COLUMN: Wirksworth headteacher talks about the step up from primary to secondary education

Headteacher at Anthony Gell School, Wirksworth, David Baker writes for the Matlock Mercury
Headteacher at Anthony Gell School, Wirksworth, David Baker writes for the Matlock Mercury
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As the headteacher of a secondary school, I am well aware of the importance of the decision that parents of Year 6 pupils have to make in the next few weeks.

Transferring from primary to secondary education is one of the biggest steps a child makes and their five or seven years at secondary school will have a massive effect on their future career opportunities.

Every parent wants their child to be safe and happy at school and obviously to be successful and to obtain the best possible education.

We are lucky that all the secondary schools in the Derbyshire Dales are good and successful schools, each with their own approach and ethos and I would like to explain our philosophy at Anthony Gell School in Wirksworth.

I believe that above all, students have to feel safe and happy to come to school. Without this, they will not fulfil their potential. We are a small school with around 680 students on roll. We operate a House based system with a senior tutor in charge of each House. Our tutor groups mix up students of all ages so right from the start, new entrants get to know some of the older students and feel comfortable around them. Many have been in mixed aged classes at primary school and may be meeting old friends!

Students stay with the same tutor for five years as they grow through the tutor group and this gives them someone who they know well and who can help and support them. We take the care, guidance and support of our students very seriously and many parents identify it as one of the strengths of the school.

GCSE results at the school have improved dramatically in recent years through the hard work of students and staff and the vital support of parents. We track students individually and intervene to ensure they meet their personal targets. This year, we achieved our best ever GCSE results with 71 per cent of our students achieving five higher grades including English and maths. I was particularly pleased to see that across all abilities, 84 per cent of our students made the expected progress in English and maths over their five years at school, with the national average being around 70 per cent.

I have worked at Anthony Gell for over 30 years and have been proud to be head for the last eight and half years. Leading the school is a fantastic and challenging job, especially given the world of rapid change in which we currently live.

I am looking forward to welcoming parents of Year 6 students to our school next week so they can see for themselves all that Anthony Gell has to offer and decide if it is right for their child.

By David Baker, Headteacher at Anthony Gell School in Wirksworth.