The Witchford Offer represents our commitment to the experiences and opportunities that students will be part of as members of our village college community. This offer not only covers their time in year 7, but also throughout their school career, as they build towards their ultimate goal of achieving the qualifications necessary to pursue their chosen vocation in life.
This offer will continue to evolve, allowing us to prepare our students for the challenges ahead both, from a personal and educational perspective, as local, regional and national conditions for employment change.
We believe that students should experience as many subjects as possible before they begin to choose the subjects and courses they wish to specialise in at key stage four and key stage five levels. Our broad curriculum in years 7 and 8 consists of seven areas of study:
Broadening Language - English Language, English Literature, French and Spanish
Mastery Mathematics - Mathematics
Scientific Enquiry - Biology, Chemistry and Physics and Computer science
World studies - History, Geography and Religious Studies
Creative Expression and performance - Dance, Drama and Music
Visual Arts - Art, Design, Food technology
Personal inquiry - Personal Health and care, and social studies
Within these areas, students study a range of subjects and topics, delivered by our team of specialist staff. This not only lays the foundations for further study at a future higher level, but also encourages a love of learning, enquiry and discussion and debate from students, skills required not only for future examinations, but also in life.
It is important that discussions about career options and opportunities are begun in year 7. Whilst we know that such decisions are a world away for most students at this age, we use a range of internal visitors and external trips to widen students understanding of the world that is available to them, including visits to universities.
We understand that the transition between primary and secondary can, for some of our students, be a time of nervousness and uncertainty. Our transition programme is designed to allay these fears, by giving students the knowledge and experience about what life is like at Witchford Village College, long before they join us officially.
All feeder primaries will be allocated a specific member of staff from the college, who will act as a single point of contact for any queries and communication. This contact will also be involved at a very early stage in visiting the school and talking with students, their teachers and parents about their school career so far, as well as informing them about what is to come.
Any students with a particular special education, disability or other need, will also receive separate visits with their parents/carers from specialists from the college, to discuss any particular arrangements that will need to be put into place. They will also have the opportunity to visit the college early in the process to experience what life in a secondary school is like.
All students attend the college in July for our two move-up days. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet our staff, participate in different lessons and start to experience some of the routines such as break and lunchtime, as well as starting to learn the independent skills required of school transport.
We also invite parents to an induction evening, with the opportunity to meet key staff and attend key workshops about life in a secondary school.
On joining the college, students are allocated to a tutor group in one of our college houses – Lancaster, Meteor, Stirling or Wellington. Houses are led by our Heads of house, supported by our excellent House managers; non-teaching staff who act as the main point of contact for students and parents on a day to day basis. Tutor groups made up of students from all year groups, are normally led by two members of college staff who provide support and guidance to their tutees in a large number of areas. The college also liaises closely with a number of external and internal organisations to support students with any personal issues that may arise.
All staff make use of our ‘Edulink’ college communication system that allows parents to be kept up-to-date with information ranging from rewards, behaviour, examination arrangements, assessment results and communication home.
We do acknowledge that not all students are classed as school ready from an educational point of view. The college will therefore, based on recommendations from primary class teachers, be inviting a select group of students to a fully funded week of summer school, delivered by college staff to provide them with an educational boost before the start of their secondary school career.
By providing students with the opportunity to participate in trips and visits, we not only reinforce work done within the curriculum, but also encourage students to take a wider view of the world, often challenging them by placing them into unfamiliar environment and situations.
The list of day visits and trips is extensive, and is offered by all seven areas of study. Due to the nature of the changing curriculum and assessment requirements, the trips and visits on offer to students does change on a year by year basis, however we aim to provide at least one significant residential trip opportunity in every year group. We will publicise information about these opportunities to students and parents on a regular basis throughout their time at the college.
Current plans for the main residential trips include:
Year 7 - Bushcraft residential
Year 8 - Languages residential French or Spain
Year 9 - PGL, France
Year 10 - Geography field skills residential
Science residential, Cern, Switzerland
Year 11 - Outlook expedition, Greece
The Witchford SPARK programme is unique to our college. Designed to raise aspirations we look to identify in every student, any particular skills, expertise and talent both in and outside of school, which we can help nurture and encourage, so that all students have the chance to build upon this success into all aspects of their school and personal lives. Opportunities to nurture student’s ’SPARK’ include externally organised events and competitions such as the Bloodhound competition or college opportunities such as a nationally recognised leadership award, which all year seven will complete in the spring. Students demonstrating their ‘SPARK’ are awarded the SPARK badge and are proudly shown on the ‘SPARK’ wall.
We also ask year 7 students to volunteer and join our ‘Student Ambassadors’ programme. These are a group of students form all years who we use to show visitors around, support evening events and represent the College.
We take pride in recognising our students for the excellent work, effort and commitment they put into their studies, as well as their wider contribution to the college and our community. Rewards are celebrated as a college and the competitive nature of our house system, installs a sense of pride and commitment in students and their achievements.
We ask our students to work towards completing our ten pledges, ways in which they can challenge themselves personally to achieve certain goals. The achievement of pledges as well as academic success is acknowledged via the awarding of badges, and other awards. Students are listed on the SPARK wall when they have achieved excellence in a particular subject, skill or activity.
We acknowledge the achievement of completing the end of their key stage three studies by holding a graduation ceremony in July of year 8. Only students who meet academic targets linked to their ability, their attendance and their level of ‘Grit’ shown throughout their studies, are invited with their parents/carer, to a formal ceremony; wearing gown and mortar board. To be awarded their graduation certificate.
Oscar’s ceremony and Sport Awards
Also in July the college holds our dual award ceremony’s where individual excellence in a range of areas is recognised, nominated by the college staff.
The experiences that our students have outside of the classroom allows them to try new activities and challenge their own limitations. Our extra-curricular programme ranges from college representation in a number of different sports, to music and drama clubs, science, design and mathematics. The college’s late bus three times a week, supports the after-college programme, alongside various lunchtime activities. We always ask students to let us know what they would like to do, and we will always endeavour to support any requests.
We aim to make the difference between a primary to secondary environment as smooth as possible, ensuring that the students experience during the transition is a hugely positive one. Through the support we offer including access to a year 7 only outside space and reserved dining tables. A staggered start to the year with their year 11 buddy’s. Walk-throughs of all of the college systems such as breaks and lunchtimes, and fire and evacuation drills, students with different levels of self-confidence are able to manage their start at their own pace.
A confident start in year 7 builds a fantastic, solid foundation for their future aspirations, outcomes and successes in the college and beyond. The Witchford offer represents our commitment to this goal, and we welcome all of our ne