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Pupils and sixth-form students cannot praise the school highly enough. Pupils have lots of opportunities to make their voice heard.
They contribute to school life through a range of committees and groups. One area of many that stands out is the committee to promote equality and diversity. It has made recommendations that leaders have taken on board and implemented.
The support teachers give to pupils also contributes significantly to learning. Expectations for all pupils are high. Sometimes, however, in Years 7 to 9, teaching plans are not as well thought out as they could be.
At times, this makes it difficult for pupils to fully deepen their learning. ...r/>Pupils said unanimously that their teachers always help them if they are worried about their academic work or something personal. Sixth-form students appreciate the plentiful support they receive for their next steps, for example the recent careers interviews.
Pupils' behaviour is exemplary. They are highly respectful of others and of their teachers. There is little, if any, bullying.
Leaders ensure that any bullying is dealt with firmly. Assemblies and form time raise issues about consent and pupils are taught about what is, and is not, acceptable behaviour. No one turns a blind eye to any unacceptable behaviour.
As a result, pupils feel safe in school.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
The school does many things particularly well. This is recognised by those parents who responded to the online survey, Ofsted Parent View.
Most subject leaders have developed their curriculum effectively. They ensure that pupils learn the fundamental ideas and knowledge before moving on to more complex work. In mathematics, for example, the logically planned curriculum is reflected in what pupils do in the classroom.
Learning is planned to ensure that pupils gain a strong understanding of mathematical ideas. In music, geography and religious education, pupils are given work that builds consistently on previous learning. This helps pupils to deepen their knowledge.
The quality of pupils' work in these subjects is first rate. In the sixth form too, the curriculum is demanding, and students' work is of a consistently excellent standard.
However, in Years 7 to 9, curriculum thinking is not as sharp in a few subjects.
Links between how subject content taught in one unit of work and another are, in a few instances, not explicitly defined. Occasionally, leaders' clear intentions for the curriculum are not put into practice in classrooms. This means that pupils are not able to deepen their learning methodically.
Leaders are aware of these inconsistencies and have already begun to tackle them successfully. Nevertheless, these small variations in Years 7 to 9 mean that the quality of education for some pupils is not as strong as it could be.
Teachers' subject knowledge is strong, including at key stage 4.
They take pride in getting pupils and students to achieve well, including in their examination subjects. Teachers receive plentiful training and support for their professional development. However, some aspects of this training are not focused sharply on strengthening teachers' expertise in delivering the curriculum.
Senior leaders, trustees and governors are clear about the school's core mission. They make sure that this informs their decisions and how they work with staff and pupils. One outcome of this is that all staff are highly aspirational for their pupils, including for sixth-form students.
Staff have especially strong professional relationships with pupils. This helps to ensure that pupils' behaviour and attitudes to school are positive. Pupils are highly motivated and work hard to achieve and learn successfully.
The great majority of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities learn as successfully as their peers. Pupils' needs are identified accurately, and additional support is provided. This includes extra help for pupils who need support with their reading fluency.
Staff routinely make adaptations to teaching, but in a few instances, these adaptations are not fine-tuned to pupils' specific needs. To tackle this, leaders are providing further training for staff to strengthen their expertise in catering for pupils' needs.
Provision for pupils' personal development is comprehensive.
Leaders run a wide range of opportunities for pupils to develop their understanding of the wider world. For example, leaders and staff work to ensure that all pupils recognise the harmful effects of sexual harassment, and know about the issues around consent. Similarly, pupils are taught about the Equality Act and about what it means to show respect and tolerance to others, regardless of background.
After-school clubs, visiting speakers and trips extend pupils' learning. The Ashmolean Scholar programme is highly rated by sixth-form students. They like how it aims to broaden their minds and encourages them to delve into areas of interest.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Pupils' welfare and safety are given a high priority. All the policies relating to safeguarding and child protection are up to date and refer to the latest guidance.
Staff training is thorough. This means that they understand the procedures for identifying pupils who may need support. Leaders have strong links with outside agencies, including the local authority children's services.
This ensures that pupils are given the right help quickly when they need it.
The vetting checks to ensure the suitability of staff are comprehensive. Leaders and governors have appropriate oversight of the procedures and make regular checks to ensure that safeguarding arrangements work well in practice.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• Leaders' work on the curriculum has been highly effective. In a few subjects, however, leaders have not identified as clearly how knowledge within each unit of work lays the foundation for what comes next. This makes it difficult for pupils to extend their understanding and skills progressively, especially in key stage 3.
Leaders know that a few subjects need strengthening further. They are already taking steps to ensure that planned improvements are put into practice swiftly, including any necessary training for staff. Leaders need to build on this work and make sure that, in key stage 3, learning is sequenced coherently in all subjects.
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