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Pupils know that when they join the school in Year 7, leaders have strong ambitions for them.
Along the way, pupils receive lots of good-quality support, advice and guidance to help them choose courses. As a result, most stay at school for seven years and achieve well in the public examinations they take. This includes students in the sixth form who are excellent role models for their younger peers.
However, in Year 9, pupils do not study a broad enough curriculum. Some subjects are not taught in sufficient depth because of the school's two-year key stage 3.
Pupils said that the school provides lots of opportunities to discuss and debate a wide range of issue...s.
They do this in lessons, assemblies and in the daily tutor time. Pupils value this because it improves their understanding about the world. It also develops their skills of organising ideas and expressing their arguments in a coherent way.
Students in the sixth form do this particularly well.
Pupils confirmed that all areas of the school are safe for them to visit. They know that adults in the school care about them and want them to succeed.
Pupils' attendance is above average. Most behave well and work hard. Pupils know what to do if they have concerns, including on the rare occasions when bullying occurs.
They know that staff will deal with concerns quickly, and they can report them on the school's online system.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
A well-planned and well-implemented subject programme in Years 9 to 11 ensures that pupils achieve well in GCSE examinations, year on year. Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities prosper in this school, as do those who are disadvantaged.
This is because their needs are identified accurately, and the right support put in place. For example, visually impaired pupils are provided with larger text and picture cues to support them in remembering important information. Pupils settle down to work quickly and show good attitudes to learning.
Subject leaders have started to review the key stage 3 curriculum. Most think carefully about how to order topics so that knowledge builds on pupils' previous learning and on what is planned next. For instance, in science, the primary key stage 2 curriculum is used to plan for pupils' learning in Year 7.
Leaders also draw upon the GCSE requirements to start embedding important subject skills early on. Such thoughtful planning is evident in other subjects, such as mathematics and English. However, it is currently not as strong in some foundation subjects, such as design and technology, and music.
Although the broad aims of the curriculum are covered over Years 7 and 8, the subject content is not taught in sufficient depth. In practice, this means that pupils learn about key ideas at a rapid rate, without enough time to bed down important knowledge. Pupils choose four options in Year 8 and start their GCSE subjects in Year 9.
Although they study a range of subjects, pupils miss out on some subjects in Year 9. Leaders and governors have not ensured that all pupils have the opportunity to study a broad range of subjects, as exemplified by the national curriculum, in Year 9.
A full personal, social and health education (PSHE) programme is in place throughout Years 7 to 11.
The school has been recognised for its work in careers education. The school also provides a wide range of extra-curricular activities, for example in music, sport and performing arts. However, not all Year 9 pupils participate in these and this does not compensate for their lost curriculum entitlement.
The proportion of pupils studying the five English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subject areas has improved over the past three years. Previously, fewer pupils were studying languages. Leaders noted this as a concern and put clear plans in place to reverse this.
As a result, the quality of the curriculum, teaching and assessment in languages has improved for those who continue to GCSE. The take up of GCSE language courses has increased. Currently, in Year 11, almost half the pupils are studying the five EBacc areas, including a modern foreign language.
Students in the sixth form get an excellent deal. The curriculum is extremely well matched to their needs and aspirations. The staying-on rate from Year 11, in academic and vocational courses, is high.
Teachers' excellent subject knowledge and ability to communicate mean that concepts are taught in great depth. This prepares students well for higher education. Most go on to university courses, including the Russell Group institutions.
Disadvantaged sixth-form students are not left behind. Most of them continue to higher education too.
Teachers told inspectors that leaders have begun to take important steps to reduce unnecessary workload.
Staff appreciate this.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
All staff are vigilant in their care of pupils.
Leaders' thorough checking processes ensure that only adults that are safe to work with pupils are employed by the school. All staff receive annual safeguarding training as well as frequent updates. Leaders know their pupils and their families well.
The strong positive relationships that they have built with pupils' families help them to provide early support. They work well with partners, for instance the police, to ensure that the local risks to pupils from gangs and knife crime are minimised. Leaders are relentless in pursuing help for their vulnerable pupils when it is needed.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
Leaders and governors have not ensured that pupils in Year 9 receive their entitlement of a broad and balanced curriculum that is at least as ambitious as the national curriculum. Leaders need to continue reviewing the current offer in Year 9 and revise it so that all pupils have universal access to the full curriculum. .
The depth of the curriculum in the foundation subjects in Years 7 and 8 varies. There are many subjects with a strong curriculum in key stage 3 for leaders to draw upon to support improvements, including mathematics and English. Leaders need to work with departments in a systematic way to ensure that all subjects have a well-sequenced curriculum, allowing pupils to learn in greater depth.