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INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS INSPECTORATE INSPECTION REPORT ON RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School Full Name of the School

RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School

DCSF Number

885/6028

Early Years Number

366313

Registered Charity Number 1120644 Address

Upper Tything, Worcester WR1 1HP.

Telephone Number

01905 613391

Fax Number

01905 726892

Email Address

office@rgsao.org

Headmaster

Mr A Rattue

Chairman of Governors

Dr R Ingles

Age Range (of the whole school)

2½ to 18

Gender

Mixed

Inspection Dates

19th to 22nd January 2009

Head of Early Years Setting Mrs M Lloyd Early Years Age Range

2½ to 5

Early Years Gender

Mixed

Early Years Foundation Stage Inspection Dates

19th to 20th January 2009

This inspection report follows the framework laid down by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). The inspection was carried out under the arrangements of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) Associations for the maintenance and improvement of the quality of their membership. It was also carried out under Section 162A(1)(b) of the Education Act 2002 as amended by the Education Act 2005, under the provisions of which the Secretary of State for Education and Skills accredited ISI as the body approved for the purpose of inspecting schools belonging to ISC Associations and reporting on compliance with the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2003 as amended with effect from January 2005 and May 2007. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework was introduced in September 2008 and applies to all children in England from birth to 31st August following their fifth birthday. The inspection was carried out by ISI, a body approved by the Government for the purpose of inspecting EYFS provision in schools belonging to the ISC Associations. Section 7 of this report evaluates the extent to which the setting fulfils the requirements of the EYFS Statutory Framework published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and follows the requirements of the Childcare Act 2006 as subsequently amended.


The registered person must ensure that this provision complies with the Statutory Framework for children’s learning, development and welfare, known as the Early Years Foundation Stage. The inspection does not examine the financial viability of the school or investigate its accounting procedures. The inspectors check the school’s health and safety procedures and comment on any significant hazards they encounter: they do not carry out an exhaustive health and safety examination. Their inspection of the premises is from an educational perspective and does not include in-depth examination of the structural condition of the school, its services or other physical features.


CONTENTS 1.

INTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................1 Characteristics of the School ................................................................................................ 1

2.

THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION ...............................................................3 The Educational Experience Provided ................................................................................. 3 Pupils’ Learning and Achievements..................................................................................... 5 Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development of Pupils .............................................. 7 The Quality of Teaching (Including Assessment) ................................................................ 8

3.

THE QUALITY OF CARE AND RELATIONSHIPS ................................11 The Quality of Pastoral Care, and the Welfare, Health and Safety of Pupils..................... 11 The Quality of Links with Parents and the Community ..................................................... 12

4.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT ....14 The Quality of Governance ................................................................................................ 14 The Quality of Leadership and Management ..................................................................... 14

5.

CONCLUSIONS AND NEXT STEPS.........................................................16 Overall Conclusions ........................................................................................................... 16 Next Steps........................................................................................................................... 16

6.

SUMMARY OF INSPECTION EVIDENCE ..............................................17 List of Inspectors ................................................................................................................ 17

7.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE (EYFS) ............................................................................................18 What the Setting Should Do to Improve ............................................................................ 19 Complaints Since the Last Inspection ................................................................................ 20


RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School

1.

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INTRODUCTION Characteristics of the School

1.1

RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School (RGSAO) is a selective co-educational day school for pupils from 2½ to 18 years of age. It was formed in September 2007 from the merger of The Alice Ottley School (AO) and The Royal Grammar School (RGS), Worcester. The Alice Ottley, a day school for girls with an Anglican foundation, was established in Worcester over 120 years ago. RGS, which could trace its origins as a day school for boys to before 1291 and was granted a Royal Charter in 1561 and royal title in 1869, first admitted girls to the senior school in 2002 and completed its move to co-education in 2007.

1.2

RGSAO aims to provide an excellent all-round education for pupils, supporting them in their passage to adulthood by developing character, intellect, physical well-being and aesthetic sense within a scholarly community. It also aims to cultivate an ethos where each individual is cared for and equally valued.

1.3

RGSAO has three sections. These consist of the senior school, and two junior schools, The Grange, which was inspected by ISI in 2006, and Springfield. Prior to the merger, the RGS and AO senior schools occupied adjacent sites close to the centre of Worcester. These have undergone major redevelopment, while still retaining the original school buildings, and now provide teaching and sporting facilities on a single site for Years 7 to 13. The school also has playing fields and two pavilions nearby. Springfield occupies a large Georgian house set in its own grounds about 100 yards from the senior school.

1.4

Pupils come from a wide geographical area that is related to the availability of public transport and the provision of school bus services. At the time of the inspection, the senior school had 910 pupils: of these 532 were boys and 378 were girls, and 282 were in the sixth form. Springfield had 97 pupils, 13 boys and 84 girls, 30 of whom were aged 5 years and under in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Pupils come from a variety of ethnic and economic backgrounds but parents are predominantly professional or self-employed. Of the entrants at the age of eleven, just under two-thirds are from The Grange and Springfield, the majority of the rest coming from a wide range of maintained primary schools. The school provides support for able pupils, predominantly in the senior department, through means tested bursaries for those who are economically disadvantaged, and through scholarships. At Springfield, fifteen places are partially funded by the government’s nursery scheme.

1.5

Entry to Springfield is by informal or formal assessment, as appropriate to pupils’ ages, to ensure they will cope academically and socially. The school has no system in place to measure pupils’ underlying abilities, however from the evidence seen during the inspection, their ability is generally well above the national average.

1.6

Entry to the school at the ages of eleven, thirteen and sixteen is dependent on the candidate’s performance in the school’s own entrance examination, an interview, references from the candidate’s previous school and, where applicable, results obtained in GCSE examinations. Standardised tests indicate that the average ability of the pupils in the senior school is well above the national average. If pupils are achieving in line with their ability, their achievement should be well above the national average for all maintained schools, but below the average for entry to maintained selective schools.


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1.7

At the time of the inspection, the school had no pupils for whom English is an additional language nor any pupil with a statement of special educational needs. However, 164 pupils were on an Additional Learning Needs Register, 82 of whom were receiving specialist learning support.

1.8

National Curriculum nomenclature is used throughout this report to refer to year groups in the school.

1.9

See Section 7 for the report on the Early Years Foundation Stage.


RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School

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THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION The Educational Experience Provided

2.1

The school provides a high quality educational experience which is successful in promoting pupils’ linguistic, mathematical, scientific, human, social and physical development. It is fully consistent with the school’s aim of providing an excellent all-round education for pupils, supporting them in their passage to adulthood by developing character, intellect, physical well-being and aesthetic sense within a scholarly community. Good progress has been made since the last inspection, including the widening of the extra-curricular programme for senior pupils. At Springfield, progression and continuity between year groups is good, and all pupils identified as having learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD) are well supported in the classroom. A good range of extra-curricular opportunities for pupils of all ages promotes learning and personal achievement. Springfield

2.2

The curriculum is broad and balanced overall, and contributes to pupils’ all-round educational development. It follows the outline of the National Curriculum, with the addition of French, and personal, social and health education (PSHE) which is delivered effectively by class teachers. The allocation of time for science is limited.

2.3

A wide range of opportunities is provided for pupils to develop numerical, human and social skills, and to learn to speak, listen, read and write with confidence and enjoyment. Emphasis is placed on the development and effective use of information and communication technology (ICT). Provision for music, art and drama is extensive, and effective use is made of the school’s grounds for outdoor activities and games. Easy access to senior school facilities and a local swimming pool provide excellent opportunities for gymnastics, dance and regular swimming.

2.4

An extensive after-school extra-curricular programme, ranging from pop lacrosse and dance to Brownies and Tooters and Flooters, supports the taught curriculum. The extremely popular Forest School initiative enables pupils to work together and enjoy simple outside experiences in the natural environment of the school grounds. Before- and after-school care provides activities for pupils in a secure, caring and well-equipped environment. The extracurricular programme is appreciated by the pupils, and seen by the school as an important part of its educational provision. Pupils also benefit from visits to local places of interest, charity work and talks from a range of visitors.

2.5

Preparation for each successive stage of education is well managed. From Reception, a comprehensive record keeping system, close teacher liaison, new classroom visits and role play ensure a smooth transfer to new teachers who will know the pupils well. Preparation for the transfer to the senior school is managed with similar care. Senior school French and physical education (PE) staff teach at Springfield, and both gym and dance clubs make good use of senior facilities. Through visits and assemblies, several key members of the senior school staff become familiar faces. Subsequently, pupils are invited to lunch, to meet their form tutors and to see their new classrooms.

2.6

The curriculum is planned effectively to meet the needs of all pupils, thus providing equality of access and opportunity. Schemes of work ensure continuity and progression. The best weekly planning provides imaginative activities, together with extension work for the most able and support for the less able pupils. However, there is no system in place to assess the underlying abilities of pupils and to ensure each is working to the highest standard possible. Pupils identified as having LDD are supported well in class by teachers using appropriate


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education plans. Provision for these pupils has improved since the last inspection. Their progress is closely monitored and individual support provided where necessary, ensuring that their needs are met in all areas of school life. Where withdrawal from lessons is necessary, care is taken to avoid withdrawing pupils from the same lesson each week. Senior School 2.7

The curriculum is broad and balanced overall, and it is well suited to the interests and the aptitudes of all pupils. The acquisition of skills in numeracy, listening and speaking is strongly promoted across the whole curriculum. The range of study in Years 7 to 9 is broad; all pupils study three sciences and a second modern foreign or classical language is introduced in Year 8. Provision for technological, artistic and physical development is also good, with a degree of choice offered in Year 9 to meet pupils’ individual needs. The curriculum is kept constantly under review, and recent changes have seen the introduction of drama, the addition of a textiles option in Year 9, and the extended learning initiative; this initiative in Years 7 and 8 provides pupils with an opportunity to explore areas of the curriculum in greater depth and breadth through independent research. The initiative is particularly effective in some subjects, such as French. In Years 10 and 11, the curriculum concentrates on public examinations but the inclusion of games, science and a modern foreign language in the core subjects, together with flexibility of timetabling for GCSE options, ensures that suitable breadth and balance are maintained for most pupils. At AS and A level pupils choose freely, in line with the school’s aim of meeting the needs of the individual, from a wide range of subjects including economics, business studies, PE and ICT. The breadth and depth of pupils’ educational experience are effectively maintained in Years 12 and 13. Extension classes are offered in some subjects, often, but not exclusively, in preparation for university entrance papers. Games remain compulsory, and all pupils are encouraged to participate in the extra-curricular programme. The PSHE programme, which is currently under review, is effectively co-ordinated but lacks direction. Pupils’ experience of PSHE is satisfactory although the quality of the delivery of the programme varies, relying to a great extent on individual form tutors.

2.8

An extensive and well-supported extra-curricular programme complements the taught curriculum. The school emphasises the importance it gives to this part of its educational provision. Sport, music and drama are at the centre of the programme, with a wide range of activities on offer for pupils of all abilities. In addition to the numerous sports teams, the availability of a state-of-the-art fitness suite contributes significantly to the physical wellbeing of those pupils who do not participate in competitive sports. Pupils benefit from a wide range of clubs, visits and residential trips, some linked to academic subjects but others of more general interest. The annual Field Week, the well-supported Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, Young Enterprise and the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) enable pupils to explore new interests and to engage in activities that promote teamwork and personal development. The school’s recent link with a Chinese school has seen the introduction of Mandarin lessons to the extra-curricular programme.

2.9

A well-planned careers and higher education programme starting in Year 9, together with work experience after GCSE, provides good opportunities for pupils to explore and make informed decisions about subject choices and future career options. Pupils commented enthusiastically on the help they had been given by tutors, heads of year and the careers department.


RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School

2.10

5

The curriculum is planned effectively to meet the needs of all pupils, thus providing equality of access and opportunity. Setting in a few subjects such as mathematics enables the curriculum to be tailored more closely to the needs of the individual. Pupils identified as having LDD receive good one-to-one support from, and are effectively monitored by, the learning co-ordinator. The monitoring, which includes an annual pupil self-evaluation and an analysis of performance in examinations, is used to inform future support strategies. All teachers are given the Individual Profile and Advice for these pupils, thus providing information to assist with planning appropriate support. However, although those with LDD were identified in lesson plans during the inspection, little evidence was seen of special provision for such pupils. Support for able pupils is successful in some subjects but lacks consistency overall. Whole School

2.11

The school meets the regulatory requirements for the curriculum [Standard 1].

Pupils’ Learning and Achievements 2.12

Throughout the school, pupils show enthusiasm for their learning and take pride in their work and achievements. They learn effectively, responding positively to the expectations of their teachers, and achieve well in relation to their ages and abilities. In this, the school is successful in achieving its aim to provide an all-round education for pupils, supporting them in their passage to adulthood by developing character, intellect, physical well-being and aesthetic sense within a scholarly community. Springfield

2.13

Pupils are well grounded in knowledge, skills and understanding, and this facilitates good learning and progress from the EYFS onwards. Throughout the department, standards of literacy, oracy and numeracy are high. Pupils speak, listen, read and write with enjoyment and confidence. They apply these skills effectively in a wide range of situations. Pupils have a sound understanding of numerical concepts and show confidence in handling numbers. Reasoning and investigative skills are also well developed, as seen in a Year 5 technology lesson where pupils successfully analysed different types of bread. Pupils develop a range of ICT skills and can, when given the opportunity, apply them effectively. High standards of creativity are achieved through a range of different experiences in art and music, such as in a Year 6 lesson where pupils invented and performed rhythms for a backing track using an online sequencer.

2.14

Results of standardised tests taken in Year 6 indicate that pupils’ level of attainment is good. This is supported by pupils’ performance in lessons observed during the inspection, where achievement and progress were always good and at times outstanding. No significant differences were apparent between the relative attainment of different groups of pupils in either lessons or written work.

2.15

Pupils work well independently, showing confidence when organising their own work, for example when carrying out independent research and making notes on their findings in a Year 3 lesson on the Romans. They work very hard and study effectively in groups, sharing ideas and listening carefully to each other, such as in a Year 2 lesson on phonics. Pupils show interest in, and enthusiasm for, their work and activities, and their behaviour is exemplary. They settle quickly to their lessons, concentrate well and persevere at a given task. Pupils’ written work is well presented and they take great pride in all their work.


RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School

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Outside the classroom, pupils achieve success in a range of activities and competitions. In sport, teams do well in local tournaments and individuals have received county recognition in swimming and tennis. Senior School

2.17

Pupils are articulate, and both act and think critically and creatively. They are well grounded in knowledge, skills and understanding, which facilitates effective learning and progress.

2.18

Pupils speak confidently and with clarity in lessons, as exemplified when making a presentation in a history lesson on the treatment of minorities in Nazi Germany. They share ideas and listen attentively to one another, as in an art lesson where the pupils talked about the various stages of their work, from the sketch to the final product. Pupils both assimilate and recall information readily. Standards of literacy and numeracy are good in relation to ability. Pupils write well for a number of different purposes, and grammar and spelling are generally accurate. Numeracy skills are well developed, and pupils apply them effectively in subjects beyond mathematics, for instance in geography and science. Pupils develop a wide range of ICT skills in Years 7 and 8 and, when given the opportunity, make good use of them such as when notating compositions in music.

2.19

At the time of the inspection, national comparative examination data was not available for 2008. In the three years immediately preceding the merger of the two schools, GCSE results were good in relation to pupils’ ability, being well above the national average for maintained schools and in line with the overall average for maintained selective schools. The proportion of passes at grades A* and A has been significantly above the maintained school average. Alevel results were also good in relation to pupils’ abilities since they were well above the average for all maintained schools and above the average for maintained selective schools overall. The proportion of A levels graded A or B has consistently exceeded two-thirds. Standardised measurements of progress indicate that from Year 7 to GCSE and in the sixth form pupils make progress that is above the average for pupils of similar ability.

2.20

Pupils have the capacity to take good notes and to study independently, but teaching does not always provide opportunity for this. Use of the library for research and independent study is not widespread. Pupils take pride in their work and it is well presented and organised. Pupils work and study very effectively in pairs and groups, showing consideration for each other’s ideas and achievements as seen in a skills session in a Year 8 badminton lesson.

2.21

Pupils settle quickly to their lessons and activities, and most show good levels of perseverance. They show commitment to, and enjoyment of, their lessons, most participating willingly in discussion and debate. Relationships amongst pupils and between pupil and teacher are open and warm, which contributes effectively to good learning and achievement.

2.22

Since the last inspection, success in a wide range of activities has been achieved. Each year individual pupils and teams have gained recognition at local, county and national level in academic, sporting and cultural competitions. Levels of achievement in competitive sport are particularly high. A significant number of pupils enjoy considerable success in the Olympiads, Young Enterprise, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and the CCF. They also participate successfully in music and drama activities. Pupils, staff and parents are proud of these achievements, which are given appropriate recognition within the school, including through the award of colours for sport, music and drama.


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Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development of Pupils 2.23

The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the pupils is outstanding. In every area of school life, both in and out of the classroom, the school achieves its aim of cultivating an ethos where each individual is cared for and valued.

2.24

Pupils of all ages have a well-developed spiritual awareness. They show a high level of selfesteem and self-confidence through their words, behaviour, and the trusting and relaxed relationships they have with their teachers. Pupils are responsive to aspects of spirituality presented through a wide range of stimuli both in different subjects and through regular assemblies. At Springfield, pupils develop an understanding of, and a respect for, other faiths through discussions in religious education (RE) lessons and through visits to places of worship. The serenity and spaciousness of the Springfield site assists pupils’ capacity for reflection and contemplation. The senior school offers pupils many opportunities to explore the way different values and beliefs affect their own and other people’s lives. In RE and English lessons, pupils were observed experimenting with ideas about the nature of human existence and love, also being encouraged to question their assumptions. Throughout the school there is a strong feeling of inclusiveness, with the merger bringing renewed vigour to the profound loyalty pupils show for their school.

2.25

Pupils have a strong moral sense, and from an early age, they learn to make responsible and reasoned judgements on moral and ethical issues. They understand and respect the school rules. Poor behaviour is rare, pupils preferring to focus on their work and foster harmonious relationships with each other. The headmaster and staff, both teaching and non-teaching, embody the moral purpose of the school, and communicate this through the outstanding care they show the pupils. Respect for others is central to the school’s ethos. Many ethical issues are raised in lessons, especially in science, English, history and RE, with pupils encouraged to make considered decisions.

2.26

Socially, pupils develop into confident and well-rounded adults, willing to take responsibility for their own behaviour. There is a strong community spirit and from an early age pupils are encouraged to contribute to the life of the school.

2.27

At Springfield, team effort is seen in all areas of school life. Older pupils take on posts of responsibility, such as house captain, and regularly care for younger pupils, for example at lunch. All classes have elected school council representatives and the fortnightly meetings are ably chaired by a Year 6 pupil.

2.28

In the senior school, the opportunity to be a prefect or serve on the student council provides effective ways of giving responsibility to both sixth-form and younger pupils. Prefects take their duties very seriously, speaking warmly of the part they play in the smooth running of the school and of the pastoral support they provide for younger pupils. The house system, rapidly evolving after a recent re-launch, provides good opportunities for leadership, friendly competition and social integration between year groups. The school expects pupils to think beyond themselves and many do this through charity work. At the time of the inspection, pupils in Years 7 and 8 were brimful of ideas about how to raise money for a national children’s charity. The school provides a number of imaginative opportunities for pupils to learn about national and global public and political institutions. Pupils have a sound understanding of what it is to be a citizen.

2.29

Pupils of all ages show a high level of cultural awareness. Assemblies and lessons in a range of subjects deal sensitively with issues of cultural diversity, such as a Year 3 art lesson on the theme of Chinese New Year. Regular trips abroad, ranging from sports tours to language exchanges, give pupils the opportunity to experience unfamiliar cultures at first hand. Pupils


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also acquire a good appreciation of, and respect for, their own and other cultures through extra-curricular activities, theatre trips and visits to museums and galleries. Outstanding displays of the pupils’ work, including paintings, modelling and writing, culturally enrich the school environment. 2.30

The school meets the regulatory requirements for the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils [Standard 2].

The Quality of Teaching (Including Assessment) 2.31

Teaching is of a good quality and enables pupils to acquire new knowledge, to make good progress relative to their ability, and to develop and use new skills. Pupils with identified learning difficulties and/or disabilities are well catered for through the support they receive both from the learning support department and many of their teachers. The overall quality of teaching at Springfield has improved since the last inspection, with tasks closely matched to pupils’ prior learning and capabilities, and well-structured lessons. Springfield

2.32

Much good teaching, a small proportion of which is excellent, fosters in pupils an eagerness to learn and the ability to apply themselves constructively to their studies. From an early age it encourages them to think and learn for themselves and to work effectively both individually and in groups. Teaching makes a marked contribution to pupils’ good levels of achievement. Physical effort is promoted through lively teaching by specialists and other staff, both in lessons and in extra-curricular activities.

2.33

Teaching is well planned with clear learning objectives. It employs a suitable range of effective strategies. Lessons are conducted at an appropriate pace with a wide variety of activities such as the mental warm-up, games and challenges observed in a Year 6 mathematics lesson. Teachers know pupils very well and focus lessons closely on their needs, aptitudes and prior attainments. Extra support is provided for those pupils who need it, both during lessons and through specialist individual teaching. Provision in lessons for the most able is also good, with suitably challenging tasks built in to most lesson plans. Careful management of class-time allows pupils to make steady progress and to remain fully engaged.

2.34

Teachers show a thorough knowledge and understanding of their subjects. A wide range of resources is available throughout Springfield and their use contributes to the variety and effectiveness of teaching. Some lessons were enhanced by effective use of technology.

2.35

The good relationship between pupils and their teachers is central to the pupils’ positive educational experience. This encourages good behaviour and creates an atmosphere where pupils of all ages enjoy their learning, and feel confident to express their ideas and to ask for help or support.

2.36

Teaching throughout Springfield employs regular formal and informal assessment within lessons and where appropriate, through written work. Marking is thorough and detailed, providing helpful and constructive comments to support pupils’ learning. Pupils commented very positively on the way their work is marked. Assessment is closely monitored by the headmistress of Springfield.


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Springfield has in place good arrangements for pupils’ performance to be related to its own aims. No system is in place to measure pupils’ underlying abilities but assessment data on the pupils’ performance, a limited proportion of which is nationally standardised, is well used to inform short-term planning. Senior School

2.38

Much good teaching, a small proportion of which is excellent, fosters in pupils a desire to learn, together with the ability to apply themselves intellectually and creatively to their studies. It encourages them to think and reason for themselves, and to work effectively both individually and in groups. Teaching makes a marked contribution to pupils’ good level of achievement and to their success in public examinations. In some subjects, pupils benefit greatly from a varied and innovative approach where activities are often pupil led, such as in a Year 10 English lesson where they successfully created a group tableau to express key points in a narrative poem, stimulating fruitful discussion. Physical effort is successfully promoted through skilled teaching by specialist and other staff, both in games sessions and in extra-curricular activities.

2.39

The good quality of teaching throughout the senior school, clearly focused on the needs of the individual, contributes to there being no apparent significant differences in relative attainment between pupils in different teaching groups, curriculum areas or subjects, or between pupils of differing abilities.

2.40

Most teaching is well planned with clear learning objectives. It employs a suitable range of strategies. Teachers know pupils very well and focus their lessons successfully on their needs and prior attainments. They are provided with detailed information regarding the needs of those pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, but there is some variation in the way the information is interpreted and used. In some subjects, such as economics, appropriate support material was readily available in lessons. Provision for the most able is excellent in some areas of the curriculum, with a suitable range of challenging tasks, however, it is not sufficiently widespread. Sound management of class-time allows most pupils to make good progress, however teaching, especially in non-examination year groups, sometimes lacks pace and rigour, and pupils are not wholly engaged.

2.41

Teachers show an excellent knowledge and understanding of their subjects. Their enthusiasm and, on occasions, passion for their subjects engender in many pupils a sense of enjoyment and a desire to participate. This was evident in a Year 7 textiles lesson where pupils were engrossed in making decorated bags from recycled materials. A very wide range of resources, including interactive white boards, is available in all areas of the school, and their use contributes to the effectiveness of teaching. Teaching also benefits from the size and flexibility of many subject rooms, allowing a variety of activities to take place simultaneously.

2.42

The mutual respect and ease of relationships between pupils and their teachers are central to pupils’ educational experience. This encourages good behaviour and creates an atmosphere in which pupils feel confident to express and challenge ideas, and to participate fully in lessons.

2.43

Teaching throughout the senior school includes regular assessment within lessons and, where appropriate, through tests and written homework. The best marking, in line with clear school policy, is thorough and detailed, providing constructive comments to support pupils’ learning. However, this practice is not widespread, with inconsistencies in the quality and frequency of marking across and within departments.


RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School

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The school has a considerable amount of assessment data on the performance of pupils based on regular testing, the results of nationally standardised tests taken on entry in Year 7, and public examination performance. This data is well used by senior management and, to an increasing extent, by heads of department and pastoral staff, to monitor pupils’ progress. Evaluation of pupil performance is also carried out against national norms on the publication of GCSE and A-level results. The school uses this information to make decisions about target setting, to aid monitoring and to inform future planning. The senior school has in place effective arrangements for pupils’ performance to be related to its own aims. Whole School

2.45

10

The school meets the regulatory requirements for teaching [Standard 1].


RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School

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THE QUALITY OF CARE AND RELATIONSHIPS The Quality of Pastoral Care, and the Welfare, Health and Safety of Pupils

3.1

The school provides good, and in many respects outstanding, pastoral support and guidance for its pupils, and is fully effective in ensuring their welfare, health and safety. Pupils of all ages feel valued, listened to and cared for. In this, the school is successful in fulfilling its aims. Parents are very appreciative of the standards of pastoral care provided and the positive impact this has on their children’s academic progress and personal development.

3.2

At Springfield, pastoral care is initially the responsibility of the class teacher, but all staff, whatever their role, play an important part in the care and support of the pupils. Pastoral arrangements are clearly set out in the staff handbook and the system is closely overseen by the headmistress of Springfield. Staff know their pupils very well, and support and guide them in both their academic work and their personal development. Relationships between staff and pupils, and amongst pupils themselves, are excellent. Pupils do not hesitate to say they can talk to their teachers if they are unhappy or could use the class ‘worry box’ for a note that would be attended to straight away.

3.3

In the senior school, pastoral care remains initially the responsibility of form tutors. They meet their tutees daily and deal informally with most pastoral matters, liaising with heads of year and other staff when necessary. The three-tier pastoral system, introduced following the merger, and overseen by two members of senior management, is very thorough and generally works well. Well-defined roles, regular meetings and clear lines of communication enable all pupils to be monitored closely, and any issues that arise are dealt with quickly and effectively. Sixth formers also play an important part in the care of younger pupils, both in their role as pastoral prefects and through everyday school activities. Pupils spoke positively of the help they receive and were in no doubt that they had numerous avenues of support should the need arise. Sixth formers spoke warmly of the relaxed relationships they enjoy with many of their teachers.

3.4

High standards of behaviour are expected and achieved, and there are clear systems in place throughout the school for staff to deal with disciplinary issues should they arise. More serious disciplinary matters are dealt with promptly and effectively. Pupils are aware of the school rules and consider them to be fair and appropriate. The school has a detailed and comprehensive policy to safeguard against bullying and, although rare, such cases are dealt with promptly and sensitively. The rewards system at Springfield, encompassing the weekly Gold Book Award and the house points system, is well understood by pupils, and is a significant incentive for good work and behaviour. In the senior school pupils’ questionnaire, issued before the inspection, a significant number of pupils of all ages commented on the lack of consistency in the application of the rewards and sanctions system introduced in 2008. These comments were echoed in conversations with pupils during the inspection.

3.5

The school has comprehensive and very effective child protection measures and all staff receive relevant training. Medical arrangements in both Springfield and the senior school are of a high quality, with good provision for pupils who may become unwell and suitable numbers of staff qualified in first aid.

3.6

Health and safety arrangements are thorough, and clearly laid down in school policies and procedures. The school pays due regard to statutory obligations. Measures to reduce risk from fire and other hazards are comprehensive and all necessary risk assessments are in


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place. Registration is conducted correctly and admissions procedures are appropriate. Pupils are well supervised during all activities, the arrangements being appropriate to the age of those involved. 3.7

Catering arrangements for lunch are good, with a choice of healthy and nutritious food available. At Springfield, pupils are proud of their healthy eating menus and have a wide choice of fruit both at break and lunch times. Senior school breakfast is popular with older pupils, especially those with long journeys or early morning sports training.

3.8

The school meets the regulatory requirements for the welfare, health and safety of pupils [Standard 3].

The Quality of Links with Parents and the Community 3.9

The school has developed a very effective partnership with parents and a good range of worthwhile links with both the local and the wider community.

3.10

Parents are very appreciative of the excellent links maintained between themselves and the school, and the frequent contact is both valued and welcomed. The questionnaire, completed by a high proportion of parents before the inspection, showed a high level of satisfaction and confidence in the quality of all aspects of school provision, including the pastoral care provided for their children. Parents were particularly appreciative of the handling of the merger, when several parent forums were held prior to the event. A small number of parents of senior school pupils expressed concern about the lack of sporting opportunities for girls, but the inspection team found no evidence of this.

3.11

Parents have many opportunities to be involved in school activities, and in the work and progress of their children. They regularly attend parents’ evenings, sporting fixtures, plays and concerts, and, in the case of Springfield, help with activities, such as Sparklers, the weekly toddlers’ group. The ‘resolution tree’ in the Springfield school hall encourages both pupils and their parents to add comments about the children’s own aims to improve their work. Throughout the school, most parents have confidence in the accessibility, often via email, and approachability of staff whenever they wish to discuss academic or pastoral matters. The recently formed Springfield Parents’ Association and the flourishing newly merged RGS and AO Parents’ Associations provide considerable support for the school. They organise a wide range of well-attended social events, and raise significant sums of money for specific purposes, such as sports tours. The two very active former pupils’ associations, recently merged, provide an extensive social network as well as support for GAP Year students and school projects.

3.12

High quality information about the school, including Springfield’s ‘week ahead’, regular newsletters, a calendar of events, and the clear and easily accessible website, keeps parents informed about every stage of their children’s education. Homework diaries provide an effective means of communication between home and school, especially for younger pupils. Parents are very satisfied with the school’s reporting system, which provides a combination of formal parents’ evenings and written reports. The reports are constructive and generally informative, although there is some confusion in the senior school about grade criteria.

3.13

The school’s system for dealing with parental concerns is efficient and effective. The majority of parents who responded to the questionnaire felt that the school handled their concerns promptly and with due care. Parents see the form tutor as their key point of contact and many commented positively on the promptness of any response to routine enquiries. Communications with the school, whether in person or by telephone, by letter or by email, are efficiently handled.


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3.14

The school has a number of effective links with the local and wider community. Wellestablished partnerships with local schools involve both pupils and staff in a range of worthwhile activities. Links with primary schools include Springfield’s annual Roman Day, and regular mentoring in numeracy and literacy by sixth-form pupils. The school’s facilities, including the extensive playing fields, are made available whenever possible to local groups and clubs, and the school frequently hosts sporting tournaments. An effective link of a charitable and educational nature also exists with a school in Tanzania.

3.15

The school’s ethos of service to the local community is also strong. Springfield has links with a local almshouse where pupils go carol singing. Many older girls do regular voluntary work, often through The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. Positive steps are taken to increase pupils’ awareness of the needs of others, and they respond with enthusiasm, as demonstrated by the excellent charity work, which is often locally focused and pupil led. The bi-annual fashion show, a long standing tradition from Alice Ottley, is now a highly successful part of the charitable work of the school.

3.16

The school meets the regulatory requirements for the provision of information and the manner in which complaints are to be handled [Standards 6 and 7].


RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School

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THE EFFECTIVENESS OF GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT The Quality of Governance

4.1

The school is outstandingly governed. The governors, having overseen the very successful merger of The Royal Grammar School, Worcester and The Alice Ottley School, work hard to ensure that the new school, RGSAO, fulfils its aims and retains its ethos, as it develops to meet the needs of its present and future pupils.

4.2

Structures and management arrangements related to the governing body are well defined, and enable clear oversight of all areas of school life. Appropriate succession planning and governor induction procedures are in place. Care is taken to ensure that the board includes a suitable range of expertise and interests. The governors have a clear understanding of their strategic role, delegating executive responsibilities fully to the headmaster.

4.3

The governors are kept well informed about the work of the school through regular written reports and the attendance of some senior members of staff at both board and subcommittee meetings. The finance and general purposes and the education subcommittees are central to the financial planning process and to whole-school development planning. Regular visits to all sections of the school, by both the chairman of the finance and general purposes subcommittee and other designated governors, provide an excellent opportunity for them to understand the working and needs of the school. The recent introduction of a termly review of a selected department by the education subcommittee has also proved valuable in this respect.

4.4

Board members are very aware of their legal and other responsibilities; they keep themselves well informed about such matters as health and safety, and child protection. Those with special skills in particular areas, for example finance, the law and education, put their skills to good use in support of the school’s staff. The governors value the wide range of opportunities, both formal and informal, that they have to meet staff and pupils.

The Quality of Leadership and Management 4.5

Direction and leadership are very clear, ensuring that high standards of educational provision are successfully promoted in line with the school’s aims and ethos. Through the vision, determination and energy of the leadership, together with those of the senior management team and the leadership of Springfield, RGSAO is already a cohesive community. Senior staff are well aware of the school’s strengths and the areas in need of development.

4.6

The management structure introduced in the senior school following the merger of RGS and AO is well developed in most areas, and is clearly understood and well supported by staff. The headmistress of Springfield is a member of the senior management team but the EYFS leader is not. Senior and middle management roles, particularly those related to pastoral care, are well defined, and lines of communication clear. Through a wide range of committees, such as the pastoral committee and the academic steering group, staff feel that their views are heard and taken into account in the formulation of policy.

4.7

Those with management responsibilities are effective in analysing the school’s needs, setting priorities and planning to meet these needs. In the senior school, they are aided by the wide ranging annual departmental review. However, these reviews are not directly linked to a whole-school development plan.


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4.8

Management at all levels is effective in drawing up and implementing appropriate procedures and policies. The checking and reviewing of their effectiveness by senior management is thorough, but in some areas monitoring by middle management lacks rigour. Insufficient monitoring of academic procedures leads to inconsistencies, both at Springfield and the senior school, in certain aspects of teaching, planning and marking.

4.9

The recommendation of the last report concerning Springfield key stage and subject coordinators has been fulfilled, but their role is still developing. Consultation between those with subject responsibility in Springfield and senior school departments is not yet widespread.

4.10

The recruitment and retention of high quality staff are very well managed. Appropriate checks are carried out comprehensively on all staff. Induction procedures for new staff and for newly qualified teachers are comprehensive, and appropriate records are kept. The senior school staff review and the Springfield appraisal scheme are valued by staff and are effective in identifying staff training and other needs. There is no formal appraisal of non-teaching staff.

4.11

Financial resources are very well managed and all areas of the school are well supplied with materials that support teaching and learning. The senior school campus, which has undergone major reorganisation and updating since the merger, including the addition of a wide range of high quality specialist facilities, is maintained to a high standard. Springfield and the extensive playing fields are also very well maintained.

4.12

The administration of the school is effective and efficient. The support staff display a high degree of commitment and consideration to both the school community and its visitors. They are greatly valued and make a considerable contribution to the life and work of the school.

4.13

The school meets the regulatory requirements for the suitability of proprietors and staff and for premises and accommodation [Standards 4 and 5].

4.14

The school participates in the national scheme for the induction of newly qualified teachers and meets its requirements.


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CONCLUSIONS AND NEXT STEPS Overall Conclusions

5.1

RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School is highly successful in fulfilling its aims. Through strong and forward thinking leadership and governance it serves well its pupils and their parents. The well-managed merger of the two schools has been welcomed, pupils speaking with pride of their school with its excellent facilities and strong sense of community. The effectiveness of the pastoral system and the strong ethos of the new school are reflected in the excellent relationships between the pupils and the staff, and amongst the pupils themselves. From a very early age pupils develop moral integrity, a respect for themselves and others, and a significant awareness of spirituality and cultural diversity. The academic monitoring throughout the school is not sufficiently systematic and at Springfield no system exists to assess pupils’ underlying ability. In the senior school the rewards and sanctions system, introduced following the merger, lacks transparency. The high quality educational experience, including a wide range of extra-curricular activities and good teaching, ensures that pupils of all ages achieve good academic results, leave school prepared for life in the wider world and fulfil their potential overall.

5.2

Springfield has improved in many areas since its last inspection and has responded very well to the recommendations. The appointment of curriculum co-ordinators, the development of support for pupils identified as having learning difficulties and/or disabilities, and the strengthening of continuity in educational provision between year groups have been beneficial to pupils. For senior pupils, the broadening of the extra-curricular programme has also been a positive experience. The well-planned major building programme on the senior school site and the sensitive ongoing refurbishment of Springfield are intended to ensure that the school can meet the current and future needs of its pupils. The RGSAO leadership and management are very aware of what they now need to do to take all sections of the school forward.

5.3

The school meets all the regulatory requirements.

Next Steps 5.4

The school has many strengths but the following steps should make for further improvement: 1.

develop the system of academic management to ensure effective monitoring of teaching, planning, marking and assessment;

2.

clarify the system of rewards and sanctions in the senior school to ensure greater transparency and consistency;

3.

introduce a system of measuring individual pupils’ underlying ability at Springfield in order to assess their progress and achievement more effectively.

5.5

No action is required in respect of regulatory requirements.

5.6

Any failures to meet EYFS requirements are detailed in Section 7.


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6.

SUMMARY OF INSPECTION EVIDENCE

6.1

The inspection was carried out from 19th to 22nd January 2009. The inspectors examined samples of pupils’ work, observed lessons and conducted formal interviews with pupils. They held discussions with teaching and non-teaching staff and with governors, observed a sample of the extra-curricular activities that occurred during the inspection period, and attended registration sessions and assemblies. The responses of parents and pupils to preinspection questionnaires were analysed, and the inspectors examined a range of documentation made available by the school.

6.2

The Early Years Foundation Stage was inspected on 19th and 20th January 2009 by one inspector. The inspector observed sessions, talked to the children, examined samples of work, and held discussions with staff and governors. Comments from parents and carers were considered, and the inspector examined a range of documentation made available by the school.

List of Inspectors Miss Jane Hamilton

Reporting Inspector

Mrs Gillian de la Torre

Assistant Reporting Inspector

Mr Andrew Hampton

Head, ISA school

Mrs Doris Hugh

Head of Sixth Form, GSA school

Mr Roger Mc Duff

Head, IAPS school

Miss Phillipa Message

Deputy Head, HMC school

Mr Jeremy Nichols

Head of Department, HMC school

Mr Daniel Phillips

Head of Department, HMC school

Dr Linda Skelton

Deputy Head, ISA school

Mr Stephen Smith

Head, HMC school

Mrs Mary Williamson

Head of Department, IAPS school

Mr Robin Lewis

Early Years Lead Inspector


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7.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE (EYFS)

7.1

Springfield is one of the two junior schools in the RGS Worcester & The Alice Ottley School (RGSAO) foundation. Its buildings occupy the large central gardens of a fine Georgian square. Its Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) setting aims to inspire each child with the curiosity to enjoy all six foundational learning areas within its secure, safe environment. At the time of the inspection, the EYFS educated a total of thirty children, six of whom were below the age of three years. Nine children attend part-time and fifteen receive government funding. The vast majority come from local professional and business families, a few of whom represent ethnic minorities. A very small number of children have been identified as needing learning support. Children may attend from 8.00 am and, without extra charge, may remain for after-school care until 6.00 pm.

7.2

Parental response to a pre-inspection questionnaire indicates overwhelmingly strong support for the setting. Families sign their children in and out of school and this informal contact, reinforced by the home liaison booklets and parents’ information evenings, ensures any concerns are recognised and appropriate support given quickly. The setting demonstrates a strong desire to identify potential areas of improvement and is able to effect change quickly, as shown by recent evolution in the format of parents’ evenings. The pre-school Sparklers group, which meets at Springfield each Wednesday, further strengthens contact for potential and current parents and children.

7.3

The EYFS provision is outstanding. All children enjoy a highly stimulating day filled with exploratory activity and challenge. The well-planned curriculum addresses all six areas of learning and is personalised so that no child or group is disadvantaged. Staff note processes, achievements, personal development and any areas of concern in appropriate sections on a weekly record sheet for each child. EYFS staff meet each Thursday to discuss the children; these sessions often include informal opportunities for reflection and review. Formal times for self-evaluation and monitoring within the EYFS have yet to be fully embedded in the setting’s practice.

7.4

Children’s achievement in the EYFS is good. In their early days in the setting all are informally assessed using the EYFS profile as a benchmark. From this starting point they make good and frequently outstanding progress. In all six learning areas the challenges, opportunities and experiences provided stretch the children’s creative and critical faculties well. Linguistic development is particularly strong and children enjoy writing. Individual and group work are both encouraged and staff are always on hand to offer help and support. Children’s efforts decorate much of the classroom wall space in displays, which are frequently changed.

7.5

The children’s personal development and well-being are outstanding. Through example and encouragement, children develop an excellent awareness of personal safety issues. The outdoor experiences of the Forest School sessions, where children create their own shelters, follow trails and develop adventures, build excellent habits of risk anticipation and are conducted safely through supportive adult guidance. Matters of general health are equally strongly addressed through, for example, the emphasis on clean hands and the attractive choice of fresh fruit and milk or water at snack time. Lunch menus are publicised and children’s individual dietary needs accommodated. All children swim weekly and take part in physical education lessons. At these and other times the benefits of exercise are emphasised. The EYFS year groups interact freely and as a result they quickly make friends with older or younger children to their mutual benefit. Outstanding respect and care are evident and children encourage each other to join in. Staff expectations of and challenge in


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these areas are particularly high and, as a result, the children rapidly develop highly enthusiastic, inquisitive, independent learning habits. They prove well able to co-operate in pairs or small groups. An excellent variety of trips and outings and the classes’ soft toy Lola’s illustrated diary give an introduction to the wider world. Lola has accompanied staff and school families around the world. The children develop sharp information and communication technology skills. 7.6

The impact of parents, carers and teachers upon children’s learning and development is outstanding. The school’s excellent partnership with parents and families ensures that EYFS matters are very well supported at home. Staff attend Worcestershire local authority Early Years courses. These courses, together with regular meetings and events with local primary schools, underpin teachers’ professional development and knowledge. The school has been awarded a grant by Sure Start for the further development of the outdoor play area. The classrooms are well decorated, very well resourced and welcoming. Staff contribute very effectively to the friendly atmosphere and use the comprehensive individual records to ensure that everyone’s needs are properly met and that they make strong progress. Any children experiencing difficulties in any way are quickly noted and, in consultation with parents, formal assessments are made through the RGSAO learning support staff. Individual educational plans are created where appropriate, and teachers pay careful attention to these and other suggestions and advice. Excellent opportunities for informal play are given within the EYFS garden and the wider school grounds. In the Forest School sessions, similarly beneficial experiences occur which evolve individually within an outline plan.

7.7

The school promote the children’s welfare outstandingly. The foundation’s management has developed highly effective policies and procedures that ensure excellent welfare, health and safety of the EYFS children. Each child has a key worker and child protection training takes place termly. Risk assessments for routine checks of, for example, indoor and outdoor furniture and toys, and for specific matters such as outings, are thorough. Visitor and attendance logs and children’s registers are properly kept. A supervised sickroom accommodates any children who are taken ill until parents collect them. All EYFS staff and the headmistress of Springfield hold current paediatric first aid certificates.

7.8

The leadership and management of the EYFS are outstanding. The records, policies and procedures, including risk assessment, which underpin the safe and efficient working practice, operate effectively and are well reviewed regularly. Teachers, support staff and volunteer helpers, for example parents who assist on outings, are all appropriately checked. Appraisal and monitoring of teaching assistants are currently informal and the EYFS leadership is not yet part of the school’s senior management team. The leadership’s constant presence, example and encouragement ensure the provision of high quality education.

What the Setting Should Do to Improve 7.9

The school has addressed all the recommendations mentioned in previous reports. improve still further the high quality of its provision, the setting should:

To

1.

ensure that the EYFS leader plays a full role in the senior management of the school;

2.

ensure that self-evaluation and monitoring to underpin and advance current good practice are firmly embedded;

3.

develop a formal appraisal system for the EYFS teaching assistants.


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The school’s registered provision for childcare meets the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage [and the Childcare Act 2006].

Complaints Since the Last Inspection 7.11

Since the last inspection there have been no complaints made to Ofsted that require any action to meet national requirements.


ISI Inspection Report