the middle of the last century. It was also the smallest, designed to be a two form entry 11 to 16 school.
Following the reorganisation of secondary education in the 1970’s, GVC was re-designated as a 9 to 13 middle school, feeding in to the Bedfordshire three tier education system of lower, middle and upper schools. The necessity for this arrangement was Gamlingay’s relative remoteness from other Cambridgeshire schools making such a cross-border arrangement the most practical and sustainable solution.
The relationship between Gamlingay Village College (GVC) and Stratton Upper School has been in existence for over 40 years, with GVC being one of three direct feeder schools into Stratton. When GVC was subject to an unfavourable Ofsted inspection in 2011 the solution thought most likely to bring about rapid improvement was a formal union with Stratton Upper School. In November 2013, GVC received its first full Ofsted inspection since becoming an Academy. The outcome of this was that the school was judged as a grade 3, "requires improvement". This represents a significant step forward in the education provision that was inherited when the Trust was formed.
2014 saw the College’s best outcomes in its history, though our priorities remain the further development of maths provision, to ensure our pupils attain in the top quartile of similar schools.
Our Stratton catchment area incorporates the town of Biggleswade and, in addition to Gamlingay, a number of small villages in the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire countryside. GVC serves the large village of Gamlingay and neighbouring hamlets. Both communities provide attractive settings for families to be based, even if employment opportunities require a degree of travel. Stratton and GVC are popular choices for families who live in the catchment areas and beyond.
Biggleswade itself lies on the A1 and mainline railway, making it an ideal town for commuting into London (35 min to King's Cross). Other centres of employment include Cambridge, Bedford, Stevenage, Milton Keynes and Peterborough. Each of these towns and cities are accessible within 45 min travel time from Biggleswade. Employment in Biggleswade has traditionally been in market gardening and engineering. Both these industries still have a presence in the area, but are no longer the significant employers they once were.
Both Biggleswade and Gamlingay are set to expand over the coming years. Most significant is the growth planned in Biggleswade which will see the town expand by between 25 and 30%. This will require a corresponding expansion to education provision and we are working in cooperation with the Local Authority to bring forward a significant build project to Stratton Upper School over the next two years. In Gamlingay, the expansion of housing is more modest, but will help grow the population of the Village College towards the 220+ students it was designed to accommodate.
Across our Trust we apply key and unequivocal values to our work. We believe that we will attain the best outcomes for our pupils and students within a framework of security and support. The welfare and well-being of all members of our community is of central importance and we expect staff, pupils and students to give high priority to the needs of others and their development. In practice this means that the sometimes unfashionable term of "pastoral care" is given particularly high importance across the Trust and all staff are expected to work within this ethos.
Our approach also relies on developing a deep sense of belonging and community. Both schools are engaged in charitable works and spiritual, moral, social and cultural development are given significant importance.
To sum up our approach, we borrow the words of our colleague Headteacher Alan Brookes (Fulston Manor, Kent) “there is no contradiction between order and discipline and a belief that the school should be full of laughter and joy".
Stratton Education Trust places a great deal of emphasis on the continual development of its colleagues. As an organisation we hold the Investors in People Gold award for our commitment to staff development.
We are an outward facing school and play a significant role in the following organisations:
The Biggleswade Community Union of Schools (BCUS) an association of all education providers in our area dedicated to developing seamless education provision from ages 0 to 19;
Central Bedfordshire Upper Schools Heads Group;
Central Bedfordshire Teaching School;
The Academy of Central Bedfordshire, an alternative provision free school established by the Central Bedfordshire Upper Schools;
Cambridge University Department of Education;
Colleagues expect to engage in professional development through a mixture of school-based training, addressing holistic priorities and an individual assessment of needs.
We are fastidious in our recruitment of new colleagues. Potential applicants must share our vision and commitment to providing the very best education to our pupils and students that we possibly can. Applicants must be team players who are able to see how their contribution fits into the bigger picture. They must be dedicated, skilled, highly professional and we make no apology for also saying fun to work with.
We are clear this is not an impossible ask as we already have a team of over 200 colleagues, both in teaching and non-teaching roles, who exhibit these attributes in abundance.
Choosing to apply for a job is potentially life changing. It is important that we assist you as much as we possibly can in assessing whether we are the right environment for you, as much as we assess whether you have the right skill set and attitude for us. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require additional information, or would like to visit either or both schools as part of your application process.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Stratton Education Trust