In March all three Dean Close schools were inspected by the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate. These inspections were undertaken under the new inspection regime and considered a focused regulatory compliance element (where the standards are deemed to have been met or not met) and a detailed educational quality one (with four possible quality judgements for each aspect considered, ranging from excellent to unsatisfactory). Dean Close is delighted to report that the educational quality aspects were found to be excellent for all of the schools. Unfortunately, inspectors did identify room for improvement in compliance relating to staff recruitment which we are working to address.
The Educational Quality Inspections of all our schools were found to be ‘excellent’ in both areas inspected, which were:
- Pupils’ achievements, in particular their academic development, and
- Pupils’ personal development
Warden, Emma Taylor, says: “It is a source of great celebration that all three schools achieved the top ‘Excellent’ grading for both of these areas. This is the best possible outcome from all the schools and is a recognition of the outstanding work of both pupils and staff. I was particularly delighted to note the common features of excellence across all three schools; the inspectors recognised the mutual respect, positive attitudes and strength of relationships in our community at all levels.”
Although we met almost all of the required compliance standards, the school unfortunately did not meet all of the requirements relating to pre-employment checks for new members of staff. Every new member of staff employed at a school has a series of required pre-employment checks, which should be completed before they begin work. While we had completed almost all of these in every case, there was a small number of cases where not all the checks had been completed in a timely way before a member of staff began work. In these cases, we can reassure you that all required checks are now in place.
Following the inspection, the Foundation is, of course, putting together an action plan to address these issues including the rigorous oversight, both at operational and governance level, of administration, systems and training. The School has already started to implement this plan.
Emma Taylor says: “I can reassure everyone that we take great care over the appointment of our teachers and other staff, as well as over other aspects of welfare and security, because there is absolutely nothing more important to us than keeping young people safe.”
Educational Quality Report
The aim of the School is to embrace, nurture, challenge and guide each pupil to achieve their full potential and the report clearly recognised this desire to treat each child as an individual combined with a healthy culture where ‘pupils throughout the School, have an extremely positive attitude to learning instilled through high expectations and a supportive environment that recognises and celebrates effort as well as success.’
The effectiveness of the School’s teaching is integral to pupils’ academic success. Dean Close aims to stretch every child to achieve to the very best of their academic ability and, as they move up the school, encourage them to be responsible for their own learning. Celebrating when they do well and reviewing where they can improve for the future. The report stated: ‘The quality of pupils’ academic and other achievements is excellent.’ ‘Staff are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.’ ‘Pupils achieve highly in all areas of the curriculum through well-paced and challenging lessons that incorporate clear success criteria. Pupils are highly adept at evaluating their own learning as time is allocated for self-assessment and reflection in most lessons.’
Whilst academics are central, the children’s ability to successfully apply their knowledge and skills ensures that as a school we are developing great communicators, team players, problem solvers as well as resilient, kind and compassionate individuals. Indeed the report identified ‘…pupils are very self-aware and exhibit high levels of self-discipline, resilience and self-confidence due to the supportive atmosphere throughout the school; this is based on mutual respect, where questions are valued, and learning encouraged. Pupils have a highly developed understanding of their own strengths and capabilities.’
Even though pupils at Dean Close Prep School arrive at different times in their lives, each with their own story, distinct personality and abilities it is gratifying to know that ‘pupils have a great sense of belonging to the school community and actively involve themselves in the life of the school.’
Headmaster, Mr Paddy Moss said: “As a School, our key objectives are to support each and every child, to offer outstanding academics and provide pupils with the support to access learning effectively. We also aim to help children develop life skills that will help them achieve successful happy lives in what can be an unpredictable world. The report corroborated that we are exceling in both our learning and our pupils’ well-being. I was reminded of what an outstanding school Dean Close Prep is and I am immensely proud of both the pupils and my talented, dedicated team of staff.”