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Background information to aid UCAS applications for 2018

Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen is an 11 to 18 mixed English medium comprehensive school that is maintained by Bridgend local authority. The school was formed as the result of a merger of Ogmore School and Ynysawdre school in 2011. The school initially operated on a split site before moving to its new premises located near the Ynysawdre site in September 2013. It serves the Sarn, Bryncethin, Garw and Ogmore valleys. Twenty five percent of pupils are eligible for free school meals, which is above the national average. Around 34% of pupils live in the 20% most deprived areas in Wales.

When initially established the school also offered a unique Key Stage 4 curriculum with GCSE option choices being chosen in Year 8. Each option choice was studied in a year with timetabled option days. This meant that for many pupils they would have 4 hours of one option choice in a day. That option choice was taught and completed in one year, so GCSE’s were sat at the end of Year 9, Year 10 and then a bespoke Year 11 package was tailored to each pupil depending on those early entry results.

When you add those dynamics to the amalgamation of two schools, and a change in the way we deliver pastoral support (we run a vertical pastoral system as opposed to the traditional horizontal one), our current Year 13 group has not had an easy or ‘traditional’ secondary education. These difficulties were recognised in the 2015 ESTYN report where the school was judged to be unsatisfactory in many areas and placed in ‘special measures’.

Of course, many steps were taken since that judgement with the appointment of a new Executive Headteacher, Mr. Nick Brain. Most of the former senior leadership team have left and a new structure implemented. We have addressed our curriculum issues with a new curriculum reverting back to a traditional 3-year Key Stage 3 and 2-year Key Stage 4, ending in year 11. We have also implemented the Donaldson report for a new curriculum in Key Stage 3. We are now out of special measures and making ‘excellent progress’ in the key areas. Of course all of these internal school issues have meant our Key Stage 5 pupils have gone through a period of dramatic change in the school.

Our Key Stage 5 curriculum is largely based on delivering Level 3 courses, usually through traditional A levels. As a Welsh school most of our qualifications are through the WJEC. All of our students are expected to take Welsh Baccalaureate, though there is the occasional exception for our current Year 13. For many students, their Welsh Baccalaureate course forms their 3rd Level 3 qualification. Quite a few students took an AS early, in Year 11, as part of their bespoke Year 11 learner pathway.

This year I have widened the opportunities for pupils to become prefects, to give that extra dimension to their experience and to help them develop a range of leadership skills. From this group of prefects, a team of Senior Prefects was developed, via application and interview. This Senior Prefect team consists of a Head boy and girl, a Deputy head boy and girl, senior prefects supporting curriculum, senior prefects supporting the college pastoral system and senior prefects supporting extra curricular events such as parents evenings, primary to secondary transition as well as other 6th form events such as the leavers prom. This new team have been outstanding this year and have been a real benefit to the whole school.

Thank you for taking the time to read this background information in support of our UCAS and apprentices applicants.