The Astley Cooper School

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About The Astley Cooper School

Name The Astley Cooper School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mr Sam Orsborne
Address St Agnell’s Lane, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 7HL
Phone Number 01442394141
Phase Secondary
Type Community school
Age Range 11-18
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 913
Local Authority Hertfordshire
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Most pupils enjoy school and get on well with each other. They know they are expected to work hard.

The positive relationships they form with school staff, including in the sixth form, are a strong feature of the day-to-day life in the school. The atmosphere in lessons and around school is calm and orderly. Sometimes, a few pupils' behaviour falls short of the high standard expected.

When this happens, they are supported to improve.

Pupils feel safe in school. While bullying is rare, regular reminders emphasise that bullying and other forms of abuse will not be tolerated.

Pupils know the routes to follow if they are concerned and that staff will help... them if they are worried.

Pupils and students in the sixth form are taught how to keep safe in different situations. They understand the importance of protecting both their physical and mental health.

In taking on leadership roles, such as acting as ambassadors and mentors, they make a valuable contribution to the wider school community. Opportunities for after-school and lunchtime clubs are on offer again this year.

Pupils and students get effective support to help them to make the right choices when they leave school, for example to apprenticeships or university.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

Leaders have continued to raise aspirations for Astley Cooper pupils and for students in the sixth form. Staff have thought carefully about the things that pupils need to know to achieve well in most subjects, including in English and mathematics. Teachers are knowledgeable and typically form good working relationships with the pupils and students they teach.

The focus on securing pupils' understanding of subject-specific vocabulary has been strengthened this year. More pupils are opting to continue to study subjects such as history and geography in Years 10 and 11. Work is underway to increase the proportion of pupils taking a GCSE in languages over time.

The breadth of courses available to students in the sixth form is also continuing to increase.

While the planned curriculum is being implemented effectively overall, this work is less advanced in a few subject areas. In science, for example, teams are still revising plans to make sure that the curriculum is taught in the most logical order and routinely revisited, so pupils can recall more of what they have learned.

Most staff check regularly to ensure that pupils remember important knowledge so that they can apply it to new learning. The information is used effectively to correct any misconceptions and to secure any gaps in what pupils should already know.

Pupils and students in the sixth form with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are well supported to access the same curriculum as others, so they achieve well.

When there is a delay in specialist external support in the local area, leaders act to mitigate any shortfall where they can.

Leaders have paid close attention to helping pupils who need to develop their reading skills to catch up. Staff have been trained effectively to support this.

The love of reading is well promoted across the school. The library book stock has been updated. Pupils were excited to be involved in making some of the new choices.

Consequently, more of them, including pupils with SEND, are borrowing books on a regular basis.

Leaders have high expectations for pupils' behaviour. In lessons and around the school, most pupils are polite and respectful.

However, a few pupils do not live up to the high standards expected. There are some inconsistencies in how staff apply the current behaviour policy. Changes are underway to improve this, including further training and a policy review involving the contribution of staff and pupils.

While pupils feel that some bullying happens, they trust staff to help them to resolve it. Leaders remind pupils regularly that bullying is not tolerated and that there are adults they can turn to if they want to raise a concern. Ensuring pupils' easy access to the safeguarding team and pastoral leaders is a priority for the school team.

Pupils experience a range of opportunities to support their personal development, including in the sixth form. Impartial advice and guidance help pupils and students to plan effectively to take the next steps in education, employment and/or training. The personal, social and health education curriculum is thoughtfully planned and delivered, including through tutorials and well-considered themed assemblies.

Leaders have ensured that there is a strong focus on pupils' mental health and well-being. Individual differences are celebrated. This ethos is promoted across the school and in the curriculum.

For example, books in the library celebrate equality and diversity, and the English curriculum has been adapted to include texts that challenge prejudice.

The new leadership team has quickly won the support of most staff as they continue to improve the quality of education across the school. Teachers generally feel that their workload is considered as ongoing improvement plans are implemented.

Governors share the same high aspirations as school leaders. They have a wide range of skills and are effective in holding leaders to account for the school's performance.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Staff are vigilant. They know what to do if they suspect a pupil is at risk of harm. Safeguarding training is regular and up to date.

More staff are now trained at the higher level. Issues arising from the local and national safeguarding contexts are well considered in the personal, social and health care curriculum. Pupils are taught how to stay safe and to form healthy relationships.

Leaders understand the important links between pupils' attendance, behaviour and safeguarding, so they monitor this closely. Concerns are followed up quickly, including through work with external agencies. The support of a trained counsellor is available in school every day.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• The curriculum is new and still being established in a few subjects. Consequently, some pupils struggle to remember the things that they have learned previously. Leaders should ensure that all curriculum teams have the support they need to implement the planned curriculum effectively and that monitoring and review processes are secure in identifying what is working well and what needs to improve.

• A few staff do not apply the school's behaviour policy consistently. This is confusing for the minority of pupils whose behaviour falls short of expectations. Leaders should ensure that all staff are clear about expectations and appropriately trained to implement the school's revised behaviour policy as intended.

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