Dear Parents/ Carers,

Welcome to the website of Redbridge Community School and I hope there is a variety of information to provide a sense of what school life is like at Redbridge!

So, I would like the opening page to be free of ‘school speak’ and the use of education management words, so you get a sense of what makes it authentic and real, and true to what we believe – so here goes…

As the headteacher, I love Redbridge – the students, the staff and the community we serve, which probably explains why I have been here for over 10 years. Education and learning did not come easy for me, often in middle sets, but I knew education was the ‘ticket’ to more choice over the future I wanted. I am not ashamed to say I am proud to come from a working class family, with many years living on a council estate. My father was an excellent carpenter and joiner, though struggled with his reading. Suffice to say with grit, determination and hard work I became the first person in my family to go to university and then to qualify as a teacher, and then a headteacher, combined with 3 years military service. So why does this matter?

Well, if I had great teachers in a good school, who believed in me and gave me a sense of purpose, why shouldn’t your children have that? If my education was good enough for me, it’s certainly good enough for your son or daughter. Redbridge has to offer the best, we do not compromise or make excuses about why our students cannot be the best. This is not offered to undermine students or parents, but to demonstrate our faith, trust and ambition for our children – they matter and they count. Our combined experience, and my own being of over 30 years of working with lots of students from different backgrounds, means we can offer a curriculum and opportunities that we know works.

Moreover, focussing on a point I made earlier about if it’s good enough for me when I was at school, it certainly has to be good enough for your children, so I will try to share our purpose and ambitions:

  • Our values that drive our culture are old fashioned – Aspiration, Excellence, Respect and Opportunity (AERO values) and these values are real and are seen and lived everyday. Respect yourself and others, have ample opportunities in the fields of sport, the arts, academia and vocational. Being confident to aspire to learn to be the best you can be. We now have more students than ever going to the best colleges and universities and high quality apprenticeships. We are determined to seize the best opportunities four our students. Well, it worked for me!
  • The best facilities money can buy, whether this is the best sewing machine for textiles, the best books in the library, free music lessons, our VIP Hub and lots of clubs, trips and activities – I pride myself on a safe, clean and welcoming school.
  • A climbing wall and assault course – with our great outdoor curriculum, camps in Year 7 and 8 and Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme for Years 9-11, knowing the great outdoors develops leadership and resilience. I want to offer something different to other schools..
  • Employing the best teachers and support staff money can buy – we choose to pay them a bit more – if you want the best quality people, you have to pay for it, and I am chuffed that my staff are so great and committed!
  • Our curriculum – everyone is now talking about the curriculum – I have for over 25 years. Our programme of study is tough , we have high expectations around knowledge, subjecting our KS3 students to knowledge more likely to be seen post 16. We also teach GCSE computing, and GCSE classical ancient history, both tough subjects in themselves. We build our curriculum around ambition for your son or daughter and in Year 7 students are taught Greek mythology in English, are expected to know their times tables up to 12 by the end of Key Stage 3 in Year 9 and they are taught Science in modern labs with the best equipment.
  • We like to ‘test’ our students because testing is the best way to learn what you know and learn what you don’t know – we then plan to make sure students do learn what they have missed or fallen behind in – ‘practice makes perfect’ as my own parents would tell me regularly. This could be our free music lessons or skills learnt in the various after school clubs. This is underpinned by our mantra, which is “what we teach and what they remember”, our intention around knowledge, how we teach that knowledge and how we test that knowledge is critical. After all, knowledge is power and anyone can be knowledgeable. Knowledge is not fixed by age – we believe anyone can learn – they just have to be confident to try!
  • We also undertake traditional spelling tests and teach students to apply their knowledge in a curriculum subject through our disciplinary literacy programme e.g. “write like a historian” and “talk like a sports scholar” – we learn from the best.
  • We like to be different with our rewards and recognition, such as a fun fair (“Party in the Park”) or our Winter Wonderland – a vast array of rewards for those who have improved or exceeded expectations. “Work hard, play hard” is my preference – oh and let’s have a sense of fun with lots of laughter. I often laugh out loud everyday, and we use our whole school announcement system to announce the best students and our ‘Employee of the Month’.
  • We cater for all students – if they want to come to Redbridge, we want them, regardless of race, religion, sexuality and disability. To me, these do not matter, attitude and ambition goes beyond individual characteristics – anyone can be successful – we do not write off our students.

Therefore, I will end how I started, you only really get one chance at your compulsory education at secondary school, so we know we have lots to do In essence, life at Redbridge is enhanced by our good old fashioned views:

  • Our core values of Aspiration, Respect, Opportunity and Excellence
  • Providing the best teaching and learning to know more
  • High expectations of behaviour – no excuses – manners matter at Redbridge
  • Being inclusive (even if it affects our GCSE results, people matter more)
  • Support for parents – such as free GCSEs in English and Maths, food packs and support for trips and equipment
  • Allowing us to weave our magic – trust us – we have extensive experience
  • Having the best facilities – they are awesome – come and see for yourself!
  • A sense of hard work, commitment, with lots of fun and good humour along the way
  • Being a bit old fashioned too – why? Because it works

So, if it was good enough for me, it’s certainly good enough for your children!

Enjoy the website, ask for a visit and you’ll get a warm welcome on your arrival, I can promise you that.

All the best,

Mr J S Ashley
Headteacher (of awesome people)