Frequently Asked Questions for joining Year 7 at Wye School
What type of school are you?
We are a state school. We are free to join. We are a Free School, i.e. a school set up by an organization or group of individuals, funded by the government but not controlled by the local authority. We opened in 2013 and grew each year until completing our first GCSEs in 2017 and A Levels in 2020. We are a mixed school with boys and girls, and a non-selective school with no academic entry requirements. Whilst being non-selective, we aim to be academically challenging for all students.
How many students go to Wye School?
Our standard entry number is 90 in each year group, forming 3 classes. Occasionally Kent County Council ask us to take more in one year because there are more children locally needing school places making 120, forming 4 classes. We will publish by March each year the expected entry number for the following year.
Our 6th form has a limit of 75 in each year.
We are therefore a school of just under 600 students, the smallest local secondary school.
What do you teach?
We follow the National Curriculum at Key Stage 3, but deliver it via the United Learning core curriculum, which aims to be academically challenging and provide students with a strong foundation for GCSE study. At GCSE and A Level, we offer a strong academic curriculum, studying the 3 sciences, with fewer vocational courses than might be offered at alternative non-selective schools. We teach a full three year Key Stage 3 with GCSE options being chosen during Year 9 and started in Year 10. The GCSE offering in 2021/22 is English Language, English Literature, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths for all and then options from Music, Art, PE, Drama, Computing, RS, History, Geography, Spanish or French. Options change over time dependent on which subject specialists we have on staff for that year e.g. we do not offer things and then staff them with cover, we secure good subject specialist staff and then offer their subjects as options. Our A Level offering covers the main academic subjects including the three sciences.
What is United Learning?
An educational trust with charitable status that runs more than 60 state schools across England, as well as independent schools. Locally it runs Ashford School and will run the new Chilmington Green Free School. The benefit of being part of United Learning is that we get to share resources and experiences from a chain of successful schools in a way that benefits us as a small school. For example, our tests are centrally produced and moderated so we can be sure that the marks we give are accurate and comparable across England. So even though we are small and only have one music teacher, she works with the wider United Learning music team.
Are you full?
Yes, we are over-subscribed in Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. Students with EHCPs, in care or adopted from care have priority for entry. Then siblings of existing students. Then students for whom we are their nearest school. After that, the distance from the school as measured by the council decides your place on the list. The further away from Wye School you live, the less likely you are to get a place. There is no catchment area as such, it is all based on distance.
However, as a successful school, we get many speculative applications and once parents check the bus routes and trial the school run we find that places do become available on our waiting list between the first school place offer in March and July. No appeals have been successful for a place at Wye in recent years but waiting list places do become available.
Do you get good results?
Yes, we have had four sets of results at GCSE and two set at A Level since we opened and are very successful in both. Our progress measure (how students performed compared to other students of the same ability nationally) has always been above national, Kent and local average and higher than any other local non-selective as well as some grammars. Our attainment measure (how many top grades) places us above all other local non-selective schools. At A Level 93% of our first cohort achieved the university place they wanted, with 50% going to the more prestigious universities from the Russell Group.
Is it a nice school?
You will need to ask around, but we pride ourselves on being friendly and happy. We expect good behaviour and hard work, but we also take equal pride in strong relationships and trust. We are good at exams but not an exam factory.
Is the school strict?
Yes. We make no apology for expecting students to behave well and for expecting parents/carers to support us in that expectation. If you are of the mindset that you want a school where you can back up your child if they want to break rules or disrupt learning then you might want to consider an alternative to Wye School. We do set homework and expect it to be done, we do set detentions and expect parents to support them. That does not mean we are not understanding and supportive, we repeatedly get told that a student who moved to us as they struggled in another school is happier and/or behaving better with us.
What do you do as well as Academic learning?
We offer the full range of sport and extra-curricular clubs that you would expect at a secondary school, including taking part in local sports fixtures, and running a Combined Cadet Force and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. We have a school allotment and work with the local Community Farm. We won the 2020 Green School Award locally for the work of our Nature Club. We offer peripatetic music lessons and have music, art, photography, and drama departments for creative pursuits.
How do students get to school?
Most students use designated Kent County Council school transport. This ranges from big buses that go to Ashford and smaller minibuses and taxis that go to the villages. Local students walk and cycle. We discourage parent pick up and drop off as the village is a congested one but where necessary we have a parent parking and drop off area.
Are you an SEN specialist school?
No. We have a SENCO and Teaching Assistants and we will deliver the support required by an EHCP. But we are a small secondary school and do not have the scale to run a specialist SEN unit or have our own dyslexia teacher or similar. The vast majority of our SEN support is delivered in class. We are inclusive and welcoming for all students whatever their need and are experienced at supporting those with physical disabilities and other special needs. Our SEN students achieve above national average progress in their GCSEs.
Do you sets/have a grammar stream?
We set in English, Maths and Science. We do not use the name grammar stream as we treat each student as an individual, some are stronger in say Maths than English and so might be in different sets for each. All our sets are taught an academically challenging curriculum that prepares them for the full GCSE offering and all can take the three sciences irrespective of which set they were in during Year 7. Sets are assigned using national test results and refined using our internal United Learning tests, so, students can move between sets over time.
Are you a school that uses devices for everything?
No. Devices have their place in supporting learning and we have an IT room, interactive whiteboards and set homework that can be done on a device. But traditional literacy and numeracy underpin a good education and the big majority of our work is done in the traditional way with a pen and book. Mobile phones are not allowed to be seen or used during the school day.
What facilities does Wye School have?
We have a lovely site on the edge of Wye village with views of the Downs and Wye Crown. Outside we have a sports field, a Multi-Use Games Area, a Plaza (playground with seating and a covered section) and parking for staff and visitors. Buses drop off and pick up on site in our car park. We have two buildings, the Kempe Centre and Margaret Williams Building. The Kempe Centre used to be a university study centre and has been repurposed to house our Dining Hall, Reception, Languages, Food, Art, Photography, Science, and 6th Form areas. The Margaret Williams Building was purpose built to house our Assembly Hall, large Sports Hall, Maths, English and Humanities areas. Overall, we have a lovely site with good facilities for all subjects.
What is the pastoral system like?
We have a traditional head of year system with each year group having their own dedicated head of year who leads a team of tutors. Each student has their own tutor and head of year who they, and their parents/carers, can talk to if they have any issues. If issues are deeper than a general year team can deal with we have an Inclusion team who can provide one to one or small group support. We are lucky to have small year groups in which the head of year and 3 or 4 tutors know their whole year group well and work as a team to ensure any issues big or small are dealt with.
Is there bullying at Wye School?
Any group of children or teenagers will have some social issues and fall outs, they are part of growing up. As a small school where most people know each other we are lucky to have very little old-fashioned bullying, and we do not tolerate any that does occur. We are an inclusive school where we value children and staff of all identities, cultures and backgrounds. When students do fall out we start with a restorative approach, although we will use the disciplinary system if fall outs are persistent and causing problems. The school bus can be difficult for some students, we work with the drivers and parents to make sure any issues are identified and dealt with.
What are the toilets like at Wye School?
This is a common question on tours. We are very lucky to have relatively new buildings equipped with individual toilet cubicles that have their own sink facilities. They are widely spread around the school on all floors and in both buildings and regularly cleaned.
So why Wye School?
- smaller than average with strong relationships
- excellent results for all abilities, with no selection on entry
- good at exams but not an exam factory
- good behaviour, happy and friendly staff and students
- offers a 6th Form
School website- https://www.wyeschool.org.uk/
School twitter- https://twitter.com/WyeSchoolKent
League Tables- https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/school/139664/wye-school/secondary