|Ofsted Inspection Rating||Outstanding|
|Inspection Date||17 November 2011|
|Address||Southwing, Tetherdown, Muswell Hill, London, N10 1NE|
|Number of Pupils||1774 (50% boys 50% girls)|
|Number of Pupils per Teacher||16.1|
|Percentage Free School Meals||6.5%|
|Percentage English is Not First Language||12.2%|
Information about the school
The school is larger than average with over one quarter of its students in the sixth form. It has specialisms in mathematics, computing, music and modern foreign languages. Half the students are White British, about one tenth from Other White backgrounds and a third from other minority ethnic groups. The school has lower than the national proportion of students with special educational needs and/or disabilities but a higher than average proportion with statements of special educational needs, predominantly for autistic disorder spectrum and behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. The proportion of students known to be eligible for free school meals is low. There are more boys than girls, except in Year 7 and the sixth form. The school has an International School Award and Artsmark Gold and Sportsmark awards, and shares a site with a school for deaf children and a primary school reception class. The headteacher took up her post in September 2010.
The school is outstandingly effective. Standards have risen since the previous inspection with a significant increase in 2011. Students made very respectable progress in the past but their present high levels of achievement are reflected in better examination grades and the greater number of students going to university. It is therefore not surprising to find that the quality of teaching has improved; it is good or better in the large majority of lessons and outstanding in the sixth form. Comments from parents and carers referred to the ‘wonderful’ and ‘dedicated and professional’ teachers. Students make outstanding progress because their hard work, consistent application, and encouragement and support for learning at home are combined with good and effective teaching. A student described the school’s ethos as ‘informal but with high academic standards’, an apt description for a school with no uniform and where students are assumed to be sensible and act with maturity; practically all of them do. Whatever their ethnic or cultural background, students get on very well together. This contributes to the improved behaviour and a harmonious atmosphere. Despite the overall improvement, the percentage of A* and A grades at GCSE and A level is not so high in a small minority of subjects. Teachers have recently focused on preparing work that matches students’ different capabilities and asking questions which stimulate their higher-order thinking, but this good practice does not happen in all lessons. The inspection confirmed the school’s evaluation of the quality of marking, which is that teachers’ comments do not always tell students exactly what they must do to improve, and that they do not always expect students to respond to feedback. A parent wrote that her child was ‘exceptionally happy’ at school and the inspection confirmed that practically all students enjoy being at school and feel very safe. The school promotes good health but not quite rigorously enough. Only Key Stage 3 students have two hours of physical education lessons a week, and the department has not yet met its target of at least half the students participating in activities. Healthy lifestyles are promoted in subjects such as science and citizenship, although a few parents and carers expressed concerns about the quality of the canteen food. Although an extremely small minority still voice their concerns, the school’s relationships with parents and carers, the key issue in the previous inspection report, are much better. The headteacher has been single-minded in her successful drive to improve the school and raise levels of attainment. Senior and middle leaders, some of whom are new to their posts, have supported a comprehensive list of successful initiatives and have realistic plans to take them further; the school knows exactly where there is scope for improvement because data monitoring and analysis are much more accurate. For example, plans to generate more outstanding lessons are based on meticulous analysis and insight into the quality of teaching and learning. These positive factors, together with the marked improvement in students’ attainment, demonstrate that the school’s capacity to improve is good.