Ely College is part of Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust, a long standing member of the Whole Education network.
3 years ago the school was in special measures, with low staff morale and falling pupil numbers. CMAT was asked to take on the school – and took a sustainable, measured approach to turning things around.
In July 2019, their Ofsted inspection rated them Good, with Outstanding features. We spoke to Principal Richard Spencer and Assistant Principal Samantha Haworth to find out how…
What does a whole education mean to Ely College?
“It’s breadth, depth and truly memorable experiences”
- It’s how the school delivers on their values
- Giving students the opportunities to develop their whole self; their ambitions and skills alongside achievement for all
- As well as cultural capital, it means having a capital of kindness within school
Where was Ely College at the start of this journey?
“Ely College was in many ways a broken school…”
- The school was in special measures
- The school had lost 200 children in just over a year
- It was also facing financial troubles
What does sustainable school improvement look like?
“Striving more for coherence based around our values than rigid consistency”
- The school wanted to avoid ‘route 1’ out of special measures – based around rigid consistency and being highly prescriptive
- They wanted to focus on empowering staff and working collaboratively
What practice, pedagogy and approaches did the school use to improve?
“We started… by asking [staff] what they thought made good teaching… to put together our own teaching and learning framework”
- This gave them a common language to talk about practice, quality assurance and planning
- They used Whole Education’s Spirals of Enquiry to give staff more agency over their development
- The school focused on reigniting staff’s passion and supporting them
- They also focused on coaching, ASDAN’s transition programme with Whole Education and a ‘pledges’ system to recognise character achievements.
What has the impact been for the school and its community?
“The environment and the outlook for our school is vastly improved… [students] are proud of their school again”
- Attainment has nearly doubled
- Admissions have increased by 40%
- Students’ happiness, satisfaction and feelings of self-efficacy are growing strongly
A huge well done to Ely College on their inspiring journey!
You can visit Ely and hear from the team as part of our Stand Out Schools Initiative on March 17th. Visits are included in schools’ WE membership. Register your delegates at the link or find out more about the school by visiting their website.
What do you think are the ingredients in sustainable school improvement? Tell us on Twitter: @WholeEducation, #wholeeducation.