We are a large school but we pride ourselves on maintaining the caring atmosphere often associated with smaller schools. Each student is placed in a form group under the guidance of a tutor, who gets to know each child very well. Our new students each year tell us that they find the school welcoming and secure. We have a broadly equal number of boys and girls and a full range of ability.
We believe parental co-operation and support are key factors in educational success. Form tutors, heads of year, subject teachers and senior staff are all happy to be contacted about individual students. Often, an early word between parent and school can prevent any worries from developing into a problem. The school has a very active Parent Teacher Association, which organises fund-raising and social events which make a major contribution to the life of the school.
We have an excellent team of teachers, well-qualified academically, hard-working and committed to ensuring that every student achieves his or her best. Many of our staff have taught in the area for a long time and know the community well. Just as importantly, we have been able to attract new young staff who bring fresh ideas and expertise.
Supporting Examination Achievement
Grouping by Ability
There are no mixed-ability classes at Sydney Russell. Students are placed in one of three bands according to their ability. All their lessons take place with students of similar ability to themselves. Teachers are therefore able to push every child at the right pace, allowing high ability students to move ahead very quickly and students who need extra support to get the help they need. Each student’s progress is regularly reviewed to make sure they are in the correct band.
High Ability Students
Students in the top 30% of the ability range are placed in one of our special “fast-track” tutor groups. Selection for the fast track takes place in December of Year 7, based on students’ Primary School results and their performance during their first term at Sydney Russell. Fast track students have all their lessons together and have the opportunity to take certain public examinations earlier than the rest of their year group. In order to remain in the fast track, students must maintain extremely high standards of attendance, behaviour, classwork and homework.
Homework tasks are set and recorded in the student diary, so that parents are able to check what has been given and support their child’s work. There is a supervised Homework Club, which runs after school in the Library, for students who wish to make use of school facilities to help them with their work.
Monitoring of Student Progress
We keep a very careful check on each student’s progress as they move up through the school. Parents receive a full written report on their child once a year, as well as more frequent summary grade cards giving a quick snapshot of current performance. Every year group has a Parents’ Evening at which individual subject staff talk about progress within their lessons. Parents are also invited to an annual meeting with their child’s form tutor to discuss overall targets and progress.
The great majority of Sydney Russell students are well-behaved and work hard. They are rewarded with praise, merit marks, certificates, prizes and commendations in assembly. Those few students who choose to break the rules must face the consequences of their action, which can include misconduct marks, isolation, detention and eventually exclusion from school. We take a particularly strong line in dealing with any signs of bullying.
The School is fortunate in having had substantial recent investment in buildings and facilities.
All subjects have suites of rooms near to one another. Many rooms are air-conditioned.
There has been a major investment in computer facilities in recent years, which is on-going. There is a whole-school network, with a networked computer in every teaching room providing CD-ROM and internet access, and a number of computer teaching rooms with 30 work-stations in each. Teaching rooms are rapidly being equipped with digital projection equipment to enable staff to make maximum use of online teaching materials with a whole class.
In many ways the Library is at the heart of the school. It is a magnificent, two-tier room with spiral staircase leading to a mezzanine floor. It provides a wide range of books and other resources for student use as well as the latest computer technology.
There has been a particular emphasis on providing high-quality Science accommodation. We have twelve well-equipped specialist laboratories, all with easy access to technician support and equipment.
We have a large, state-of-the-art performance studio, complete with air-conditioning, video projection facilities and the latest audio equipment. This makes an ideal rehearsal and performance space for both Dance and Drama.
Our P.E. facilities are excellent. As well as an extensive sports field, our Leisure Centre (which is open to the public at weekends and in the evenings) provides a huge multi-purpose Sports Hall, a weight training room and highquality changing rooms.
The School Meals Service provides an early morning breakfast service from 8 a.m., snacks at mid-morning break and a full cafeteria service at lunch-time. Students may also bring a packed lunch. Students are not allowed to leave the school site at lunch-time.