“The richness of the academy’s curriculum is significant in relation to students’ progress. The diversity of subjects and themes, combined with skilled teaching, results in genuine challenge for students. This demanding curriculum encourages self-confident, assertive young people who are, largely, ambitious for their own success and that of their peers.” Ofsted, June 2015

Challenge Partners report

We have the highest expectations of ourselves as a school, and are keen to ensure that we continue to go from strength to strength. So in December 2016 we asked an external organisation called Challenge Partners to carry out a review of our progress since our 2015 OFSTED inspection, with particular focus on provision and outcomes for our GCSE students.

The 3 day review was a thorough, in-depth process, carried out by a serving Ofsted inspector as lead reviewer, one vice principal and two assistant headteachers from other secondary schools, who observed lessons as well as interviewing senior staff. Their conclusions were extremely positive, highlighting a large number of key successes as well as some areas for further development.

Among the areas for which we received praise were:

  • The clear educational direction of the headteacher and senior leadership team
  • The drive and enthusiasm with which teaching and learning strategies are developed and shared
  • The use of honours thinking to deepen students’ understanding of a topic
  • The highly effective pastoral system, leading to outstanding personal development of students
  • The high levels of mutual respect and trust between teachers and students, and the students’ positive responses to their teachers’ enthusiasm and subject knowledge
  • The behaviour of students, who are described as being courteous and polite, with highly positive attitudes to learning
  • The confidence and quality of middle leadership

Equally useful for us were the areas highlighted for ongoing improvement, such as:

  • Improving the charting of starting points and tracking of interventions for key groups of students, to identify the most successful routes more clearly
  • Ensuring that students’ presentation skills are of the highest quality
  • Providing more opportunities for student-led learning through paired and group work
  • Increasing the use of questions which develop students’ skills of synthesis, analysis and evaluation

We have already started to incorporate their recommendations into our school development plan and will be monitoring their effectiveness over the coming months, as well as continuing to focus on our areas of strength.