Cefn Hengoed Community School has developed a wide range of strategies to involve pupils in decision-making that directly impacts their learning experiences and wellbeing. Strong and committed leadership has resulted in sustained improvements in pupils’ performance and wellbeing.
Cefn Hengoed Community School is an 11 to 16 secondary school on the eastside of Swansea with 644 pupils on roll. Around 40% of pupils are eligible for free school meals, well above the national average of 17.1%.
The proportion of pupils with special educational needs is around 39%, higher than the national average of 25%. About 5% of pupils have a statement of special educational needs, double the national average for Wales as a whole. The school has a local authority specialist teaching facility for pupils with moderate learning difficulties and these pupils are included on the school roll.
Culture and ethos
The headteacher demonstrates a powerful commitment to developing the school as an outstanding learning community and her leadership drives its success. Their strong committed leadership has resulted in sustained improvements in pupils’ performance and wellbeing.
The school has an exceptionally caring and inclusive ethos based on mutual respect and strong relationships between pupils, staff and the community. The school motto, ‘If you believe it you can achieve’, is woven into all aspects of the school’s work, and is reflected in the high expectations and caring attitude demonstrated by staff. The high level of trust and respect between staff and pupils promotes pupils’ learning and their social development, and is a positive feature of school life. The role of pupils in influencing decision-making is well embedded across the school and is a priority shared by leaders, staff and pupils.
The school has developed a wide range of strategies to involve pupils in decision‑making that directly impacts their learning experiences and wellbeing.
The school has appointed a member of staff responsible for co-ordinating pupil voice across the school. The member of staff is responsible for making sure that there is effective communication between the participation groups, the senior leadership team and the governing body.
A strong feature at the school is the introduction of ‘pupil curriculum leaders’. Pupil curriculum leaders meet with teachers to evaluate programmes of study, and make decisions about their learning and the choice of strategies and enrichment activities that underpin success.
Pupil voice is central to the work of the humanities faculty at the school. The faculty has pupil curriculum leaders who have been successfully appointed following a thorough interview process. The pupil curriculum leaders meet with faculty staff every half term to feed back on issues relating to curriculum, teaching and learning. They also contribute to developing schemes of work and influence topics of study within the faculty. For example, the faculty introduced an independent project unit following feedback from the pupil curriculum leaders.
The faculty has shared this practice across the school and with other local schools through whole-school in-service training. The faculty also offers training for faculty staff and pupils before they undertake their role as curriculum leaders.
In the physical education department, pupil curriculum leaders are appointed from team captains, individuals appointed by the pupils and ‘endeavour pupils’ (those showing exceptional commitment in the subject). Curriculum leaders influence curriculum options and extra-curricular opportunities in the subject. For example, the department has extended its dance provision following feedback from pupils.
Pupils from Cefn Hengoed Community School regularly contribute to local authority consultation forums to inform budget priorities and curriculum options for 14 to 19‑year‑olds.
Nearly all pupils feel that the school listens to them. Almost all pupils have an exceptional sense of belonging to the school community and a high level of awareness of their own wellbeing and the impact of their behaviour on others. Pupils value the opportunities to influence choice and provision and actively engage in the wide range of participation opportunities on offer at the school.
As a result, there has been a very positive impact on standards across the school. Over the last three years, there has been a strong trend of improvement in attendance and a general reduction in the rate of fixed-term exclusions.
Improved attendance, behaviour and engagement in learning have contributed significantly to the strong trend of improvement in all performance indicators at key stage 3 and key stage 4 over the last three years.
Since introducing the pupil curriculum leaders, many faculties, for example in humanities and physical education, have experienced an increase in the number of pupils opting for GCSE courses at the end of key stage 3.
For the last three years, no pupil left the school without a recognised qualification. At the end of Year 11, most pupils remain in full-time education.