Shonogh Pilgrim is the Principal of Ansford Academy, a rural secondary school near Castle Cary in Somerset with 570 pupils on roll.
WE interviewed Shonogh to find out about how the school has put student agency and independence at the heart of their culture and practice to respond to the needs of their local context.
How is Ansford Academy delivering a whole education?
- Ansford Academy started with a vision of what they want their children to be like when they leave at 16, then focused on making that happen in reality- day in, day out.
- They have focused on using curriculum in the broadest sense – everything that a student experiences at Ansford- to develop student agency.
Why was developing student independence and agency a priority at Ansford?
- When Shonogh started as Headteacher, the school decided to do things differently and focus on helping students become more independent
- They developed a model of the Ansford graduate – the knowledge, skills and qualities all students would leave them with
- They also looked at their ‘X Factor’ students – the students you wanted in your subject in the options process because they’re good learners who will be successful. They aimed to make all students like the ‘X factor’ students.
- The school team designed their own curriculum and resources from scratch.
What has the impact been for Ansford so far?
- Increased attendance by 2 percentage points in a year
- Significantly less poor behaviour at KS4
- The students are able to talk about their learning and why it matters
- School is now significantly over-subscribed!
What’s one story that you feel particularly proud of and shows the success of your model?
- One student did an extra GCSE and EPQ, entirely on her own and self-directed.
- She then did action research on effective note taking to share with peers
How has whole education supported Ansford on this journey?
What’s next for Ansford on its journey?
- Having made rapid changes, the school will now be focusing on marginal gains
- They will continue to evolve the curriculum and improve its quality
- Another focus is to continue to support staff to improve their coaching practice.
You can visit Ansford and hear from their team as part of our Stand Out Schools Initiative on November 14th. Visits are included in schools’ WE membership. Register your delegates at the link.
WE Lab Classrooms supports teachers to pilot practices that build student agency and independence in their classrooms.
What ways do you believe effectively develop student agency and independence? Is that a priority in your context? Tell us on Twitter: @wholeeducation #wholeeducation.