Advertisement feature: Bilton - a school reborn

Excellent  new Headteacher, Tim Chambers
Excellent new Headteacher, Tim Chambers

Bilton School is celebrating after going from ‘special measures’ to producing record GCSE results in just three years.

Headteacher Tim Chambers has spent the past year overseeing the remarkable transformation and has promised staff, parents and pupils there is still “much more to come”.

Mr Chambers, in his first role as a head, has been instrumental in carrying forward the work of the Stowe Valley Multi Academy Trust, which was drafted in to help by the Department of Education in 2017.

Ofsted put Bilton School into special measures after an inspection in 2016.

Results and self-esteem were at an all-time low.

But following the “wraparound care and support” from both Southam College and the Trust, Bilton School is now firing on all cylinders.

“Pupils love to learn and they are taking great pride in the school and its environment,” said Mr Chambers, who took over at Easter 2018.

“They are now proud to wear the Bilton uniform and this summer achieved outstanding improvements at both GCSE and A level.

“One of the benefits of this has been a threefold increase in the numbers of students staying on into our Sixth Form.”

Year 11 student Sophie-Louise Brand said: “In the past few years Bilton has seen a massive change in its ethos and the attitudes of the students.

“The most notable thing is the new headteacher, Mr Chambers, who was the last in a series of amazing changes.”

Year 12 student Ben Amos-Simpson added: “Bilton has become a warmer, welcoming school.”

Since Mr Chambers – described as “an excellent head” by the Trust – arrived there have been steady incremental improvements in all areas of the school.

He said there was “still a lot more to come” as a result of the continual refinement of methods and processes.

Particular areas of pride for the school include the sporting facilities – it still has a full complement of onsite rugby, football and hockey pitches, along with a fully-equipped gym – the innovative library and creative studios.

Possibly the most important change over the past two years has been the perception of potential new teachers.

“We used to find it very difficult to recruit,” said Mr Chambers. “But now excellent teachers are approaching us because they want to work here.”

Em McChleery, who recently joined the staffroom, said: “I love working at this school. I couldn’t be more proud of how hard the students and staff worked this year to achieve Bilton’s best ever GCSE results.”

Laura Parker, mother of a Year 9 student, couldn’t agree more.

She said: “I feel confident that my child is in a great school with so many positive hardworking and dedicated staff.”

How we are working to make Bilton great

By Ranjit Samra, Chief Executive Officer, Stowe Valley Multi Academy Trust and Headteacher of Southam College

When Bilton School fell into ‘special measures’ three years ago pupils, parents and staff must have felt they had hit rock bottom.

Ofsted inspectors had given them the lowest possible rating, along with all the stigma and reputational damage that goes with it.

The Department of Education quickly realised this 1,000-pupil secondary school was going to need a lot of support and care to get it back on its feet – and give the children the quality education they deserved.

The DFE turned to my school – Southam College – and asked us to support Bilton with a view to bringing it into the multi academy trust we were in the process of setting up. The students and staff needed to believe in themselves again.

So, in the summer of 2017 we set about transforming Bilton School with quick, decisive action.

We appointed an interim Headteacher – Mel Mason – who passionately implemented many of the strategies that proved so successful at Southam College. She was hugely respected by staff.

We set about putting into place clear boundaries for students’ behaviour, school uniform and shared best practice between Southam and Bilton.

New reporting procedures were created, communication with parents was improved and we made massive positive changes to the school environment. The Trust invested hundreds of thousands of pounds into Bilton because that’s what the students and staff deserved.

Lots of people from both schools worked incredibly hard to bring about a positive ethos into the school.

After achieving incremental increases in performance a new Headteacher – Tim Chambers – was appointed from Easter 2018.

In his first headship, Tim quickly got into his stride. He implemented further curriculum changes and refined behaviour systems.

From September 2018 dynamic tweaks were made to senior leadership responsibilities to focus on raising achievement.

There was ongoing support from the Trust through weekly mentoring sessions with the Headteacher, and Heads of English and Maths.

By August this year Bilton School had made outstanding improvements in GCSE results, attendance and behaviour. As a result we now have a school everyone can be proud of. The children and parents want to come to Bilton as they know they have the support to chart their future career paths with confidence.

Once it was difficult for Bilton School to recruit. Now, excellent teachers want to come and work here – they have risen to the challenge.

As a Trust we are proud of what we’ve achieved, but there is more to come from this great school. This community deserves an outstanding school and we are determined to make this happen.