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The new executive principal has high expectations for the school. Pupils told us they have noticed a difference since she arrived.
However, pupils do not receive a good enough education. There are limitations in the curriculum. Pupils in Years 7 to 9 do not follow a programme that covers all the subjects they should study.
The school serves a diverse community and is inclusive in its approach. This includes pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) who attend the on-site resource base. Pupils say they are encouraged to respect others and treat everyone equally.
We saw this in lessons when pupils responded to the diverse views of others....
School systems ensure that pupils behave well in classrooms. They feel safe and can focus on their work.
Behaviour in corridors, while queuing for the canteen and on the playground sometimes lacks discipline.
Pupils told us that they know they will get help and support when they ask for it. They said that when staff know about incidents of bullying, they deal with them quickly.
Many pupils choose to stay on in the sixth form. A student explained: 'We stayed because our sixth form has a good reputation.'
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Pupils in Years 7 to 9 are not offered a programme that covers the scope and ambition of the national curriculum.
Some pupils end their studies in subjects such as history, geography, art, music or design and technology after Year 8. Pupils in Years 7 to 9 do not study computing. Rightly, the executive principal recognises that this situation needs to change.
Plans to do this are at a very early stage.
Programmes of study in mathematics and science are well planned. As pupils progress through the curriculum in these subjects they build on their prior learning.
In physical education, pupils learn how to improve and develop their practical skills in different sports. They also learn how to make informed choices about healthy living.
In Years 7 and 8, the subject content of English, history, geography and languages is not covered in sufficient depth.
The art curriculum is skills-based, with not enough focus on the history of art, major movements and styles. Pupils in Years 7 and 8 do not get regular access to the school library. They are not in the habit of studying novels in full.
This is limiting their breadth of reading. English provision is better for older pupils. For example, in Year 11, pupils used what they had previously learned about Victorian London to help them understand the themes and characters in 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'.
They confidently recalled key quotations. They used these to justify their points of view in discussion and in written work.
In history, opportunities are not provided for pupils to extend their knowledge from before 1066.
In Year 10, pupils build on Year 8 work about the Cold War in order to undertake more demanding activities. However, leaders have decided to remove this unit from the Year 8 curriculum. Teaching in languages does not always build on what pupils have learned.
Work in exercise books showed Year 7 and 8 pupils do not routinely use a variety of tenses in their written work.
Sixth-form students show positive attitudes and commitment to their studies. They make effective use of independent study time.
Students have access to a broad range of support and guidance. This helps them to be well prepared for their next stage of education, employment or training. Large numbers of students progress to university, with many of them being the first in their family to do so.
Most students who need to resit English or mathematics GCSE are successful.
Behaviour in lessons is calm and purposeful. It contributes to an atmosphere where pupils are able to engage in their learning.
However, behaviour around the school site is not as routinely positive. In corridors, a few pupils push and jostle unnecessarily. On the playground, pupils sometimes behave in a way that makes others feel uncomfortable.
Extra-curricular opportunities are available to all pupils. This includes overseas visits, subject-related day trips and after-school clubs. Leaders evaluate participation in activities to ensure that disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND benefit from the offer.
The careers education programme is underdeveloped. Pupils receive limited independent careers support and guidance. They do not have good opportunities to learn about the world of work.
New curriculum leaders have recently been appointed in many subjects. They have received generic training to support them in managing their teams. Specialist training is now needed to help them to lead the changes and developments required in their subject areas.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
The necessary pre-employment checks on all adults who work on the school site are all completed. Teachers, support staff, governors and trustees receive regular and appropriate training in safeguarding.
Leaders ensure that pupils learn how to keep safe from risks that they might face. Topics in assemblies and tutor periods link directly with the well-planned personal, social, health and economic education programme. Pupils return to subjects as they make their way up the school to ensure that what they learn is age appropriate.
Following concerns raised by parents and carers about knife crime and gangs in the local area, leaders organised an event which involved the police to discuss these issues.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
The curriculum in Years 7 to 9 is not as broad and ambitious as the national curriculum. Leaders should review what is taught in Years 7, 8 and 9 to ensure that all essential content is covered.
This will enable pupils to deepen their knowledge and understanding in all subjects. . Pupils are polite, respectful and courteous in lessons.
Outside of lessons, not all pupils demonstrate the same high standards of conduct. Leaders must establish systems and routines to ensure that pupils routinely behave well. All staff should be vigilant and challenge pupils when they do not meet these standards.
. The careers programme in Years 8 to 11 is not strong. Pupils participate in workshops, conferences and one-day events but they have limited access to work experience.
There is no tracking of which groups of pupils access these opportunities. The school should implement its ambitious career policy statement swiftly. This will enable pupils to make better informed choices about their next steps.
. There is a significant number of newly appointed curriculum leaders at the school. Ongoing subject-specific training should be provided to help them lead the necessary changes and developments in their subject areas.