The Cherwell School is a state funded secondary school with academy status within the River Learning Trust. The school is one of the UK’s highest performing state schools and is rated as “Outstanding” by Ofstead. The Good Schools Guide declares the school quite simply as “one of the top state schools in the country”. It is no surprise therefore that the school is heavily oversubscribed.
In sharp contrast to the achievements of staff and students in establishing the school as an academic tour de force, successive rounds of public spending cuts have left the school infrastructure in need of wholesale re-development. The PTA will play a significant role in this redevelopment not least because the expertise necessary to raise the funds and carry the projects forward to fruition, lie within the parent community. The key role of the PTA therefore is to identify this expertise and match it to the school development needs.
1.1Head Teacher’s Message
I have frequently been humbled by the dedicated support and breadth of expertise that the parent community has provided to the school in recent times.
Never has this support been more appreciated than in the past few years as the school has seen year on year government spending constraints result in an 8% cut in real term funding, whilst our costs continue to increase. The school has ambitious plans to develop a number of new facilities and the PTA will be instrumental in helping the school realise these ambitions.
The PTA provides the school a lifeline that allows us to enhance the learning experience for our students. In addition, it provides a welcome contribution to the school operations and vital support to extra-curricular activities and events.
I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all the parent community who contribute to the school’s endeavours.
Mr Chris Price
Cherwell School Head Teacher
1.2Message from the PTA Chair
If you’ve made it this far then I assume you’re curious about the work of the PTA and how that benefits the Cherwell student body. You may also be curious about how you could contribute. I can help you with that.
Typically, PTAs survive on the efforts of a handful of dedicated volunteers sacrificing a lot of time. However, Cherwell is not typical and neither is the work of the PTA. I believe the endeavours of the students and staff, that put Cherwell at the top of any performance metrics, should be matched by the parents fortunate enough to have secured a place in the school. To this end I would like to grow the existing active parent body into a small army of volunteers using a little of their coordinated skills, knowledge and time to effect a substantial improvement in the facilities and resources available to the school.
The Cherwell catchment boasts some of the most talented people in the UK, I would sincerely like to hear from you.
Cherwell PTA Chair
The aim of the PTA is to advance the education of pupils in the school by:
- Developing effective relationships between the staff, parents/carers and others
- Engaging in activities that provide facilities or equipment
A written record of each PTA meeting is kept, and copies of all minutes are available.
The Cherwell PTA constitution, which is based on the template provided by the national association of PTAs.
The Cherwell School PTA is a registered charity; number 28441
All parents/carers and staff of The Cherwell School are automatically members of the PTA and can attend meetings or take part in events. The PTA activities are co-ordinated at termly meetings held on the second Wednesday of each term from 7pm to 9pm in the north site meeting room. PTA Minutes
Please subscribe to PTA updates by completing the box below. By subscribing to updates you will receive email alerts, which will generally be notes of meeting, requests for help or notifications about PTA events.
Do you have the occasional hour or two you can give to volunteer at school? If so, please sign up on our PTA sign up page, if you are happy to be contacted as and when opportunities to volunteer arise (e.g. administrative tasks, providing refreshments at events, lead or assist projects etc).
Additionally, the PTA AGM is held in each year in November where officers of the PTA are elected. Please give consideration to putting yourself forward for one of the positions
You are joining a vibrant community of students, staff and parents. We all play an essential role in making this school the dynamic place it is. As parents we are all partners in our children’s education. If you are new to the school, you will discover the many fantastic things about our school. There is always room for improvement. Join in and help to make our children’s Cherwell years a great experience.
Opportunities to get involved in our school community are listed below. Please take a moment to read about them and then select one or more that interest you by contacting the lead in each area via the email address on the contacts page. For urgent and more specific details about the help we need please see our “Desperately Seeking” page.
3.3Year Rep Network
Our parent community depends on smooth and effective communication with one another. This is much harder to achieve at secondary school than at primary due to the loss of the ‘school gate effect’.
We are looking for parents (in all year groups!) to be part of the Year Rep Network that enables parent-to-parent support and presents the parent voice to the school.
Please contact the chair@Cherwellpta.org to be part of this network.
The PTA is the umbrella organisation for a number of parent driven initiatives. Each initiative is coordinated by a working group and offer a more focussed way of getting involved with a issue close to your heart.
4.1.1Gardens & Outdoor environment
Help in the upkeep and development of our outdoor spaces. If you enjoy gardening or just being outdoors, this is for you. Two hours about 6 times per year, no expertise required – only enthusiasm!
Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
4.1.2Cherwell mental health and wellbeing – “Cherwellbeing”
Mental health and wellbeing of staff, students and parents & carers is of paramount importance at Cherwell. We all have a role in encouraging good mental health and wellbeing in our school community. If you have expertise or simply an interest and willingness to help, we’d love to hear from you. Contact: email@example.com
4.1.3Parentalk – Cherwell Parenting Course
The Cherwell Parenting Course is in its fourth year (next course Jan – March 2019). Not to be missed – an opportunity for all of us to learn together and support one another in our parenting. Essential guidance and information centred on adolescence. A diverse range of topics is covered from drugs and knife crime to online safety. Your help would be appreciated in running the courses – admin, hosting, facilitating. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
4.1.4Cycling & safe travel to school
The Cherwell Travel Action Group (CTAG) is a small, friendly group comprising parents, a teacher and a councillor. We meet once every term to discuss how to make travel to and from school safer and more environmentally sustainable. Please help us with this vital aspect of school life. email@example.com
4.1.5Recycling and Environmental impact
If you are interested in helping to reduce the school’s environmental impact and improve recycling, your time & participation supporting the school and ‘Cherwell Earth’ student group will be much valued, as we seek to implement new initiatives. Please also reduce single-use plastic at school (e.g. in packed lunches)! Contact: Chair@Cherwellpta.org
We have big plans for the coming years and would like those with experience and an interest in fundraising to be at the heart of the future developments.
The Cherwell fundraising initiatives fall within the framework outlined in the national schools fundraising strategy advocated by the Institution of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE). The PTA is an associate member of IDPE.
Accordingly, we are focussing on building up our Alumni and engagement with the wider Cherwell community, with the aim of developing a culture of giving and philanthropy. To achieve this, we are establishing a professional fundraising organisation – The Friends Of Cherwell - capable of supporting the ambitious projects necessary to bring the school infrastructure into the 21st century.
Initiatives already underway include establishing Cherwell school as a centre for adult education, development of a community Football Hub (sponsored by the Football Association) with new all-weather sports pitches and longer term the provision of a large multi-purpose indoor facility for performing arts, exams, sport etc.
These, and other initiatives, will provide the school with much needed revenue with which to further invest in the learning experience offered to Cherwell students.
6The Capital Programme
Funds for the Cherwell School capital programme do not relieve government of its obligation to fund the normal operation of the school. The capital programme aims to provide more and better facilities to enhance the learning opportunities offered to Cherwell students.
The Capital Programme arises from a workshop facilitated by architects, TSH, in 2014 and was part of a wider condition survey of school facilities. Participants in the workshop included teaching staff, students, governors and parents and the aim was to identify the key deficiencies of the school infrastructure. The following ten Cherwell School shortcomings were identified:
POINT 1 – Lack of recreational space: There is insufficient recreational space on both sites when the schools fields are unavailable due to inclement weather (2/3 of the academic year). The games courts area is below standard recommendations.
POINT 2 – Poor indoor sports facilities: The school has good sized playing fields, but indoor sports facilities are poor. Modern standards mandate a dedicated 600m2, 4 court sports hall plus an 180m2 activity studio with changing facilities for a school of this size. It is also common to have a dance studio, gym, sports classrooms and social facility to compliment the sports facility. Sports halls have an important secondary function as an assembly and exam hall and can generate additional school revenue.
POINT 3 – Small school hall on North Site: There is a need for a large multi-purpose hall for assembly, performance arts exams etc. Current standards mandate a hall of 440m2 for a school of this size for the North site alone. The current North site hall is 300m2.
POINT 4 – No dedicated dining facilities: The school has inadequate dining facilities. Standards prescribe a dining space of 440m2 with a 200m2 kitchen. Current provision equates to less than 90m2. In addition, for a school of this size, satellite facilities are highly desirable.
POINT 5 – Insufficient space for Staff: The current North site staff room is small at just 80m2 and is supplemented by the space off the north site Hall, an additional 220m2 staff workspace is required.
POINT 6 – A divided site: The school has two sites which are split by a busy road. Hence the School community is divided with poor integration between year groups. Teachers have to travel between sites splitting and duplicating some technical faculties and equipment (i.e. Science, Art and DT).
POINT 7 – More private study space required: The library resource and study areas on the north site are small and more space for 6th Form study is required. Addition sixth form capacity attracts enhanced funding opportunities.
POINT 8 – Condition of existing buildings: All the buildings on site appear to be structurally sound, wind and watertight. However, a number of buildings exhibit the following significant shortcomings:
- Inflexible teaching space compromising operational efficiency.
- Poor quality lighting and ventilation.
- Poor thermal efficiency resulting in excessive energy use.
- Highly inefficient energy (heat and light) distribution systems in poor condition
- The older buildings represent a considerable maintenance burden
POINT 9 – Lack of revenue generating opportunities: Unlike many of its contempories, the Cherwell school facilities offer few opportunities to generate additional revenue outside of school hours. This revenue is typically used to fund infrastructure development and maintenance.
POINT 10 – Landscaping: The landscape between and around buildings on both sites is in poor condition both functionally and from an aesthetic viewpoint.
Over the subsequent years a number of infrastructure development options were identified in response to anticipated financial support from government. This support never materialised, and so last year the school took matters into their own hands and commenced a programme of renewal that involved establishing a Development Office and putting systems in place to commence a major fundraising drive, alongside the complex work of specifying the school capital plan. The PTA is key in shaping and supporting the Development Office activities, which are expected to increase substantially in the next few years.
6.2All Weather Sports Pitch
As a priority it was felt essential to enhance the sports facilities, which were in danger of compromising the School’s core curriculum obligations due principally to poor drainage on the south site. Accordingly, attention was turned to funding an all-weather floodlit sports pitch at a cost of about £900k. This would address the immediate shortfall in outdoor sports provision and provide welcome revenue if leased outside of school hours. Excellent progress has been made in securing funding for this facility and we hope to see construction commence in summer 2020.
Following the success of the all-weather sports pitch, the school has turned its attention to funding for a multipurpose hall. The current aim is that this facility will release the two smaller gyms on south site for development as a dining and flexible teaching facility. The new hall itself will open up the curriculum to include a greater variety of sports and performing arts subjects including music and drama and will provide additional much needed teaching space for physiological and sports sciences, as well as doubling as the school examination hall and general assembly facility.
In addition to the capital schemes, the existing infrastructure is in need of refurbishment and renewal. In addition, there is scope for significant landscape improvements. This programme of work will be undertaken alongside the capital programme and it is the development Office’s aim to enhance the government’s derived School Condition Allowance (SCA) to ensure refurbishments are undertaken to enrich the learning environment.
6.5 Longer Term
Into the future, the school, despite the refurbishment work, will need to replace some of the existing buildings. This will yield a significant reduction in the heating, lighting and maintenance costs and will result in vast improvements in operational efficiency. This long-term programme will remain in the background of current projects but will dictate some of the current thinking to ensure the site as a whole is optimised.