The changes that transformed school from failing to become Doncaster’s top rated academy
Nearly 14 years ago, Rossington All Saints School was put in special measures.
By the start of 2007, it was out of that category and on the up, after the numbers of pupils getting five or more GCSEs at grade C or higher doubled in 2006 compared to the previous year.
Now, the school in a former mining town which has seen some of the worst deprivation in the country, is the best in Doncaster in league tables.
That is the based on the value added measure, although even using the portion of pupils getting top grades in English and maths, it is still in the top three, with only the traditionally successful Hayfield and Hungerhill schools performing better.
Its journey to the top has seen it initially become a church school, when the Church of England made it their only secondary school in South Yorkshire; and then an academy run by the Delta Schools Trust.
The church is still involved and has a place on the governors. Pupils attend a Christmas service by the Vicar of Rossington, and there is a collective worship each week.
The current headteacher, Rob Burton, started his teaching career at Rossington as a newly qualified teacher, before returning again in senior management.
He said he was proud to see his school, which has a large number of pupils from deprived backgrounds, so high in the performance tables
“I remember when we were in special measures and not where we needed to be. To see where we are now is wonderful. It’s taken time. It can always be better but what we have now is a school that Rossington and the wider community can be proud of. When I first started teaching, people did not talk about Hayfield and Rossington in the same breath. Now they can.
“But is not a competition. For me it is about this school having come a long way.
He said: “I think we’ve got really good teachers here and that is the key to success – quality teaching in the classroom, and managing to retain those teachers. You can look for lots of different reasons but if you haven’t got the right staff in front of the pupils, it will be difficult.”
Mr Burton started at the school in 2004, as a PE teacher, playing a role in getting the school out of special measures and its subsequent success, leaving in 2012 for a senior role elsewhere. He returned in 2017.
He said: “Rossington High School was in an old building, so it moved to a new one. It was here when the school had its first good judgement from Ofsted.
“I think the biggest change has been in the teaching, and a system and structures that everyone can follow.
“We have now had a house system in place for a while, and that means people can be in a tutor group with pupils of different ages. I think that has helped create a community feel.
“The two heads prior to me, Jamie Lawler, and Alan Warboys, had started a relentless drive for things to be better.
“Some of the things we are doing now come from their time are from that and a wider community engagement.
“We are also growing as a school, with numbers of pupils increasing. We currently have 701 on roll.
“But this is the first year that we have had to apply admissions criteria. This year, the year seven cohort was oversubscribed, so there were not enough places.
“We have said to the local authority that obviously we’d love to take more, so we are looking at what we can do at the moment, but it is about the capacity of the school.
“It is the first time we’ve been oversubscribed.”
Interest in the school is at record levels. In October, Mr Burton had to run two presentations for prospective pupils and their families to fit everyone in.
Pupils are wanting to come from beyond the Rossington community with applications from leafy areas including Tickhill, Bawtry, Auckley and Cantley.
There are proposals to create a joint sixth form in Doncaster town centre for all the Delta schools. Rossington would be one of the schools that fed that college.
But Mr Burton would like to keep the Rossington sports college at the school.
He said: “The sports facilities here are used by the school during the day, and by the community in the evenings and weekends. We are running apprenticeships with the Doncaster Cultural and Leisure Trust, the organisation which runs the Dome, which are going from strength to strength, with Rossington growing as a community.
“That is something we would like to keep going.”
The school is involved in campaigning too. Pupils raise money for the Children’s Air Ambulance, which is based at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
The school is also working to raise awareness of the environmental dangers of single use plastic items. It has brought in Plastic Free Fridays, were no single use plastic bottles, forks or other containers are used.
They sell re-usable bottles to pupils, and are looking to create a re-hydration station for pupils to fill up on water.