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The school promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for 14- to 19-year-old learners in a very effective manner.
Learners arrive on buses from over 40 different locations in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire. Leaders have worked tirelessly to make sure that new entrants understand the uniqueness of the school and its curriculum. As a result, learners want to be at school and focus on their studies.
Staff treat learners as young adults. As a result, learners behave with maturity. Learners respond well to the 'professional' expectations of staff.
There is a calm learning environment throughout the school. Learners are res...pectful to each other and staff. Bullying is rare and staff deal with it swiftly when it happens.
Staff have fostered strong relationships with employers and universities. During the inspection, local employers interviewed every Year 10 and Year 12 learner. This provides pupils with a realistic understanding of work in STEM-related occupations.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Leaders from the multi-academy trust and the university technology college (UTC) have a clear ambition for the school. The headteacher has been inspirational in achieving this. Her vision for the school as a professional learning community has come to fruition.
Leaders have an inclusive ethos. Although STEM subjects dominate the sixth-form curriculum, there is a broader choice in key stage 4. Leaders recognise that pupils may want to extend their opportunities for learning, post-16.
The key stage 4 curriculum allows pupils to take the English Baccalaureate, even though this is not a requirement of a UTC.
Teachers know their subjects well. Many have worked in relevant industries prior to taking up a teaching career.
They share real-life work experiences that add to learners' employability. Leaders plan curriculums so that learners continually build on past learning. Recalling previous learning is a key feature of lessons which helps learners to develop strong understanding.
Consequently, learners use their knowledge to solve problems and move on to more complex learning successfully.
Some of the younger pupils are less secure as to why they are learning topics at a particular time. Staff do not always explain effectively to them the structure of the curriculum.
Some parents expressed that they, too, would like to know more about what pupils are learning, and when.
Employers set workplace projects for learners. This enables learners to hone skills and knowledge that are pertinent to the subjects studied at a professional level.
This helps every learner to secure an appropriate placement for their next steps.
Some pupils arrive in Year 10 with very low reading ages. They learn phonics if they cannot recognise words confidently.
Others receive regular sessions to improve their fluency, so that they can learn alongside their peers successfully. However, leaders have not established a strong reading culture across the school. Leaders are keen to change this.
Disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs and/or disabilities are doing as well as their peers. Staff understand the needs of these pupils, and adapt the way pupils learn when necessary.
Most pupils benefit from a comprehensive personal, social, health, citizenship and economic (PSHCE) education.
Learners consider the moral and ethical aspects of the projects they complete. They produce work that is of a high standard. Pupils gain from detailed and regular guidance regarding careers and progression.
They know about destinations such as higher education opportunities and how to achieve their career ambitions. As a result, pupils are enthusiastic about learning. Through the curriculum, pupils develop their character and confidence well, over time.
They said that the school equips them effectively for the future. Many, particularly those studying sport, enjoy developing their physical health. In some areas, such as relationships and sex education, and fundamental British values, pupils have not remembered enough.
Staff use assessment very well to identify any gaps in pupils' knowledge. Leaders have set up effective systems so that pupils catch up when they fall behind. The same processes are not in place for other aspects of the curriculum, such as PSHCE.
Pupils have fallen behind in their learning of the wider aspects of school life as a direct result of lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders have not evaluated this effectively enough.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Recruitment checks are thorough.
Safeguarding leaders know pupils well. They identify any vulnerable pupils in a timely way.
This enables them to ensure that the right support is in place quickly. Leaders work well with the three local authorities' multi-agency teams to secure specialist advice, make sure pupils are safe and receive the right help.
Staff receive up-to-date training on safeguarding, and use the electronic system for sharing concerns effectively.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• Leaders do not evaluate the curriculum for the personal development of pupils closely enough. This means that leaders do not know whether the curriculum is having the intended effect on pupils' understanding. Leaders need to ensure that pupils have a greater awareness of the full range of issues that are relevant to their progress into adulthood and to life in modern Britain.
• Leaders have not shared the content of the curriculum well enough. Therefore, some parents and pupils are not as aware as they would like to be of what is being taught over time. Leaders need to be more explicit in their communication to parents and pupils about the critical concepts that pupils learn in each subject.