BBC News School Report
Students from this school will be making the news for real on 16 March 2017 as they take part in BBC News School Report. We aim to publish the news by 1600 GMT on News Day, so please save this page as a favourite and return to it later.
Changes to funding for schools
Head teacher, Miss Beer, and Business Manager, Mr Webb, recently visited Nick Gibb MP, the Minister of State for Schools to discuss funding changes in East Sussex and convey the impact it will have on students.
In an interview Miss Beer explained that she "welcomed a new funding formula" that aimed to create fairness. However, her main concerns were about the impact of all the other expenses schools were expected to pay for.
On-costs including National Insurance contributions, teachers' pensions and the apprenticeship levy mean that although Willingdon Community School will receive a small increase in funds, this will actually create a deficit of 1 million pounds in five years. This means increases to class sizes, reductions to GCSE options, lack of resources and effects on the well-being of teachers.
East Sussex schools have organised the #FlatCashEd twitter campaign to highlight the financial difficulties schools are facing.
Local MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, Caroline Ansell, in a statement to BBC News School reporters said:
“As Eastbourne and Willingdon MP, I have urged the Government to find more money for East Sussex schools.
I have been working behind the scenes organising meetings with local head-teachers and education ministers to try and persuade Whitehall to recognise the 8% on average reduction in school budgets in real terms.
As a former teacher, I am acutely aware of the pressures head-teachers are under and I will continue to work with them and ministers to ensure this is heard at the highest level.”
(Photos - BBC News School Reporters interviewing Headteacher, Miss Emily Beer / Caroline Ansell MP with Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education)
School Curriculum Changes
Willingdon Community School is changing their school curriculum for the first time.
At GCSE, students will now study three options instead of four. Ms Walters, Assistant Headteacher in charge of curriculum, in response to recent government changes at GCSE level, has decided to change the curriculum to ensure current Year 9s at Willingdon Community School are able to use their different strengths and talents. Ms Walters made sure that students had a say in this by conducting two student surveys to make sure students have their GCSE needs met. Additionally, more GCSE subjects have been added, that were requested by students, to increase the range of subjects available.
(Photo - BBC News School Reporter with Assistant Headteacher Ms Walters)
Restriction of mobile phones in-between lessons
Mobile phone use across East Sussex is slowly becoming more restricted throughout schools as social media is side tracking students before lessons and students are failing to concentrate clearly. At Willingdon Community School the Headteacher, Miss Beer and Deputy Headteacher and Designated Safeguarding Lead, Mrs Dixon, have restricted phones between lessons. As a result, they’ve found students have more concentration before lessons and assessments. BBC News School Reporters interviewed Mr Roche, IT teacher. He stated: “The internet can be fantastic for applications such Show My Homework but it can also have negative effects inside and outside the classroom. It needs to be used sensibly.”
(Photo - BBC News School Reporters interviewing IT teacher Mr Roche)
Professor Keith Topping Interviewed
A recent report shows that the reading habits of students in secondary school have stagnated and stayed at the same level despite students' ages increasing. Keith Topping, Professor of Educational and Social Research at the University of Dundee, in his latest study 2017 What Kids Are Reading researched the reading habits of nearly 850,000 students. He discovered that the reading ages of children at secondary school were not improving in line with their chronological age. This means that many students in Year 9 are still reading texts, such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, that they were reading in Year 3. Therefore, the level of challenge in their reading is at a minimal level. Professor Topping's report provides many challenges to secondary schools and government about how to improve this situation.
(Photo - Professor Keith Topping, University of Dundee)
Should British Sign Language Be Taught in Schools?
A recent BBC news article discussed the issue of whether British Sign Language should be taught in schools. In an interview with BBC News School Reporters, Mr Hetherington, Head of Hearing Support Facility at Willingdon Community School, stated: "My service has contact with parents from the moment a baby is diagnosed as hearing impaired. We therefore support families in sign language from day one". He suggested that it would be useful to teach British Sign Language in schools where it is needed and wherever there are children who need to be supported.
(Photo - Mr Hetherington, Head of HSF)
Author Visits Willingdon
Author of The Compassion Prize series, Katy Hollway, came to the school library to discuss her books and her inspirations as a writer.
She ran two sessions: a lunchtime Meet the Author session where students could ask questions and a writing workshop attended by two Year 9 classes. During lunchtime, Katy presented two prizes to students for their thoughtful entries to an article writing competition. Students needed to write a response to the strapline to the second novel in the series entitled The Compassion Gift: “What if you didn’t make the good choice, but made the right choice instead?"
(Photo - Author, Katy Hollway, leads a Meet the Author event in the school library)