|Ofsted Inspection Rating||Good|
|Inspection Date||03 March 2020|
|Address||Teapot Lane, Aylesford, Kent, ME20 7JU|
|Number of Pupils||721 (50% boys 50% girls)|
|Number of Pupils per Teacher||16.6|
|Percentage Free School Meals||18.7%|
|Percentage English is Not First Language||2.8%|
|Pupils with SEN Support||18.4%|
|Catchment Area Information Available||Yes, our catchment area data is FREE|
|Last Distance Offered Information Available||No|
What is it like to attend this school?
Aylesford School has a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Overall, pupils are happy and enjoy coming to school. They feel safe and well supported by staff. The relationships between staff and pupils are strong. Pupils told us that they trust that adults will swiftly sort out the few incidents of bullying that may occur. Leaders have created a calm and orderly environment around the school.
Leaders have high expectations of pupils. They are ambitious for pupils to develop ‘strong character strengths and reach their academic potential’. This has improved pupils’ attitudes and raised their aspirations. One parent commented, ‘The character education means he can demonstrate real success as a rounded individual, not just academically.’ The school promotes tolerance and diversity. Pupils’ physical and mental health are well supported by staff. Pupils, staff and parents and carers acknowledge that behaviour has improved hugely.
Standards have risen in most subjects at GCSE. Pupils are expected to work hard in lessons. As one parent commented, ‘The support for my child is amazing. It is centred on what is best for him.’
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Since the last inspection, leaders have successfully improved all aspects of the school. They know the school well and have tackled weaknesses effectively. Leaders have a strong focus on building character education. This has transformed pupils’ behaviour and attitudes to learning. Pupils approach their learning positively, including those who have joined the school in-year.Subject leaders plan curriculum content to build pupils’ learning over time. They continue to refine their curriculum planning so that learning is carefully sequenced. As a result, pupils learn and remember more. Pupils study a range of subjects. As a result, more are sitting examinations in English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects. However, curriculum plans are not yet implemented consistently across all subjects. In a small number of subjects, teachers’ planning for pupils’ learning does not challenge pupils well enough. Pupils have not always learned what they need to know for the work that comes later.
Teachers’ subject knowledge is strong. They present ideas clearly to all pupils. This includes those pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Teachers adapt learning and provide suitable resources for pupils with SEND so that these pupils learn effectively.
Leaders have introduced assessment methods that are effective and do not overload staff. For example, the ‘level up’ activities challenge pupils and support them to improve their work. In most subjects, teachers skilfully check pupils’ understanding and make them think deeply in lessons. In a small number of subjects, teachers donot always check well enough that pupils have learned and remembered important information.
Students in the sixth form attain highly in their learning. Leaders ensure that the curriculum is inclusive and that it effectively meets the needs of the learners. Leaders ensure that students have independent careers advice. This enables them to make sensible choices for their journey after leaving school. Sixth-form students are keen to take on responsibilities, such as buddying younger pupils. This helps to develop their leadership skills.
The school has high expectations for behaviour. Adults apply agreed strategies consistently and fairly. A focus on building relationships has led to mutual respect between staff and pupils. There has been a significant improvement in behaviour and attendance. Consequently, attitudes to learning are largely positive. Pupils show resilience in lessons and they are keen to attempt challenging tasks. Pupils value the relationship they have with staff and say that it is a strength of the school.
Leaders support pupils well in their personal development. Pupils are proud of the improvements they have made through the work of the school council and the leadership skills they are developing. Leaders prepare pupils well for life in modern Britain through character education. Pupils have opportunities to discuss and debate topical issues. As a result, they understand and show respect for other cultures and their beliefs. Staff have significantly increased the extra-curricular opportunities available to pupils. For example, pupils visit overseas countries and support the community by working with the British Legion.
Governors have clear expectations of what they want for pupils. They hold leaders to account well. Governors closely check the school’s finances. They ensure that disadvantaged pupils are supported well. Staff are overwhelmingly pleased and supportive of the changes leaders have made. They value the learning development opportunities to work with staff in other schools. This enables them to develop their professional skills.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Governors and leaders have created a strong culture of safeguarding in the school. Appropriate checks are made to ensure that staff are suitable to work in school. Staff understand their responsibilities and they know how to keep pupils safe. When extra help is needed, safeguarding leaders contact the right people in other organisations, such as social services. Pupils know how to keep themselves safe online and they understand the risks from extremism. Pupils feel very well supported by adults in the school.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
In a few subjects, curriculum planning has not been strong enough to meet leaders’ ambitions for all pupils to achieve well. As a result, pupils do not have the skills and knowledge to learn well enough in these subjects. Leaders need to ensure that curriculum planning is consistently strong in all subject areas. . In a small number of subjects, teachers do not check carefully that pupils have learned and remembered key information. As a result, pupils do not learn sufficient knowledge to understand and apply their learning in new contexts. Leaders need to make sure that teachers have the subject-specific knowledge and skills to ensure that pupils learn well.