County Upper School
|Headteacher||Mrs Vicky Neale|
Bury St Edmunds
|DfE URN||136990 Tables|
|Students||992 pupils (209 in 6th Form)|
Bury St Edmunds County Upper School is a 13 to 19 co-educational comprehensive high-performing academy part of the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust comprising County Upper School, Horringer Court School, Westley School and Barrow CEVC and Tollgate Primaries. It is one of three 13-18 schools serving the town of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, England and its surrounding villages. Pupils enter Year 9 primarily from three catchment middle schools in Bury St Edmunds but pupils are drawn widely from across the villages and towns of West Suffolk. The school is regularly over-subscribed with 266 first-choice applicants in 2009/10, 287 in 2010/11, 282 for 2011/12, 279 for 2012/13 and 268 for 2014/15  against a LEA Planned Admission Number of 260. In September 2013 the number of pupils on roll was 992 and it is expected that will remain relatively unchanged for the foreseeable future. Attached to the main school is a Sixth Form, which at present stands at around 209 students spread between Years 12 and 13. The school is located on Beetons Way, on the outskirts of town, next to St Benedict's Roman Catholic Upper School, which has close links with the County Upper Sixth Form.
Together with Westley School, part of the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust, it is the Area Hub for West Suffolk and East Cambridgeshire for the Computing At School Network of Excellence as part of the joint effort by the BCS, Chartered Institute for IT and the Computing Industry to provide leadership and strategic guidance to all those involved in Computing education in schools.
The school is accredited with the National College for School Leadership as a Teaching School and is part of the West Suffolk All-Through Teaching School Alliance, to train and develop teachers from September 2013 and it is also the lead Suffolk school in the Suffolk and Norfolk Initial Teacher Training (SNITT) initiative, in partnership with Suffolk County Council and University College Suffolk, which is part of the Department for Education's School Direct Training Programme.
- 1 Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust
- 2 Origins
- 3 Facilities
- 4 Staff
- 5 Ofsted inspections
- 6 Academic achievements and attendance
- 7 Science
- 8 Languages
- 9 Sport and physical activities
- 10 County Upper Basketball Academy
- 11 Music, drama and visual arts
- 12 West Suffolk Music Centre
- 13 Awards and achievements
- 14 Notes
- 15 External links
Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust
As a school rated by Ofsted as "Outstanding" (1999, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2013) under the Academies Act 2010 County Upper School applied to become a High-Performing Academy – a publicly funded independent school.
Together with Horringer Court School, Westley School, Tollgate Primary School and Barrow CEVC Primary School, and working closely with Howard Middle School, it forms the 4-18 Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust with the potential for students to move flexibly through the pyramid in accordance with their ability and aptitude allowing the six schools to work together strategically to drive up even further their standards and results.
The All-Through Academy Trust received the go-ahead from the Department of Education in September 2015 to create a Technical Academy alongside its traditional academic pathway offering 14-18 year-old students vocational education in Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering (STEM) working alongside industry to allowing a work-place based study. The Technical Academy plans to open in September 2017. Current industry and University partners include Microsoft, ARM, Bosch, British Sugar, Claas UK, BT, EDF, Marshall Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, Redgate Software, Treatt, UK Power Networks, Vitec, Suffolk Education Business Partnership and the University of East Anglia.
The Trust, in this instance led by County Upper, has become an Early Adopter of the World Class Schools Quality Mark.
County Upper School traces its origins back to the Education Act 1902 that gave county councils the status of local education authorities, greatly expanding their powers and their expenditure. Within a few years it was normal for half a county's budget to be devoted to education and the West Suffolk County School was opened in Northgate Street in Bury St Edmunds. A large red brick building, the former Falconbury School and site of the original Northgate House, had been purchased for the purpose in 1904, then altered and improved. This original building was then extended in 1907. At this time it was co-educational (for both girls and boys), with separate playgrounds. In the early 1950s the school became the County Grammar School for Girls with eligible boys from Bury and its surrounding villages attending the King Edward VI Grammar School.
In 1964 the County Grammar School for Girls moved from its Northgate Street site to brand new premises at the end of Tollgate Lane (now known as Beetons Way) in north west Bury St Edmunds. For many years the girls had walked to this new site to make use of the playing fields that the local education authority had acquired there. These long walks now became unnecessary. The school premises in Northgate Street gradually became used as an annex to the West Suffolk College until 1988. Today, the old red brick building forms the core of the Northgate Street Business Park, housing, amongst other enterprises, a dance school, a chiropractic clinic, the headquarters of the East of England Ambulance Service and the East of England Museums Libraries and Archives, the original West Suffolk County School crest is still visible to passersby. In 1971 the County Grammar School for Girls became the co-educational and comprehensive County Upper School. The old single-sex state grammar school system, which divided children by gender and ability in Suffolk was now dead.
The original West Suffolk County School crest, shown above the old Northgate Street building entrance, consisted of a gold cross fleury between five martlets on a blue shield and were the arms of Edward the Confessor, who in the 11th century granted land to the abbey of St Edmund, and those of the old West Suffolk County Council. The contemporary County Upper School crest has four birds around a cross surmounted by the Saxon Crown of St Edmund, the last King of East Anglia. The blue sweaters with an all gold crest worn by today’s pupils echo the colours of Edward the Confessor and are used by the school sports teams and on the school flag.
The original girls' grammar school building, opened in 1964, provides the main teaching and administrative area. There are additional specialist facilities, built in the 1970s, to support the teaching of science, art and design technology. New facilities for humanities were built in the 1990s. In 2004 the school's kitchens were refitted, and a new block containing a secondary eating area was created alongside a gym, above this two classrooms were constructed, which are now the Sixth Form common rooms.
A new library opened in October 2006, and a completely refurbished Performing Arts Centre opened Easter 2007 which contains facilities for dance, drama and music. This was dedicated to the memory of Michael Woodhouse, a wheelchair bound pupil, who unexpectedly died during Easter 2007. Work on new facilities for food technology and art were completed in summer 2008 which forms part of a visual arts centre, a business studies centre was completed during summer 2010, the science block was refurbished in summer 2011 and the main sports hall in summer 2012.
Since September 2005, the school has been led by Mrs Vicky Neale, following the retirement of Adrian Williams, who obtained a CBE for Services to Education after many years at the school. As of 2014, there are around 90 teaching staff. The most recent workforce statistics from the Department for Education indicates the Academy's pupil-teacher ratio of 14.4:1 is lower than both the Suffolk LEA average of 16:1 in Secondary Schools and 15.7:1 for England as a whole.
Their most recent full Ofsted inspection on 18–19 September 2013 rated County Upper School as Grade 1 - Outstanding for overall effectiveness and Grade 1 - Outstanding in all 4 inspection categories: Achievement of pupils; Quality of teaching; Behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management for both the main school and Sixth Form; its 8th successive "Outstanding" rating from Ofsted since 1998
The June 2013 Ofsted Report into the achievement of the top 30% most able pupils in non-selective comprehensive schools in England visited County Upper School and gave a Grade 1 "Outstanding" rating for all five categories it inspected: Transfer, transition and induction; Most able achievement; Teaching, learning and assessment; Curriculum; Support and guidance
The Education Act 2011 proposed that schools assessed as being Grade 1 "Outstanding" on their last inspection will not be subject to routine inspection unless concerns are raised with Ofsted about their performance. As with similar schools Ofsted wrote to County Upper School on 28 March 2011 with an "Interim Assessment" stating that based upon pupils' academic performance, very low rates of absence and having taken into account the results of survey visits carried out since the last routine inspection. they considered that the Outstanding performance had been sustained. Ofsted stated they would continue to undertake annual assessments of County Upper Schools' performance.
Academic achievements and attendance
County Upper achieved a 92% A*-C pass rate in the summer 2015 and 88% A*-C pass rate in the summer 2014 A-level examinations versus a national percentage of 76.5%. These both were the best state school A-level results in Suffolk topped only by Ipswich School.
County Upper Sixth Form students regularly achieve entry to Oxbridge colleges with an average of 6% of Sixth Form Pupils achieving entry to Oxford or Cambridge making it the 7th most successful non-selective school in England and research by the Sutton Trust shows around three-quarters of students leaving Year 13 attend university after leaving County Upper with a third attending the 30 most selective universities and colleges.
The 2015 and 2014 GCSE results showed similar success with 86% A*-C pass rates and 70%  of students gained 5 or more A*-C passes including English and Mathematics compared with 55.5% for England nationally. The 2014 result was the joint second highest percentage awarded for a state school in Suffolk and joint highest in the Western Area together with neighbouring St Benedicts Roman Catholic Upper school.
42% of students achieved an A*-C pass rate in 2014 (compared with 22.9% nationally) for the GCSE subjects required to gain them the English Baccalaureate qualification, (English, Mathematics, 2 Sciences, History/Geography and a Modern Foreign Language) surpassing the 35% government target for that year.
Attendance in 2013 was recorded at 96.8% (2011 and 2012 were both 96.6%) compared with a national figure of 94.1% placing it in the first quintile of all schools in England and Wales and which is the highest attendance figure in Suffolk of any secondary school.
The 2014/15 Schools Guide rated County Upper as the best performing State Secondary school in the Bury St Edmunds area with the Westley and Horringer Court campus' of the All Through-Trust following close behind.
County Upper has a specialism in science with an Able and Talented focus. An Ofsted subject inspection in May 2009 judged the overall effectiveness of science to be outstanding with no areas for improvement.
County Upper runs a Science and Engineering outreach programme including visits to universities and other science centres as well as workshops for able and talented pupils from feeder Middle Schools in West Suffolk. Year 9 Science pupils also participate in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) days run by the Smallpeice Trust promoting engineering careers for young people and lower school pupils participate in the new Go4Set STEM residential courses run by the Engineering Development Trust.
In summer 2010 the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) designated County Upper as a Consultant School in recognition of its assistance in helping other schools in Suffolk raise standards and achievement.
The school offers Latin, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish for all pupils with Italian in the Sixth Form. It runs an overseas exchange programme to Kyoto in Japan, the Ancona region of Italy, Guadalajara, Spain and the Rhineland area of Germany. The Japanese programme involves annual language and scientific exchanges, summer camps and extensive cultural activities between Japan and Bury St Edmunds.
The school runs a Modern Foreign Language outreach programme with its feeder Middle Schools in West Suffolk where able and talented pupils take part in workshops and activity days hosted at County Upper during the course of the academic year.
Sport and physical activities
The school over 30 weekly extra-curricular sports clubs and activities, its facilities include a sports hall, gymnasium, a mini-sports hall, a fitness suite, a PE lab, six tennis and netball courts, two full-sized football pitches, cricket nets and a floodlit all-weather hockey/five-a-side football pitch all on site.
County Upper School won the 2011 BBC Look East School of the Year for Sport, was selected the Suffolk Sport "Secondary School of the Year" Award sponsored by Ipswich Town FC Community Trust in 2011, won the St Edmundsbury "School of the Year Award" for sport in both 2008 and 2011, gained the Association for Physical Education (afPE) Quality Mark with Distinction in autumn 2012 after being asked by the Association to help pilot the new scheme nationally, is partner school of both Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust via the Sportsmark Scheme and offers a wide variety of sport and team games. It has achieved the Football Association Charter Standard Secondary Development School status in recognition for the quality of its coaching. The school works with the East of England coach for British cycling and also fields an equestrian team.
School teams were the Suffolk U15 cricket and U16 netball champions for the 2010-11 season, the U17 rounders team reached the semi-finals of the English National Schools Championships in July 2011, and won the English National Golf Championships in July 2014.
The captain of Suffolk County Cricket team, Mr Justin Bishop, is a PE teacher and cricket coach for the school and Miss Heather Lymburn, also on the PE staff, is a member of the England Senior Korfball Squad.
County Upper Basketball Academy
In addition to the main school sports activities County Upper also hosts a dedicated Basketball Academy. The academy has its own Sports Director with pupils from across East Anglia attending the County Upper Sixth Form. Pupils are accommodated locally, attend the school and regularly enter regional and national-level competitions, tour the USA and have achieved scholarships to US Basketball Colleges. The U17 Basketball Team were finalists and eventual runners-up in the English National School Championships in 2012.
Music, drama and visual arts
County Upper has achieved an Artsmark Gold award for its wide range of musical, dance and theatrical groups and events. The school is an accredited Arts Award Centre for the Trinity College London and Arts Council England scheme and an Examinations Centre for the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music and Rockschool. It also, together with Westley School from the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust, participates in the annual BBC School Report project run collaboratively between BBC News and BBC Learning giving young people an opportunity to make their own news reports for a real audience.
The school ensembles regularly perform in public holding numerous plays, concerts and choral events in and around Bury St Edmunds including performances at the town's Apex Venue. The school staged one of the first amateur productions of the Phantom of the Opera in 2012 and other recent productions have included Les Miserables, West Side Story, Anything Goes, The Pyjama Game and “South Pacific”. There are over 20 music ensembles including two orchestras, several choirs, string & jazz ensembles and wind bands. There have been three Swing Band tours of Suffolk Virginia USA together with music tours of Venice, Somerset and the Channel Islands.
The school holds an annual Art Exhibition for the community displaying pupils' work. Paintings, textiles, pottery and visual arts installations are shown to the public each summer with some of the very best going on display in public buildings in and around Bury St Edmunds.
West Suffolk Music Centre
County Upper School hosts most of the Suffolk Youth Music activities in the Bury St Edmunds area on behalf of the Suffolk County Music Service. These consist of: The Bury St Edmunds County Music School; the West Suffolk Youth Jazz Orchestra, Big Band, Ceilidh Band, Wind Band, Youth Orchestra and various instrumental classes.
Awards and achievements
County Upper is recognised by Healthy Schools Suffolk and is accredited as an Investor in People. The English, Music and History Departments participate in the Prince of Wales' Prince's Teaching Institute Schools Programme to enhance the quality and breadth of the curricula including visits to Stratford, Berlin, Rome, the Somme battlefields and Auschwitz and County Upper received an International School Award in 2007, 2010 and 2013 from the British Council both for its strength in foreign language teaching and its scientific and cultural links with Europe, Japan and the USA.
It earned a "Distinction" designation from Education Extra for its extensive range of extra-curricular activities consisting of more than weekly 60 clubs and activities, its musical, drama & dance productions, the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme (Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards) and its frequent sports, music and expeditionary tours abroad to countries including Malta, Jersey, Spain, Germany, Turkey, South Africa, Madagascar, Borneo and the USA.
The school's annual Charity Fortnight, organised by the Sixth Form, raises funds for local, national and international good causes. The 2013 total of £14,718 took the overall total raised to over £250,000.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council awarded the school catering department a maximum 5 star rating in October 2010.
- County Upper School page on Suffolk County Council Education and Learning web site abstracted 14 September 2011
- DfES List of Open Academies and Schools Submitting Applications
- Suffolk County Council map of CUS Catchment area
- Suffolk County Council booklet Upper/High Schools in Suffolk 2012
- Answer to FOI question 8059 to Suffolk County Council dated 18 July 2014
- Suffolk County Council Guide to Upper/High School Admissions 2011/12
- School population taken from latest DfE statistics September 2011
- Specialist Schools and Academies Trust school search page
- Bury Free Press article 8 October 2010
- Bury St Edmunds Computing at School Hub webpage
- Computing at School and BCS web page
- WSTSA Webpage abstracted 5 October 2013
- BFP Article 15 March 2013
- SNITT website abstracted 23 Dec 2012
- SDP page DfE website abstracted 23 Dec 2012
- 2013 Ofsted Report for Inspection 18-19 September 2013
- EADT Article dated 6 March 2014 abstracted 22 Augsust 2014
- Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust web site
- Bury Free Press article dated 23 July 2012 abstracted 2 September 2012
- Bury Free Press interview dated 21 September 2015 abstracted 30 September 2015
- Bury Free Press article dated 02 September 2015 abstracted 30 September 2015
- List of Early Adopters from the World Class Schools website
- St Edmundsbury Borough Council web site - The Twentieth Century (edit)
- English Heritage Bury St Edmunds Abbey History
- West Suffolk County Council Coat of Arms
- Arms of St Edmund King and Martyr
- "The history of the legend of Saint Edmund" Stedmundsbury Borough Council web site
- Bury Free Press Article 26 April 2007 Retrieved 16 April 2009
- County Upper Teaching Staff
- DfE 2011 School-level Workforce statistics (provisional) released 20 April 2011
- DfE 2010 School Workforce in England statistics published 26 May 2010
- Ofsted Inspection 18-19 September 2013 Final Report number 427214
- EADT article dated 11 October 2013
- BFP article dated 11 October 2013
- Ofsted Report 130118 dated 13 June 2013
- BFP Article dated 26 April 2013
- Ofsted Inspection Report 22 March 2013
- BBC Article on 2011 Education Bill dated 27 January 2011
- Ofsted Letter dated 28 March 2011
- Bury Free Press Article 15 April 2011
- DfE Performance Tables 2010 for Suffolk Schools
- DfE Suffolk School Absence Rates 2011
- Science Subject Visit 12 Mat 2009
- EADT table published 21 August 2015 and abstracted 30 Sep 2015
- Daily Telegraph Article dated 14 August 14
- EADT Results Table compiled August 2014 abstracted 23 August 2014
- Bury Free Press Article 15 August 2014
- DofE KS5 tables published 17 July 2012
- Degrees of Success - University Chances by Individual School, Sutton Trust, 8 July 2011.
- BFP Article dated 22 August 2013 abstracted 23 August 2013
- The Independent article dated 22 August 2014 abstracted 23 August 2014
- DfE EBacc Performance Tables
- DfE English Baccalaureate web page dated 25 March 2011
- Daily Telegraph article dated 12 January 2011 abstracted 6 September 2011
- Schools’ Ofsted Data Attendance Dashboard
- 2013 Schools Performance Tables
- SchoolGuide.co.uk website September 2015
- Ofsted Science subject visit feedback letter re: Inspection 12 May 09
- Norfolk & Suffolk Science Learning Partnership Newsletter Summer Term 2014
- BFP Article dated 1 November 2013 abstracted 23 August 2014
- "STEM Day" Page 1 Bury St Edmunds CUS Accolade December 2008
- Go4Set Home Page
- Engineering Development Trust Home Page
- SSAT Accreditation page
- Bury Free Press article Friday 8 October 2010
- Page 1 Bury St Edmunds CUS Accolade February 2009
- School Document
- List of school major residential trips September 2009
- List of summer sports clubs abstracted 23 Aug 14
- Bury Free Press Article "Sport is a top scorer for school" dated 16 December 2011
- 2013/14 Prospectus listing sports facilities
- BBC Sport Web Site Look East Sports Awards abstracted 9 December 2011
- BFP article "County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds takes Gold in Regional Awards" dated 9 December 2011
- Suffolk Sports 2011 Awards winners list
- Suffolk Sports Awards 2011 Citations
- Abbeycroft Leisure Ports Awards Nmination & Winners 2011
- afPE Quality Mark for PE &Sport
- "Sportsmark 2008" (PDF). Bury St Edmunds CUS Accolade. February 2009. p. 6.
- "Charter Standard for Football" (PDF). Bury St Edmunds CUS Accolade. January 2009. p. 5.
- "Cycling with a British Coach" (PDF). Bury St Edmunds CUS Accolade. February 2009. p. 6.
- "Equestrianism" (PDF). Bury St Edmunds CUS Accolade. June 2009. p. 7.
- "All the Sport for October" (PDF). Bury St Edmunds CUS Accolade. October 2009. p. 4.
- "Equestrianism" (PDF). Bury St Edmunds CUS Accolade. October 2011. p. 6.
- Page 1 CUS September Accolade
- Bury Free Press article "County top of the class after Suffolk triumph" dated 3 June 2011 abstracted 5 June 2011
- Rounders England National Championships results webpage abstracted 26 October 2011
- BFP Article dated 21 July 2014 abstracted 23 August 2014
- Bury Free Press article dated 3 June 2011
- UCAS Progress web page
- CUS Basketball Academy Fixture List
- London24 Article dated 24 May 2013 abstracted 23 Aug 2014
- EADT Article 21 Dec 2012 abstracted 22 Dec 2012
- EADT Article 19 April 2012 abstracted 6 May 2012
- Artsmark Centre map for West Suffolk
- List of Arts Award Centres in the East of England
- County Upper School [age on Rockschool Website
- CUS Page on BBC School Report website
- BBCNews Report website
- Bury Free Press Article 25 July 2008
- Bury Free Press Article 18 April 2011
- Bury Free Press Article dated 18 April 2011
- EADT Article dated 13 July 2012 abstracted 2 September 2012
- Bury Free Press article dated 13 July 2012 abstracted 2 September 2012
- Swing Band Concert Apex Bury St Edmunds June 2011
- Bury Free Press Article "Praise for annual school exhibition" p119 1 July 2011
- Head of Suffolk County Music Service letter "Re-location of Suffolk Youth Music activities: Bury St Edmunds" dated 19 December 2012
- The Prince's Teaching Institute
- List of Prince's Teaching Institute participating schools
- Global Gateway DCSF International School Award
- List of Schools in 2007 receiving the International School Award
- List of Clubs and Activities Autumn Term 2008 County Courier No.2 Dated 12 September 08 Spring Term 2009 County Courier No.15 Dated 9 January 09Summer Term 2009 County Courier No.26 Dated 24 April 09
- County Upper School page of Suffolk DofE Website
- Bury St Edmunds CUS Accolade Archive 2007-2009
- Bury Free Press Article 25 December 2010
- Bury Free Press Article dated 24 Dec 2013
- Bury Free Press article dated 14 August 2014 abstracted 24 August 2014
- St Edmundsbury Borough Council Food Hygiene Ratings
- County Upper School Website
- County Upper School Ofsted Reports
- County Upper School Ofsted Parent View
- County Upper School Brochure 2013-14
- County Upper School Prospectus 2013-14
- Ofsted Data Dashboard
- Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust website
- West Suffolk All-Through Teaching School Alliance Website
- County Upper Basketball Academy web page
- County Upper School Overview in Department for Education website
- County Upper School Web Page on Suffolk County Council Website
- County Upper School Profile on DirectGov website