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
In the Dean Close School report, the inspectors were particularly impressed with the pupils’ ‘extremely positive attitudes to learning’, their ‘very well-developed communication skills’ and the ‘excellent academic progress’. When it came to the pupils’ personal development they were struck by their ‘consistently high levels of self-esteem’, ‘highly developed spiritual understanding’, ‘deep respect for their own and other cultures’ and observed that their ‘behaviour is excellent’.
As part of the process, the inspectors recommended that the School provides more learning opportunities for pupils to develop their ICT skills. This is something that is already well underway in the strategic and curriculum planning.
The report also picks out the improved academic performance of the last three years and the inspection team were impressed by the range of subjects and activities that are on offer. The main focus of the inspection is on identifying the progress pupils make during a lesson or an activity. The highest praise our teachers could receive is summed up in one of the lines in the report: ‘All pupils were seen to make excellent progress. The use of the word “All” goes right to the heart of the values of Dean Close and our commitment to do our very best for every single pupil and not to focus on one group at the expense of another and ‘Pupils are highly disciplined, and their personal development is characterised by excellent standards of behaviour and respect, both for each other and their teachers.’
Headmaster, Bradley Salisbury, said: “When it comes to the personal development of the pupils, there is something in the report for us all to take pride in – pupils, teachers, support staff and parents. This is a great credit to all of those responsible for the education and welfare of Decanians.”