Heathfield Community College impresses the Rotary Club on a recent visit
On 28 February, the College welcomed a group of 11 Heathfield and Waldron Rotarians with President Mark Garnett for a morning on site. In a visit they described as “enlightening” and “impressive” the guests were welcomed by Chair of Governors Richard Karn over coffee and biscuits, before an address from Headteacher Caroline Barlow about the College, its achievements, aspirations and challenges. Following this, 11 students paired up to lead small groups of the Rotary around the College on a guided tour. They were tasked with finding if what they had been told about the College was indeed what they saw!
The College was intrigued to note the aspects they observed as a group of highly skilled and trained professionals with careers spanning education, business, banking and with significant management and leadership experience. Observations of the College recorded by member Tim Williams included:
- The College promotes ‘Pride. Ambition. Community’ backed by quotations which pepper the walls, together with posters promoting excellence but also compassion, kindness and confidence.
- Students have and articulate a genuine pride in their school and valued what the school offered them.
- Energetic friendly teachers in classrooms of which the doors bore their names and a brief note of the current book they were reading.
- Reading is stimulated and support offered for those who fell behind.
- Lessons were focused and calm – everywhere. The level of specialist equipment available to students was impressive.
- The corridors were clean thanks to a recycling twin bin policy (waste and renewables) introduced by Eco Reps.
- On the walls, photographs and pupil artwork bore witness to a creative environment in which everyone was encouraged, whatever their talent.
- They noted the breadth of subjects available and studied at all ages.
- A partitioned corner of the Library was devoted to career guidance available to every student. Pastoral care had recently been increased, with the appointment of a staff member dedicated to student well-being.
- Impression of enthusiastic leadership from someone who recognised the diverse requirements of a large school drawing from (and outside) a very large catchment area, with committed teachers.
School’s link Roger Clark described the team as “blown away” by the dynamic leadership and “so impressed with everything we saw” acknowledging leaders had “worked enormously hard to create the excellent school we were privileged to witness in action on Tuesday”.
The students reported enjoying meeting their guests and being grateful and inspired there were people in their community that cared so much about their future and success, “They were such lovely and interesting people, I really enjoyed meeting them and showing them our College” others remarked on how “lovely” the visitors were and particularly how “they were so committed to the community and interested in what we do here”.
Rotary were keen to understand how they could further support and what improvements the College would like to make if they could. Issues raised included the toilet blocks needing modernisation and the replacement of old buildings as well as ongoing and increasing support for young people to better be supported in the world as it is now post-pandemic. However, there will also be significant mentoring and specialist support that can be developed with an ongoing partnership that builds on the strengths of both parties.
Headteacher Caroline Barlow said “it was an absolute pleasure to welcome such thoughtful and insightful members of the community into our midst. We are hugely grateful for the support Rotary already offer and the thought of a deeper on-going relationship that allows students to benefit from their life and career experience is reallyexciting”