Chapel-en-le-Frith High School

About this Organisation

Chapel-en-le-Frith High School is an 11-16 mixed, community, comprehensive school of 947 students, judged outstanding by Ofsted in 2016. The school is unusual in that it was formed in 2003 by the merger, in a new building, of the local area special school with the existing high school. The special school became the current 38 place enhanced resource SEND provision. In effect, what we have is an academically successful secondary school, with progress well above national average, mixed with a small special school, whose students also make outstanding progress, but who typically do not study GCSE. 

 This arrangement is unique locally, and may well be unique nationally: it makes however, for a wonderfully tolerant, inclusive, happy school. It is worth noting that the school’s published data is unrepresentative of the school’s performance, including as it does both the outcomes of the enhanced resource provision cohort, who typically do not study GCSE, and of the mainstream school. The appointment of the current headteacher in September 2011 saw the school set itself a new challenge; “to achieve results ranking alongside the best schools nationally; whilst remaining a highly inclusive, friendly, community school”. 

 This new focus had a rapid and significant effect on results, reputation, student numbers and the recruitment of high quality staff; it remains however, a very difficult balance to strike; but we were delighted that our 2016 Ofsted inspection recognised the impact of our work: “Pupils who have special educational needs or disability make above average progress. They are exceptionally well supported.” “Pupils make outstanding progress in a range of subjects and outcomes have improved year on year.” “The school’s inclusive culture provides excellent conditions for all pupils, regardless of their needs or abilities, to thrive and achieve.” “All groups of pupils are very well prepared for the next stage of their education and learning.” “Leaders are passionate about developing the whole child and broadening horizons; pupils’ social and emotional skills are developed well through their subjects and their everyday interactions with adults.” 

 The school is very popular with parents and has been heavily oversubscribed for year 7 entry for the last six years, partly as a result of parents from well outside of catchment choosing the school for their children. For admission in 2018, the school has received 233 applications for the 185 places available. Despite the school’s rural surroundings, there is considerable socio-economic variation across the school’s catchment with a significant minority of students coming from difficult and deprived backgrounds; the intake is truly “comprehensive”. The school is very aware of the difficulties that growing up in an isolated rural community presents to its students and has undertaken substantial work in recent years to raise aspirations and broaden horizons. T

he school plays a strong role in systems leadership locally: the headteacher has just completed a two-year term as chair of the Peak 11 Federation of local rural secondary schools; and the school has provided school-to-school support to other local schools. Senior staff from the school sit on the board of the High Peak School Sport Partnership, chair the Peak 11 heads of maths group, contribute to the local authority enhanced resource steering group, manage Peak 11 school to school pupil premium reviews, and have contributed to the Derby and Derbyshire strategic educational improvement board. The nearest big towns to the school are Buxton and Stockport but good transport links mean that the school’s staff travel from a wide area with many commuting from Manchester, Sheffield, Chesterfield and the towns of East Cheshire.  

A sizable contingent of staff live in the villages of the Peak District. The Peak District National Park on the school’s doorstep provides endless opportunities for walkers, cyclists, mountain bikers, climbers, cavers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Unlike many schools we have never been driven by Ofsted grades, we have been determined that becoming an “outstanding school” wouldn’t become an end in itself: we are about education and our students. We have talked about “being outstanding differently”, achieved without coercion and massive top down pressure, by a team of professionals working together with well-motivated students. We are therefore proud that our most recent Ofsted inspection (February 2016) recognises that we are a school which is outstanding in all aspects of the care and educational provision we provide for our students. The school has a strong induction programme for new staff and a well-planned and supportive NQT programme. Recent NQTs have rated the quality of support, both formal and informal that they have received in school as outstanding.

Organisation Info

Recruiter Type: Direct Employer

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