A new headteacher wants her school to provide the best education in Bedfordshire.
Balraj Hare has high hopes for Sandy Upper School. The school was taken over by the Barnfield Federation at the start of the academic year and Ms Hare, who goes by the title of principal, is the organisation’s representative.
The school’s whole leadership team is important. She said: “With the right leadership we can move this school forward. It’s about overcoming the obstacles and disadvantages and making things happen regardless, not using them as excuses.”
One obstacle is that the school will not receive more money from Barnfield until it converts to academy status.
This is being delayed by internal changes at the federation following investigations over financial allegations. But parents have been told that Barnfield “remains committed to creating the Barnfield Sandy Academy.”
Talking about current priorities at the school Ms Hare said: “Now we have to focus on the Year 11s. There is long enough to have a significant impact and it’s about students’ lives. Those 200 students are our priority because they’ve got the shortest time.”
One big change at the school, she explained, is that students are starting their GCSEs in Year 9 and picking up new ones as each is completed. They do not necessarily have to wait until they start Sixth Form to begin their AS Levels either.
Ms Hare hopes that this will mean they leave school with more qualifications. And contrary to beliefs prior to the summer break, the students entering Year 11 did not have to drop a GCSE subject or complete it after school, Ms Hare added.
Regarding behaviour, she said: “We are setting very clear boundaries as to what we will accept. The students have responded very well.
“We are creating an environment where students can excel. They can fly and flourish and move things forward.”
The school has been split into house groups called Courage, Determination, Excellence and Inspiration, with senior leaders and prefects responsible for each house. The aim is for the children to be proud of their house and to encourage the year groups to mix and see each others’ priorities.
Ms Hare, a former art teacher, said: “We have a sense of competition between the houses. Each house is trying to be the best. That raises standards but in a fun way.”
She is delighted with Ofsted’s latest report, which has just been released. The inspection was in early October.
The school is listed as making “reasonable progress,” the best grade it could get with August’s fairly low exam results.
But the report says: “It is hard to imagine what more the school’s senior leaders could have done in the five weeks since the start of the school year.”