The Chalfonts Community College

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Chalfonts Community College's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from The Chalfonts Community College is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

The year 7 “quad” – their
own “safe place” to support
Head teacher Russell Denial
with student leaders
The Chalfonts Community College is a coeducational
secondary school based in Chalfont St Peter. As head
teacher, Russell Denial is often asked about the values, vision
and expectations the school has for its pupils. His answer is simple:
Russell wants the young people of Chalfonts to have access to
the very best opportunities that a school can offer – both in and
out of the classroom – to provide each person with the perfect
platform to succeed in their next steps. What follows is Russell’s
account of how this is done at the Chalfonts Community College.
The curriculum comes first
Like many schools in the current climate of school funding, offering a wide range
of subjects continues to be a challenge – a challenge that I tackle head on because
we believe in its continued existence. The Chalfonts Community College (CCC) is a
large non-selective school in a selective authority set among a plethora of grammar
and private schools. However one looks at this, we remain part of one of the
lowest-funded authorities in England, but we have nevertheless remained resolute
in our belief that the curriculum, the co-curriculum and the opportunities that we
provide for our young people should be the best and should open doors to life-
changing chances.
The first challenge has been offering a full suite of subjects at Key Stage 3. I have
always held the principle that students, when they arrive at secondary school,
should have their eyes opened to education and what can be offered. While we do
allot the necessary time for English, mathematics and the sciences, we also believe
»Head teacher: Russell Denial
»Academised in 2011
»Based in Chalfont St Peter,
»Type of school: Co-educational
secondary school
»No. of students: 1,511
»No. of staff: 175
The Chalfonts
Community College
Highlighting best practice
in our STEAM (science, technology,
engineering, arts and mathematics)
agenda – with an emphasis on the
visual and performing arts – which is
where many of our students thrive and
succeed. When some students join us,
they’ve never picked up a needle and
cotton, baked a cake, played a musical
instrument or a range of sports or
spoken a language. By the time they
finish year 8 and are about to embark
on their GCSE subjects, however, they
all have.
A dilemma that faces schools with
the changing landscape of GCSEs and
the new grading system and course
content is whether to expand the
length of study at GCSE from two to
three years. This means we start all of
our GCSE option subjects in year 9 and
run three-year courses for all subjects.
The downside is, once again, that
this adds some expense to the cost of
the curriculum, but as a non-selective
school, surely the extra time should
be given to our students to study for
longer on the more difficult GCSEs? For
us, it’s undeniably the right thing to do.
We spend a great deal of time during
year 8 preparing our pupils to make
correct choices including our options
fair led by the year 10 students.
Our students choose four options.
We maintain a choice of considerable
breadth across the curriculum with
technology, engineering, music,
art, digital art, a range of sport
qualifications, drama, dance, religious
studies and business – all of which
run alongside the core curriculum and
EBacc subjects. By the time our students
reach sixth form, the increased offering
of our curriculum has visibly produced
results. In this regard, a balance
between the academic and vocational
is being struck. This, we believe, is the
right curriculum for us.
Beyond the curriculum
As well as the balancing act of finances
against outcomes, we have developed
an enterprise culture over the last few
years, linked to employability, that
embraces the sciences, technologies,
engineering, the arts and maths –
returning to the delivery of the STEAM
agenda once again!
We have an “employability” support
programme for all year groups
guaranteeing that all our students are
clear on their pathways both pre- and
post-GCSE. We were recently awarded
the highest level “Investor in Careers”
award in recognition of our work in
preparing our young people. We have
fostered links with universities including
an “Oxbridge Aspirations Workshop”
for our high-achieving year 9s followed
by taster days in year 10. I know that
for many schools this may be a regular
occurrence, a humdrum activity, but for
Our students enjoy a
range of sports
Many parents
appreciative of
the high
pastoral care
and wide
that the
school offers
Ofsted, May 2017
a school where the highest-achieving
students have departed to grammar
or independent schools at the end
of year 6, raising the bar and raising
aspirations is essential. Anything
is possible and as we say at CCC,
“Success is an Attitude” – which entails
the view that no child should be left
behind, no matter how inauspicious his
or her circumstances are.
Rather than refer to the “extra”-
curricular, we have moved over the last
year to calling this “co”-curricular and
we are trying to bring our activities,
events and expeditions under the one
“roof”. Being a CCC student is as
much about achieving well and being
a success as it is also about accessing
the range of opportunities that are
available, making a contribution to
society, representing the school locally
and nationally and embracing the
chance to do something different.
Exams wear us down, but that doesn’t
mean we can’t have a life-changing
experience – certainly something we
want our students to have on the way
to excellent exam results.
A truly heart-warming moment
came last summer on one of our
“World Challenge” expeditions
when I received a proud picture of
our students after they had dug a
200-metre trench for a water pipe
and introduced fresh running water
into a school in Zambia. This is an
achievement that will remain with
those young people alongside their
academic results for the rest of their
lives. Add to this that we have nearly
200 students currently on The Duke of
Edinburgh’s Award scheme, a sports
tour about to depart for South Africa
and a trip to Auschwitz in the summer,
we feel that while we are challenging
and chasing the progress and
attainment of young people, we are
presenting them all with an experience
of school that they will always
remember and acknowledge our
contribution to their development into
becoming 21st-century globalcitizens.
Such endeavours, however, are proving
more difficult under current political
circumstances. For example, some
schools are having to do more with
less. At play here is a fundamentally
inequitable distribution of school
funding. In some instances, this can
mean our school having £3,000 fewer
per pupil than others. Progress 8 also
seems to be exacerbating this already
uneven playing field.
Our next adventure is to achieve the
International School Award. To do this
requires redoubled efforts of the sort
of successful measures discussed so
far. After all, success is an attitude.
Great curriculum.
Strong leadership.
Parent survey, 2018
World challenge –
freshrunning water!
Year 11 “Employability Day”

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from the prime minister.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister