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Prospectus The Axe Valley Community College & Sixth Form Centre

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 Welcome: Headteacher’s message Dear Students, Parents and Carers, Welcome to The Axe Valley Community College. We are an 11-18 college situated in Axminster, East Devon, with approximately 750 students. Our mission is to provide the best possible education we can. To achieve this, we set high expectations for all, regardless of their ability or background. We have a caring, supportive culture within the college, where every individual is valued. Above all, we are passionate about developing the whole child – academically, emotionally, morally and physically – so they can lead fulfilling and purposeful lives. Our last Ofsted Inspection in 2013 rated us as a good and improving college. The college today enjoys a growing reputation for the high quality education we provide. I hope this prospectus provides a flavour of what we stand for and the vibrancy of our college community. I would strongly recommend visiting us for a tour so that you can experience first-hand what makes this a special college. We look forward to meeting you soon. Martin Smith Headteacher “ Parents and carers have a strong belief in the ability of the school to teach and look after their children well.” Ofsted 3

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Our core values Our core values capture the ethos of the college. These have been updated to reflect the values that matter most to us today*. They apply equally to students, staff and parents and ensure that we work together effectively as a community. Excellence – Striving to achieve the highest standards in everything we do. We want everyone to achieve their personal best in both their academic studies and in the wider development through participation in sports and other extra curricular activities. Perseverance – Taking on challenge with grit and determination. To achieve excellence we first have to take on challenge. It is only when we push ourselves that we improve quickly. When challenged we are more likely to get stuck, make mistakes or feel daunted. This is when having the ability to persevere is crucial, because it helps us to keep going and learn how to overcome obstacles. Respect – Showing courtesy and consideration; valuing everyone as equals. To be a strong, united community it is essential that we all show respect to one another. Respect is expressed through being mindful of others’ needs. Above all, respect flows from the belief that everyone is equal, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. Care – Being safe and supportive of one another at all times. This is about learning how to stay safe and acting responsibly at all times to ensure that you and those around you feel secure. It applies to all aspects of college life, from walking calmly around the site to following advice on how to protect yourself online. * We continually consult with students, staff, parents and other interested parties to ensure our core values reflect the aspirations of the college. “ Students consistently show respect towards one another.” Ofsted 4

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Making a great start Transition From the moment students are allocated a place at the college, our aim is to support them to get off to a great start in Year 7. We have strong links with all our local primary schools and work closely to ensure we understand the needs of all new students. In June we hold a Transition Day. We run a week-long Summer School in August and a residential experience in Year 7 to ensure that the year group becomes a cohesive, close-knit group. We operate a superb buddying system for all Year 7s. Students from Year 9 act as buddies for Year 7s during the Autumn and Spring term, supporting them in tutor time and informally around college. We recognise that some students may require additional support with transition. To this end, we provide additional visits in Year 6 to help familiarise students with college life. A small number of students can access our Springboard Curriculum, which focuses on building confidence, learning skills and extra support in English and Maths. 5

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Inspiring curriculum A broad curriculum Our view is that the core subjects of English, Maths and Science provide the backbone of the curriculum. Students can only make excellent progress if they develop the essential skills from these subject areas. At the same time we are committed to ensuring that students access a broad and balanced range of subjects in arts, humanities, technologies, languages and physical education (please see the Prospectus Supplement for a detailed breakdown). Our curriculum is designed with flexibility in mind. We recognise that students have different strengths and needs as learners and we have designed a number of different curriculum ‘pathways’ to reflect these. For example, in Year 9 able linguists can take on a second language and in Years 10-11 able scientists can study three separate sciences. Some students who are interested in developing work-related skills can opt to take up work experience days in Years 10-11, as part of our Alternative Learning Programme. Curriculum Pathways are not fixed and students can opt for combinations from different pathways. All students can opt to take a combination of subjects in Years 10-11 that enables them to achieve the English Baccalaureate award. “Teachers’ strong subject knowledge helps to create lessons which students enjoy.” Ofsted 6

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Lessons that challenge and engage Our philosophy is the best learning takes place when students are stretched by carefully pitched teaching. Our teachers regularly assess students and formally report on their progress across the year. This is used to adjust teaching to ensure that lessons are well matched to class and individual needs. Our teaching aims to capture students’ interest and appeal to their curiosity. Classrooms are equipped with the latest teaching technology like Interactive White Boards, Visualisers and Netbooks to ensure that students can access learning through new as well as the tried-and-tested methods. We invest significantly in training and sharing effective classroom practice to ensure that teaching and support staff enable all learners to make excellent progress. 7

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Exceptional opportunities Arts One of the highlights of the college year is our annual musical productions. These showcase the amazing talents of our students in drama, singing and dance. There are a wide range of music clubs and events throughout the year, including a junior and senior orchestra, choir, steel band and rock school. In addition, the Art Department holds a wide range of workshops with visiting artists, visits to galleries and holds a prestigious annual Arts Exhibition. Sports and outdoor education There are exceptional sporting opportunities. The college provides a wide range of competitive teams in Football, Rugby, Cricket, Netball, Rounders, Badminton, Athletics and Cross Country. The PE department offers an extensive range of lunchtime and after-school clubs. Students from Year 9 upwards are actively involved in the Sports Leader Programme, running inter-tutor events and themed festivals for primary-aged children. Lastly, the Duke of Edinburgh programme provides exceptional opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills and confidence. 8

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Trips Trips and residentials play a central role in the life of the college. We view this as crucial in enabling our students to experience the world beyond the South West. Whether it is skiing in Austria, canoeing in the Ardèche, or visiting Paris, trips play a vital role in developing students’ understanding of the wider world and giving them the confidence to explore for themselves. Tours, talks and workshops As a college, we are unique in the way we work in partnership with businesses and organisations to create inspiring opportunities for students. Our ASPIRE gifted and talented programme, for instance, and our REACH programme, link extensively with The MET Office, Exeter University, The Department for Work and Pensions and Axminster Tools and Machinery. Recently, for example, students in Years 7-9 have completed a 10-week course in Arabic delivered by the lecturers from Exeter University. “ Students have good opportunities to engage in musical and sporting activities outside the normal school day.” Ofsted 9

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A caring and safe environment Pastoral system We are committed to creating a caring learning environment for our students. The pastoral system, built around year groups, provides the framework for the care and support we offer. On entering Year 7, students are placed in a tutor group, under the supervision of their tutor. This allows tutors to build a special relationship with students and parents. Your child’s tutor will: • Be the teacher with the closest and most regular personal contact with students and parents • Monitor academic progress, behaviour, attendance, punctuality and appearance • Deal with minor problems promptly The year leader has overall responsibility for the year group, ensuring that the college is promoted through assemblies, celebration assemblies and academic monitoring. The year leader deals with more complex issues that students and parents may experience. 10

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Safeguarding Ensuring that students are safe, happy and supported is of paramount importance to us. Through assemblies, PSHE and E-safety training, students are taught how to be safe and how to deal with problems they might experience. We work closely with the school nurse, counsellors, social workers and health professionals to provide the highest level of support. Every member of staff is trained in safeguarding. We have a dedicated team of staff who lead on safeguarding across the college. For more information, please refer to our college website. Working with parents We are committed to working closely with parents to ensure that we provide a high level of support for students. To develop this partnership we provide parents with regular reports, parents’ evenings, information evenings and fortnightly newsletters. We pride ourselves on effective communication with parents through our college website, email, text messaging and Twitter. “ Bullying is uncommon, incidents of racist and homophobic bullying are very rare and the school deals with these effectively.” Ofsted 11

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“ Parents and carers have a strong belief in the ability of the school to teach and look after their children well.” Ofsted 12

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Support for learning Mentoring and tuition Our teachers provide a high level of support in lessons to ensure that students learn and make progress. When additional support is needed to enable a student to improve, we have a range of effective intervention tools available. Mentoring is provided by tutors, year leaders and specialist volunteers from the community. Additional tuition is provided by teachers and support staff at lunch and after school to provide catch-up and exam preparation. Reading We take very seriously our responsibility to ensure that every student is able to read and write effectively. For this reason we place great emphasis on literacy in Years 7, 8 and 9 to ensure that students maintain the progress they made in primary school. All students participate in the Accelerated Reader Programme, which enables students to follow a personal reading programme and complete online tests to demonstrate their progress. As part of the programme students visit the library at least once a week. Special educational needs and disabilities Students with Special Educational Needs receive first class support. The college takes enormous pride in the inclusive approach to education we have developed over many years. We have a team of specialised Teaching Assistants who provide specialist intervention and in-class support. Excellent transition arrangements are established with local primary schools to ensure that students joining us in Year 7 get off to a flying start. 13

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Sixth Form We our proud of our Sixth Form. In recent years we have seen a steady rise in the number of students staying on at college to continue their post-16 education. Thanks to the inspiring teaching and excellent support sixth formers receive, numbers securing places at the best UK universities has increased sharply in recent years. Our sixth form curriculum is tailored to academic qualifications – mainly A Levels. The college is a member of East Devon Sixth (a partnership of five secondary schools in the area), which helps us maintain a wide range of qualifications and extra curricular opportunities available to our students. For example, students from Axe Valley train and compete in an elite sports programme organised by East Devon Sixth. Sixth formers are expected to play active roles across the college, supporting younger students in lessons and providing GCSE tuition. Our aim is for all sixth formers to feel an integral part of the college but also to be treated very much as adult learners. “ The considerable autonomy given to students in the sixth form, coupled with the school’s ambitious programme to raise expectations, has led to a doubling of the number of students applying for university.” Ofsted 14

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