Barnwell School

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About Barnwell School

Name Barnwell School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mr Anthony Fitzpatrick
Address Barnwell, Stevenage, SG2 9SW
Phone Number 01438222500
Phase Secondary
Type Foundation school
Age Range 11-18
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 1227
Local Authority Hertfordshire
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Barnwell is a warm, welcoming, and friendly school. Pupils are well-mannered, they hold doors open for each other. Pupils behave well around the school.

Pupils say that they enjoy school and that on the rare occasions when bullying happens, staff deal with it quickly. They want to do well in lessons, contributing well to class discussions and showing curiosity in the questions they ask. Pupils listen closely to their teachers in lessons.

Even though the school is based on two sites, it feels like one school. Pupils benefit from consistent routines and a strong induction programme. They move sensibly when they need to change.

Sixth-form students play a full pa...rt in the life of the school and the community. All students undertake voluntary work, such as charitable work with people with dementia. They are well prepared for the next stage after school.

Students have the opportunity to complete pre-apprenticeship programmes, work placements and workshops with universities. Students are enthusiastic about school and say they are 'well-looked after'.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

Despite the pandemic, leaders have made significant improvements with leadership, the curriculum and teaching.

Pupils follow a broad and ambitious curriculum. Teachers deliver the well-designed curriculum confidently. Since the previous inspection, weaknesses with the science curriculum and its delivery have been addressed.

Leaders have carefully considered what pupils need to know and be able to do to secure their next stage of education, employment, or training. This includes ensuring more pupils study the subjects for the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). The take up of modern foreign languages is increasing.

Pupils enjoy their learning in a range of subjects. Curriculum planning is strong, and teachers consistently use teaching methods to help pupils remember key learning over time. For example, Year 8 pupils spoke eloquently about their prior learning of the gothic conventions of 'Dracula' in English.

Year 12 law students easily recall key acts, dates, and technical elements of the legal aid process.

Sixth-form students develop good study skills. For example, they appreciate watching 'Ted Talks' to complement their learning.

They read regularly and widely. Younger pupils also avidly read a wide range of texts. However, the studying and reading habits of pupils in Years 9 to 11 are not as well-established.

Leaders have plans in place to address this.

Pupils who struggle to read, including pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), are well-supported. Leaders carefully check pupils' reading ability and alter their reading programmes to suit.

Pupils improve their reading quickly. Leaders also check pupils' gaps in knowledge and understanding and take immediate action to address these. To illustrate, Year 11 pupils can stay longer at school to revisit aspects taught during the pandemic.

Pupils with SEND access the same ambitious curriculum as their peers. The special educational needs coordinator and her team know the pupils well. Teachers regularly contribute to pupils' support plans so that adjustments can be made if needed.

Staff are knowledgeable about suitable therapeutic approaches to support pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs who need these. The number of exclusions has significantly reduced over time.

Leaders prioritise the wider development of pupils.

Through the curriculum, pupils learn the school values of PRIDE (to be passionate, respectful, innovative, determined, and empathetic). This learning is interwoven with a well-considered curriculum for personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education. Pupils, and students in the sixth form, receive effective careers education.

Career advice, discussions with employers and other opportunities continued virtually during the national lockdowns. Pupils also have a broad offer of extra-curricular activities. However, a significant minority of pupils who responded to the Ofsted pupil survey, state that they rarely or never take part.

Over time, governors have effectively held leaders to account for the quality of provision. Staff are particularly appreciative of their and leaders' support with staff well-being and workload.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Staff know pupils well and are alert to the local risks that face the pupils at Barnwell.Staff access training with other external agencies, including the police. Leaders ensure staff remain up to date with information about online safety, sexual harassment, and county lines.

Staff know how to report concerns and do so quickly. Leaders liaise effectively with other external services to make sure vulnerable pupils get the help they need.

Pupils learn about staying safe through assemblies, form time and the PSHE curriculum.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• Studying habits, such as reading widely about a topic, and reading for pleasure are not well-established in Years 9 to 11. Some pupils are not developing a deep and rich body of knowledge and vocabulary over time. Leaders should continue to drive forward their plans for improvement so that pupils cultivate a love for reading.

• While the school provides a wide range of opportunities to nurture, develop and stretch pupils' talents and interests, there is a significant minority of pupils who do not make use of these opportunities. This limits some pupils' wider development. Leaders should raise the profile of enrichment so that more pupils make the most of what is on offer.

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