Courtesy of Hexcam using a radio-controlled octocopter, 4th November 2013
A school has existed on the present site in Willow Green, Ingatestone, Essex since September 1959. This site remained virtually unaltered until September 1973 when a period of rapid change and expansion commenced.
In competition with local grammar schools the “modern school” had struggled to recruit students and the local authority decided that it was not viable. However, following local protest, the authority decided to establish it as a school with a distinctly European dimension; this was, of course, coincident with the debate over UK membership of the Common Market.
It gave the Authority an opportunity to implement the decision they made in 1967 to develop a school in Essex “along European line”.
The school went from strength to strength and is now a successful 11-18 establishment with over 1150 students from a wide catchment area covering most of Essex and NE London. As part of its strong International ethos, each year almost 700 students travel overseas as part of the school’s links with International schools. In exchange, over 400 students visit the school on a reciprocal basis from France, Germany, Spain, Italy and China.
The first Head Teacher of the Anglo-European School was Norman Pitt (1973-1990) who presided over a major building programme, which included a new language laboratory, a Sixth Form Block, an additional teaching space and improved Science laboratories. The curriculum steadily became enriched with its strong, all-pervading European dimension. European Studies was introduced to members of the fourth and fifth year and the European Study Visit Programme was introduced for all years and steadily expanded during the 1970s to include link schools in France, Germany, Norway and the U.S.A. In 1977 the school was the first state school to introduce the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme, an internationally recognised post-16 qualification which balances breadth with academic rigour.
In September 1990, Bob Reed, was appointed Headteacher and he too both instigated and presided over many changes including the extension of the European dimension to incorporate a more international perspective.
In September 1993 the school became Grant Maintained, placing full control of its finances, staff and overall management firmly in the hands of the Head Teacher and the School Governors. It returned to the local authority as a Foundation School in September, 1999. The most exciting challenge of all materialised in July 1995 when the school was designated a Language College by virtue of its on-going role as a centre of excellence in the teaching of languages.
This continued to expand and to embrace a more International ethos under the leadership of the present Co-Headteachers, David Barrs and Jill Martin, with the notable expansion of links and three new school exchanges with China and the development of the Jiangsu Centre in 2008. There have also been two new Spanish exchanges and a new exchange to Italy introduced in 2009. David and Jill also defined the five pillars which define the school and set it apart from others namely: Citizenship; languages; a broad baccalaureate curriculum including the arts and humanities; international visits and exchanges; the values, mission and vision of the IB. The co-headship model pioneered by the Anglo was further developed by the retirement of Jill Martin and the appointment of Jody Gee as co-head in September 2015.
Jean Monnet’s concept of a peace-promoting Europe, which shares its wealth with the world, lies at the heart of much of what the school does. Our aim is to provide the highest quality education enriched by an international ethos. The school provides an education for students in the local catchment area but also attracts a significant number of students, including non-UK nationals, who live in various parts of Essex and further afield.
Translation of Jean Monnet’s letter
The result is a multi-cultural society of young people who leave the school ready to play their part in shaping Europe and the world, proud of their own culture and tolerant of, and interested in, the culture of others. Indeed, the ethos that drives the school is critically important in a suburban, affluent, largely white Essex. There are few opportunities to engage in direct experience of other cultures. Attitudes can easily be driven by the stereotypes conveyed by the media. The school considers that part of its role is to challenge those stereotypes and help combat the racism that can arise from them.
The Anglo European School
The school is an 11-19, co-educational comprehensive school situated between Brentwood and Chelmsford, 30 minutes for Liverpool Street station.
It was opened in 1973 after the closure of a secondary modern school. The local residents of Ingatestone had campaigned to keep their local school open and the Local Authority, Essex, took the visionary step to establish a school with a “European Dimension”. The school would serve local needs but also draw students from a much wider sphere of influence. That sphere of influence now includes pretty much the whole of Essex and parts of London including Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Redbridge. We also draw students from Suffolk! As you can imagine, the railway line is our life-blood but students also arrive her by bus, car, foot and bicycle. Altogether 1350 students come to this school in the village of Ingatestone – and we are at the end of a cul-de-sac!
We have no evidence to prove it but there is a view that the local authority decision-makers at the time may have been influenced by the US ‘magnet’ school model. It was certainly the case that they saw it as an opportunity to consolidate the position of Essex as an important EU hub. The county faces Europe and the debate about our membership of the Common Market was as lively then (there was a referendum in 1975) as it is about our membership of the EU now.
Jean Monet gave us permission to use the EU flag as our logo but towards the end of the 1990s our ethos changed to embrace people from all over the world. ‘Anglo European’ is a misnomer but our reputation is built on it so we have never changed the name.
Virtually all of the children from our local primary schools come here. They are all entitled to a place. This amounts to about 300 students.
So what is it that draws over 1000 students to this school every day from beyond Ingatestone?
We have a reputation for high academic standards, our exam results are very good and we are a values-driven school. There are five particular features (pillars) which attract parents and their children.
- A commitment to a broad and balanced (baccalaureate) curriculum. Every student studies the humanities, the Arts, technology, languages, Citizenship and PE as well as Mathematics, English and Science until Year 11 (age 16). In the sixth form they study either one of two International Baccalaureate (IB) courses or a 4 AL programme. All students in the sixth form study a language and the IB course Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS). We have Artsmark Gold status recognising the commitment we make to arts education. (A former student recently played Robert Oppenheimer in the West End stage play Oppenheimer).
- Languages. We offer Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish as well as English as an Additional Language and Latin. Up until age 16 all students study two languages other than English and in the Sixth Form they have to study one. We are a Confucius Classroom supporting Chinese teaching in this school and in other schools
- Citizenship. This is both a taught course for all students as well as an applied course. All students take part in a Model United Nations and work experience. With regard to the latter many choose to do their work experience abroad. Political education is a key part of this programme
- Visits and exchanges. Every year between 6-700 students travel abroad, most of them on family exchange. All of our full-time teaching staff agree to support this programme which takes them away from their own families for up to 10 days every year. We have a network of partner schools throughout Europe as well as in India, South Africa (Lesotho) and China some 23 schools altogether.
- The IB. Whilst we run the IB Diploma and Career Programme and our main school curriculum is inspired by their Middle Years Programme, it is the IB philosophy and ethos which makes the school tick. Whether students follow IB programmes or not , they are all influenced by its philosophy.
In our view none of the 5 ‘pillars’ can be found in any other school in the country and certainly not all together
You can see that it is a school with a difference and from those early days we are very proud of what we have achieved as a comprehensive school. Ofsted have referred to us as ‘distinctive’, others refer to us as ‘quirky’. Either way we are different and we feel it is quite a special place to be. In some ways it can be likened to a faith school except that we are secular and our ‘faith’ is internationalism this permeates all aspects of what we do.
Some key milestones
1977 first UK state school to offer the International baccalaureate Diploma
1995 we became the first comprehensive school to become a specialist Language college
2005 we established the first co-headship model in a state secondary school
2010 first UK state school to offer the IB Career Programme
2011 we established the Anglo European Co-operative Educational Trust along with our local primary schools, the Anglia Ruskin University and the Co-operative Society
2011 we established the school as the Anglo European Co-operative Academy as part of the drive to make all schools independent companies within the state sector.