TES Schools Awards 2015 – profile of Woolwich Polytechnic School

Published: Friday 8 May 2015

Tim Plumb is Head Teacher at Woolwich Polytechnic School in London – one of eight schools shortlisted for the Secondary School of the Year category that we're supporting at this year's TES Awards. In the third in our series of stories profiling the nominees, Tim tells us how the school is located in an area of severe socio-economic disadvantage and students enter the school with achievements well below the national average. However, many of them go on to top universities…

Woolwich Polytechnic is an exceptional school with unique achievements. We are located in an area of severe socio-economic disadvantage and our students enter the school with achievements well below the national average. However, they leave us with achievements 20% above the national average with many of them going to top universities. 

We are a very large boys' school with a mixed sixth form and our intake is highly diverse with over 70 languages spoken amongst the students. This is the second time that we have made the School of the Year shortlist (previously in 2013). As well as being graded 'Ofsted Outstanding', we were the first school in the country to achieve the Exceptional Schools Award.

We are a member of the London Mayor's Gold Club and the SSAT Leading Edge group for the highest performing schools. Most recently, we have become the first 11-21 school in the country by being awarded validation to teach our own Maths with QTS degree - BSc(hons) - on our site with our own staff. 

We are a very proud school but also very humble - our achievements mean nothing without the life-changes that we see our students attaining each year. From August 2014 we became a sponsoring multi-academy trust (PolyMAT) and we are now planning to spread educational excellence to other local schools.

We aim to ensure that the ever-changing qualifications landscape and the higher demands never become a barrier to success - wherever the bar is set, we will jump over it.

One of the things I am most proud of is that students who enter our school with very limited chances of success in life leave us with their options much wider, their ambitions greater and their confidence much higher. A notable number of them return after university to work with us on our teaching staff to keep the cycle of ambition moving forward!

We are very proud and excited to be shortlisted for the Secondary School of the Year award. Our students and staff are the hardest working group of people you could find and it is a privilege to lead them. This achievement is a recognition for their ambition and commitment.

If you asked me why we deserve to win, I would say because our students and staff are special - the ethos they create is unique (once described by a lead Ofsted inspector as the best he has ever seen in any secondary school). 

The efforts that occur on a daily basis are more than I could ever ask - for example, the average attendance at our weekly Saturday School is 300 students and 47 staff, giving their weekend time for the sake of their ambition. The offering our new Maths degree is something that will now extend our ambition for the population of Thamesmead.

If we win, we will use the huge feelings of pride and excitement to redouble our efforts for our students and create a platform for even greater success in the future.

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