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Pupils love the fact that their school is friendly and welcoming. They say that it is a school where they can be themselves. This is because it is a very tolerant community.
Pupils feel very safe. They attend regularly and promptly and take great pride in presenting and organising their work carefully.
The school helps pupils to become better citizens.
Teachers support pupils well, but pupils also support each other. They have lots of opportunities to become leaders and contribute to the school. They say 'thank you' when somebody helps them.
Pupils value how every lesson in the school has familiar elements. Teachers make it clear when they are introd...ucing new things. They give pupils the chance to practise new skills and recall content.
They make sure that important information has been fixed in pupils' minds.
Pupils know that teachers always expect them to work hard. They are grateful for this.
Pupils know that they can always learn in lessons. This is because they are rarely distracted by poor behaviour. On any occasion when the normal high standards of behaviour slip, teachers deal with it quickly and effectively.
For example, pupils are confident that any bullying will be stopped successfully.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Leaders have brought improvements to many areas of the school since the previous inspection, including behaviour and the curriculum. Parents are very appreciative of the way the school has changed.
Leaders have designed a wide, rich curriculum across key stages 3, 4 and 5. The school has recently changed its options advice for key stage 4. This means pupils need to be ambitious in the range of subjects they choose.
Subject leaders plan sequences of lessons thoroughly. Teachers build on these plans to ensure that pupils know and remember more over time. Students in the sixth form benefit from the same meticulous planning.
Teachers help pupils to understand connections across different areas of their learning. However, in a small number of subject areas, the curriculum does not cover all the content it should.
The school's 'flexible learning' department supports pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) effectively.
Teachers receive detailed information about strategies for each pupil with SEND. Teachers work with 'link workers' who support individual pupils in lessons. Together, they ensure that pupils with SEND successfully access the same curriculum as their peers.
Leaders have introduced effective strategies to strengthen reading across the curriculum. These include extra help for the weakest readers. Subject teachers focus on key words and encourage reading within subjects.
These initiatives have helped to create a strong reading culture, which is evident across all years, including the sixth form.
Leaders regularly ask staff how they can support them better. Staff are confident that they are listened to.
Leaders help teachers to focus on teaching pupils well. Leaders encourage teachers to assess pupils' progress during lessons, for example by regularly checking their understanding through skilful questioning.
The school is a calm and orderly environment.
This is because all teachers and pupils understand the school behaviour policy. It is applied consistently. Pupils are motivated by the positive achievement points they receive when they are good role models.
Parents love how they are immediately informed of positive and negative sanctions.The personal development of pupils is very strong. Personal and social development lessons are thoroughly planned and expertly delivered.
They are constantly evaluated to keep them relevant. The programme of activities pupils undertake in their tutor periods is as carefully planned as any other curriculum area. Personal development in the sixth form builds on this thorough foundation.
Pupils receive clear and helpful guidance about the world of work and opportunities for further study. They get the information they need from the other colleges and training providers who visit the school. Sixth-form students benefit from the school's close relationship with its sponsor, Haileybury, which provides them with high-quality advice about accessing ambitious university courses.
School leaders have developed an engaging range of clubs, societies and teams. This extra-curricular activity programme successfully develops pupils' interests and talents. It includes sports, the arts and academic areas.
However, the take-up of these opportunities by pupils is not as strong as leaders know that it should be.
Governors are experienced and knowledgeable. They do not take the information that leaders give them at face value.
Their expert questioning ensures that the curriculum is meeting the needs of all the pupils in the school. Governors regularly ask external experts to evaluate areas of the school to help inform their work.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
The school has a strong culture of keeping pupils safe. Staff are trained how to spot the signs that pupils might need extra help. They pass on any concerns to leaders, who respond quickly and effectively.
The school provides high-quality pastoral support. Much of this support for pupils is provided by school staff. However, leaders understand when to involve outside agencies and they do so appropriately.
They ensure that pupils get the help they need when they need it. Leaders check the off- site alternative provision they use. Safeguarding is thoroughly covered in the curriculum.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• In a small minority of subjects, the programmes of study do not cover content which has the same scope as the national curriculum. This means that pupils do not learn all the content that they should, and this hampers their ability to make connections between different parts of their learning. Leaders must extend what is taught in these areas so pupils enjoy an equally broad curriculum across all their subjects.
• The take-up by pupils of the extra-curricular activities which are provided by the school is not as strong as it could be. As a result, some pupils are not taking advantage of all the opportunities that are available to them to develop their talents and interests through the wider curriculum. Leaders should review the school's programme, ensuring that it is as rich and broad as it can be, and pursue strategies for enhancing take-up.
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