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  • Wymondham High School
    Folly Road
    Wymondham
    Norfolk
    NR18 0QT
  • Head: Mr Chris Smith
  • T 01953 602078
  • F 01953 605518
  • E [email protected]
  • W wymondhamhigh.co.uk
  • A state school for boys and girls aged from 11 to 18.
  • Boarding: No
  • Local authority: Norfolk
  • Pupils: 1,698; sixth formers: 400
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Open days: See website
  • Review: View The Good Schools Guide Review
  • Ofsted:
    • Latest Overall effectiveness Good 1
      • 16-19 study programmes Outstanding 2
      • Effectiveness of leadership and management Good 2
    • 1 Short inspection 27th September 2023
    • 2 Full inspection 28th November 2017

    Short inspection reports only give an overall grade; you have to read the report itself to gauge whether the detailed grading from the earlier full inspection still stands.

  • Previous Ofsted grade: Good on 10th July 2013
  • Ofsted report: View the Ofsted report

What says..

A comprehensive in the true sense; aspiration for all pupils with none left behind or held back. Discipline is rigorous, pastoral care well thought out and effective. School well aware that its sheer size could overwhelm a child coming from a tiny rural primary so make sure these children have extra taster days in year 6, usually three. Even the more reticent and reserved child seems to be…

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What the school says...

Welcome to Wymondham High. We feel proud of the high standards reached by all members of our community and our focus is on raising standards and creating opportunities for all our students. Excellent academic achievement, highly committed, well qualified staff and a relentless focus on standards has resulted in a school with an ethos which values success and this is supported by all members of our community, the students, the staff, our parents and governors. The school has good facilities, extensive grounds, almost exclusive use of the local sports centre during school hours and prides itself on the pastoral care of all members of our community.

The Sixth Form has been recognised as outstanding by Ofsted. Oxbridge and University preparation programmes and an enrichment curriculum in addition to an Information, Advice and Guidance officer ensures that all students are supported. Students in the main school are supported by a large Inclusion team on day to day matters regarding their welfare and behaviour. These key personnel know the students well and ensure that the home school link is maintained.

Learning and Teaching are our priority areas and students have targets set which are monitored throughout their time at the school. A friendly yet formal, and traditional yet forward looking ethos underpins the notion that we expect students to enjoy learning and to be prepared to learn and achieve. In return our students expect, quite rightly, to be rewarded and praised for that achievement. We adopt a traditional approach to behaviour and discipline and believe young people perform best when they feel secure.

We also value play as much as work and therefore the extra curricular offering at the school is full and varied and we demonstrate this by opening at 07:30, and having some 50+ clubs and societies running.

I feel proud and privileged to lead such a fine school and would welcome visitors to come and see, first hand, what is on offer here, to meet the students and staff and to feel part of the inclusive community that is Wymondham High.
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What The Good Schools Guide says

Principal

Since January 2023, Chris Smith. Appointed from within the Trust, his second headship. Brought up in Norfolk, studied geography at Leicester and then headed to the ‘real world’ of banking in London. Quickly realised it was not for him and headed back to Norfolk and teaching, ‘which had always been in the back of my mind’. Ambitious despite claiming not to want to be a head, with a great belief in social justice and fairness. A head of year role came quite quickly, followed by head of department and then deputy in 2014. ‘When the head position became vacant I knew that I could not live with someone else doing it.’ Four years as head at Neatherd High led to Wymondham High and a much bigger role.

Wymondham High is seen as a very academic school, in quite an affluent area historically. This is changing slightly with lots of new affordable houses being built locally. The head recognises this and being a huge believer in comprehensive education is working hard to make sure that every child who comes to the school gets the same opportunity. Parents like him and everyone we spoke to said how he had improved communication. ‘Approachable and likable.’ ‘He has good old-fashioned values and seems to realise that he has excellent staff and needs to keep them.’ His weekly newsletters are welcomed and appreciated and parents feel involved. The odd murmur about an appointment from within the Trust but quickly dispelled as he has proved himself. ‘I really like him and he celebrates success – of the school and pupils individually – which I really like.’

He was aware that the changing demographics of the area, reflected in the increase in pupil premium figures and the 12 per cent on free school meals, meant that some pupils would need more support. More pastoral staff have been employed: ‘We need to make sure that every child can access the curriculum, is well supported and reaches their potential.’

Interviewing a head with a black eye was a first for us. ‘It gives me a bit of credibility,’ he said with a wry smile. We should explain it came from boxing training rather than anything more nefarious. He keeps his hand in by teaching year 9s.

Entrance

Non-selective but the school is oversubscribed and families move to Wymondham to guarantee a place. Pupils also come from small rural primaries within a 10-mile radius. An intake of over 260 a year in reception is set to rise dramatically as the school goes from 1610 pupils to 1900 following building work starting in the summer of 2024. School well aware that its sheer size could overwhelm a child coming from a tiny rural primary so makes sure these children have extra taster days in year 6, usually three. ‘Such a simple thing to do but so effective,’ says one grateful parent whose child really benefitted from this.

Sixth form entry requires a minimum of 38 points from GCSEs and minimum entry grades in specific subjects. Sixth form openly academic with health and social care the only vocational subject. A large cohort join the sixth form from other local comprehensives, mainly because of the subjects on offer.

Exit

About half leave after year 11 and head is working hard to retain more pupils. There is stiff competition from a newish sixth form college in Norwich which specialises in maths and sciences, and improved public transport to get there. Others head to more vocational courses at local colleges. Those that stay usually do so because of the strong relationship they have with staff and the large choice of subjects. Some new arrivals attracted by the classics offering.

Forty per cent leave after A levels for Russell Group universities. Two to Oxbridge last year, one American sports scholarship. Apprenticeships encouraged and embraced. Five per cent go straight into work.

Latest results

In 2023, 55 per cent 9-5 in maths and English at GCSE; 27 per cent A*/A at A level (81 per cent A*-C). In 2019 (the last pre-pandemic results), 25 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 73 per cent 9-4 in maths and English. At A level, 23 per cent A*/A (52 per cent A*-B).

Teaching and learning

Surprisingly small classes for such a large school. Average class size of 25 with a maximum of 28 for years 7-11. Between 17 and 21 in sixth form. Parents know this, hence the fight for places. Every student follows the same curriculum and takes at least 10 GCSEs. All of them do the EBacc, the highest uptake in Norfolk. Every child does a language (nearly 15 per cent do two) and all do double science, 50 per cent triple and rising. Maths and science set from year 7. Classics available and Latin to be introduced, currently accessed through a club. The bar is set high and quality teaching keeps it there. Teachers have an hour of CPD training weekly. Fifty per cent of pupils choose art at GCSE and the school’s reputation for this precedes it. Languages popular in the sixth form, with French, German and Spanish guaranteed at A level. A full-time careers counsellor on site.

Parents speak highly of ‘passionate and excellent teachers’: ‘They really do care and get the best out of the students.’ And this seems to bring the best out of the children. Parents choose the school because of its reputation and ‘they offer good access to lots of different subjects, which is vital’. ‘Pupils are given huge opportunities academically and so many of the teachers are really excellent and offer great support.’ Parents were happy that the school communicated well with them and if a child was struggling support was immediately available. They also approved that no nonsense is taken for homework no-shows. Pupils are made to complete it during break and lunchtimes, with immediate detentions if this continues.

‘Bright children can sometimes be forgotten and overlooked in these large schools,’ said one perceptive parent, ‘but not here. They try and be equal to all and by and large, that seems to work.’ Even the quieter child seems to hold their own. ‘My child is respected by their peers despite being unassuming and quiet. They are happy here.’ This is good to hear as it would be easy to get lost in a school of this size. Parents spoke about ‘mentoring schemes and great support’. It would appear to work.

We enjoyed our tour of the school with our enthusiastic young guides dressed in hi-vis vests, which was a first for us. It was interesting though that they did not always recognise pupils from different year groups, sometimes even their own – a reflection on the size of the place rather than a criticism. It was noticeable that staff were friendly and pupils more than happy to chat to us and show off their work. Staff also wore hi-vis when they left the classroom. This seemed quite bizarre but they are then easy to spot, particularly at lesson changeovers and breaks, when a one-way system did not always seem to be strictly adhered to. Year 10s were quietly getting on with a geography lesson; the allotment was noted, as was the ‘sauna room’ for social sciences; and year 7 were enjoying a physics practical with a chatty teacher, all in their safety goggles and delighted to show us their experiment. The main part of the school is built around a quad, with designated subject areas and a separate area for the sixth form.

The school keeps in close touch with parents and academic action points are flagged. ‘They keep track of the children and problems are picked up quickly.’ ‘The teachers have academic aspirations for their pupils so maximise their potential. They know when and how to apply pressure when it is needed.’

We must point out that our tour was after a break and there was barely any rubbish left lying about – just two lone crisp packets. Excellent.

Learning support and SEN

A total of 129 pupils are registered with SEND for dyslexia, communication and interaction challenges, cognition and learning, emotional, social and mental health and sensory/physical needs and the rest, with 334 on an intervention list being supported for possible SEND. There is a wide range of supports available for those that need it including extra lessons and one-to-one. A new SENCo has been appointed since the head’s arrival and TAs are used more effectively, ‘layered’ throughout the school, meaning you can’t always spot which child is getting the most support – a good thing. Extra help available out of lessons for those that need it, usually in small groups. Strong emphasis on raising literacy levels with a six-week programme for some. All parents spoke highly of the extra support on offer and how it was delivered. ‘My child has had lots of support from the school, from the head down, and at times this has meant a lot of extra work for them,’ said one grateful parent. ‘I really appreciated that.’

Gifted and talented invited to join debating society and have successfully competed against local independents. ‘We keep a keen eye on these children too and make sure they are able to flourish,’ says the head.

For 90 children, English is not their first language, and this number has risen in recent years; first languages range from African dialects to Ukrainian and eastern European. Different levels of support available depending on need. Tablets are provided ‘and then we wean them off them as they become more proficient’.

The arts and extracurricular

Les Misérables is the latest all-school production with plenty of opportunities on and off stage. Parents spoke of new staff in the music department ‘who had transformed it’. Orchestras, bands and choirs are active. Wymondham High is renowned for its art locally and we can see why, it was impressive. They hold an annual exhibition in Norwich open to the public and well attended.

A plethora of clubs and societies: chess, Lego, Latin, knitting and Warhammer were a few that got a mention. Parents said, ‘The opportunities available are incredible and pupils are encouraged to make the most of them – everyone gets to have a go.’ Lots of school trips, including classics to Pompeii and Naples. The odd parent said that the school was slow to react when it came to external opportunities such as work experience: ‘It seems to take forever for checks to be done which isn’t good enough.’

Wymondham High is the largest provider of DofE in the county with over 100 year 9s taking part every year warranting a full time coordinator. Fifteen did gold in 2023. One parent noted that ‘children are expected to aim for gold’.

Sport

Sport is important here and it’s good to see it’s still on the timetable for sixth formers: ‘We insist on it.’ Lots of teams, including rugby and football for girls and boys; no mixed teams as yet. They make good use of the rugby club up the road as well as the leisure centre right next door, including the swimming pool. The PE department is successful. School is the Norfolk schools’ RFU county cup holder, and there’s plenty of silverware for the boys’ football teams; not so much for the girls’. A wide variety of sports to choose from including table tennis. We got the impression from our guides that even the less sporty got a chance to shine. ‘We chose the school because of the sport as well as its academic reputation,’ one parent told us. Lots of pitches and plenty of space.

Ethos and heritage

Wymondham High sits in the middle of the town on a 24-acre site. At one point it appears to have been a girls’ school, then a boys’ but always non-selective in its 100-year history. It’s not architecturally interesting or attractive but it is very well maintained, clean and tidy, and the pupils here are lucky as they have plenty of room to spread out. Built around a quad, it has been added to extensively over the years, with another major extension planned in 2024 to include a new sports hall, AstroTurf and facilities for IT, DT and food tech. This will enable numbers to increase quite dramatically to 1900. The school has a good academic reputation in the county. Since the head’s arrival he has worked hard on creating closer ties with the town. ‘We want to be seen as an asset to the town.’

‘The general happiness and manners of the pupils, and staff too, is vital,’ says Mr Smith. He has worked hard on this ‘from the bottom up’. ‘Good old-fashioned values are important including good manners. School is the perfect place for pupils to practise talking to adults. They can rehearse here.’ He’s right and it’s working. We were greeted with smiles from everyone wherever we went. ‘The school’s values are responsibility, determination and humility,’ says the head. ‘They cover what we want; work hard and be nice to each other.’

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

The school has a reputation for good pastoral care and the head has doubled down on this since his appointment. Since his appointment he has added two wellbeing huts where all pupils can go for some quiet and advice. There is also a new sensory room accessible to 25 students who are contracted to use it. There is a real and growing need for mental health provision but the head is aware that they also need to be conscious of those who are ‘weaponising’ it – a very wise man. Appropriate support is available for those that need it, ‘but we can’t offer a full social care and mental health service’.

All parents were happy with pastoral care and noted that ‘tutor time every morning helps and I’m confident that my child’s tutor knows them well’. Another parent was not so impressed with their child’s tutor, but said that approaching ‘the assistant head and team leaders got a good response’. ‘The school offers a good supportive environment both academically and pastorally.’

Discipline in a school of this size has to be robust, and it would appear it is. ‘We have rules and follow them. We take a firm line and a quick response. We have same day detentions; it is done and then it’s over.’ Head not frightened to exclude; three since his arrival ‘in line with national figures’. Phone policy is strict. They are out of sight and turned off during the school day. Teachers confiscate (jewellery too) and the parent then has to collect the phone. We were in reception when one parent was doing this, completely accepting and apologetic. Bullying is mainly online and off school premises but dealt with firmly, quickly and fairly. All parents spoke about discipline; some were more positive about it than others but all agreed it was effective. The odd one complained about ‘more disruptive behaviour lower down the school but it is mainly dealt with effectively’. They were sympathetic: ‘I like their old-fashioned values and the discipline here is as good as it can be.’ ‘Sadly it’s a marker of society and they make the best of it,’ said one philosopher. Overall parental views on pastoral care and discipline are very positive.

Pupils and parents

Parents are mainly well educated and aspirational, with high expectations of the school. They want the very best for their child and are not frightened to push for it. ‘They keep us on our toes,’ said the head, ‘which is a good thing.’ Many have moved to get a place and many more have appealed to get in. Wymondham College, a state boarding school with an equally impressive reputation, is just outside the town so there is a lot of competition for places at both schools. Many parents who had initially set their heart on Wymondham College quickly change their mind after visiting the High. ‘We were really impressed by the staff and children. It initially wasn’t our first choice but after our visit it most definitely was.’ Less aspirational and ambitious parents appear to buy into the ethos quite quickly.

Pupils are survivors here, in the best way. They learn to cope in a large institution and can hold their own and make themselves heard. They appear to adhere to the principles of the school and are more sophisticated and streetwise than you might expect in rural Norfolk.

The last word

Wymondham High is large and getting larger so the head is very aware he needs to keep the academic attainment and pastoral care on track. Pupils do not appear to be overlooked here, despite the size, and seem a happy, ambitious bunch. We love the phone policy and parents’ positivity. ‘Every day I think how lucky we were to get our child a place.’

Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

Who came from where

Who goes where

Special Education Needs

Wymondham High School puts pupils and students at the heart of the learning process to provide a safe and secure learning environment in which individuals are guided and supported to achieve their potential. The school ensures that all pupils and students are appropriately supported by teaching assistant, learning mentors and key workers. The school promotes positive attitudes towards all pupils and students with special and additional educational needs.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia Y
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia Y
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty Y
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability Y
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
PD - Physical Disability Y
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health Y
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication Y
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty Y
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
VI - Visual Impairment Y

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

Further reading

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.

The 'hotter' the colour the more children have been admitted.

Children get into the school from here:

regularly
most years
quite often
infrequently
sometimes, but not in this year


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