This is an outstanding academy The academy's motto, 'striving for excellence', is reflected strongly in all aspects of school life. Pupils thrive because personal development and academic excellence are promoted equally well. The positive and purposeful culture of the academy characterises the work of both staff and pupils.
This is underpinned by a highly effective headteacher and governing body who enjoy strong support from parents and carers. Senior and middle leaders work cohesively and conscientiously to support the academy's continuous improvement. Their expertise and different responsibilities combine very well.
The governing body is very well informed a...bout the work of the academy. Its commitment and challenge contribute to leaders' effectiveness. Governors review their own performance and that of the academy regularly and rigorously.
Teaching is strong across the academy. Teachers' passion for their subject is palpable. This contributes to learning that intrigues and interests pupils right from the start of lessons.
Whilst staff are rightly proud of their work, they value feedback and opportunities to share ideas. Pupils benefit from the challenging activities that teachers prepare. These, together with probing questions and constructive advice, contribute to high achievement by pupils.
This includes the most-able pupils, who excel at the academy. Support provided for disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs meets their requirements extremely well. Teachers are given first-rate guidance based on detailed analysis of different pupils' needs.
Pupils' behaviour is exemplary. They make a significant contribution to helping others feel safe and supported. Their growth in confidence and charisma contributes to their strong employability skills.
Attendance is very high. Pupils make excellent progress across a wide range of subjects. They reach high standards.
Academic, creative and sporting achievements give pupils a strong foundation for continuing education, employment and enjoyment. The achievement of disadvantaged pupils is improving rapidly. Academy leaders make judicious use of extra funding designed to help different groups of pupils catch up.
The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils is a high priority. Exceptionally high levels of participation in extra-curricular and charitable activities show how successfully policies are reflected in practice. The sixth form is skilfully led and managed.
Learners make excellent progress from a wide range of starting points. Comprehensive careers advice contributes to learners taking 16–19 study programmes that are very well suited to their needs.
Information about this school
This academy is larger than the average-sized secondary school.
The proportion of disabled pupils or who have special educational needs is above average. The proportion of pupils for whom the school receives pupil premium funding is below average. This is additional funding for pupils who are known to be eligible for free school meals and those looked after by the local authority.
The large majority of pupils are White British. The number from minority ethnic backgrounds is below average, as is the proportion who speak English as an additional language. The academy is the lead school in the North Hertfordshire School Direct Consortium and a member of the management group of the North Hertfordshire Teaching School Alliance.
The sixth form at the academy is part of a consortium with Hitchin Girls' School and The Priory School. Two pupils currently access alternative provision at the North Hertfordshire Education Support Centre. The academy meets the government's current floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for the attainment and progress of pupils.