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What’s In A Motto?

The school’s motto was actually taken from the coat of arms of Admiral Lord Nelson (none of our founders was remotely grand enough to have any such thing), and its original application was no doubt theological. Today, we see its relevance somewhat differently – as a reminder of what’s possible for us as a school if we set about things in the right way.

By any standards, we are today a very high-performing school – but there was nothing inevitable about our success: our achievements (our works) are the result of an act of group will (faith, if you like). We actually set out to do what we’ve done – to turn an “average” school in to a “top” one. So naturally, we’re rather proud of this – which is why we’ll now run the risk of boring you for a paragraph while we tell you the story.

In terms of intake, Nelson Thomlinson is a near-perfect example of the average comprehensive school. It used to be very slightly below average: we used to assert that our pupils joined us with a mean CAT (IQ) score of 98 or 99 and that we made them clever. The success of the school has changed things a bit, though, and the average CAT score for each year group now ranges from 99 to 103. Having said that, our socio-economic profile remains very distinctly “average”. Wigton is an admirable place in very many ways, but no one ever accused it of being privileged.

At the end of the 1980s, our results were consistent with these intake statistics (27% of our pupils were getting 5 or more A-C grades at GCSE when the national average was 30%). At that time, though, we set ourselves the aim of becoming “recognised as the best comprehensive school in the area.” In 1998, by which time our GCSE A*-C percentage had doubled and we had enjoyed successive years in the top ten of the nation’s comprehensives at “A” level, we upgraded our ambition and resolved to establish our school as the top comprehensive in the country.

During the last two decades we have had three highly successful OFSTED inspections (2001, 2006 and 2013) and an equally successful interim inspection in 2010 which upheld our Outstanding status. These days, on the new P8 measure, we consistently score something in the region of +0.1 to +0.2, which is higher than the national average and considerably higher than the county average. And given our context (socio-economic profile, challenging geographical situation and truly comprehensive intake), these achievements are quite remarkable. We make full use of our observation room, taking the quality of teaching and learning to new heights.

We are successful in every area of school life and our current desire to turn every pupil into a ‘complete learner’ is highly ambitious but certainly in keeping with our motto.