The Big Interview with John Ferneley College principal Christine Stansfield

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John Ferneley principal Christine Stansfield spoke to the Melton Times about her pride for her students and staff who continue to prove what a ‘can do’ approach can achieve.

Q How long have you been in charge at John Ferneley and what do you believe you’ve achieved so far?

A I’ve been involved in the leadership of the college since 2010 and been headteacher for a year now. Since 2010 the college has seen some enormous changes, not least of which is the very successful delivery of GCSE courses. I’m particularly proud of how our teaching team has adapted to deliver for GCSE so successfully. I’m also very proud of our self-evaluation: we know we’re not perfect and are always considering ways to improve. As a result, we’re on an upward journey. I’m also very pleased with our responsiveness to change and flexibility – particularly important in the current educational climate!

Q What do you like about teaching in Melton?

A An easy answer - our students are superb! I really enjoy doing gate duty in the morning and at the end of the day. Nearly every single one of our students says hello! We are a community – so many of our students come to school early each morning to join us for breakfast club, helping to prepare food and clear up at the end. We also run a homework club each evening and a high number of students choose to stay at the end of the day too, to complete independent study and homework.

Q What progress is the school making since setting up the Mowbray Education Trust?

A We’ve been working closely within our family of schools to support each other to improve by running focus weeks. This has given us opportunity to explore the quality of achievement and teaching in schools across the trust. The headteachers also meet regularly to consider ways to improve the educational experience and quality for every students within the trust. It’s excellent to work as part of a team to improve outcomes for young people in this area.

Q What extra curricular activities does the school offer?

A There’s something on every night! Alongside the usual run of sports fixtures, Mr Jacobs – our Sports Ambassador - takes groups of students out regularly to attend national sporting events. This half term also saw a number of students visiting Paris and some more adventurous students and teachers went skiing for a week! We are also planning a trip to New York for some students next year. Every year we run an enrichment week, creating opportunities for students to be involved in a range of activities from camping at Walesby Forest to the Harry Potter studios in London! We also run the Duke of Edinburgh programme each year. We track the range of opportunities each year to ensure that all students have something!

Q What do you think is important for your students?

A Our students need to be able to trust us with their education – and they do. I think this comes about because they know that we put them first. We cultivate a high achievement culture – but also a commitment to offering as many enrichment opportunities as possible. Our students really enjoy feeling that they belong to a community that cares for them. It was so rewarding at Christmas to see so many students involved in Les Miserables – it was also a delight to see the positive impact it had on some students who had joined us quite recently. For me this reflected the school’s inclusive and caring culture. However, if we weren’t delivering great outcomes in terms of results too, this would feel a bit hollow to me. It’s important for students that we offer it all.