Radley’s link with Desborough College
In March 2012, Radley accepted the invitation of The Educational Fellowship, sponsor of a number of primary and secondary academies, to be educational partners (with no financial responsibility) for a boys academy in Maidenhead. Since then Radley has been building links at a number of levels – governor, management, department – with the aim of supporting an excellent new Principal, Paul Frazer, as he sets out radically to improve academic standards.
Radley became involved because Council and SMT felt it is right that the philosophy, methods and teachers that have brought academic excellence to top independent schools be shared, what Lord Adonis has called the DNA of the best public schools. It is important for the future of the whole country that maintained schools develop high expectations and rigorous teaching, and Radley feels it has a contribution to make in this.
This is being effected in a number of ways: Radley provides two governors to the newly renamed Desborough College, that name reflecting the influence of Radley College. Desborough leaders, Heads of Department and others have spent days observing lessons and absorbing Radley’s ethos. Radley Heads of Department have, at the Principal's request, been auditing Desborough departments. Desborough boys have come to Radley to participate in the Radley/St Helen’s 6.2 Conference; to attend 6.2 lectures; to join in Politics lessons; and on a weekly basis, GCSE candidates have had two-hour revision sessions in Maths and Science since February with Radley dons, led by Rob King and Simon Barlass. Those dons have been over to Desborough to teach, and in the case of John Sparks (tutor of C Social) to coach Desborough’s 1st XV throughout their season. Desborough College’s 1st XV was unbeaten in 2014.
Perhaps the most exciting development was the secondment of Chris Lee, a senior Maths don as the Head of Sixth Form and an Assistant Principal at Desborough in 2013/2014. He immeasurably helped by transfusing the values of a successful Sixth Form and its expectations.
The challenge for the staff at Desborough, with which Radley has strongly associated itself, has been to take Desborough to an OFSTED judgement of outstanding. Already, the college has improved at the inspection of September 2014 achieving a rating of Good. The Principal is relentlessly pursuing future improvement in results at GCSE this summer; when that is achieved a corner will have been turned. Parents in the Maidenhead area are again placing their trust in a school which 30 years ago was its most distinguished grammar school. We will do all we can to enable this transformation to occur and to be sustained, by building on the links which are currently germinating.
Andrew Reekes, formerly Sub Warden, now i/c Radley’s Desborough link.