Monk's Walk School "Excellence For All"

Secondary Welwyn / Hatfield District

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Description

Our School

We are a mixed school of about 1,400 11-18 year old students in Welwyn Garden City, a Hertfordshire new town on the outskirts of London. Transport links are superb – direct rail links to London in less than 30 minutes; M1, A1(M), M11 and M25 all minutes away. WGC is a pleasant place to live – it even has John Lewis! The school is situated in a greenbelt area in the prosperous northwest corner of the city. Our grounds are magnificent and the view from the school is lovely. In September 2020 we opened a new teaching block to replace one of the more rundown ones. 

Monk’s Walk is a genuinely comprehensive school, although the intake profile is changing – the prior attainment of students coming into the school is rising. The number of students with learning challenges is below the national average, with 11.6% supported at school action plus or with an Education and Healthcare Plan (EHCP). Our support for students with SEND is a real strength of the school. 

We have a small number of blind or partially sighted students who receive specialist support. We also work very closely with Knightsfield School, a special school for deaf children on our campus. 

Parental confidence in the school is high; there were 693 applications for 236 places in Year 7 for September 2022, with 246 of those as first preference. Each year we hear appeals for students wishing to join the school.

The school has an extremely effective behaviour policy and in general behaviour is very good indeed. Our students want to learn and our parents are, on the whole, extremely supportive. Attendance is high. Our aim is for our students to be co-operative, courteous and kind.

There is a genuine ‘buzz’ around the school and we have a very strong reputation in the city.  In February 2018, the school was judged once again by Ofsted to be ‘good’ - please read the inspection letter which can be found on our website (or on Ofsted’s) should you wish to apply. We were really pleased with the comments made by inspectors.

GCSE exam results in 2022 were strong. In the basics, 61% of students gained a strong pass in English and maths and 79% a standard pass. This puts us well above the national average.  Our attainment 8 was 55.6. 

In terms of progress, disadvantaged and SEN students do better in the school than they do nationally. BAME students attain very well and have good progress, as do each of the ability groups. Girls’ and boys’ attainment traditionally has been exactly the same. We pride ourselves on the fact that Monk’s Walk is an inclusive school.

The school has about 260 in the sixth form and this is the largest sixth form the school has ever had. We are also a member of a consortium with four other schools which provides a wide range of opportunities for students. Monk’s Walk has the largest sixth form of the five schools and currently we have 76 guest students in Year 12 and 75 in Year 13. At Monk’s Walk we concentrate on providing A level only (with the exception of iMedia), with decent numbers of students studying the facilitating subjects. Vocational programmes can be taken at Oaklands College or in other consortium schools. 

Sixth form results in 2022 were outstanding with an average A level grade of B and an average point score per entry of 42.00, (nationally 38.84). We are very proud of the destinations of our sixth form students. In 2022 all students who applied, made it to their first or second choice university, high quality apprenticeship or employment. Students access a range of universities, including top institutions such as Cambridge.

We do not pursue academic achievement at the expense of the wider development of the individual, however.  Form tutors, heads of year and heads of house all play important roles in the social, personal and academic support of individuals.  Our house system is strong, providing a range of all-ability competitions and activities for mixed-age groups.  Recently, we have become the first school in the country to have a recycling machine which awards house points as credit.  All members of staff are allocated a house, except me who has to try to stay impartial!

Unfortunately, some schools are making cuts in creative subjects such as art, music, drama and PE and even some DT specialisms. At Monk’s Walk, these subjects are strong as we see these areas providing important learning opportunities for our students. All of these subjects are running at GCSE and A Level. Science subjects are among the most popular subjects at A Level. 

We have a full orchestra (as well as other musical groups), thriving art, music, PE and sport and an outstanding drama department. Members of other departments involve themselves in extra-curricular activities in music, sport and drama.

Knightsfield School (a special school for deaf children) is co-located with Monk’s Walk School.  We have an outstanding partnership arrangement and at key stage 3 Knightsfield students join classes in Art. A few students are also integrated into GCSE groups. Knightsfield students join ours for lunch every day in our canteen in B Block. One of our music teachers teaches at the school. 

The school became an academy in September 2012. The decision to convert was purely pragmatic and trustees have no intention to make changes to teachers’ pay and conditions beyond those made as part of national agreements.

Professional Development

Induction, training and continuing professional development have a very high priority in the school. All new members of staff take part in a comprehensive induction programme on joining the school. We have a proven track record in training teachers and we have both School Direct and PGCE trainees. We take an active part in the Alban Teaching School Hub.

All staff are supported by a broad programme of continuing training and development. Individual staff are supported on programmes of further study/professional qualifications. The school runs a well-developed performance management system. All staff are actively supported to achieve their individual targets.

If you are an early career teacher (ECT – formerly NQT) you would be offered the opportunity to spend three weeks’ induction with us in July and be paid for it. The three weeks gives you the chance for a really comprehensive induction programme. You will meet and observe some of your teaching groups and find out about your form. If you are a Year 7 form tutor you will also take part in the transition day when Year 6 come up to the school. You will get to know the senior leadership team, your head of department and the members of your teaching team. Simple things, such as learning about the school’s management information system and having a log-in, as well as becoming familiar with the staff and the school’s facilities, will help you to have a flying start to your career when September comes. Hopefully, being familiar with the school will help you to have a restful holiday, free of any concerns, so that you can have a proper rest after your teacher training!

You will also find that we have an innovative support programme throughout the ECT years, organised with local schools. This provides training on key aspects of teaching such as assessment and behaviour for learning, as well as providing a local network of support with other ECTs in similar subject areas. There is also the opportunity to visit other schools to further your experience in the ECT year. The course builds on the support of a mentor for two years and the extended support of a professional mentor in school.

Staff Benefits

There is a strong commitment to staff wellbeing and mental health at Monk's Walk School. Initiatives and wellbeing INSET days are arranged throughout the academic year to support staff wellbeing.

Monk's Walk Staff have access to a Free confidential 24 hour Employee Assistance Program which offers support on a range of issues including bereavement and impartial financial and legal advice.

There is a generous staff pension scheme for both Teachers and Support Staff and a relocation scheme for Teachers moving into the area to take up a post. Further details are available on the School's website.

 

What people say about us

"Where progress is particularly strong, it is as a result of teachers' deep subject knowledge, which they use to check pupils' understanding, clarify their misconceptions and challenge their thinking."

- Ofsted 2018

"You provide strong and passionate leadership that is guided by your desire to do 'what is right' by the pupils who attend your school"

- Ofsted 2018

"Pupils are well behaved and have positive attitudes to learning. They are grateful for the high quality support that they receive from adults in the school."

- Ofsted 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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