Ofsted inspectors full of praise for Highfields

Highfields has retained its overall ‘good’ rating following our recent short Ofsted inspection - with recommendations for a further full inspection due to marked improvements that indicate our overall rating could increase to ‘outstanding’.

From the quality of teaching, curriculum and leadership to safeguarding, ‘exemplary’ student behaviour and attitudes to learning - Ofsted inspectors were full of praise for the school.

Ofsted visited Highfields to carry out the Section 8 inspection on Wednesday 10th October. The visit was the first short inspection carried out since the school was judged to be ‘Good’ in March 2011.

As we were only inspected under the Section 8 framework, this means it was not possible for us to improve our current OFSTED judgement and that we will have to wait a year or two to see whether we really are outstanding. However, the inspection team were clearly of the view that we may well be or else they would not have recommended that our next inspection be under the Section 5 framework.

In an official inspection letter, Ofsted Inspector Mark Howes, said: “The leadership team has maintained the good quality of education in the school since the last inspection. Based on the evidence gathered during this short inspection, I am of the opinion that the school has demonstrated strong practice and marked improvement in specific areas. This may indicate that the school has improved significantly overall. Therefore, I am recommending that the school’s next inspection be a section 5 inspection.

"The school is calm and orderly with exemplary pupil behaviour. The positive relationships between staff and pupils are a key strength of the school and help promote a strong culture of mutual respect. Pupils have excellent attitudes to learning. Parents and carers are overwhelmingly positive about the school and are proud to be members of its community. One parent, who responded to Parent View, summed up the views of many when they wrote, ’This is a fantastic school with superb facilities and great teachers.’

“Outcomes for pupils have been consistently high for several years. Your focus on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment has meant that pupils make substantial and sustained progress in the vast majority of subjects. Your leadership team has a strong understanding of the quality of teaching, learning and assessment across the school and has created a culture where staff routinely reflect on their own practice.

“Governors are extremely passionate about the school. They speak proudly about the school’s achievements and constantly strive for further improvement. The governors have an accurate understanding of the school’s strengths and provide strong challenge to the leadership team in how to enhance their performance further.

“The school has a happy and harmonious atmosphere which puts safeguarding and pupil welfare at the heart of its core purpose. Staff know their pupils exceptionally well and understand their needs. Year managers work closely as a team and meet regularly to discuss concerns that are raised. Consequently, staff are swift in dealing with referrals using their strong links with external agencies to ensure that pupils get the right support.

“Pupils feel well cared for at the school. When speaking with the inspection team, all pupils stated that they feel safe in all parts of the school and that bullying is very rare. They expressed great confidence in staff dealing with any problems they might face. The curriculum provides pupils with information on how to stay safe. For example, pupils are taught how to use the internet safely and its potential risks. Almost all parents who responded to Parent View said that pupils are safe in school, as did all staff who completed their inspection questionnaire.”

Headteacher, Mr G Tate, said: “We are delighted that inspectors were able to recognise the work that goes on at Highfields every day. We feel that the report captures the ethos and spirit of the school very well and the high expectations that we have for all of our students.

“The outcome of this inspection is the best that could be achieved under the short inspection framework as the inspection team confirmed that the school’s Governing Body and Leadership and Management Team have ensured that that the school continues to improve in all areas.

“Our broad and balanced curriculum, alongside consistently high quality teaching, learning and assessment, mean that students receive rich and diverse learning experiences across the curriculum and beyond.

“All of the students were an absolute credit to the school and their families; their behaviour and conduct were exemplary at all times. Their pride in their school was evident; they were confident, articulate and eager to share their experiences of their time at Highfields.

“Parents’ survey feedback was overwhelmingly positive and supported our view of the school as one in which every child really does matter. Students were equally positive in their view of the school in which they feel safe, well supported and challenged to do their very best.

“We were, if truth be known, slightly disappointed that after seven years without an inspection we were only inspected under the Section 8 framework. This does mean that it was not possible for us to improve our current OFSTED judgement and that we will have to wait a year or two to see whether we really are outstanding. The inspection team were clearly of the view that we may well be or else they would not have recommended that our next inspection be under the Section 5 framework.

“I would like to take this opportunity to extend our very sincere thanks to all of the staff who work so hard every day to make Highfields the school that it is. “Likewise, we really appreciate the tremendous contribution made by our students on a daily basis and the extraordinary support that they receive at home.

“As ever, despite the very positive outcome of the inspection, please be assured that we shall not be resting on our laurels and will continue to do our very utmost to provide the best possible quality of education for all of our students.”

Download a copy of the full inspection letter (PDF)

Posted on November 12, 2018 .