Why Hartlepool school’s dramatic rise in GCSE performance is no accident

Headteacher Andrew Jordon outside Dyke House Sports and Technology College
Headteacher Andrew Jordon outside Dyke House Sports and Technology College

“NOBODY is going to achieve anything without hard work.”

Andrew Jordon has many philosophies on how to run a school - hard work on the part of the staff and students is the key element.

Headteacher Andrew Jordon

Headteacher Andrew Jordon

And the headteacher at Dyke House Sports and Technology College practices what he preaches.

He’s in school at 7.30am every morning. Many of his staff have arrived 30 minutes earlier. The majority don’t leave until 6pm.

And the students?

“The students here are very malleable,” he says.

Headteacher Andrew Jordon with students.

Headteacher Andrew Jordon with students.

“If you ask them to stay behind until 4pm to do some revision or finish some work, the vast majority will stay behind.

“A few years ago we would have to stand on the door to make them stay,” he laughed.

But then again, a few years ago things were very different at Dyke House Sports and Technology College.

But hard work - as Mr Jordon tells his students at every given opportunity - pays off.

A prime example was last August when Dyke House’s GCSE results rocketed from 37 per cent of students achieving five A*-C grades including English and maths to 75 per cent.

The staggering rise meant Dyke House was the most improved state school in the country. The 12th most improved, including private schools.

A remarkable rise even more impressive considering the school is right in the heart of a regeneration area.

The deprivation area around a school is judged by the number of students who claim free school meals. At Dyke House that figure is 56 per cent.

The results make delightful reading for all involved with Dyke House School.

And there’s more.

Last year 97 per cent of students gained five A*-C grades, more than 53 per cent celebrated more than five A*-B grades while English and maths were also on the up and way above the national average.

But that doesn’t mean the work at Dyke House is done.

When Mr Jordon took over from his dad Bill in 2011 he knew he faced a challenge. But challenges are what he had faced throughout his teaching career.

Graduating from Durham University with a geography degree, Mr Jordon took “the safe route” and enrolled onto a Post Graduate Certificate of Education.

He takes up the story from there: “I finished my PGCE but couldn’t get a job in the North East so had to go to Manchester to work in a private school, and looking back it was the best thing I have ever done.

“The students there and the level of expectations was phenomenal.

“I was teaching 18-year-olds and I was only 22. I was going home every night and having to revise myself, it was like being back in school.”

From Manchester, Mr Jordon moved onto a school in Consett where he became a head of Geography and a head of year, then onto a challenging school in Darlington before he arrived at Dyke House.

“When I took over here I didn’t take a lot from my dad,” said the 38-year-old, who splits his time between homes in Durham and Northumberland.

“It was a different job to take over to the one he had done. People were thinking I had got the job because my dad was here before, so I wanted to divorce myself from that.”

Jordon senior has only been in the school once since he left. He’s had his own school to concentrate on. Last year North Shore Academy, in Stockton, which was in special measures when Bill took over, was the fourth most improved state school in the country. But while the father and son pair share success, they differ in philosophies.

Mr Jordon chats for more than an hour about the ever-improving fortunes of Dyke House while sat relaxed in a booth in the expansive Dyke House corridors rather than his office.

That’s not a rarity. The members of the senior leadership team are often out and about around the hugely impressive school building.

“None of us sit in our office,” says Mr Jordon.

“We do what we can to support the teachers, we are out and around the school all of the time.

“Unless it is something confidential it’s very rare for any of us to be in our offices during the day.”

The brand new building has had an undoubted positive impact on the students.

“The new building has allowed us to do things in a totally different way,” says Mr Jordon. “The fact that the students have a building here they are proud of, that they think is worth being a part of, is a big thing.

“We are in a good place here and the kids get it, they understand what we are trying to do.

“If we change something, bring in a new rule than the students will have a whinge about it but in the long term they understand it.”

Not that drastic changes have to be made. For what Mr Jordon and his team of staff are doing at Dyke House School is working.

“Now it’s about trying to maintain our results,” he said.

“We know we aren’t going to have huge improvements every year, that’s not possible.

“But it’s all about staying above that national average.”

And Mr Jordon, the staff and students know what is required to continue the school’s staggering success - hard work.