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Pupils embrace the school's values of determination, independence, enthusiasm, confidence and consideration. The curriculum extends beyond the academic and actively fosters pupils' personal development. Leaders have ensured that all pupils have access to a wide-ranging and rich set of experiences.
The school has high expectations and, as a result, pupils achieve highly.
Behaviour in and around school is of an exceedingly high quality. Pupils are pleasant, polite and respectful to their teachers and guests.
In lessons, there is a calm and purposeful atmosphere. Pupils say bullying is extremely rare and dealt with well by the school. Pupils feel safe and happy ...in the school.
There is a wide range of culturally enriching trips, such as visits to the theatre, art galleries and religious buildings. 'Enrichment Wednesday' offers sixth-form students many options, including sign language and an extensive range of sporting activities. The provision consistently and extensively supports the health, welfare and well-being of all pupils.
The school is responsive to pupils' views and interests, developing their character and leadership skills. Sixth-form students regularly support younger pupils in their lessons. Students and pupils make an excellent contribution to the local community.
The school supports other schools by generously sharing best practice and expertise.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
The curriculum is carefully planned, suitably sequenced and implemented effectively. Routines and expectations are embedded and exert a positive impact on the behaviour and learning of pupils.
There is a strong learning culture across the school. Pupils develop a deep body of knowledge. This is reflected in external examination results, which are consistently well above the national average.
Increasing numbers of pupils study languages beyond key stage 3 due to the effective work that leaders have done to improve this aspect of the school's provision.
There is high ambition for all pupils, especially those who are disadvantaged. The small number of pupils in receipt of pupil premium funding are well supported and integral to school decision-making.
Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) thrive because their needs are identified and catered for precisely. This includes pupils supported by the NAS Cullum Centre, who access the full curriculum in a way that is thoughtfully personalised to build upon their prior knowledge and develop their interests and aptitudes.
Teachers are experts in their field.
Their explanations are clear and well modelled. They probe expertly when questioning and check for whole-class understanding before moving on. Relationships forged between staff and pupils are rooted in a genuine atmosphere of mutual respect.
As a result, pupils enjoy their learning and relish being at school. They value the experiences offered, both inside and outside of the classroom.
Subject-specific vocabulary, literacy skills and reading are suitably highlighted and extended by the school's curriculum.
Pupils feel comfortable taking risks as part of their work and enjoy opportunities for independent learning and research. Assessment provides pupils with clear feedback that helps them to achieve their next steps in learning. It also gives staff a clear appreciation of areas in which the curriculum might be further enhanced or remodelled.
Ongoing curriculum improvement is a strong feature of the school.
Pupils have extensive opportunities to take on leadership responsibilities, including supporting younger pupils with their learning. Overall, attendance is high, including in the sixth form, because pupils want to come to school.
Where attendance is lower, such as for a small number of disadvantaged pupils, leaders' persistent work is showing signs of improvement. Across the school, suspensions and exclusions are low.
Through the curriculum, pupils are given opportunities to consider ethical issues.
For example, they recall considering ethical energy choices in science and using recycled materials in textiles. The development of pupils' character is exemplary. The school's personal development programme, which includes relationships, sex and health education, is thoughtfully considered and highly regarded.
Careers education is well supported. All departments have a 'careers champion', who provides support for subject-based careers advice. The school works in partnership with local businesses, colleges and universities to support careers education.
As a result, 'staying on' rates into the sixth form are high, and students continue their education, including by progressing to degree-level apprenticeships, at a range of highly regarded universities.
Professional development is entirely focused on the individual needs of staff. Time is spent thoughtfully developing teaching pedagogy and subject expertise.
Middle leaders are actively supported through effective line management and personalised training. Early career teachers are exceptionally well supported. Leaders are considerate of staff workload and well-being.
Staff are proud to be part of the school.
Trustees and governors are clear and confident about their roles and responsibilities. They attend school regularly and have a well-informed understanding of the school.
Trustees' and governors' meeting minutes confirm their engagement and their probing questions. Leaders are fully held to account for the school's performance.
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