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At the core of this large school is the belief that every pupil can succeed.
Leaders and staff work hard to ensure that this ambition is realised for all pupils. Consequently, nearly all sixth-form students go on to attend university.
Leaders and staff build a whole-school culture that is based upon mutual respect and the same high expectations for all pupils.
Working relationships between teachers and pupils are positive. Pupils are happy and they behave well in lessons. Behaviour around the school is typically calm.
Leaders take bullying seriously and deal with it quickly. There are appropriate systems in place to report bullying. Most pupils said ...that teachers were good at resolving it.
However, a small number of pupils, parents and carers do not share this view.
Pupils work hard and achieve well across the curriculum. They are taught by teachers who have excellent subject knowledge.
All staff have high expectations for pupils' behaviour and academic outcomes. Indeed, most pupils choose to remain in the school for the sixth form because they value the support and education that they get.
The school provides a wide range of opportunities, beyond the taught curriculum, to promote pupils' wider development.
For example, pupils can take part in a broad range of clubs and activities, such as choir and debating. Form time and assembly are purposeful and informative. They encourage pupils to consider and discuss important topics such as mental health and diversity.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
The headteacher, with the support of governors, has led the development of an ambitious curriculum. This aims to ensure, when fully completed, that all pupils study a wide range of subjects for as long as possible throughout their time at school. In the sixth form, for example, students can select from a wide range of academic and vocational qualifications.
There is also a well-structured programme to support those students who resit mathematics and/or English GCSEs. Leaders are not yet satisfied that the curriculum is sufficiently broad for pupils in Years 10 and 11. They have plans in place to increase the number of subjects that pupils can choose to study in these year groups.
Teachers throughout the school are subject experts. They explain complex ideas so that all pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), access the full curriculum. This includes those pupils in the specially resourced provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (specially resourced provision).
Teachers check that pupils remember what they learned before. If they identify any gaps or misconceptions, they provide pupils with clear explanations to address these.
Pupils' reading is prioritised by leaders.
For example, there are regular, planned opportunities for pupils to read during the school week. Leaders have put in place a tailored programme for selected pupils who are at the early stages of reading to teach them phonics and build their confidence and reading fluency.
Behaviour in lessons is typically calm and focused throughout the school.
Leaders have ensured that there are clear behaviour expectations in place that pupils understand. Leaders are proactive in identifying where staff need additional support to manage behaviour. This academic year, leaders have taken the necessary steps to ensure that the school remains a calm place to be.
There is a carefully planned personal, social, health, citizenship and economic (PSHCE) education curriculum in place that runs from Years 7 to 13. Leaders have planned this aspect of the curriculum so that pupils revisit prior learning and build upon key areas, including maintaining mental health and forming healthy relationships. They have recently changed the timetable to ensure that pupils have more regular PSHCE education lessons than in the past.
Pupils are well supported in taking the next steps in their education or training. For example, all pupils in Year 11 and the sixth form receive individualised support from an external careers adviser to guide their decision-making.
Despite the impact of the pandemic on the school's extra-curricular programme, there are still over 50 activities currently running in which pupils can take part.
This includes a wide range of sports, clubs and societies, as well as school outings. For example, in the sixth form, students can join a society that encourages the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. However, leaders do not fully analyse which pupils take up these additional opportunities.
This means that they do not know whether all pupils, including the most disadvantaged, benefit from the excellent work the school is doing in this area.
Governors know the school well. They have played a valuable role in supporting the headteacher and leaders throughout the pandemic.
Staff are proud to work in the school. They value the professional development that they receive and feel well supported. Leaders take into account staff's workload when implementing changes.
Teachers who are new to teaching particularly value the support they get from their mentor and departmental colleagues.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders have recently increased the size of the pastoral team.
This is largely due to the increased number of pupils needing help since the start of the pandemic. The team includes a range of professionals with specific expertise.
Staff refer any safeguarding issues to leaders with responsibility for safeguarding.
Leaders follow up on these concerns quickly. Members of the safeguarding team ensure that pupils in need of additional help are identified early. Leaders work with parents should any concerns arise.
The PSHCE education curriculum is tailored and refined to meet the needs of pupils. For example, in response to pupils' feedback, information about consent is now taught earlier than in the past.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• Sometimes, leaders do not communicate clearly enough with pupils and parents about the actions taken to address bullying.
This means that a small number of pupils and parents are not assured that bullying is being addressed and followed up, when in fact it is. Leaders should improve their communication with parents and pupils so that they know what specific actions have been taken to tackle bullying. As part of this work, leaders should consult with parents and pupils about how well they feel bullying is dealt with.
• Leaders do not fully analyse which pupils attend extra-curricular activities. This means that they do not know whether all pupils, including the most disadvantaged, benefit from all that the school has to offer. Leaders should ensure that systems in place are used to check that all pupils take up the additional opportunities provided by the school.
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