Our Plans

Proposal

Proposal to expand two of our schools as part of the DfE’s Selective Schools Expansion Fund (SSEF) programme

Our mission is:

To provide the best education and life chances for the children and young people of Walsall.

Our stated aim is to offer the broadest and best education to all pupils regardless of their socio-economic, cultural or ethnic background. We are proposing to extend the opportunity for children from all backgrounds to benefit from a grammar school education by expanding our two grammar schools; Queen Mary’s Grammar School and Queen Mary’s High School.

The Department for Education is making this opportunity possible through its Selective Schools Expansion Fund (SSEF) and Mercian Trust intend to submit two separate bids for our two Walsall grammar schools. The intention is to offer more choice for parents and young people in Walsall and the surrounding areas and in particular to extend the opportunity for children eligible for pupil premium. From September 2018, there will be 16% (GMHS) and 20% (GMGS) of intake with eligibility for pupil premium in Year 7. As part of these proposals we intend to offer a 10% discount against points required for entry to our amalgamated sixth form for students previously eligible for pupil premium.

In summary our proposals for the two schools will be:

For Queen Mary’s Grammar School:

Provide additional pupil places

The Trust will apply to:

  • Increase the Published Admission Number (PAN) for years 7-11 from 150 to 180 (This will provide 150 additional pupil places)
  • Increase the size of the Sixth Form from 410 to 500 (This will provide an additional 90 places)

Provide the necessary accommodation

It will use funds secured to:

  • Build additional classrooms and laboratories within the existing campus of the school
  • Provide additional dining spaces

Widen Access

The School will ensure that additional places are available for disadvantaged pupils in the Borough of Walsall. It will use the bid to the SSEF to:

  • Revise its Admissions Policy
  • Engage in more outreach work to Walsall Primary Schools
  • Provide additional familiarisation sessions for the entrance test
  • Extend access to site facilities and teaching resources (including in shortage subjects such as MFL, Maths and Science)

Increase efficiency

It will use the opportunity to:

  • Ensure that a full range of Post-16 A Level options remain financially viable
  • Increase collaboration with Queen Mary’s High School

If you wish to make your views known as part of the consultation regarding these proposals for Queen Mary’s Grammar School, you can access our survey here

For Queen Mary’s High School:

Provide additional pupil places

It will:

  • Increase the Published Admission Number (PAN) for years 7-11 from 120 to 150 (This will provide 150 additional pupil places)
  • Reduce waiting lists at year 7 and 12

Provide the necessary accommodation

It will use funds secured to:

  • Expand the crowded town centre site of the school by buying back the lease of two neighbouring properties (which belong to the Queen Mary’s Foundation)
  • Build additional classrooms and create additional laboratories by adapting existing teaching spaces

Widen Access and Participation

The School will ensure that additional places are available for disadvantaged pupils in the Borough of Walsall. It will use the bid to the SSEF to:

  • Revise its Admissions Policy
  • Engage in more outreach work with Walsall and neighbouring local authority Primary Schools
  • Provide familiarisation sessions for the entrance test
  • Extend access to site facilities and teaching resources (including in shortage subjects such as MFL, Maths and Science)

Increase efficiency

It will use the opportunity to:

  • Ensure that a full range of Post-16 A Level options remain financially viable by
    • increased collaboration with Queen Mary’s Grammar School
    • Work with independent careers advisers and secondary schools to promote and expand participation in our educational offer
    • Promote and expand our sixth form offer for students who have experienced disadvantage.

If you wish to make your views known as part of the consultation regarding these proposals for Queen Mary’s High School, you can access our survey here

If you are interested in hearing more about these proposals, we are planning open evenings at both schools later in June/early July. Dates and times of these events will be published on this website and also on the individual schools’ websites.

CPD

Leadership courses

In the first edition of the Mercian Voice, we shared feedback from MAT staff questionnaires. High up on the list of priorities that you identified was a request for quality CPD. And so, just over a month later, on the 7th November, we launched a new programme for aspiring Middle and Senior Leaders. The first cohort includes colleagues from all five schools and that’s important: we want this to be an opportunity to learn together, to form networks for the sharing of best practice.

In our first session, we looked at models of leadership, drawing on Andy Buck’s excellent book “Leadership Matters: how leaders at all levels can create great schools”. Figure 1 below is one of the models we looked at from the book. We found it useful to pause and think about where we spend most of our time. Many colleagues agreed that we tend to gravitate towards the bottom left quadrant – perhaps rightly so: we need to get things done! But the CPD session forced us all to stop and reflect about making time for the quadrant on the top right, so that we can be clear on our vision and create teams of people who will work together to bring that vision to reality.

Future sessions will include seminars from MAT colleagues. Sharing an area of expertise or special interest with others is a good form of CPD in itself. When we next meet Adele Biddle and Matthew Moore from Aldridge and Conrad Bourne and Nigel Jobling from Shire Oak will be speaking on educational research and teaching & learning.

We are also very fortunate to be working in partnership with a local Teaching School for this programme. Eleanor Langston-Jones from Earls School in Halesowen will be on hand at every meeting to offer advice and support.

Mercian family

A new member of the Mercian family of schools

Over a year ago now, the DfE approved a bid by the Vine Trust Group and Walsall Studio School to open a new Alternative provision Free School in Walsall.

This was how the original pitch was made to the DfE. ‘The Ladder’ is an alternative provision free school proposed by Walsall Studio School that will provide students an effective ‘step up’ for those for whom mainstream schooling has been challenging and ineffective.

This new, much needed provision derives its name from the royal led, 'Ladder Apprenticeship campaign', overseen by Walsall Studio School’s Chair of Governors.

The campaign's partnership consists of print media organisations, employers, public and third sectors, who have each agreed to support the creation of the Ladder school, as a fitting tribute to the campaign that has thus far, created over 2000 apprenticeship jobs.

In some ways it has been a frustrating time since the government gave the original green light. The Education and Skills Funding Agency blocked any further progress until a site for the new school was agreed … and that took far longer than we expected!

We are delighted to report that, at long last, it’s all systems go! Dan Parkes and the Ladder School team are working hard to see if we can get the school open (in temporary accommodation initially) by September 2018.

That will be a huge step forward in our aim to provide the right education pathway for every individual pupil in Walsall.

University of Birmingham

TSST B-Physics Programme

In the last issue of The Voice, we flagged up a new initiative from The Mercian Trust and the University of Birmingham working in partnership. It is a form of Teacher Subject Specialism Training (TSST) which we are calling B Physics. We are now in a position to give you a few more details.

OBJECTIVES:

  • To share knowledge and best practice
  • To support, develop and retain staff
  • To broaden and deepen the links between schools and the UoB
  • To enthuse and inform Physics and Engineering students about teaching as a career

There will be four sessions this academic year:

  1. 23 January - QMGS - Electricity and Fields
  2. 20 March - SOA - Waves
  3. 22 May - Aldridge / QMHS - Mechanics and Forces
  4. 10 July - UoB - Energy and Particles

Each session will begin with a talk entitled Why this matters for the whole group and then there will be two different workshops: one for those who want to focus on K3/4 teaching; one for those wanting to discuss matters relating to A Level teaching. The workshops will be led by Physics teaching specialists from Mercian schools with support from PhD students and HE staff.

Each session will be at a different school venue within The Mercian. On the day, the UoB will send two PhD students in to the school from 12 noon with a brief to help with careers advice, A Level teaching or individual coaching. The Why this matters talks and workshops will be scheduled from 4pm to 6pm.