Enterprise at work

Seaton Burn Community College has seen its "improvement culture" pay dividends - significantly with a huge leap in GCSE results.

Seaton Burn Community College has seen its "improvement culture" pay dividends - significantly with a huge leap in GCSE results.

The school saw the number of children getting five or more good passes at GCSE rise from 46% in 2005 to 65% this year.

For principal Alison Shaw, the results were a reflection of "powerful team work by the staff and an immense commitment to our youngsters".

She said: "One of the main strengths of the school is that we have an improvement culture. We're an enterprise college, and we try to be enterprising and innovative in terms of the curriculum and what opportunities we give to the youngsters.

"We had a big jump in our GCSE results this year, which is great news for the college, but within that there was also a big improvement in our most able students.

"We believe that raising the attainment of the more able students goes a long way to raising the aspirations of the rest of the school."

With 800 pupils, Ms Shaw says the school is large enough to have a varied curriculum, but small enough so staff are familiar with pupils.

The school has tried to personalise the curriculum, bringing in vocational courses in areas like horticulture, hair and beauty, and construction.

It also has strong international links - sponsoring an enterprise centre in a Kenyan village and working on an exchange programme with schools in Scotland, Finland and Iceland.

Students at Seaton Burn have also raised tens of thousands of pounds for charities, with donations to groups including the Teenage Cancer Trust, St Oswald's Hospice, the NSPCC and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Headteacher: Alison Shaw.

Chairman of governors: Kirby Robinson.

Main findings of most recent Ofsted report:

The college's view of itself is that it is effective overall, but the view of inspectors is it is ineffective, but improving. Standards attained by pupils in national tests and GCSE examinations have been broadly in line with national expectations; however, the achievement of more able pupils and progress in some subjects have been well below expectations. The progress of less able pupils has often been better.

How would you describe the school's ethos and values?

We are focused on enterprise and achievement; the sky is the limit. We are large enough to offer breadth and variety, but small enough to know our students well and tailor our provision to their individual needs.

What are the school's main strengths?

We achieved outstanding GCSE results this year, especially among the more able students. We have an "improvement culture" and a wide range of provision that changes to meet students' needs. We also have an exemplary caring approach to all our students, especially the new students in Year Seven, thanks to excellent links with our feeder primary schools.

What areas is the school trying to improve?

Health and healthy eating; raising aspirations and achievement; employability skills; citizenship; communication with parents.

What extra curricular activities and out-of-school provision does the school have?

Web club; numerous sports clubs; choir and orchestra; dance; charity fundraising; overseas education.

Most recent A-level/GCSE results:

In last year's GCSEs, 65% of pupils achieved five or more passes at A*-C.

How does the school get involved in the local community?

We have a weekly luncheon club for the elderly, an active parent-teacher association and are a base for a number of community groups. We have a thriving adult education section and do a lot of work with the primary schools.

What are the school's proudest achievements?

We got the most improved school award from SSAT in 2005, and have raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity.

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