General Information about the School
Situated in the south of the county, Burnham Village lies to the north of the A4/M4 between Slough and Maidenhead and just south of Burnham Beeches, an area of the finest woodland anywhere near London, which has been preserved as a natural open space. Burnham is a semi-rural area of high employment.
Burnham Upper School is a popular, over subscribed co-educational day school which opened in 1969. There are 740 pupils on roll, aged 11-18 and of those pupils about half reside in the adjacent Slough Unitary Authority but attend this school from choice. For this September, 2005, we had 430 first preference applications for the 130 places available. We operate a waiting list.
The school also received a good County Review in February 2003.
The school does not suffer from vandalism or graffiti. Visitors comment on the quiet, purposeful atmosphere. However, it needs to be made clear that the school is not full of angels. A significant part of our intake comes from an estate which enjoys the unenviable reputation of having high crime and family disorder rates, so we have our share of challenging pupils.
However, disruption here is minimal because within the school, there is an insistence on discipline through clear rules and a strict uniform policy. This is supported by a strong pastoral system, which OFSTED recognised was one of the strengths of the school. It is designed to give pupils guidance, help and support. It involves all staff as well as giving staff strong support. The ethos of the school is that pupils are here to learn, teachers are here to teach.
The school received the Diana Award in 2005 in recognition of the work of the “Don’t Just Stand There” Group; pupils who have received training in anti-bullying techniques. They are also now involved in spreading their expertise to our feeder primary schools.
Pupils are allocated to the school by means of the County's 11+ allocation procedure. The school serves the villages of Burnham, Taplow, Dorney and southern Farnham Royal (all in Bucks) together with adjacent parts of Slough. About half the properties in the area, mostly houses, were initially owned by the local Councils. The majority of the local employment is in high-technology and service industries, but the M4 and M40 motorways, together with good rail links with London, have allowed many commuters also to live in this area.
The school underwent a major building development in 1995 which provided a new
Science and Technology block plus a refurbished Humanities suite in the main building. In addition to specialist teaching facilities and classrooms other facilities include a gymnasium, an excellent hall with stage, a library/resources area and a cafeteria. A further two storey building for French, Mathematics and Sixth Form was opened in September 1998.
A multi-purpose Four Court Sports Hall was opened in June 2004. The £800,000 fundraising, tendering, planning permission and contract awarding were al done “in-house” by the school and involved a lot of team effort, which staff are extremely proud of. County provided a final sum of £150,000 and oversaw the actual construction, which brought the long process to a very successful conclusion, benefiting the school and the community.
Following the completion of the sports hall, the old gym was renovated and refurbished to become a dance, fitness and performance studio.
In 2005, we made a successful bid to become a Specialist Sports College. The income generated has enabled us to appoint a full-time Community Development Manager [CDM] to expand our community links. The capital funding will create a performance analysis suite with projection facilities. The area outside the gym was paved to create an outdoor meeting/eating place and the School Council, a fledgling group in its first year, is busy designing seating and covering using a sum of money built into the sports college bid capital.
At the same time, we became the lead school in a Sport Partnership of 28 schools, including all the special schools in the County. Our Partnership Development Manager [PDM] shares an office with the CDM to ensure that a coordinated approach to sport, fitness and healthy lifestyles involves this school, its neighbouring schools and the local community.
The school as part of the Burnham Liaison Group of primary schools and our nearby grammar school is also involved in a pilot extended schools project, working with County. The school will house the Extended Schools Manager.
The school is set in its own playing fields which provide facilities for all sports and include all-weather cricket surfaces and netball and tennis courts.
Burnham Adult and Continuing Education Centre have an office on the site and use is made of the school during evenings and weekends to house the Adult and Continuing Education programme.
The staff comprises 41 full time and part time teachers and includes the Head Teacher, a Deputy Head an Assistant Head Teacher and an Operations Manager. The school is organised on a departmental basis. A Literacy Co-ordinator, Numeracy Co-ordinator and a Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator provide guidance across the Curriculum. Within this very flat management structure, all staff have freedom to develop their subject and pastoral areas but equally have the responsibility to ensure that they are achieving the very best they are capable of on behalf of the pupils.
The School Development Plan includes an active programme of In-Service Training, which reflects both curriculum needs and the professional development of the staff. 2005 also saw the school designated a Professional Development School in recognition of its staff development and induction programmes.
A Performance Management Framework is in operation, having been agreed by all staff.
The staff meet socially on a number of occasions which include theatre visits, dinner dances, theatrical productions and sporting activities, and there is a happy but earnest atmosphere in the staff room.
The school has an effective team of 22 support staff which includes a general manager, p.a. to the head, clerical & financial assistants, matron, librarian/ resources assistant, technicians and welfare assistants. There are also two caretakers.
Curriculum and Organisation
In Year 7, pupils are organised into mixed ability teaching groups for all their lessons. Lessons last for 45-50 minutes. Pupils are taught by specialist teachers in all subjects. Pupils follow the National Curriculum in all subject areas.
In Years 8-11, each year group is banded according to their ability for English, Maths, Science, French, History and Geography. The banding system is reviewed regularly and it is possible to move between sets as the need arises.
There is a Learning Support (SEN) department which provides counselling, in-class support and a withdrawal teaching programme depending on the individual needs of the pupil. In particular the department specialises in helping average and above pupils with specific learning difficulties.
The school has a flourishing physical education department and our teams continue to be successful in local and county competitions. Outdoor adventure holidays are offered each year.
The Drama Department puts on productions each year with the Music Department.
An active History & Archaeology Club exists. The Science Club undertakes ‘Young Scientist’ projects.
In the academic year 2005-2006 we have a Sixth Form of 59.
The latest PANDA reports show that, in common with similar schools, Burnham is well above average in terms of attainment and value-addedness and attendance. We take pride in building on an average to below average intake. Bucks is a selective county so the 40% top ability band goes to the grammar schools. One of our main tasks as a school is to restore self esteem to pupils who have gone through this selection process. We have some pupils who enter unable to read, but no pupil leaves without having achieved academic success and this year 93% of Year 11 gained 5 or more GCSEs, while no pupil left without at least one exam certificate. We are also proud of the 52% of our pupils who gained 5+ A*-C GCSE grades this year
Parental involvement begins on Induction Evening in July prior to their children joining the school and is continued through termly Academic Review. The Academic Review days are held twice a year. In addition parents are encouraged to contact the School as often as they wish and are invited to Open Evenings and for Drama, Music and Sporting events.
Parents are regularly kept informed of school activities and developments through the Head Teacher's Newsletter.
One of the main areas for development currently is as a full community school and we have appointed a Curriculum Development Manage to enable this to happen.
The Parents and Friends Association has an effective Committee which includes members of staff and which tries to balance fund-raising and social events with a view to widen contacts with parents generally.
In the majority of families both parents work during the day, but a small number sometimes give assistance to school activities.
Home visits are arranged, principally by the Education Welfare Officer, who also liaises with Matron and the Heads of Year.
Within the County there is a system of liaison meetings where secondary and primary head teachers meet to discuss common issues including transfer at 11+ and curricular continuity. Meetings take place on a termly basis.
Heads of Department meet with their counterparts in other County secondary schools and local National Curriculum subject primary/secondary liaison groups have been formed for most subjects.
The primary schools are encouraged to visit the school to use the facilities appropriate to their needs, e.g. gymnasium, science laboratories, sports hall and technology rooms when available.
The Head Teacher attends regular meetings of all Secondary School Heads in Chiltern and South Bucks, Upper School Heads from all of the County and Senior Officers in the course of his work.