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School report: Crestwood College, Eastleigh
FROM the moment you step into Crestwood College, you can tell it is a little bit different.
The building itself is not your average comprehensive school arrangement with the classrooms organised around a crescent with a walkway though the middle.
It was a walkway that when the school was first established was open to the public and still has the lamp posts dotted along the curve.
Times have changed, with the area now used as a communal meeting place for the students and whole school events.
Although physically that access has gone, the ethos behind involving the community in the fabric of Crestwood has not been lost.
On the contrary, it has been strengthened. What you don’t see from the frontage is the vast site that lies beyond the classrooms.
It is, in a word, massive. And it has to be. The school plays host to a range of facilities meaning the school is rarely closed.
From the high spec gym to the vast Astroturf to a purpose-built sports complex, Crestwood has something for everyone and that is reflected in its curriculum.
Students speak of the sense of family at the Shakespeare Road school whilst the host of extracurricular opportunities speak for themselves.
A quick look at the array of silverware the school boasts reflects a healthy attitude to participation and succeeding in doing so.
On top of that the school is a goto point for parenting programmes in the area, has an onsite preschool and links with St Peter’s church, the school’s neighbour. Crestwood has a clear sense of purpose – it's a school proudly in the community, for the community.
Sound of Music
Crestwood has a remarkable music department.
Along with the sort of instruments you might expect there is an altogether more tropical sound which emanates from it.
Steel pans, and lots of them, are regularly beaten in fantastic style by the youngsters who form the Panatical steel band made up entirely of school pupils.
The sound that greets you when the musicians begin their performance is breathtaking and that is why they are a regular feature of many community events in Eastleigh and beyond.
Youngsters aspire to be in the band, one of many that are supported by the music department led by Tim Downs.
Collider visit is trip highlight for pupils
THE school, runs a host of trips each year to suit all budgets and interests.
One of the newest saw 16 students visit Geneva.
The group enjoyed a packed programme of both cultural and political significance but the main aim was to get up close to the Hadron Collider.
Although an experience usually built into A-level coursework and beyond, the experience of seeing the collider itself was one which the school felt would benefit its students and spark an interest in more complex theories.
THE school also had its silverware added to, thanks to the efforts of its Youth Speaks team.
Each member had a different role to play in the public speaking competition, from introducing the main speaker, giving the speech itself and offering a proposal of thanks.
All had to be done within a certain time limit and executed word perfectly.
The six-strong team wowed judges at the Rotary Club-organised event.
At cutting edge of science
INCREASING the interest in subjects like science is a challenge that is relished by the teaching staff at Crestwood.
Leading the charge in the department is Kevin Neil. He has a particular fondness of the school as he himself was a pupil there.
Now he stands on the other side of the desks and helps nurture a fresh generation of science enthusiasts.
Mr Neil said: “It is all about making it as interactive as possible, not just in the classroom but beyond that.”
In an effort to get the youngsters involved in projects and meeting deadlines, homework help and tips are ‘tweeted’, interactive forums are held and classes also use QR codes to make it easier for youngsters to access information on their mobile phones.
Sporting chance with campus
NOT many schools can boast a sporting campus quite like Crestwood.
Just what is on offer to both pupils and the wider public rivals any leisure centre.
The gym is open from 7am and for the rest of the day when it is widely used by the public, staff and pupils.
In addition the gym, the school has impressive sports playing facilities along with a purpose-built sports hall.
Head of PE Ashley Brown said facilities had changed during his time at the school but pupil enjoyment had not.
He said: “There are lots of ways they can get involved in sport at the school, not just in the facilities we have here.
“We recently organised a trip to the Sky Sports studios as well, which showed them what goes into putting the productions together.”
Cisco kids right on the button
CELEBRATING success is at the heart of what Crestwood is all about.
There was no shortage of that when a team of students won the CISCO red button challenge.
Fitting in with the school's STEM work, the team designed and produced an 'app' that could
be used on the interactive red button function on television.
The brief was executed in fine style, thanks to the team, who came up with the idea of devising
a healthy living app which was able to calculate healthy fitness and eating plans.
Project manager of the team, Pranjali Malhan, 13, said: “Everyone contributed skills to the
challenge and in the end we were able to produce an app we were really proud of.”
The rest of the team included Pranjali’s fellow pupils Dani Fisher, Liane Taylor, Talia-Jayne
Felstead and Dylan Jones.
Pupils harshest critics of teachers
A visit by Ofsted inspectors should be a walk in the park for teachers at Crestwood, as their
lessons have to undergo regular scrutiny from a much tougher judge – the pupils.
A panel of pupils has been set up to regularly inspect the teachers’ lessons.
They take time out of their own lessons to sit in on others, where they help observe and then rate the lessons on a range of criteria including whether learning outcomes have been met, whether all abilities were ended in the lessons and what could be done to improve it.
Head teacher Krista Dawkins says:
I have been head teacher at Crestwood College since 2006.
On interview, I instantly fell in love with the school, particularly because of the children and the unique building.
As I sat in the car park waiting for my final interview, the sound of the steel pans came bellowing out of the building and I knew that this was my dream job.
In the eight years that I have served as Headteacher, the school has undergone significant changes for the better.
I am delighted with the teaching staff that we have, who are all highly experienced subject
specialists and the support staff who are dedicated professionals giving above and beyond
the normal expectations.
All in all, staff at Crestwood are committed to improving the outcomes of our young people.
For a small school, we have very strong links with our local community and the church.
We are open from 6.30am until 10.00pm, offering education by day and community activities by night.
We are a school that likes children and love working with them as they face challenges and successes.
For a small school, we offer a significant amount of variety from sports teams, to our Christian Union, to musical activities, to debating; there is something for everyone!
I am exceptionally proud of our school, our achievements and our sense of ethos.
We are truly a school that serves its local community and wants all our students to achieve the best they possibly can.
• Crestwood College has been rated a Good school on three successive occasions.
In addition the Shakespeare Road secondary school has been presented with the Investors in People GOLD award for the second time, one of a handful of schools nationally to do so.
• Children with Special Educational Needs also make exceptional progress at Crestwood - better than national and local averages
• The school is also recognised for its work with Able, Gifted and Talented students.
• Crestwood has also enjoyed considerable success in a number of inter-schools competitions not least the Rotary Club Youth Speaks competition and the CISCO interactive challenge whilst sporting success has been celebrated by the Year 9 basketball team who came away as Plate winners after a tense final match.