St. Joseph's School and Sixth Form - Swindon

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St. Joseph's School and Sixth Form - Swindon

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Review of "St. Joseph's School and Sixth Form - Swindon"

published 21/05/2004 | C_W_Monkey
Member since : 30/11/-0001
Reviews : 140
Members who trust : 0
About me :
Excellent
Pro Fantastic School
Cons I miss out on new building
very helpful

"My School"

Knowing that many of the people on ciao come from Swindon, and having nothing else to write a review about while I'm bored, I thought I would write one on my school.

You may have seen recently that our main rival (in terms of fights between students) Headlands school have been in the papers. This we noticed was on page 3 of the Times. They've been protesting against a teacher that has been sacked.

I tutor some kids from Headlands. They were only walking out of class because they didn't want to go to school, it had nothing much to do with the teacher, it was just an excuse.

Just thought I'd throw that in there. Because it is a part of our school life. Headlands once threw eggs at our school bus, they once surrounded our bus and started trying to rock it backwards and forwards!

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The Statistics
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Lets start with some statistics shall we! This is all from our head teacher and it's all going to be a little bit bias methinks. I expect that he's hidden the bad statistics.

But in my year, both our Y11 GCSE and our Sixth Form AS levels were well above the national average in their results.

Firstly, 98% of the school passed 5 GCSE's. Only 4 people failed to achieve 5 GCSE's. Around 70% got 5 A*-C grades in their GCSE's. This, if you look at the average, is fantastic.

Our A level results also consistently out-perform all the local colleges, bar Cirencester, which I don't count as a local college anyway. However, we are close.

Our results are not the best in Swindon though. Two schools out-perform us on raw results for GCSE consistently.

However, we are consistantly higher, much higher, in our value added ratings. We are better than both the local schools and many private schools. I believe we were in the top 5 within a 50 mile radius, taking into account all schools. Which means that the only reason the schools out-perform us is because they had more intelligent kids to start with.

So, in terms of statistics for results, I believe we are one of the best in Swindon for acedemic teaching. Our sports isn't as good though, I don't have any stats on that but know we're pretty rubbish.

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Our School
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In 2 years time we will have one of the top 7 technologically advanced schools in the country. The new building is currently under construction. Furthermore, it's completely funded by the church, not a penny from the tax payer!

This building will have both energy saving measures, time saving measures and flexibility which will put it on par with big companies. It's self heating and cooling, using the power of the sun and other natural sources. Electricity will come from solar panels and various other meathods.

Class rooms can be altered in about a day using just 4 people. The sound proofing in all classrooms uses techniques employed at the Dolby building where they test their equipment. With music rooms taking most of the sound proofing and remaining almost silent.

The building will be arranged in a new and very productive manor. Rooms are placed so that they are easy to get to from any other room, lockers strategically placed.

It's also going to be (as the buildings are already) 100% secure with security cameras inside and outside, catching any instances of bullying, any criminal, vandilistic or other activities.

Our new computer servers and computer suites insure that there is one computer for every 4 students, running on Windows XP with each student having their own areas. This is already true of our school now, only with Windows 98 and the computers are aging a bit. They will also be able to set different permissions for 6th formers so they can access things that are blocked to the younger years - something they can't do right now.

There will be scientific equipment built into the building for the science department. I don't quite know what, but things that they can get information from and measurments.

We will also have a sattelite link to one of the space sattelite probes sent up by Shrivenham College (and university). This will allow us to take real data, instead of second hand data, for us to analyse, making it a little more exciting and current.

The building is fully environmentally freindly, conserving energy, water, heat, electricity, everything!

We will have 2 huge full sized gyms, seperate hall with proper stage and storage for off stage props etc. Our new drama programme will insure this is put to good use!

Our school is set to go to the top

Right now it's dirty, dingy, building is falling apart. But we still have a lot of stuff, we're still one of the best in Swindon for facilities.

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Teaching
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The teaching in St. Josephs is supurb. I've come accross some of the best teachers ever in my time here. Having no other school to compare it to, I suppose my view is unjustified.

But the teachers go further than just teach you, they try and insure that you understand, that you accept their teaching and try to tailor it to your needs. They care about you!

My form tutor, Mrs Sanders, I wouldn't call her a teacher, she's a friend. She's been with my since Year 9, she knows more about me than some of my friends to. She's supported me when I've needed it and told me off when I've needed it. In fact, we're taking her down the pub sometime. I have her email address so I can stay in contact after school. Many pupils leave St. Josephs and keep in contact with the teachers.

That's the thing, they don't just give you detention when you do something wrong, they try and find out why and solve the problem. I went through a bad phase, I think the teachers corrected me, not through punishing constantly, like you might need to for some kids, but by talking to me, by helping me.

Most teachers in the school are like this, friends, not teachers. They will talk to you, be involved in your life, advise you and help you. If I have a problem, I know there are a selection of teachers I can tell. Furthermore, I know I can talk to them and they will put themselves out to help me.

That's another point, teachers, most of them, are always willing to put themselves out for you. They will spend ages marking your work when they don't have to, just to give you some feedback. You hand them extra work and they'll happily look over it for you.

Our teachers are always there. I can walk in to Mr Moscrop anytime, when he's doing important work, typing up reports, doing timetables, he'll stop and help me with maths.

The teachers in my school make me feel like I'm worthwhile. That, in turn, means I want to suceed. They encourage you, they are more than just teachers! Most of them also find fun, good ways of teaching, they also talk to us, make friends with us, get to know us. We're not just a statistic.

Of course, I'm talking about most of the teachers. Some of them are absolute shit, like Mr Sutton. But you'll be hard pushed to find 2 rubbish teachers in 1 subject, teaching you. Since every subject for every class is tought by at least 2 teachers, you're always going to get some good teaching.

What our school has that no other school has, is pastrol care.

We also have the Rev Kev, father kevin, our priest. He's great to talk to and comes in and does some masses sometimes. I'm not catholic, but I quite like the idea of coming together as a school in mass and things like that. It's only once a term anyway. But he's a fun priest.

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Facilities
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I've been told that our DT department is the best in Swindon. They have more tools and more equipment than the other coleges, their teachers are more skilled.

This is probably true. We're never short of books, never short of computers. If you can't find a computer in the 6th form study room, you can go to the library, if there's not one there, there will always be an empty computer room you can use.

The science departments have lots of little gadgets and gizmos. Being a physisist, I find these quite fun to play with and intreguing. People learn physics better through seeing it in action.

We have all the usual cathode ray tubes and whatnot, all the osciliscopes. There's always enough for one each to do experiments. There's usually 1 experiment a week for the younger years, 6th formers do a little more accademic work.

Because we have a 6th form, many facilities are available for the younger years which wouldn't be in a normal school. This is fantastic. However, we do have a little less than some of the colleges do, with the exception of DT.

This will all be resolved with the new school

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Atmosphere
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The kids are usually alright. There's always a few fights, a few idiots running through the corridors.

When in the younger years you can expect to part like the red sea for the 6th formers. But there's plenty of space to hang out, be kids.

I think it's all part of growing up, misbehaving and whatnot. I think our misbehaving is a lot more controlled than other schools, we give them enough slack so that they're happy but punishments are used when it goes over the top.

We have safety net for the most misbehaving pupils. This means you are sent, through the 6th form common room (where we will laugh and make fun of you), into the 6th form study area (where we will act as if you are not there and talk over you) then have to sit and do work on your own, under supervision of a teacher. This works on some people, but we have a few repeat people who always come in.

Classes are quite small for the under achievers and we have a department who soley deal with them. They're often taken out of lessons and have private tutorial when needed. I think this is good, however does lead to bullying.

When I was in school, the most popular kids were the intelligent ones. They weren't geeks, but were deemed as "cool" and were often intelligent. If you were not intelligent, it was unlikely that you would become popular. This is good motivation I think.

We are taught equality and moral values from very early on. Somehow it does all sink in and most people, bar about 5% of the school, are very nice and don't hold predujice.

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Other Activities
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Mrs O'Connel runs her now famous yearly ski trip. I went this year and it's the most fun I've ever had. Expensive but it really helps mature the kids and is fantastic fun, specially as a 6th former when you're allowed to drink and party all night!

We also run Duke Of Edinbourough award from Bronze right up to Gold. This starts in Y9 and anyone can join up to Y13. This is fantastic and really helps people develop.

We offer the usuall sports clubs and social clubs. Students are always welcome to start their own club if they want. So far I have yet to found the maths club, but one day I'll find someone else who loves maths as much as I do. You do realise I'm only kidding... right?

We also have student councils and social comitties. These are teacher led but with students doing all the work, coming up with all the ideas. There's a rep from each class. Y7 and 8 are seperated from Y9 - 11 and Y12-13 are also seperate. They decide things and actually get things done.

For instance, they got vending machines in the cafeteria, they got shower curtains in the girls showers.

There's also many other trips the school organises by itself. We have trips to London, plays, things like that. Geography classes are always offered tonnes of trips to various interesting places.

Charity is something that is in the heart of the school. We have our own charity which is chosen by the pupils who all our raised funds go to. We usually manage a few thousand. We also encourage people to go and help out charities.

This year is the biggest one, sending the Y11's and 12's to morocco for 3 weeks during the summer to help a charity over there. Usually it's just local things.

We have our own fair trade stand in school selling fair trade chocolate, cofee and other stuff. I only noticed this the other week - sixth form stay away from the school usually, we have our common room and classes, that's about it.

We also put on a lot of chairty events. Either Y11 pupils or 6th form pupils organise it. I've danced the YMCA with Mrs Sanders in one of these events, which included plays, tallent show and a teacher version of the weakest link. The girl who played anne robinsons role was surprisingly similar!

There's also lots of collections all the time and people usually donate money.

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Cafeteria
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This has improved since I was in Y11. They now provide a very extensive range of sandwiches, which are cheaper if you're Y7-11, but more expensive for teachers and 6th formers.

They offer hot food, with fresh veg. But chips are still always on the menu, with burgers, hotdogs. I'm doubtful if many of the kids take the pasta or fruit options always offered.

They also do the BEST EVER home made chocolate buiscuits. I loved them, I used to get one every day. I went in and got one today, oh the memories, brilliant!

But the food is still rubbish compared to going down the chip shop or mc donalds like the 6th form and Y11's do (we're the only ones allowed out at lunch, obviously 6th form can do what they want!)

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Sixth Form
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Now to the best bit. I'm arrogant about our 6th form, because we get better grades than the colleges.

We were the first 6th form / college in history to have 4 people get 100% on their media studies coursework. The head of examinations commended us, the work was all moderated about 5 times to double check.

We consistently out perform in terms of both value added and grades. The only reason we don't with cirencester is because they only select the best pupils, we take on everyone who wants to come. We also have several imigrants (not illegal) attending the school, they are fully integrated and accepted by our 6th form. In fact, Jarrod is very popular and one of my good friends!

We also have a much better community feel. We laugh, play cards, mess around in a non destructive way, play football on the feild, steal each others hats and chase each other around the common room. It's brilliant!

My analogy has always been: to go to the coleges you have to be mature, when you go to 6th form you will BECOME mature.

Because of the fantastic social life we experience in 6th form, our students always have a high attendance rate. If it drops below 80%, you are kicked out, after much discussion and finding out whether you have valid excuses.

But that's 1 day off EVERY week... it's an extremely difficult number to reach if you care anything for your schooling. However, in the colleges this is about the highest attendance rate of the students.

We are highly motivated and enjoy an array of benefits. Our largest class is 15 students, compared to 30 in the colleges... our average size is about 7. One maths class consists of 2.

We are a small group, so we all know each other, we all know the teachers, they all know us. Furthermore, we've had the teachers for years anyway, so they know us even better.

Our 6th form director knows us all personally, what unis we're going to, our personal lives. She can therefore give us brilliant advice on our University decisions.

You are under a lot more control in 6th form than a college, this is a good and bad thing. They will chase you up if you don't hand in work, which is good for your learning though gets annoying.

We also have access to computers of our own, our own secretary (who is brilliant and does all our bidding with a smile on her face). We recently lost our best secretary, Jane Ballard.

I once asked if she knew where I could find information on sponsorship, she went on the internet and ordered me about 20 books on it, taking half an hour of her time for me. She would always be there for us when we needed her.

The support you get in 6th form is huge, the class sizes small and the teaching brilliant.

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Conclusion
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This school is fantastic. We're caring, we're a community. The kids are not statistics and the teachers know their stuff.

We have our problems like any shcool, we could improve, like any school. But for my education, for my children's education, I would pick this school above any other. Even the private schools (which I don't agree with under any circumstances anyway) around here that are supposed to be brilliant.

This school helps you grow, not just with your knowledge, but as a person. It provides oportunities for everyone to improve themselves.

It also has one of the best 6th forms. We all care about each other and the teachers are included.

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Comments on this review

  • Annna published 22/05/2004
    Very interesting to me to read about your school. Very well reviewed:-) Greetings from Sofia
  • MAFARRIMOND published 22/05/2004
    Are you sure mr Sutton isn't a Ciao member. Watch out on Monday. Maureen
  • karen5416 published 22/05/2004
    Sounds a brill school, if i wrote an op on my old school,it would'nt fill a postage stamp : ] x
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Product Information : St. Joseph's School and Sixth Form - Swindon

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Listed on Ciao since: 21/05/2004