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Leaders have created an ambitious and purposeful environment.
They set high expectations for pupils to achieve well. Pupils and staff are proud to be members of the school community.
Pupils are respectful and polite to staff.
Pupils' conduct, at social times and when moving around the school, is orderly. Pupils attend well and they are punctual to lessons. Pupils say that staff take bullying seriously.
Teachers have strong subject expertise that they enjoy sharing with pupils. They know their pupils well. Pupils are keen to participate in philosophical debates, engage in high level discussion and to problem solve.
Leaders have created many o...pportunities for pupils to find their talents, whether that be taking on roles in the school production, representing their school in sports events or becoming advocates and mentors in the sixth form. Pupils appreciate the detailed advice they receive about how to take their next steps.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Leaders and governors are ambitious for pupils' academic success.
Parents are overwhelmingly supportive of the school. They appreciate the ways in which the school helps their child to achieve well. Staff, including early career teachers, feel valued and respected by leaders.
Leaders have constructed a broad and well-balanced curriculum across the school. Curriculum leaders have strong subject knowledge and many use this effectively to construct a well-sequenced subject curriculum. Where this is the case, pupils have a secure understanding of essential subject knowledge.
For example, many students in the sixth form have well-developed technical vocabulary and speak confidently about the subject.
In many subjects, teachers check pupils' understanding in a systematic and diagnostic way. Where this is effective, teachers match work to what pupils know and can do.
They quickly uncover pupil misconceptions, providing useful feedback that helps pupils to move forward in their learning. However, where this is not routine, work is not well matched to pupils' knowledge. In the sixth form, for example, some students noted that work was not challenging enough for them.
Leaders have introduced strategies to improve pupils' recall of knowledge. Pupils use these well and say they serve as useful prompts. Where this is having an impact, pupils use prior knowledge to deepen their understanding.
For example, they build on their knowledge of concepts and theory in philosophy and applied ethics, or they quickly solve more complex problems in mathematics. However, pupils often require reminders about previous component knowledge in languages and art, and this slows them down.
Younger pupils value the school's reading programme.
Staff encourage them to read widely. Pupils enjoy the challenge of the reading programme and appreciate the rewards they can achieve.
Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are well supported.
The special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) provides teachers with appropriate information that enables them to tailor their curriculum. Pupils with SEND participate well in extra-curricular activities. They told inspectors that the support they receive enables them to make the most out of their time in school.
Leaders have carefully planned a curriculum to support pupils' personal development. However, although pupils can recall recent content, they do not always recall the important messages imparted. Leaders are keen to seek pupils' views about their experiences at the school.
However, a few pupils told inspectors they did not feel their voice was heard.
The school provides effective careers guidance that meets the requirements of the Baker Clause. Pupils find this useful and discuss their future plans knowledgably.
Students in the sixth form say their teachers provide expert support that helps them to make decisions about their next steps.
Governors and trustees work closely with leaders. They share the headteacher's vision for the school and understand their role.
However, although governors know the school well, they do not have a sharp enough view of what the school needs to do to improve.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Staff know how to identify safeguarding concerns.
They are confident the safeguarding team will act appropriately. Pupils know who to speak with if they need help. Leaders make sure pupils are aware of safeguarding risks.
The school has identified pupils' mental well-being as a priority area following the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Leaders are taking appropriate steps to support pupils. In addition, leaders are working with local organisations to strengthen pupils understanding of national issues, such as sexual harassment.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• Assessment is not always systematic or diagnostic. This means that work is not consistently well matched to what pupils know and can do. Leaders need to ensure that assessment is used systematically across all subject areas to help pupils to move forward in their learning.
• Leaders have carefully planned a curriculum to support pupils' personal development. However, some pupils do not always recall the important content. Leaders need to ensure the programme is delivered in such a way that pupils recall and apply the important messages imparted.
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