Fir Vale School is a good school and rapidly improving. Outcomes are above floor, do not meet the criteria for a ‘coasting school’ and in Summer 2017 were well above national averages. Ofsted inspected the school in June 2015 and judged the school to be ‘Good’ in all areas; Safety was judged to be ‘Outstanding’. The school has a high proportion of pupils for whom Fir Vale School is their first preference. A new Headteacher was appointed from 1st September 2017 and our School Improvement Partner reported in December 2017 that: “Leadership has high aspirations, the new Headteacher is leading effectively with high expectations and pace and there is a strong drive for improvement. He has significant leadership experience in good and outstanding schools and is bringing new ideas and ways of working. He is supported by an experienced team of senior leaders and governors. Recent appointments have strengthened middle leadership.”
We are distinctive. Fir Vale School is a very inclusive, caring and ambitious school in a challenging context. Our ‘unconditional positive regard’ for each pupil and their family is matched by our pledge to ensure each pupil leaves us well-educated with high levels of confidence, self-esteem and an eager readiness to embark on their next steps. The school is unceasingly optimistic, never compromises on high standards and we do not accept negativity, cynicism, excuses for poor behaviour or offer excuses for any weak progress: pupils’ deprivation, disadvantage and poor role models are overcome by leadership and practice that is bold, ethical and community focused.
We are cosmopolitan and embrace and promote difference and diversity. Nearly 40 different languages are represented in the school and this together with very low levels of literacy, oracy and numeracy are challenges. We work hard to encourage learning and often this can be because of their own negative experiences of school. Equally, attendance and punctuality can be seen as low priorities. Many Roma families leave at the end of June to return to their Slovakian villages for the summer and do not return until mid to late September. The school population has changed significantly: in 2010 WEE/Roma pupils represented less than 3% of on-roll; by November 2017 the percentage is close to one third. The curriculum has been adapted to include more arts subjects in KS3 to engage large numbers of Roma (some of whom do not read, write or speak English) in their learning and to access their curriculum.
We are ambitious for our pupils, their families, our community, ourselves and our school. We never confuse disadvantage with low ability and we believe educating and caring is a privilege. We are particularly effective at leadership, safeguarding and personal development, behaviour and welfare. We have good outcomes and standards of teaching, learning and assessment are rising rapidly. We celebrate and share our strengths; we are not complacent and we see areas that need higher standards as opportunities to improve provision rather than negative judgements on our practice. We believe every professional and every school can be better and we are more likely to achieve this when we work collaboratively.
We have high expectations and work tirelessly and collaboratively to realise our vision: