Driffield NewsNEWS

Driffield School headteacher believes she has ‘the best job’

In a role she is passionate about, Driffield School & Sixth Form headteacher Vicky Loftus said she has high aspirations for the school and wants every student to fulfil their potential having made happy memories, built positive relationships and achieved great results.

Several months into her new role, reporter Debbie Sutton caught up with Mrs Loftus to chat about how she has settled into the role and what her ambitions are for the school moving forwards.

Having worked at Driffield School since 2016, Mrs Loftus has hit the ground running and continues to build on the work to improve standards begun by her predecessor Scott Ratheram.

Mrs Loftus started as a teacher of English at South Hunsley School and then became director of English there in 2013.

In 2016, she became Education Alliance Trust director of English and began working with colleagues at Driffield School & Sixth Form. Two years later, she was promoted to assistant headteacher and full-time member of the leadership team at Driffield.

Within a year she took on the post of deputy headteacher for curriculum and standards, which saw her work closely with subject leaders to develop the curriculum and standards of teaching across the school.

She said the role of headteacher is one she loves and she is proud to be leading the school through the next stage of its exciting journey.

“I went into education because I want to make a difference to people’s lives and teaching is the best job there is,” she said.

“To be in a position where you can implement your vision and support all staff, which in turn helps approximately 1,400 students, is amazing and one I love.

“I had worked as Scott’s deputy for four-and-a-half years and so I was in a position where I had been a key stakeholder in the school improvement planning and so I am massively invested and believe in what we have set out to achieve and I see my role as continuing to build on that.”

It’s been a busy few months, as the school works hard to prepare its students for the upcoming exams and Mrs Loftus said she is proud of the way the school supports and encourages its students to achieve their full potential.

“I am proud of what the staff and students continue to achieve,” she continued. “Watching the We Will Rock You performance gave me goosebumps and shone a light on the incredible talent we have in the school.

“We recently held a Steps to Success event for our Year 11 students and their families and to see the room so full of students who want to succeed shows this school is making a real difference to these children.”

She added that the school has made real progress in improving its extra-curricular provision with over 500 students accessing more than 15 different clubs so far this academic year.

Preparing the new Year 7 cohort for their transition from primary school is also progressing well with new innovative transition activities taking place, including music concerts and a Spanish afternoon, where students had the opportunity to create tapas menus and try some traditional Spanish tapas.

Earlier this month, the achievements and successes of the current Year 7 were celebrated with certificates presented by form tutors, and certificates for students demonstrating the cornerstones values of care, respect, responsibility and perseverance, as well as student of the year awards.

Mrs Loftus added: “I have loved meeting and having conversations with students and celebrating their successes such as when the panathlon winners had a breakfast meeting with me and we have student voice where our students tell us what changes they would like to see.”

In the wake of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school continues to work hard with families to stress the importance that good attendance has on students achieving their potential. Evidence suggests that students with high attendance make significantly more progress than those with low attendance.

The school continues to effectively support its students’ wellbeing and is in the extremely fortunate position to benefit from the TEAL Be Well programme. This programme provides emotional and wellbeing support for students, parents and staff, in addition to what schools are normally able to offer, and Sally Mulligan from Hull and East Yorkshire Mind is on site two days a week to support students’ mental health.

Workshops have been offered to Year 11 about how to deal with exam stress and students in Years 11 and 13 are being offered further support in preparing for their exams through motivational days and evenings.

During the Year 11 Steps to Success event, students were given revision materials and shown how to use them; all Year 11 and 13 students have been given £50 worth of revision materials and a rigorous revision timetable of lunchtime and after school revision classes is being delivered to help consolidate the learning in the classroom.

Mrs Loftus added: “I can’t thank the teachers enough for giving up their time to run the revision classes. They do it because they are invested in the students and they want them to do well.

“We have a great staff body who all work together as one team and thanks to being part of the Education Alliance, staff retention is excellent as there are opportunities for promotion and development within both the school and the wider trust.”

“When we do have opportunities to fill, we have good strong fields of candidates because people are hearing great things about the ethos and values of the school and want to come and work here.”

Mrs Loftus believes Driffield School & Sixth Form has an important role to play in the local community.

“I see the school’s role as very important because we are responsible for the young people in our community and we want to develop young people who go on to have successful lives and are responsible citizens. Our APEX curriculum is designed to develop our students into thoughtful, responsible and informed members of the community who are prepared for life beyond school.”

Looking forwards, Mrs Loftus said she wants to build on the solid foundations and continue to improve the school in the coming years.

“We are a good school, Ofsted said we are a good school in 2020, but I want us to be an amazing school and continue on our upward trajectory and see results reflect that,” she said.

“I want us to be the school that staff from partner schools come to learn from to embed our practice into their own settings.

“We have made some changes to our curriculum and have put interventions in place to support students early in Key Stage 3. For example, we have appointed a Key Stage 2 phonics specialist to help develop literacy levels in our younger students so they can effectively access the curriculum. We have also introduced guided reading sessions during registration where our Teaching Assistants and sixth formers listen to younger students read and this is improving reading ages and helping to ensure that every student can access an ambitious curriculum.

“We consistently monitor and evaluate what we are doing and everyone is involved and moving in the right direction.

“Above all, I want happy students and happy staff. I would like students to leave us with school being the best days of their lives because they have great memories, great results and have built brilliant relationships with friends and teachers.

“I want all of our students to know that every door is open to them and their opportunities are endless because they have done the best they possibly can.

“And I want our students to have high aspirations and know they can go on and do great things and that we will be here to guide and support them in doing that.”

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