Alexandra Park School A GSG School
- Alexandra Park School
- T 020 8826 4880
- F 020 8888 2236
- E firstname.lastname@example.org
- W www.apsch.org.uk
- A mainstream state school for pupils aged from 11 to 18
- Boarding: No
- Local authority: Haringey
- Pupils: 1430
- Religion: Non-denominational
- Review: View the Good Schools Guide Review
- Current Ofsted grade: Outstanding on 16th November 2011
- Previous Ofsted grade: Good on 3rd May 2007
- Ofsted report: View the Ofsted report
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What the Good Schools Guide says...
Motto is ‘success for all‘ and the school pulls off the very tricky achievement of being a successful London comprehensive welcoming the full range of abilities and social spectrum. ‘Unlike other schools round here, it doesn’t pick and choose. It’s very inclusive,’ said one parent. The intake may be a...
What the school says...
Alexandra Park School is a thriving and dynamic comprehensive school which boasts excellent examination results and an outstanding curriculum experience in both the main school and the sixth form. The school is situated on a beautiful five-acre site adjacent to Durnsford Park within sight of Alexandra Palace. Now entering our thirteenth year since opening the school has expanded to meet growing demand for places. In October 2011 we were successful in our application for Academy Status.
Overall school performance (for comparison or review only)
Results by exam and subject
Good Schools Guide review
Since 2008, Mr Michael McKenzie MSc PGCE (early 40s). Educated at a comprehensive in Birmingham, he read chemistry at Nottingham, then did his teacher training at The Institute of Education. Head of year at William Ellis School in Camden, head of sixth form at LaSwap, followed by deputy and associate head at Beal High School in Redbridge. Familiar and comfortable with the school's ethos before he applied, as the founding head had been his teaching mentor. Finds his pupils ‘very entertaining, thoroughly enjoyable' and they (and their parents) feel he is a relaxed and positive addition. ‘He’s always about and knows a lot of the kids by name. He’s very on the ball,’ said one mother.
Alexandra Park’s motto is ‘success for all' and the school pulls off the very tricky achievement of being a successful London comprehensive welcoming the full range of abilities and social spectrum. ‘Unlike other schools round here, it doesn’t pick and choose. It’s very inclusive,’ said one parent. The intake may be all-encompassing but the academic values remain traditional. ‘We don’t play any games with the curriculum,’ says the head, and the school is notably strong on core subjects. 2015 results at GCSE: 77 per cent got 5+ A*-C including English and maths, with 40 per cent of grades A*/A. Most pupils take 10, including all three sciences. Spanish, French and Mandarin standard languages with Turkish also an exam option for GCSE and A level. Classics also a popular option with more than 120 pupils studying this at GCSE and A level.
Has specialist status as a science and maths school and an international school. More than 200 students last year had the opportunity of studying in partner schools in France, Spain, South Africa and China. Mandarin on the curriculum here and is more than token - students can spend time on an immersion course in Beijing, with 30 studying the language pre-GCSE, a dozen or so in the sixth form.
A National Teaching School, indicating the importance the school places on appointing the best practitioners and ensuring they receive the latest training.
Some setting from year 7, depending on the department head - so maths and science are setted, English is not. Arts and media studies - unsurprisingly in this heartland of the media classes - are notably good so, to counterbalance the trend, has opted for a specialism in science and maths, with a dramatic upswing in results. Good vocational curriculum, with BTecs in sport, business, art, salon services and catering, some taught at the College of North East London. ‘It means children who might have been less engaged have something positive and interesting to do, and those taking academic exams have the space to focus,’ said one parent.
Strong gifted and talented programme - pupils take early exams in maths, statistics, astronomy and classics. Also notable SEN support under dynamic head of special needs, with additional support in year 7 for those who've not yet achieved the requisite level in maths and English. Some parents, however, feel the extreme ends attract the bulk of attention: 'I think it would be quite difficult to get support if your kids come in the middle,' said one. 'You have to be very proactive.'
Popular sixth form - in 2015, a creditable 38 per cent A*/A grades and 66 per cent A*-B grades at A level; 32 subjects on offer - strongest include English, French, physics and ‘a really happening’ history department.
Games, Options, the Arts
Busy, busy, busy. Specialist music and drama with a media suite and dance on offer. Last year's huge, all-encompassing drama production of The Wiz attracted a cast of 260 kids and staff. Energetic visual arts with A levels in photography, art and product design, plus a creative and media diploma for those wishing to work on large-scale projects. Both BTec and A level music. School choir, with an international schedule. Trips a big feature, with 116 different excursions last year, including a three-week exchange to Beijing, geography in Iceland, French in the south of France, art in Madrid, politics in Washington and design in New York.
Though relatively limited on-site space for sport, games spill over into adjoining Dunsford Park and plenty of variety to suit all tastes. Basketball, football (Newcastle United striker Nile Ranger used to star in the APS team), cricket and netball are main sports, but judo, aerobics, tennis, badminton, wrestling, rugby and golf also part of the offering (aspiring Nick Faldos can daydream their hole-in-ones gazing out from the classroom onto Muswell Hill golf course). Online student newspaper. Eclectic range of after-school clubs includes knitting, astronomy, fashion, pursuit cycling and cheerleading. 'Kids come up with the ideas,' says the head. Good careers advice with visits to universities and higher educational conferences. State-of-the-art sixth form centre, with study centre and purpose-built social space.
Background and Atmosphere
Local parents lobbied the local authority to create a new school in the area and APS was eventually founded in 1999 on the site of a former FE college. A relatively constricted site, which feels more spacious due to the surrounding greenery of Muswell Hill golf course and Durnsford Park. The original mix of pleasant brick buildings, some from the 1950s, some from the 1980s, have been joined by a sleek modern extension (winner of a 2006 Civic Trust Award) and the sixth form centre.
Parents unanimous on the remarkably welcoming atmosphere - 'Everyone from the lady on the gate who checks uniform to the school receptionist makes you feel at home'. Even the police officer seeing kids onto after-school buses does it with a smile. Parents also enthuse about the school's multi-culturalism and inclusiveness ('They really try to be for everybody') and genuine concern ('It's far more nurturing than some of the other local comprehensives'). But concern is not cosseting - 'My children came from quite a sheltered primary school, but I feel they've learnt to cope with life here and to cope with London'.
Pastoral care, well-being and discipline
Traditional values apply. ‘Kids need firm boundaries and it’s important for the school to set them,’ says the head. ‘We expect them to be at school, on time, in uniform, ready to work.’ Smart red, grey and black kit is strictly enforced. ‘There used to be a gang who wore their uniform in a special way and that’s now all ended,’ said one parent approvingly. Behaviour in general is good and school hopes to keep it that way by instilling a sense of responsibility. ‘We’re training pupils to choose to do the right thing.’ Misdemeanours promptly and firmly dealt with - 'When my son got into a fight, there was absolutely no messing. They threw the rulebook at him’. Drugs not a notable issue. ‘It’s bizarre’ says the head, 'at a previous school we had an incident every week. Here perhaps they’re more savvy - or more mature.' Weapons, too, conspicuously absent.
Year 7 has its own ‘transition manager’. Pupils remain in the same tutor groups for five years with a director of studies for each year. Also supported by learning mentors and counsellors. About 40 pupils with statements of special needs have mainly cognitive rather than behavioural difficulties and the school copes well with autism, Asperger’s and Down's. Communication between parents and school clearly a strong point - ‘All my emails, however trivial, get answered promptly’.
Pupils and Parents
Wide social spread, from the comfortable middle-class suburbs near the gates to some of the most deprived kids in the country - ‘a high proportion on the cusp of social needs’. Middle classes tend to dominate the PTA, which runs endless jumble sales and bazaars and is strongly involved in the day-to-day running of the school, but the kids themselves mix well. Very supportive parents - ‘Parents helped set it up and want to make it work’. The school’s popularity has reduced the catchment and the launch of another new school to the east is likely to make the intake more socially homogenous.
Around 1500 applications for 216 places. Usual priority to looked-after children, those with statements of special needs and siblings, then distance from the gates, which is now less than a mile. A bulge from adjoining high-achieving primary Rhodes Avenue, as well as from Bounds Green, Our Lady of Muswell, Bowes, Coldfall and Hollickwood.
Majority of existing pupils continue into sixth form. Sixth form of 340; 80 per cent come up from year 11, the rest from other local schools. Open access, provided courses are available and attendance and attitude good enough. External applicants for A levels should have at least five GCSEs A*-C, with Bs in A level subject choice.
Some 30 per cent leave after GCSEs. In sixth form majority apply to university; popular destinations include Oxbridge, Edinburgh, Bristol, Bath, Imperial, King's College London, UCL, LSE and Manchester.
Training school and academy trust status bring in extra funding.
A notably welcoming place for children (and adults) from a large swathe of the borough. Not an academic pressure cooker but a school with high standards for all.
Special Education Needs
The school provides support for a large number of children with Statements of Special Educational Need as well as students at school action and school action plus. We support students with a wide range of need including ASD, Speech, Language and Communication, Down's Syndrome, SpLD and general learning difficulties. Certain members of the Department have particular qualifications and experience in Speech and Language Impairment. The departmental team consists of teachers, Learning Mentors and a large number of Teaching Assistants. In addition, we have specialist TA's with responsibility for Literacy, Numeracy and Year 7 Transition whose work is co-ordinated by a Lead Teaching Assistant. Students are assessed on entry to school and using this baseline data may be allocated additional support with literacy and numeracy, on a withdrawal basis. This support is in addition to the in-class support provided by TA's and Learning Mentors. All Statemented students have a Key teacher and TA who are both responsible for giving support to students and parents, liaising with other teaching staff and meetings with parents.
|Condition||Provision for in school|
|ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder||Y|
|Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders||Y|
|BESD - Behaviour, Emotional and Social Difficulty|
|CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia|
|English as an additional language (EAL)|
|Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory|
|Has SEN unit or class|
|HI - Hearing Impairment|
|MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty|
|MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment|
|Natspec Specialist Colleges|
|Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty|
|PD - Physical Disability|
|PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty|
|SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication|
|SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty|
|Special facilities for Visually Impaired|
Interpreting catchment maps
The maps show in colour where the pupils at a school came from*. Red = most pupils to Blue = fewest.
Where the map is not coloured we have no record in the previous three years of any pupils being admitted from that location based on the options chosen.
For help and explanation of our catchment maps see: Catchment maps explained
If there are more applicants to a school than it has places for, who gets in is determined by which applicants best fulfil the admissions criteria.
Admissions criteria are often complicated, and may change from year to year. The best source of information is usually the relevant local authority website, but once you have set your sights on a school it is a good idea to ask them how they see things panning out for the year that you are interested in.
Many schools admit children based on distance from the school or a fixed catchment area. For such schools, the cut-off distance will vary from year to year, especially if the school give priority to siblings, and the pattern will be of a central core with outliers (who will mostly be siblings). Schools that admit on the basis of academic or religious selection will have a much more scattered pattern.
*The coloured areas outlined in black are Census Output Areas. These are made up of a group of neighbouring postcodes, which accounts for their odd shapes. These provide an indication, but not a precise map, of the school’s catchment: always refer to local authority and school websites for precise information.
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