Our standards trends are very positive and in 2019, 50% of students gained 5+ grades in English and Mathematics. At A level, outcomes are equally impressive and, with around 360 students in the Sixth Form, we are able to offer an excellent range of courses. As a School Direct Lead School, we have a thriving School Direct Initial Teacher Training programme across both Primary and Secondary sectors. The school has an academic organisation based on five faculties complemented by a Special Needs area, providing bespoke support for students with learning difficulties or who have additional needs. Specialist programmes in movement, listening and writing are available for some of our students.
The school has been commended for its care of all children and acknowledged for its fully inclusive principles. Our curriculum is organised to allow students access to a broad and balanced course of study through to the end of Year 11. In Year 9 almost all students experience a full curriculum which includes English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Religious Education, a Modern Language, Science, Design and Technology, Art, Music, Drama, Physical Education, Computing and PSD/Citizenship. In Years 10 and 11 all students follow a core curriculum with GCSE pathways which accommodate particular needs. Vocational qualifications form part of this provision, and a very small number of students also access college provision. In Sixth Form, entry is open to students on achieving the appropriate grades from their Key Stage 4 qualifications. The school offers a very broad range of courses to meet the interests and abilities of those wishing to continue their education. Although the courses offered are mainly GCE Advanced Level, there is an increasing provision of BTEC level 3 programmes and enrichment courses. Around 20 students in the Sixth Form join us from other schools. There are many opportunities for students to enhance their learning out of the classroom. The school excels in the Duke of Edinburgh Award and is the largest school-based centre in the country, with around 500 students in all years accessing Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards each year. Most of our staff lead or support the Award in some way – and we always welcome newcomers! We operate a Year system with students belonging to a mixed-ability tutor group under the care of a Form Tutor. Our Form Tutors, with guidance from the Heads of Year, develop and deliver a pastoral programme aimed at furthering students’ emotional and social development and are key players in helping students realise their academic potential. All tutor groups are assigned to one of three ‘Houses’ and are representatives of that House throughout their time at South.
The House system is a vibrant and energising feature of school life and students are famously protective and proud of their House allegiance. One of the main inter-house competitions is our annual Eisteddfod in which students celebrate performance in Art, Dance, Music and Sport. Students in Years 9-11 wear our school uniform with an expectation that they will look smart. In the Sixth Form students are required to wear business dress and are expected to maintain a high standard of personal appearance and set an excellent example to younger students. What students say to us really matters and student voice is a powerful dimension in school. Our Year Group Student Councils help us with school improvement plans, in the evaluation of the quality of learning and with policy and protocols. The Director of Sixth Form has responsibility for the Head Student Team comprised of Sixth Form students whose duties include hosting, planning and management of Sixth Form social events, charity fundraising, and Sixth Form issues. Sixth Form students are also elected as House Captains and play an important role in organising inter-house activities.