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
Dean Close Pre-Prep is delighted to report that inspectors from ISI found both the achievement of pupils in the School and their personal development to be excellent. The happy teaching and learning environment was celebrated as successful in ensuring excellent pupil outcomes, academic achievement and personal development. They were especially pleased that the broad curriculum and ‘irresistible and exciting learning environment’ was particularly commented on by the inspectors, and that children ‘develop excellent knowledge, skills and understanding across all areas of the curriculum because of the quality and range of activities on offer, especially the frequent opportunities for exciting and stimulating learning on themed activity days’.
The School feels passionately that learning should be vibrant and stimulating so that each individual pupil will develop a real love of learning and were delighted that the inspectors noted their ‘thirst for knowledge‘ and their ‘excellent attitudes to learning reflecting the school’s aim to encourage independent thinking’. In addition, the report commended pupils’ ‘highly confident attitudes to learning, because the positive feedback and personalised guidance from the staff create a purposeful and focused learning environment’ ensuring that individual needs are addressed.
They were also delighted that the children’s excellent personal development was recognised and that their exemplary behaviour, confidence and maturity were celebrated as strengths. The inspectors noted that ‘the ethos of the school and its Christian foundation pervades all aspects of school life, and is the basis for the strong pastoral care, resulting in a caring and thoughtful society respecting individual needs, differences and sensitivities.’
Headmistress, Carolyn Shelley, says: “I was delighted to note that the inspectors enjoyed meeting and talking with our pupils and that our children were so willing to discuss their School. The inspectors found them to be strongly motivated to learn, enjoying their activities and wanting to succeed. Our School is a happy, caring and exciting environment for children to take their first steps in education and I am pleased that this report so clearly demonstrates that.”