The three school system remains at the heart of our approach to educating young people. It allows our three different age groups to live, work and socialise in their own unique areas.
Whilst a three school system is unusual in independent schools, ISI and Ofsted have described its pastoral benefits as "excellent" and "outstanding" respectively. It is based on the fact that eighteen year olds and eleven year olds have very different needs.
For boarders and day pupils this means that each school benefits from its own special style, atmosphere and facilities, always appropriate to the pupils’ ages and interests. This leads to higher standards of pastoral care, staff who are clearly focussed on the needs of each age group, and pupils who can spend more time with friends of their own age. The traditional house system runs happily alongside this structure and all its best features remain. House loyalty and spirit are as strong as ever in competitions, sport, music and drama.
Pupils have a very good moral understanding which is evidenced by their manners and lifestyle in the school.
This emphasis on pastoral care is underpinned by our Christian ethos as a Woodard School. Chapel is an important part of our weekly routine, for worship and as a meeting place for the whole school. Parents regularly join us for the main service of the week, and they always receive a warm welcome. We are fortunate to have a high percentage of staff living on site, which means that both boarding and day pupils are able to build strong relationships with their Tutor, Head of House, Head of School and the Chaplain. The Medical Centre is also staffed every day by fully qualified nurses with frequent doctor’s surgeries and a counsellor is available by appointment. For those living off site, there is a comprehensive network of buses serving the surrounding towns and villages. Whether returning to a boarding house or family home, pupils arrive back after busy days packed with lessons, activities, music and sport.
As one of the best independent schools in Staffordshire, we know that busy people need high energy levels. Using a wide selection of freshly prepared, locally sourced, home cooked produce, we are able to cater for all dietary requirements. Our menus are designed to encourage healthy eating and satisfy hungry appetites. To inject fun and interest into our menus, we offer themed dining evenings which give our students a taste of foods from different countries and cultures.
Every pupil at Denstone, whether boarding or day, belongs to a House. Each house has its own distinctive character and inspires great loyalty. Friendship and camaraderie between pupils only increases as houses compete together but also they have their own social activities that may involve trips out, social evenings, House dinners and other activities. In every House, there is a great sense of pride and purpose, particularly when girls and boys are representing their house in a competition. These happen in a range of sports including netball, hockey, tennis and rugby. There are House music and drama festivals, and House Effort and Music Cups, awarded for effort and academic work. Every year culminates in a House dinner, which is a celebration of the year's highlights.
One of the main purposes of the house system is to provide pastoral care for the pupils. The pastoral support team within a House is led by its Head of House and a team of tutors. The relationship between Head of House and tutors with parents is a crucial one and we encourage communication and involvement. Well qualified staff address pupil needs and are the link between school and home. Every pupil has a tutor with whom they will meet regularly; to discuss reports, targets, choices, problems and achievements, in registrations and tutor group meetings as well as informally around the school. The tutor provides a major point of contact between staff and parents for all matters academic.
From the structure of the House tutorial system to the much more informal access to Medical Centre, Chaplain, Deputy Head Pastoral, Senior Master, Head of School/ Moss Moor or prefects, the framework of pastoral care ensures that at every step each pupil's development is monitored and fully supported. The diversity of support and care which the pupils have available means that they are treated as individuals, and can always find someone to discuss their questions or concerns.
The Houses are Heywood, Meynell, Philips, Selwyn, Shrewsbury, Woodard and Lowe & Londsdale, and each enjoys a committed and enthusiastic pupil membership, keenly managed by the heads and Captains of House.
Our belief in this structure is endorsed by parents, boarders and day pupils who regularly tell us about the pastoral and social benefits.
It is pupils who are the essence of the school and we consider it important that they are able to share their thoughts and views with staff. The relationships between staff and pupils at Denstone are such that pupils will share their views with staff in tutorials, house meetings or just when engaging in a general conversation in the boarding house.
From the structure of the house tutorial system, to the much more informal access to Medical Centre, Chaplain, Deputy Head Pastoral, Senior Master, Head of School/ Moss Moor or prefects, the framework of pastoral care ensures that at every step there are easy means of communication. Individual pupils can always find someone to discuss their questions or concerns.
In addition, there are two councils which have been created to provide a forum for formal discussion for wider issues affecting the community.
The Student Council is well established. Each year it consists of three pupils from each of the six houses, the House Captains, a pupil from each of the Junior and Middle Schools, as well as the Captain of Moss Moor. There is always a good representation of both boarding and day pupils on the Student Council. It is a structured forum for discussion, and a means for pupils to raise issues and concerns on behalf of their peers, as well as a means to consult pupils regarding certain issues. The Student Council meets two or three times each term and the meetings are chaired by the Second Master and minuted by the Deputy Head Pastoral. The Catering Manager, Operations Bursar and Senior Master also attend the meetings. Minutes of the meeting are then circulated and discussed by the Senior Management Team (SMT) for action points. Feedback is given to pupils at the start of the next meeting by the Senior Mistress.
The Boarders’ Council follows a similar format, enabling boarders to raise issues with each other in a formal setting. This meeting is chaired and run by pupils rather than staff. It is chaired by the Captain of Moss Moor and a senior school prefect and consists of one boy and girl from each year in the school. The Boarders’ Council meets the evening prior to the Student Council and minutes are passed to the Deputy Head Pastoral who circulates the points raised for discussion at SMT meetings. Feedback is then given to the chairs who then report back at the start of their next meeting.