Over the last 18 months the Directors, Advisory Governing Body and Head have been discussing the strategic direction of the School to ensure that it continues to provide the best possible education for the children at Yarrells, as well as for those still to set out on their educational journey.
The most significant part of that review has involved looking at the ongoing viability of operating Years 7 and 8, which have seen consistently low numbers since the change in Poole grammar school entrance age from 12 to 11. Therefore, we have taken the decision that from September 2022, Yarrells will become a setting from which all pupils transfer at the end of Year 6.
We are taking a phased approach to this plan, fully committing to carrying our current Year 7s into Year 8 next academic year, and seeing them through to a natural transfer point. However, we will not be starting a new Year 7 cohort in September 2021 as Year 6 represents a natural end point for these pupils before transferring to secondary schools.
We have continued to be able to offer an excellent academic and pastoral education to our Year 7 and 8 pupils, tailored to individual needs, ranging from extra support in learning to scholarship to independent schools. However, the long-term social, co-curricular and emotional experiences for our older pupils are not as full and well-rounded as we would ideally like to provide.
The great majority of our pupils leave Yarrells at the end of Year 6, transferring to local grammar (91% pass rate in 2020), 11+ selective independent settings or local secondary schools. We pride ourselves in delivering a broad curriculum facilitated by specialist teachers that prepares children of a wide range of abilities for their important next steps in education. This structural change to the model of the school will allow us to increase specialist provision in subjects lower down the school, such as science to Year 4, for example.
It is crucial that we continue concentrating on offering a full, focused and effective education from nursery, through the Early Years and on to secondary school preparation for all our pupils; one that provides not just academic excellence, but also meaningful opportunities for our Year 6 pupils to take on responsibility and leadership roles to develop independence and resilience for the future.