The Earls High School is an 11-16 Comprehensive School in the Borough of Dudley. Founded in 1652, the school has a long and distinguished history of service to the township of Halesowen. We serve a diverse community with significant areas of affluence alongside pockets of deprivation within Dudley as well as nearby Sandwell and Birmingham. Our school community is genuinely comprehensive in social, cultural and academic terms. Currently 8% of our students are eligible for free school meals, 5% speak English as a second language and 16% are identified as having special educational needs. We achieve KS3 and KS4 results above the national average and with significant added value. For the last three years we have achieved above 67% 5 or more passes at A*-C in GCSE and are currently targeting 60% including English and Mathematics. We are committed to our comprehensive status and to achieving excellence for all our students. As part of this commitment we make extensive use of mixed ability teaching strategies, recognising that this is unfashionable but central to our ethos and philosophy. This ethos is a key reason behind our heavy oversubscription and the active support we receive from parents. Ofsted describe us as ‘a successful school with outstanding features’ and further indicate ‘that the changes required to move this school from good to outstanding are well within its reach.’ We intend to be an outstanding comprehensive school.
As a full range comprehensive school we have students of the highest ability and those who struggle. We have students who are highly motivated and those who need support and persuasion. We strive to be an inclusive school. OfSTED have described our SEN provision with the phrase; ‘the provision for pupils with special educational needs is outstanding’. As part of our inclusion agenda we are seeking to promote and develop further areas of student responsibility and active citizenship through significant ‘Student Voice’ activities, these often involve students as mentors and teachers of their peers.
We have an excellent range of facilities including an excellent and heavily used Learning Resource Centre, astro-turf, three gymnasiums, a gym-dance centre (a regional centre of excellence), a recording studio, dance studio and a drama studio. Each department area has its own rooms and an office space. The 1908 section of the buildings also boasts some wonderful stained glass windows.
The school has excellent ICT facilities housed in five fully equipped ICT rooms and a number of smaller clusters with over 350 PC and Mac workstations that have full internet access. These are part of the Dudley Grid for Learning, which ensures that students join us from primary schools with high-level ICT skills. ICT enhances learning across the curriculum in an integrated manner. We are strongly developing the use of ICT as a teaching aid through the use of laptops and interactive whiteboards for staff.
In 2005 we were again awarded Artsmark Gold in recognition of the quality of our arts provision. Since September 2002 we have been a Specialist College in the Performing Arts with a clear mission to raise educational standards in the school and the local community through the lifting of expectations and aspirations via the Performing Arts. The Arts focus allows us to enhance our work in all curriculum areas.
As a high performing Specialist School we have recently been awarded a 2nd Specialism in Modern Languages and an additional specialism as a ‘Leading Edge’ school.
The Earls has an excellent record of partnership work with other schools and providers. Currently this includes work with many local primary schools on transition and primary liaison and a range of community partners through our Arts, Languages and Leading Edge College work. We run two very successful and innovative student led learning projects with local primaries in Mathematics (Project Algebra) and French (Project Croissant). In addition we are a Creative Partnerships Innovation Centre and are leading a national Boys’ Achievement Project and a Deep Learning Hub for the Specialist Schools Trust. We were recently short-listed as a National School of Creativity for Creative Partnerships.
The Earls is also part of a Networked Learning Community comprising 17 Halesowen primary and secondary schools. The group is working to identify and spread good practice across all the schools and has run a range of very successful joint training events some involving over 600 staff. There is close local cooperation and a clear intention to develop Halesowen as a beacon learning neighbourhood. From September 2007 the school is part of The Halesowen Education Trust a local collaborative partnership based on 14-19 working and the ECM agenda. This comprises the 3 local secondary schools and the tertiary college in partnership with Wolverhampton University Dudley LA and business partners. The Trust is piloting two Specialist Diploma pathways from 2008 and will be delivering an International Baccalaureate programme involving staff and students from all the institutions. Our Trust model is attracting significant regional and national interest and support and is one of the first such Trusts in the country.
The school has a relentless focus on teaching and learning issues, keeping them at the core of our thinking whilst attempting to develop a multi-faceted approach to the idea of educational excellence. While there is a challenging drive for higher attainment it is not at the expense of a wide, enjoyable and meaningful educational experience for children. We are ‘a community where there is real enjoyment in learning in a friendly, caring and supportive atmosphere in which each individual is valued’ (Ofsted 2005).