In our interview with Kate Evan-Hughes, director for Children and Schools at PCC, she told us the only way to keep secondary education on the St Davids Peninsula is to amalgamate YDS and at least two local primaries, creating an all-through school for St Davids. Our Schools and Education research team find that it’s a model that is transforming rural education for the better elsewhere.
All-through schools are taking off across the UK. They join together primary and secondary education on one site or across 2 or more sites under a single school establishment. Successful all-through models have developed quickly in Scotland, especially in communities in the Highlands and Islands, many with much smaller school rolls than here, yet these schools are leading the way in terms of results and are now among Scotland’s best performing schools.
In England the number is growing rapidly through the free schools programme. Natalie Evans, director of the New Schools Network, a charity set up to support free schools, said that as many as 25 per cent of proposals for new free schools are now based on the all-through model. “The main thing appears to be dealing with the issues around transition.” she said, “Children find it difficult to go from primary to a bigger secondary environment and can slip back at that point. Quite a lot of motivation for doing this is about preparing children properly for secondary education and maintaining something of the primary environment at the age of 11 and beyond.”
Prof Graham Donaldson, architect of the Scottish education transformation says that all-through schools provide much more than just academic success. “Of particular importance to all-through schools are partnerships with parents, local employers and community groups. All through schools have significant responsibilities to work with local partners in nurturing, supporting and educating their young people to be productive members of sustainable local communities, as well as confident citizens ready to step out into the wider world.”
Some communities in Wales’ top county for education, Ceredigion, as well as Lake Bala and Machynlleth, have already sought out the Scottish all-through model as a way of aiming for excellence within the school and providing a viable, sustainable blueprint for the future of a community. And with the Donaldson review of Welsh education seeking a route to excellence within Welsh schools, and Donaldson’s enthusiasm for All-through education it seems it won’t be long until large parts of Wales are putting in the foundations for this school model within their community, however big or small.
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