This page looks at our Quality of Education by explaining our Curriculum, our Teaching, our Technology and the Accountability criteria.
We make use of three different curricula at Wotton House School.
1. Our Prep school uses the Cambridge Primary Curriculum.
2. Our Senior school follows the IB Middle Years Programme.
3. For some students the breadth of the MYP is a challenge due to underlying neurodiversities. For these students we are able to tailor-make programmes of learning which would usually end up with examinations to achieve GCSE or IGCSE qualifications.
Please read the page Alternative to GCSEs for a detailed discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the various secondary offerings.
We modify all our curricula to incorporate our extensive activities at The Wilderness outdoor education centre which is pioneering rewilding as a way of life and a teaching tool.
We are exploring the possibility of using the Primary Years Programme (PYP) which is the IB offer for primary education.
We also offer external candidates the opportunity to sit their GCSE and IGCSE exams with us as we are an exam centre registered with JCQ and Cambridge Assessments.
Our staff share the one priceless factor which enable them to deliver real-world learning properly: real-world experience! Between us we cover a huge range of expertise, including: archeology, astronomy, film-making, film-producing, playgroup management, financial adviser, academic research, banking, nursing, tourism, travel, coffee-shop manager, dancing, singing, catering, fundraising and international sports!
All our staff are actively involved with their own subject professional associations and keep up to date with findings from neuroscience, cognitive and developmental psychology and other educational research.
The best regular summary of research comes from the EEF (Education Endowment Foundation) whose website says "The EEF was established in 2011 by The Sutton Trust with a £125m founding grant from the Department for Education. The EEF and Sutton Trust are, together, the government-designated What Works Centre for Education." They produce careful, easy to read assessments of all educational interventions which have some positive evidence for their efficacy. Each intervention is assessed in terms of cost, depth of research evidence and impact, judged in terms of months of progress.
Because their summary tables are updated in the light if new evidence they cannot be taken as definitive. For example, Outdoor Adventure Learning did show a strong impact of +4 months but currently is showing as 'not enough evidence', which is a shame.
The most effective interventions are shown below. MYP pedagogy involves lots of metacognition (the IB call it ATL) and lots of Feedback (formative assessment). Our daily practice involves lots of collaborative learning, peer tutoring and regular, moderate amounts of homework. Some subjects use mastery learning and one-to-one tuition is available if recommended.
Do we know it works?
Yes we do, and we have some strong evidence. For the last three years (2019-21) some of our students have sat GCSE examinations, even though our teaching is not focussed on exam techniques and rote retention of facts.
When students join us we usually benchmark their cognitive profile (through the CAT4 test of GL Assessment or, earlier, the MidYIS assessments). These benchmarks include predictions of likely outcomes for different examinations which we can then compare with actual outcomes. The difference is an estimate of Added Value which is the fairest way to judge quality of teaching. If a school has a top performing intake who score top performing results there is no way of knowing how good the teaching actually is.
This table (extracted from this document) shows our results for the last three years - our Value-added estimates range between 0.3 and 0.5. The average Progress 8 measure of value-added across all Gloucestershire secondary schools was 0.01 (2019 is the last year for which data has been published), and the average across all schools in England is a startling -0.03.
So even though (a) we don't deliberately prepare students for GCSEs, and even though (b) some of our entries are taken a year early, and even though (c) many of the students who entered in 2019-20 had just joined us from Wynstones, we are still able to show that our teaching provides significant, and above average, value-added.
What Makes the Perfect Teacher?
If you ask students this is what they say (according to an article in the TES by Georgia Ziebart in 2017):
1. Funny 4. Helpful/supportive 7. Knowledgeable
2. Fair 5. Good listener 8. Patient
3. Understanding 6. Inspiring 9. Passionate
Over and above the technical aspects of teaching (knowledgeable, supportive) and even above the personal characteristics (inspiring, passionate), it is the relations between teacher and pupil which are most important, in students' eyes and - probably - in our teachers' eyes as well.
We set up as a blended learning school right from our opening year. This made the transition to online learning during lockdown seamless.
All students have Chromebooks
Internet access provided by Virgin
Wireless access points provided by Ubiquiti
Staff use a mixture of Windows Laptops, Apple MacBooks, Chromebooks and standalone PCs
Printers and scanners are standalone and distributed around classrooms.
Camera is a Canon
Learning environment: GAFE (Google Apps for Education)
Internet Security: Securly
Web pages: Wix
All independent schools are judged by The Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations 2014. The Standards are divided into eight Parts, each of which contain one or more Standards, each of which is defined in one or more Paragraphs (our summary is here):
Quality of Education
Spiritual, Moral, Social & Cultural development of pupils (SMSC)
Welfare, health & safety of pupils (WHS)
Suitability of staff
Premises of and accommodation at schools
Provision of Information
Manner in which complaints are handled.
Quality of leadership in and management of schools
Part 1 defines what is required in terms of Quality of Education. Ofsted's new Education Inspection Framework (2019) (EIF) initiated a major move of the focus of inspections away from results and towards the curriculum. As a result there are now close parallels between the two regulatory bodies in terms of how they define what "good" education looks like.