Weydon Academy

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Weydon Academy is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


Highlighting best practice
School life is inspiring
The heart of the school is the relationships
between staff and students
Weydon School is a secondary academy school founded
in 1957 and located in Farnham, Surrey. Rated
“exceptionally and consistently high” by Ofsted
under all but one inspection area, it is consistently ranked in the
top three of 11-16 comprehensives in the country, according
to The Sunday Times Parent Power. The school became an
academy in April 2011 and has since gained Teaching School
status. CEO John Winter discusses the school’s investment in
staff, its relentless drive to improve, expectations of students
and the Weydon School journey.
I arrived in Weydon School in 2006. It had huge potential at the time, but it was
significantly undersubscribed and ranked in the bottom 5 per cent of the country
for progress. Through a series of important measures, and a lot of dedication
by staff and students alike, many of the problems were rectified. Now, having
improved rapidly, Weydon is rightfully an “outstanding” school (Ofsted 2009) and
it has a high academic success rate at both GCSE and Key Stage 3.
We are proud to say that 88 per cent of our students are gaining five or more
GCSEs at A*-C, including English and maths, and 42 per cent A*-A grades, and 95
per cent of students go on to further education, with many going on to Oxbridge.
Additionally, we are one of the most oversubscribed schools in Surrey and enjoy an
excellent reputation in the community.
Given our successes, we made the transition to an academy school in 2011,
and we are proudly a national support school, earning “leading edge” status.
»Principal: Mrs Jackie Sharman
»Founded in 1957
»Based in Farnham, Surrey
»Type of school: Secondary
academy school
»No. of students: 1,500
»No. of staff: 96 teachers and
61 associate staff
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”, 2009
Weydon Academy
We arealsoa Schools, Students and
Teachers network (SSAT) consultant
school. Together with St John the
Baptist School in Woking and Salesian
School in Chertsey, we became a
maths hub in 2014. Not only that, but
one year later we started the process
of becoming a multi-academy trust.
Investment in staff
Knowing that staff play a pivotal
role in any school, I helped to make
sure that Weydon reflected a strong
investment in staff, and this was done
in various ways, particularly in the
various projects and provisions it runs.
Our school-centred initial teacher
training (SCITT) programme, which
is run in unison with the University
of Sussex, has 37 teachers training
in all areas of the curriculum. We felt
it necessary to run this owing to the
well-documented teacher training crisis
across Britain. If we wanted the best
teachers going into schools and having
maximum impact, we realised that we
must run the programme ourselves.
We are proud to say that across the
16schools in our teaching school
alliance, we have been consistently
providing high-quality teachers who
make a hugeimpact.
Wanting to give staff flexibility in
terms of their teaching, we also run
teacher subject specialism training
courses for those wishing to change
their teaching. For example, a
science teacher who wants to teach
mathematics now has the opportunity
to do so. Having been incredibly
successful since we started it, we have
trained approximately 60 teachers over
a period of two years, ensuring that
they are teaching the right syllabus
We also believe that retention
is pivotal for any school-staff
relationship, especially in spawning
stellar schools. We provide a high-
quality Continuing Professional
Development Accreditation (CPD)
programme, regardless whether staff
are new or have been in the system
for ten years. CPD is the holistic
commitment of teachers towards the
enhancement of personal skills and
proficiency throughout their careers.
We have ten routes that staff can
select, comprising 20 sessions they
can sign up to and receive training in
key areas of the curriculum, including
mastery learning, writing, and so on.
Our school also fosters unique
conditions of service for staff that
are conducive to wellbeing. Every
staff member is signed up to a health
package that we offer – including
services such as counselling and
dentistry. Other measures we’ve
incorporated include having our
own pay scales, which are more
generous than the national ones,
allowing flexible working packages,
and providing a hub conducive to
relaxation and conversation. We also
send chocolates and give cards and
other little rewards to our teachers
– we have learned that it’s the small
things that matter to the staff.
Students enjoy world
class facilities
Our school
fosters unique
conditions of
service for
staff that are
conducive to
Highlighting best practice
Relentless drive to improve
Our school is known for its
commitment to success. Indeed, there
is wall-to-wall drive to improve in all
areas of the school, especially in our
classroom. We have a nine-key teacher
priority that aims to improve in this
regard. The key includes feedback,
respecting diversity, etc. Thus, we
steer clear of the top down model
that many schools forge in schools
insofar as teachers and students are
concerned. All the data is fed into
a system of management. The data
enables outstanding conversations,
allowing us to close any gaps in
students’ knowledge and thus
foster classrooms truly conducive to
improving keystandards.
We have also embraced technology in
pursuance of improving standards at
Weydon. Every student has been given
a tablet computer that provides them
with a learning platform. Working
closely with commercial companies in
partnership to improve learning, the
platform features an array of videos,
including tutorials in maths. This allows
students to conveniently speak with
staff, affording critical discussions
amongst students to flourish. This has
been decisive in improving education.
Expectations of students and the
pursuit of academic scholarship
Because the expectations that we
have of our students are rightly high,
everything that is seen here is visually
tailored. For example, our school uniform
recently changed to Wimbledon colours,
colours that reflect excellence. Not only
students, but staff are encouraged to
consider student expectations. This is
done through measures such as taking
into account student perception,
thereby guaranteeing that students’
personal presentation be first class at
all times. These things reify the point
that excellence and education should
be interdependent.
We make sure that the pursuit of
academic scholarship typifies all that
we do. For example, we look at how
neat our students’ exercise books are
and make sure that our students are
being as scholarly as possible in their
work. To this end, we have a guide
online how to write essays, grammar,
etc. Our sole priority is not about
grades, however, because we want our
students to form as much knowledge,
skills and wisdom as possible.
The school journey
We want students to leave Weydon
with rich memories, a legacy, allowing
them to reminisce on their time with
fondness. We want them to be proud
of their time at our school. We have
an alumni group, started two years
ago, who help encourage this and
remind students to think beyond their
immediate time at Weydon.
The soul of the school is the activities
and educational experiences, on which
we take students during the five years,
that aim to create a peerless cultural
capital. After all, when knowledge and
skills are added to character – then
we have the recipe for the kind of
education that we proudly provide at
Weydon School.
A relentless
drive to
In pursuit of academic


This article was sponsored by Weydon Academy. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.