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Moulsham High School

MHS Goes from Good to Great

Since 2010, Moulsham High School has been working hard to increase their reputation from “good” to “excellent”. Executive Headteacher, Mr Farmer, has been the driving force to help the school fulfil its potential – below we look at the impact this has had.



In 2010, Moulsham High School’s absence rate was above the national average but this has slowly improved through the years and now sits well below the average rate of absence in state-funded schools in England.


Progress 8

Progress 8 is a score between -1 and +1, which measures the progress of children from the end of Primary school to the end of Secondary school. A score of +1 means that pupils in that school achieve one grade higher in each qualification than other similar pupils nationally. A score of -1 means they achieve one grade lower. The national average score is around 0.


“To track student progress even more effectively, we have introduced a progress 8 group for year 11 and restructured the pastoral team. Each year group now has a standards and progress leader who is responsible for the academic monitoring of their cohort, with the bulk of day-to-day pastoral issues being managed by pastoral managers who are members of the support staff. In a climate where recruitment is difficult, we have held our ground and only appointed high-quality specialist staff, even if this has meant interviewing ten or 12 times for some posts and venturing overseas if necessary. Gap filling would not provide our students with the standard of education they deserve.

“In 2017, we achieved a Progress 8 score of +0.54, the third highest in Essex. Previous Progress 8 scores in 2015 and 2016 had also been high, showing a marked improvement in academic standards. The school’s transformational journey has been long and eventful: an unexpected dip in results in 2014 made us the focus of intense external scrutiny. A relentless focus, however, on teaching and learning, combined with the formation of a dedicated staff committed to high levels of achievement, has given us positive results and driven success at Moulsham High.”

Mr Farmer, Executive Headteacher, Moulsham High School



In 2010, Moulsham students had average or slightly above national-standard ability on entry, but achieved average, and sometimes below average, outcomes. Since then, the school has worked tirelessly to improve grades and now sits well above both the local and national averages.


“The first seeds for this success were sown in November 2010. We insisted that maximising student progress should be the top priority of everyone in the school, emphasising the need for there to be a collective effort if outcomes were to improve. Consequently, teaching and learning became central aspects of the Moulsham High experience and remain our core focus as a school. Before 2010, no one had ever led on teaching and learning across the school. This was rectified with the appointment of a deputy head teacher in charge of provision and an assistant head teacher responsible for teaching and learning. We began to hold more masterclasses and twilight workshops, as well as establishing a teaching and learning community. We also employed new coaching schemes for staff, who were struggling to reach their potential to become outstanding practitioners.

“The school’s approach to data was totally revamped. Students received aspirational targets, equivalent to four levels of progress. After each data drop, meetings with departmental heads concentrated on the progress of individual students and what intervention was being provided for them. Members of our leadership team had accountability for the outcomes of particular pupil groups. Provision had a radical overhaul. The “one size fits all” curriculum that had previously existed was replaced with a pathway system, which enabled the most able to be accelerated while those with weaker basic skills received booster literacy and numeracy lessons. In years 10 and 11, the English Baccalaureate was made compulsory for those with high prior attainment, whereas other students were given a wider range of options choices.”

Mr Farmer, Executive Headteacher, Moulsham High School

The Future

“As a school, we have always been acutely aware that we cannot afford to become complacent. The rapidly changing educational landscape of recent years has meant that we have constantly had to evaluate and revise our practice.


“In September 2016, we carried out a middle leadership restructure. 16 heads of department and subject were reduced to 9 “heads of faculty”. Their line managers have also been reduced, from 5 to 2. The advantages of a more streamlined structure are immense: all heads of faculty now have more regular progress meetings with the head of school, and the leadership of subjects is more consistent.

“Consistency has also been a concern for us in terms of marking and feedback. To improve this, we introduced the infamous Moulsham High School blue sticker, which requires staff to comment on the success criteria students have achieved and those that still have to be met. In addition, a “now do” activity is set, which requires students to improve an aspect of their work using purple pen.

“Our journey is by no means at an end. In September 2017, we became the founding school of the Bridge Academy Trust. This gives us the opportunity to work collaboratively with other schools to share best practice for staff and students.

“As has been the case for the last seven years, teaching and learning will remain at the heart of everything we do. We know that we still need to encourage a greater number of staff to take risks and be more innovative in their teaching. We know that provision in years 7-9 must be demanding enough to prepare students for the rigour of the reformed GCSEs. We know that, in spite of our recent success, we cannot stand still.”

Mr Farmer, Executive Headteacher, Moulsham High School

Bridge Academy Trust is a charitable company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales with company number 07663795.

Registered Office: Community Building, Bridge Academy Trust, Brian Close, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 9DZ.

Tel: 01245 202 937