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Frequently Asked Questions (Updated October 2021)

How approachable is the Headteacher?

There is a clear pathway within school for dealing with any student-related issues which may arise. Form teachers, Heads of Year and Assistant Heads of Year are normally able to deal effectively with any day to day occurrences.

The Senior Leadership Team, including Mr Birchall, is on duty throughout the school day. There is always one member available to deal with any reported incidents.

Even though the above system works exceptionally well, Mr Birchall welcomes contact from parents/carers and students. He is often available at functions for an informal chat or more confidential issues can be discussed by contacting the school office for an appointment.

Will my child fit in?

We aim to keep children with others from their primary school. There are transition activities to support the development of new friendships and encourage participation.

What effect will the school’s New Build programme have?

The new build represents an investment of about £22 million in the school. It will provide a brand new main building consisting of new classrooms, new Science laboratories, a large new Sports Hall and Activity Studio, new school Hall, new Textiles, Ceramics, Food, Graphics and Resistant Materials rooms, outdoor performance space and landscaping.

The Building is due to open in September 2023. Learning will not be affected during the build as the build site, at the front of the school, will be self-contained.

What are the school’s exam results?

Examination results in 2020 and 2021 were CAGs (Centre Assessed Grades) and TAGs (Teacher Assessed Grades) for all students in all schools. Therefore, these results are not published nationally as they are unreliable comparison (schools decided their own grades).

Our results were –

2020: 72.1% grade 5 English; 65.1% grade 5 Maths; 51.82pts A8, +0.17 P8.

2021: 76.8% grade 5 English; 67% grade 5 Maths; 52.73pts A8, +0.17 P8.

In 2019, (the last year when exams were formally sat and results officially published) 75% of our students achieved the standard pass of grade 4 or better in both English and Maths. (This is equivalent to the old grade C).

54% of students achieved a grade 5, strong pass, or better in both English and Maths (This is equivalent to grade B), which is in the top 3 schools within Wigan

29% of students in Maths and 27% of students in English achieved grade 7 or better, equivalent to grade A. National figures for 7+ in Maths are 16%, for English Language 14% and English Literature 21%.

What sort of pastoral support is provided?

A high level of pastoral care is provided by all staff. Form teachers monitor the academic and personal progress of students and are the main point of contact for parents or carers. All year groups have a specific location in school. Form teachers communicate frequently with Head of Years who are able to deal with any issues which may be causing concern. During the first term and ‘Settling In’ Evening will be held for Year 7 students and their parents. Each year group also has a non-teaching Pastoral Support Officer who can be contacted at any time during the school day, whose dedicated role is supporting students in that year group.

What is the school’s policy on homework?

Homework is a very important part of your child’s education. It encourages your child to work independently and helps to ensure an understanding of the work covered in class.

Subject staff set homework in line with the school policy. In Keys Stage 3 core subject homework is set every week and in other subjects as and when required to link with their learning. In Key Stage 4 homework is set every week for all examination subjects.

Full homework details are available via our ‘Edulink’ app, which can be accessed from home by all students and their parents. In addition, parents are alerted to deadlines by notifications generated when the homework is ‘posted’ on Edulink. Year 7 students should be occupied on average for up to one hour each night; this will increase to about one and half hours by Year 9. Students in examination groups are expected to do more than this; separate details of examination coursework will be sent to you. If, on occasion, it is inappropriate for a teacher to set a piece of homework your son/daughter should spend some time checking through his/her notes or revising. It is important that students get into the habit of working at home on a regular basis.

How large are the classes?

Forms groups in year 7 usually accommodate between 25 and 27 students. Teaching groups vary according to ability i.e. smaller groups for lower ability sets; these classes will often have the benefit of Learning Support Assistants. Practical subjects house smaller classes, often around 20.

What is the school’s attitude to discipline?

The vast majority of our students are responsible, hard-working and enjoy learning. We have a Behaviour Code and School Rules that are well communicated and easily understood. We believe that clear expectations, guidelines and structures are essential in encouraging the highest standards of behaviour.

Everyone needs encouragement and we make every effort to reward achievement and hard work. Students’ work is displayed regularly. Students can earn rewards for good work or behaviour in each lesson. These can be exchanged for Fairtrade or recycled products in school. There are Celebration Assemblies, raffles, certificates and trips for those who are doing well. Prizes are given each year for Academic Achievement and Effort; certificates for excellent attendance and punctuality are given as well as colours and club colours for sporting achievements. The House System is also a source for rewarding students as House certificates and prizes are given throughout the year.

In the event of any conflict issues, an established procedure of intervention is used. This procedure clearly defines levels of behaviour and the associated strategies for dealing with them.

Have there been problems with drugs or alcohol?

We have had no problems with drugs or alcohol. However, any such issue would be dealt immediately by our pastoral staff, the Wigan ‘We Are With You’ Team and the Police.

Will my child be bullied?

Every student has a right to feel happy and safe at school, bullying of any sort is unacceptable behaviour. Fortunately, it is only on rare occasions that this is a serious problem at Byrchall but, in order to prevent it, we have an agreed procedure in place. All incidents of bullying will be dealt with, but we must stress that we can only help with problems if we know about it. Once a report is made by a student, parent or any member of our school community regular contact is maintained to ensure that there are no further occurrences. There is a peer support system in school which students can use for help and support if they are being bullied or have any other concerns about school life.

How will I be kept informed of my child’s progress?

You will receive regular information about academic progress, including a termly progress report with information on your child’s progress towards their targets in addition to a full written report. Parents’ evenings will give you the opportunity to meet all your child’s teachers and their form tutor.

Is progress accelerated for more able students?

Students are placed in sets accordingly to their ability. In each year there are 2 express sets for the most able students.

Is there provision for students who require learning support?

Students who are identified as having Special Educational Needs will receive an appropriate level of support to meet their needs. This may be in the form of additional interventions, small group work, 1:1 work and in some cases in class support. Each student is given a programme which is tailored to their individual needs.

Which children do best at Byrchall High?

All ability groups made very good progress from their starting points in Year 7.

Ability Groups

High ability students:

6 students gained 7 or more Grade 9s. (The highest grade)

15 students gained 7 or more Grade 7s or better. (Grade 7 is a A)

These figures will be among the very best in the area. Many of these students gained the higher grades in Maths, English, Chemistry, Biology and Physics, the others were in the wide range of options that are available.

Middle ability students:

These students also performed very well, as can be seen in the high percentage of students achieving Grade 5+ in both English and Maths, and being in the top 3 schools in Wigan

Lower ability students:

Performed very well also, and benefitted from access to a wide range of suitable options, different types of qualifications and the additional support they received.

How does the school deal with the varied cultural and religious backgrounds of students?

A key pledge of Byrchall High School is to “treat everyone justly regardless of religious belief, ethnic origin or social background”. This message is built into the ethos of the school of which all governors, staff and students are aware.

What sports are offered – curricular and extra-curricular?

The PE Department offers a range of sports within the curriculum. They include football, rugby, badminton, hockey, netball, trampolining, table-tennis, athletics, health-related exercise, basketball, rounders, softball, dodgeball, futsal, gymnastics, dance, leadership skills and volleyball. The department strongly believes in offering a broad curriculum to ensure students have involvement in many activities.

Students also have the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular sport after school and at lunchtimes. Additional activity tasters are offered over the year. The department’s commitment to offering extra-curricular activity benefits students both academically and socially whilst enabling them to become more involved in school life.

What is the school policy on competition generally and competitive sports?

The school operates a Fair Play Policy and firmly promotes the ethos of sport for all. The school supports competitive sport believing that it allows students to develop new skills, meet and challenge students from other schools and develop excellence whilst progressing towards higher levels of competition and participation.

What extra-curricular activities are available?

There are a wide variety of extra curricular activities which include homework clubs, study support, music, drama and special interest clubs. Any specific requests from students will be considered. At the start of each term students are provided with a comprehensive list of what is available so everyone can plan to be involved.

If you would like a particular question answered, please contact us via the school contacts page, along with your contact details.  A representative of the school will contact you within two weeks.