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INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS INSPECTORATE INSPECTION REPORT ON Kensington Prep School Full Name of the School

Kensington Prep School

DCSF Number

205/6392

Registered Charity Number 306983 Address

596 Fulham Road, London SW6 5PA.

Telephone Number

020 7731 9300

Fax Number

020 7731 9301

Email Address

enquiries@kenprep.gdst.net

Head

Mrs Prudence Lynch

Proprietor

Girls’ Day School Trust

Chair of School Governing Mrs Carol Attfield Board Age Range (of the whole school)

4 to 11

Gender

Girls

Inspection Dates

18th to 21st May 2009

Early Years Age Range

4 to 5

Early Years Gender

Girls

Early Years Foundation Stage Inspection Dates

18th and 19th May 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, May 2007 and February 2009. 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 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 ...............................................................2 The Educational Experience Provided ................................................................................. 2 Pupils’ Learning and Achievements..................................................................................... 3 Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development of Pupils .............................................. 4 The Quality of Teaching (Including Assessment) ................................................................ 5

3.

THE QUALITY OF CARE AND RELATIONSHIPS ..................................7 The Quality of Pastoral Care, and the Welfare, Health and Safety of Pupils....................... 7 The Quality of Links with Parents and the Community ....................................................... 8

4.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT ....10 The Quality of Governance ................................................................................................ 10 The Quality of Leadership and Management ..................................................................... 10

5.

CONCLUSIONS AND NEXT STEPS.........................................................12 Overall Conclusions ........................................................................................................... 12 Next Steps........................................................................................................................... 12

6.

SUMMARY OF INSPECTION EVIDENCE ..............................................13 List of Inspectors ................................................................................................................ 13

7.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE (EYFS) ............................................................................................14 What the Setting Should Do to Improve ............................................................................ 15


Kensington Prep School

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INTRODUCTION Characteristics of the School

1.1

Kensington Prep School provides education for girls from the ages of four to eleven. It was founded in 1872 and moved to its present location in Fulham in 1997. The school is housed in a former convent and associated girls’ school. The school is a member of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) which provides the governance and overall strategic planning. Most of the girls’ parents are professional, often with both parents working. The girls come mainly from south west London.

1.2

In total, 279 girls attend the school and there are two parallel classes from Reception to Year 6. In all, 46 girls are in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). A total of 85 girls are in Years 1 and 2. In Years 3 to 6, there are 148 girls.

1.3

The school seeks to provide a broad curriculum and a nurturing atmosphere, to equip the girls to get the best out of life in line with the overarching aims of the GDST. Central to this provision is to ensure that the girls are provided with an excellent and exciting education which ensures high academic standards. Girls are encouraged to become questioning thinkers who are well prepared for a changing world. The uniqueness of the individual is to be recognised and independence nurtured. The school has an ‘Open Door’ policy with parents and seeks to provide a sense of community for the girls.

1.4

The school is selective as many more girls apply than there are places. Most girls enter through the Reception classes (with a small entry point at 7+ and for occasional places throughout), and stay from Reception to Year 6. They are assessed for entry by the school using a range of assessments. Results of standardised tests across the school indicate that the ability of the girls overall is well above the national average. If the girls are performing in line with their abilities, their results in national tests at the age of eleven will be well above the average for all maintained primary schools.

1.5

No pupils have statements of special educational needs, although 51 girls have been identified by the school as having a degree of learning difficulty and/or disability. In total, 24 of these girls are in receipt of extra support. The girls come from a range of ethnic backgrounds. A small proportion of the girls speak a language other than English at home but these girls do not need extra support for their spoken English.

1.6

The school has undergone significant change since the last inspection. A new head has been appointed and the structure of the senior leadership team revised. The timetable has been adapted to a system based around one hour blocks of time. The buildings, set in an acre of ground, have recently been enlarged and upgraded with new classrooms for Years 5 and 6, a new hall, science laboratory and direct access to the playground for the EYFS. Outside, the playground has been resurfaced, and has new play equipment, netball and tennis courts and a pond area for environmental studies. The school has a library and dedicated rooms for information and communication technology (ICT), drama, music, art and technology. Currently the GDST is undertaking a pilot project for the governance of the school to make the best use of the school governing body.

1.7

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

1.8

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


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THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION The Educational Experience Provided

2.1

Girls benefit from an interesting, challenging and broad educational experience which is outstanding. It overwhelmingly meets the school’s aim to ensure that girls have an exciting experience that promotes high academic standards and enables them to become challenging thinkers. The experience provided in the EYFS successfully develops the children’s understanding. The high quality, caring environment in the school, with its emphasis on developing thinking skills, enables girls to reach high standards in their academic and personal development. The strengths mentioned in the previous report have been built on successfully. In addition, more attention is placed on learning skills. Girls who have been identified as being gifted and talented are provided with greater challenge. Parents responded very positively in pre-inspection questionnaires to the range of experiences provided for their daughters. Inspection evidence agrees with the school’s self-evaluation that the curriculum is rich.

2.2

High priority is given to the development of girls’ skills in literacy, speaking and listening, and in numeracy. In line with the school’s aims, considerable attention is given to the girls’ all-round development and this includes not only aesthetic, creative and social provision but also scientific, physical and technological development. Many opportunities are provided for ICT through its well-planned use across the curriculum. Design and technology is given due attention. The curriculum is further enhanced in Years 1 to 6 by sessions on ‘philosophy for children’.

2.3

An innovative and successful feature of the educational experience is the attention given to the development of girls’ thinking. Several times a year, girls from Year 3 to Year 6 work together in groups to undertake a ‘thinking adventure’. The most recent was titled Flying High. Girls successfully worked on a wide range of challenging activities carefully designed to enable them to think for themselves. Gifted and talented girls in music and physical education developed their ideas in these specific areas to high standards. One large group of girls was asked to think about life in a world where humans could fly. They looked at the implications of such a situation. A number of girls were concerned about the prospect of a congestion charge in the sky. At other times in the year, girls are given an ‘open homework’ where they respond to a title such as Where do We Come From? Parents often work with their daughters, and the outcomes show work that is highly original and well thought through.

2.4

The curriculum is very effectively planned, with thorough and detailed schemes of work available electronically to all staff. The management of the curriculum is of high quality, with the necessary arrangements in place to ensure that girls build effectively on what they have previously learnt. These schemes are implemented consistently. In line with the school’s aims, many imaginative activities are planned to link subjects together across the age range. In Year 6 girls undertake a project, this year’s being an imaginative ‘bite sized business’ where they developed food items which they cooked and packaged. As part of this project they visited a cookery school as well as a packaging museum. Design and technology and ICT are used to great effect, as well as literacy and numeracy skills.

2.5

Girls’ personal development is effectively catered for through the well-planned programme of personal, social, health and citizenship education (PSHCE). Imaginative use is made of the rich London environment to enhance the curriculum. The wide range of extra-curricular activities enhances girls’ experience considerably. These include music, sport, yoga, bridge and cookery. Girls are given opportunities to represent the school in sporting fixtures.


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2.6

In line with the school’s ethos, great care is taken to ensure that all girls have opportunities to participate fully in all activities. The support for girls identified as needing extra help is effective, and the school is working on extending the range of assessment tools needed to identify with greater precision what is needed for each girl. This area is highlighted for action in the school development plan. Extra challenge is provided for the gifted and talented girls through the carefully planned and challenging enrichment programme.

2.7

Girls are thoroughly prepared for the next stage of their education. The high quality pastoral care ensures that transition from the EYFS and between Years 2 and 3 is smooth. Thorough attention is given to the preparation of girls’ transfer to senior schools. The head and staff know the girls very well. This information is used very effectively to help girls and their parents to choose senior schools and meet the necessary requirements.

2.8

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

Pupils’ Learning and Achievements 2.9

Girls are highly effective learners and their achievement is outstanding. They are very well grounded in knowledge, skills and understanding in the subjects they study, and competently apply these throughout their work. This achievement and the excellence of girls’ learning accord with the school’s aim to achieve high academic standards and to enable girls to be effective thinkers. Standards of achievement have risen since the last inspection, especially for the more able.

2.10

The achievement of girls in national tests in Year 6 is high. Results over the past three years have been far above the national average for maintained primary schools. Examination of girls’ completed work and lesson observations confirm the high standards achieved. More able girls achieve well. Girls identified by the school as requiring extra help make good progress, reflecting the good support they receive.

2.11

Success is achieved in a wide range of activities. Girls achieved highly in the Primary Maths Challenge, recently winning a number of medals including two golds. They are successful in their music making. Girls have gained national awards for their handwriting. In sport, girls compete well against other schools.

2.12

Girls’ learning skills are highly advanced. Their attitudes to learning are very positive and they work very hard in a supportive and challenging atmosphere where teaching and the curriculum are interesting and carefully matched to their needs. In conversation with inspectors, girls frequently commented how interesting their lessons were, especially when subjects were linked together. Girls are highly supportive of the activities planned to help them develop their thinking.

2.13

A major strength in girls’ learning is that they are highly articulate. They listen carefully to their teachers and to each other’s ideas and comments. Girls explain their ideas confidently, knowing that these will be respected. They reason logically and argue their case cogently. Girls think for themselves and regularly engage in conversation with teachers and each other about what they are learning, frequently asking questions.

2.14

Girls read fluently from a wide genre of books. Younger pupils in Years 1 and 2 make rapid progress in learning the sounds letters make. Girls achieve high standards in literacy. Across the school they write accurately, neatly and at length for a wide range of purposes, including poetry as well as accounts of experiments or educational visits. Their completed work is well presented. Girls attain high standards in numeracy. In Year 6, they competently calculate the surface area of three dimensional shapes. They calculate accurately and effectively apply


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their skills in numeracy. Girls develop high levels of competency in their use of ICT. They use these skills to research and produce well-designed and illustrated leaflets, for example about the issues surrounding flooding. They particularly apply their skills during their ‘learning adventures’ and ‘open homework’. Girls regularly undertake independent research, for example completing a study of the Earth, moon and sun as an extended homework project. 2.15

Of particulate note is the way in which girls work in groups or teams. Teaching enables this to happen regularly, and high levels of collaboration are achieved. Girls settle quickly in lessons, concentrate hard and persevere, especially when undertaking a challenging task. They often become totally absorbed in their work.

Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development of Pupils 2.16

Girls’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural awareness is outstanding and reflects the values the school seeks to promote. The pre-inspection questionnaires revealed widespread satisfaction on the part of parents with the values and attitudes promoted by the school. The strengths reported at the last inspection have been built on successfully.

2.17

Girls show a highly developed spiritual awareness. The strong culture of praise and encouragement within the school’s atmosphere engenders high levels of self-esteem and selfconfidence within the girls. The school’s overarching value of “treating other people as you wish to be treated” underpins relationships and the everyday life of the school. For example in a religious education lesson about Sikhism, girls quickly related the pillars on which that faith is built to the school’s own values. Girls acquire a sense of identity, personal meaning and purpose.

2.18

Assemblies are organised in such a way that they provide the girls with a sense of occasion. They provide stimulating opportunities for girls to reflect on beliefs and values. For example in an assembly for the younger girls, a time is set aside for them to wonder. A small number of girls are invited to share their thoughts which are recorded on cards that are built into a wall known as the ‘wonder wall’. Recent questions asked include “why is the sky blue?” and “is God real?” Girls develop an understanding of different faiths in religious education lessons, and the programme gives them the opportunity to explore values and beliefs and the way they affect people’s lives. Spiritual awareness is developed in a number of subjects, especially art and music.

2.19

Girls have a very well developed sense of what is right and wrong, not only in terms of obeying the rules, but in making moral decisions. The code of conduct is clearly based on the school’s values. Girls understand the code and recognise that it provides a set of rules designed for their benefit. Should a dispute arise, each girl is encouraged to tell another how her behaviour makes her feel and to ask for it to stop, before going to an adult. Girls have a deeply felt sense of justice. In their PSHCE lessons, they thoughtfully discuss significant moral issues. The staff provide girls with good role models in their relationships with each other and in their teamwork.

2.20

Girls show a highly developed social awareness throughout the school. An extensive range of opportunities for social development enables girls to develop a good understanding of the needs of others. The school council, with elected representatives, provides a significant forum for debate about the life and work of the school. Girls are given a wide variety of opportunities to exercise responsibility, initiative and leadership, to which they respond conscientiously. Older girls look after the younger ones and on occasion write stories for them. The house system encourages team spirit. Residential and other visits also contribute significantly to girls’ social awareness and development. The curriculum is carefully


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planned to include issues of social conscience. For example in geography, girls discuss the rights and wrongs of timber felling in Brazil and undertake a study of fair trade activities. They are keen to take care of the environment and the school has gained the national EcoSchools bronze award. Girls are regularly involved in support for charities. Many experiences and opportunities develop girls’ understanding of what it means to be a citizen. These include a visit to the House of Commons. 2.21

Girls develop a strong cultural awareness, largely due to the interesting and varied opportunities provided for them. They regularly participate in the performing arts, for instance in drama through the many school productions. Girls have extensive opportunities in music through the orchestra and ensembles, as well as singing in the choir. They are effectively helped to appreciate and respect other cultures in ways that promote tolerance and understanding. Girls come from a range of ethnic backgrounds, and work and play together in harmony. Cultural understanding is furthered effectively through a link with a school in Ghana that the school supports. In art, girls often try to represent the artwork of different cultures, for example of Mexico. Regular opportunities are provided for girls to visit museums and galleries.

2.22

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

The Quality of Teaching (Including Assessment) 2.23

Strong teaching is reflected in the girls’ high levels of achievement and progress. The quality of teaching reflects the school’s self-evaluation. Effective procedures for assessment are used successfully to track pupils’ progress and to plan work. Teaching is very much in line with the school’s aim to enable girls to be successful academically and to be independent thinkers. Parents’ responses to the pre-inspection questionnaires were strongly supportive of the quality of teaching. The marking of girls’ completed work has improved since the last inspection in that the comments made by teachers provide detailed advice on how to improve.

2.24

Relationships between teachers and the girls are excellent, and enhance the quality of teaching, so enabling the girls to make the most of their intellectual, physical and creative talents. Teaching takes place in a context of mutual trust where girls enjoy being taught and the teachers are enthusiastic about teaching them. In line with the school’s aims, girls are continually challenged to think for themselves. They readily express their ideas knowing that their answers will be valued and treated respectfully. The encouraging atmosphere in lessons is central to the teaching and significantly enhances the girls’ learning. Girls spoke warmly of the teaching.

2.25

Imaginative, challenging and purposeful teaching is a major strength in the school. For example as part of their ‘bite sized’ project in a Year 6 English lesson, girls carefully analysed and edited a leaflet about their food product. In another lesson connected with the project, they were challenged to use ICT effectively to design appropriate packaging. Younger girls made full use of the wide range of resources and skills of the teacher and teaching assistant to make highly imaginative head-dresses as part of their study of the Aztecs. Accurate use of punctuation is encouraged in one class by a carefully illustrated slogan: “The punctuation police are searching for writing that makes sense”. Teaching is at its most imaginative during the lessons devoted to developing the girls’ thinking skills.


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2.26

Teaching is very well planned to include a wide range of interesting activities and approaches that are well suited to the purpose of the lesson. Frequently this involves the imaginative use of the interactive white boards to be found in each classroom. In a philosophy for children lesson, well-chosen images of people provided an excellent basis for debate about whether external appearance influences judgements about people. In a religious education lesson, girls were able to listen to Sikh children talking about their faith as well as seeing worship. Girls use white boards effectively to share their ideas with the teacher and the other girls in the class. Teachers’ planning often links subjects together and this enhances learning. For example, in a geography lesson where girls were learning about what factors make a suitable site for a settlement, they touched on historical aspects, as well as linking the word ‘ford’ to work they were undertaking in English.

2.27

Teachers have a secure command of the subjects they teach. Specialist teaching is used to good effect. Planning for lessons is thorough and takes full notice of the differing levels of achievement. Teachers know the girls extremely well and have a secure understanding of individual strengths and weaknesses. Effective partnership with dedicated teaching assistants enhances learning. High quality resources are used effectively. Appropriate challenge is provided for the more able girls and effective support is given to those identified as needing extra help. Questioning by teachers is well developed. Questions are posed effectively to consolidate previous learning and to probe levels of girls’ understanding. Lessons move briskly and no time is wasted.

2.28

Teachers have high expectations of behaviour and girls respond accordingly. Sympathetic but firm classroom management encourages girls to behave very well. Many opportunities are provided for girls to work together in teams or groups, to which they respond very well.

2.29

Girls’ work is regularly and accurately assessed by teachers. In addition, girls often assess their own understanding in lessons using agreed systems, such as ‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down’ As well as the use of national tests in Year 6, a number of nationally standardised tests are used against which girls’ attainment is measured. ICT is used effectively to keep detailed records. A more advanced computer system is due to be installed by the end of the year to enable faster access to information for teachers. Information from assessment is used effectively to track girls’ progress and highlight areas where extra support or challenge are needed.

2.30

The marking of girls’ work has improved since the last inspection. Considerable attention is given to providing girls with praise and encouragement, together with detailed and appropriate advice as to how they can improve their work. Where marking is at its best, a written dialogue between teachers and girls ensues. Individual targets are set for girls and they receive comments on how they are progressing towards meeting these.

2.31

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


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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 quality of pastoral care is outstanding and continues to be a major strength of the school. It meets the overarching school aim to engender a sense of community where independence is nurtured. Comprehensive attention is paid to ensuring girls’ welfare, health and safety. Parents are highly appreciative of the care their daughters receive.

3.2

The school has an atmosphere of warmth and trust. Girls are happy and confident, knowing that there is always someone to turn to for help. In conversation, girls commented positively about the sense of community and friendship. Carefully planned activities such as the ‘thinking adventures’ enable girls from across the school to work together and build strong social relationships between year groups.

3.3

The deputy head provides very efficient leadership of pastoral care. Form teachers effectively provide the key pastoral support within the school and are directly accessible to parents who might have concerns. The welfare of the girls is given the highest priority and is the first item on the agenda of the weekly staff meetings. Pastoral arrangements are clear, understood by girls and adults, and implemented consistently.

3.4

The staff provide extremely effective support and guidance. Their teamwork and enthusiasm serve as clear role models for the girls. All aspects of pastoral care are underpinned by the school’s values which are appreciated by staff and girls alike. These values are constantly being reinforced in assemblies, through the thoughtful PSHCE programme and above all in the daily life of the school.

3.5

The excellent relationships between teachers and girls, and amongst the girls, are an obvious strength of the school. One girl in Year 6 said: “everyone makes the school what it is”. Another commented: “there are no outsiders”. The warmth amongst girls across the age ranges is clear. The girls indicated in their response to the pre-inspection questionnaires that they enjoy being at the school and what the school does for them. They particularly appreciate the way teachers care if they are happy and the way in which newcomers are made to feel welcome.

3.6

Extensive and effective arrangements are implemented to promote high standards of behaviour. The code of conduct is based on a set of values underpinned by the overarching value of mutual respect. The values are understood, and clearly laid out in girls’ diaries and on well-designed notices around the school.

3.7

Comprehensive attention is given to the prevention of bullying and harassment, including cyber-bullying. Girls are fully aware of the school’s policy for dealing with inappropriate behaviour. They commented that bullying was rare and explained that they were sure the teachers would treat it very seriously and respond rapidly should it occur.

3.8

Secure and comprehensive arrangements are in place and implemented to safeguard and promote girls’ health and well-being. Robust attention is given to child protection. Criminal Records Bureau checks have been made on all adults as required, and a central register has been established. The recruitment of staff takes full account of national guidance on safe procedures.


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3.9

Attendance and admission registers are completed accurately. Attendance is high and prompt checks are made should a girl be absent without prior notice. Suitable facilities and staff are in place to support girls who are injured or taken ill.

3.10

Protection against fire is thorough. All appliances and evacuation procedures are tested regularly. Fire risk assessments are up to date. Thorough risk assessments are in place for health and safety matters, including educational visits, for example to France.

3.11

Girls are encouraged to live healthily. Due attention is paid to healthy living in science and PSHCE, where girls learn about food groups and know what constitutes a balanced meal. They are encouraged to take exercise and a healthy lifestyle is encouraged in physical education. Meals are nutritious. A salad option is available, and the needs of any girl with special dietary requirements are met. Staff oversee the choices girls make and encourage them to have balanced meals.

3.12

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 3.13

The school has an excellent partnership with parents and strong links with the community. This overall quality is in line with the school’s self-evaluation.

3.14

The parental questionnaire conducted prior to the inspection revealed a high degree of satisfaction with all aspects of the school, especially the quality of teaching, the pastoral care, the values and attitudes that are promoted, and the range of subjects taught.

3.15

Parents have many and varied opportunities to be involved in the life of the school. They listen to girls reading, organise the book club, paint drama sets, or talk about their culture, or professional expertise such as in journalism or dentistry. In addition, parents often accompany girls on educational visits. They attend concerts, drama productions and sporting events.

3.16

The Kensington Prep School Association is energetic in its organisation of social and fundraising events, and makes a major contribution to school life. The annual Summer Carnival is an example of a successful fundraising event in which parents, staff and girls coordinate a wide range of activities. Substantial funds are raised for charity and the school. Recently, parents made a considerable donation to the development and improvement of the playground.

3.17

Extensive and detailed information about the school is provided for parents and prospective parents. The school’s website provides useful information and has a parent section. The school emails parents weekly with a newsletter and any relevant letters regarding educational visits. In addition, parents receive an informative handbook as well as half yearly ‘Year Group Fliers’, half yearly ‘Highlights’ and an annual magazine.

3.18

Parents are provided with regular and high quality information about their daughters’ progress. A comprehensive pattern for meetings between parents and teachers is in place. This includes welcome meetings as well as meetings about individual girls at least twice a year. Parents are able to meet teachers much more regularly on an informal basis. Parents receive two reports each year. These reports are informative, and constructive comments enable parents to know what their daughters have learnt and identify any areas where improvement is needed. The reading record and pupil diary provide a useful daily means of communication between home and school.


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3.19

The small number of parental concerns is handled sensitively, usually on an informal basis. Should it be needed, parents have access to a detailed complaints procedure. In their responses to the pre-inspection questionnaires, parents were very supportive of the way the school deals with their concerns. Parents’ views are sought regularly through the use of questionnaires, including the parental satisfaction survey undertaken by the GDST.

3.20

Strong links have been established with the local community and further afield. The school’s links with the community have been thoroughly reviewed and a plan has been drawn up to take these further over the next two years. The girls make effective use of the local community through their many educational visits. The ‘bite sized’ project in Year 6 has included visits to local businesses. Learning in religious education has been enhanced by visits to a local church and synagogue. A nearby pottery shop has been visited as part of an historical study.

3.21

Pupils from a maintained primary school have joined with the girls during a ‘thinking adventure’ session. Video conferencing has taken place with another school in the GDST, where younger children shared ideas about writing fairy stories. Voluntary nature conservation is undertaken with the local council, including the planting of bulbs. Links have been established with a local church, whereby the vicar takes the occasional service in school, and the school holds some concerts. Girls sing at the Christingle service in Westminster Abbey, as well as singing carols in a department store and retirement homes. Links have been made with the school in Ghana, and funds have been raised to repair flood damage and to purchase mosquito nets. The girls also support many national charities.

3.22

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].


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THE EFFECTIVENESS OF GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT The Quality of Governance

4.1

The GDST and school governing board effectively help to set and secure the aims and values for the school, and provide excellent oversight and guidance. Together they very effectively enable the school to meet its aims, as they did at the last inspection.

4.2

Both are very clear in their understanding of their defined responsibilities. The GDST appoints the governors. Together they offer excellent oversight of the school. The GDST has overall responsibility both for the school’s long-term strategic development and for its finances. It manages financial and legal matters, and devises all major policies, which are then adapted to meet the particular needs of the school. A member of the GDST health and safety staff is always in attendance at health and safety committee meetings. The GDST has undertaken a detailed review of all matters relating to the safeguarding of girls. This extensive review included conversations with the girls. Facilities have been extensively improved since the last inspection, including provision for ICT and the development of new buildings. The GDST is valued by staff at all levels, both for the expertise and support it provides.

4.3

The school governing board exercises its devolved responsibilities conscientiously, monitoring the performance of the school and holding it to account. The board has a very clear insight into the working of the school. Governors have played a full part in assessing the current state of affairs and the future development needs of the school. The board has a positive relationship with the staff and parents. A coalition of willingness and availability of members of the board ensure that there is active involvement with the school. Governors act as a useful forum for the head to share her thinking about the development of the school, and to provide advice and support. The chair visits the school regularly and other members also visit. The board maintains effective links with parents, former parents and the community. Governors support school functions very well.

The Quality of Leadership and Management 4.4

Leadership and management are effective, and ensure that the school enthusiastically provides its pupils with an education based firmly on its expressed aims and values. The school has built on the strengths reported previously. The head provides outstanding leadership, ably supported by the deputy head and senior colleagues. Monitoring and evaluation by heads of department are extensive but over reliant on implicit arrangements. The teamwork of the staff is of high quality.

4.5

The head and deputy head form a strong partnership and together provide very effective leadership. At the heart of this leadership is the continual emphasis placed on ensuring that girls achieve highly, become independent thinkers and are happy. High levels of teamwork and implementation of the school values in all aspects of school life are the hallmarks of the leadership of the school. Success is seen in the strong determination by all staff to do the best for the girls. The school lives its aims and values.

4.6

The senior leadership team collectively has a clear view of the strengths of the school and the areas for improvement. Each year the head provides the GDST with a review of the school’s work. The school development plan is comprehensive and takes full account of the educational direction set for the school by the GDST. The plan is firmly linked to the outcomes of the extensive monitoring and evaluation that take place, together with


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considerable discussion with the staff. Specific areas for development are identified, as well as responsibilities for ensuring action, and timetable for completion. The plan is closely linked to the school’s budget. 4.7

Since the last inspection, the management structure has been developed further and a greater role has been given to the heads of department. They provide detailed schemes of work and well thought out plans for the subjects for which they are responsible. In addition, they conscientiously monitor and evaluate their subjects. Heads of department also undertake lesson observations and scrutinise girls’ completed work. They carefully record their findings which are passed onto the senior leadership team.

4.8

The strong teamwork in the school is a great strength but it has also led to an over reliance on arrangements that are implicit rather than set out in clear procedures. Consequently, inconsistency in reporting findings, due for example to a lack of uniformity in the format for undertaking scrutiny of girls’ completed work, lessens the effectiveness of the monitoring process. The lack of clarity in the management structure hinders its effectiveness.

4.9

Staff development is extensive and is of high quality. Its impact is seen in girls’ achievement. The high quality of their ICT skills is a good example. The improvements made to assessing girls’ writing across the school as a whole are the result of in-service training.

4.10

Staff appraisal is firmly in place and includes a significant amount of peer appraisal that teachers report they find especially useful. Induction of staff new to the school is well established, and overseen by the deputy head. Although no newly qualified teachers are currently employed, appropriate arrangements have been made to induct such teachers using the national scheme. Robust attention is paid to ensure the safe recruitment of all staff.

4.11

The management of finances by the GDST and the school business manager is prudent and effective. High quality resources are available and well organised. Accommodation is of a high quality. It is well maintained and in a good state of repair. A great strength of the school is the very effective use made of displays of girls’ completed work. The displays capture girls’ interest and encourage thinking.

4.12

The caretaker contributes significantly to the life of the school. The grounds are well tended and the school is kept very clean. Administration is very efficient and the school runs smoothly.

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.


Kensington Prep School

5.

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CONCLUSIONS AND NEXT STEPS Overall Conclusions

5.1

Kensington Prep School successfully meets its aims to ensure that the girls are provided with an excellent and exciting education. Girls achieve high standards, reflecting the strong teaching. They are provided with a challenging and rich curriculum, with a wide range of extra-curricular activities. Information from the assessment of girls’ work is used effectively to plan future work and to track their progress. The girls are highly effective learners, their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding, and they become questioning thinkers. Pastoral care is excellent, and provision for girls’ welfare, health and safety is comprehensive. Links with parents are also excellent and those with the community are strong. This high quality provision is due significantly to the outstanding leadership and management of the head, ably supported by the deputy head, and the effective teamwork of all the staff. In turn this quality teamwork has led to reliance on procedures that are implicit and consequently the monitoring and evaluation activities of the heads of department are not fully effective. The management structure needs fine tuning to make it more efficient. The governance of the GDST and the school governing board is outstanding and enables the girls to benefit from learning in a highly stimulating environment.

5.2

Good progress has been made since the last inspection. The reported strengths have been successfully built on. Challenge for the more able girls has improved, as has the marking of all the girls’ work. Significant building has improved the accommodation as well as the outside space.

5.3

The school meets all the regulatory requirements.

Next Steps 5.4

In order to make further progress, the school should: 1.

draw up concise procedures for the monitoring and evaluation activities of the heads of department;

2.

tighten the management structure to make it even more effective.

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 18th to 21st May 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 pre-inspection 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 18th and 19th May 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 Mr Rod Sharman

Reporting Inspector

Mr Dougie Arnold

Deputy Head, IAPS school

Mr Gerry Hobern

Head, IAPS school

Mrs Barbara Ottley

Former Head, IAPS school

Mrs Sally Russell

Assistant Head, IAPS school

Mrs Sara Wiggins

Early Years Lead Inspector


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7.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE (EYFS)

7.1

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) at Kensington Prep School caters for 46 girls in two parallel Reception classes. All children attend full-time. The setting is an integral part of the school community, and the children benefit from usage of the whole-school facilities including the hall, the computer suite and the music room, the expertise of specialist teachers and contact with the older pupils. The aim of the setting to provide an environment that supports, extends and enriches children’s learning and development is successfully achieved.

7.2

The EYFS provision is good, with many outstanding features. The staff’s enthusiasm and professionalism, combined with a good adult to child ratio, enable effective support for the children’s unique needs, both pastoral and academic. Comprehensive records underpin the teachers’ knowledge of each child. Children make good progress in their learning in relation to their starting points and capabilities. In all six learning areas, the challenges, opportunities and experiences provided successfully develop the children’s understanding. Communication, language and literacy are promoted especially well, with children reaching high standards in their independent writing. Children are confident and show high levels of independence. They are creative, using different media and materials to create such items as model dinosaurs and story books. They think critically, discussing highly effectively what they needed to plan for their ‘bugs ball.’

7.3

The children’s personal well-being and development are outstanding. Through example, encouragement and well-planned opportunities, children develop an excellent awareness of personal safety. They diligently follow class guidance for the use of equipment and can explain the dangers of not doing so. They look after and help each other, moving safely and carefully around the school, and showing kindness and consideration for others. School meals and snacks have a healthy balance, and children are familiar with healthier options when making choices. Children know that exercise is good for them, and are willing, happy and enthusiastic learners. They respect and support one another in lessons, displaying excellent listening skills and concentration. Staff expectations of children’s attitudes and thinking skills are high and, as a result, children rapidly develop highly inquisitive and independent learning habits. They use numbers in a variety of contexts, and with freedom in play. They progress well in using information and communication technology to support other areas of their learning. Children experiment persistently to solve problems and are delighted by their discoveries.

7.4

The support given by parents, teachers and carers is a strong feature of the setting, and contributes very positively and effectively to children’s learning and development. Staff give clear and sympathetic guidance to children of all abilities, and ensure that the stimulating learning environment helps them make progress. The rooms are well resourced, and staff use colourful, informative displays to enhance learning and to celebrate children’s work. The well-designed outside areas allow a good balance of activities in all weathers, and encourage children to explore, experiment and investigate. Thorough and imaginative planning ensures that groups and individuals can enjoy challenging experiences. Appropriate extra support is given when needed. Regular assessments are designed to ensure that children achieve well. Additional externally moderated assessments have been introduced, although sufficient staff training is not yet in place to allow full use to be made of the information they provide. Parents appreciate the comprehensive information they receive on all aspects of school life. They feel involved with their children’s learning and development.


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7.5

Provision for welfare is outstanding and the staff implement effective strategies to promote all children’s well-being. Staff encourage excellent behaviour and teach children to distinguish right from wrong. They regularly praise them for their achievements and this promotes their welfare and self-esteem. Policies and procedures are suitably carried out and well known; staff explain to children why they need to wash their hands and ensure that suitable clothing is worn when they venture outside. The setting has appropriate accident and medication records, and medical facilities fully support the needs of children. Children benefit from a secure and very well maintained environment.

7.6

The leadership and management of the EYFS are good. Adults in the setting are suitably qualified and risk assessments are detailed, helpful and regularly reviewed. Staff work exceptionally hard to create an interesting learning environment. Professional development opportunities are good and outcomes are well used for continued improvements. Strong progress has been made in encouraging children to learn through independent play and exploration. As the school is aware, the management structure is not yet fully in place and there is no one person with a complete overview of the setting. As a result, the useful information collected, in a variety of forms, has not yet been fully analysed to contribute towards the development planning of the setting. Since the last inspection, suitable opportunities have been provided for children to recognise features of their local environment. Staff communicate effectively with each other and external agencies. Parents who responded to the pre-inspection questionnaires and those met during the week of the inspection were highly positive about all aspects of the educational experience provided for their children.

What the Setting Should Do to Improve 7.7

To improve further the good quality of provision, the setting should: 1.

7.8

set in place appropriate training and management structures in order to draw together and analyse all the information gathered, to inform development planning.

The school’s provision for childcare meets the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage.


Independent Schools Inspectorate Inspection Report 2009