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School celebrates good report from unofficial inspection
STAFF at Wallingford School who took the unusual step of volunteering for a visit from education inspectors were rewarded with a good report.
Headteacher Wyll Willis said he was delighted that the gamble of requesting the unofficial inspection from Ofsted-trained inspectors had paid off.
The school picked up ‘good’ marks in three out of four categories, an improvement on its existing satisfactory rating.
Five inspectors visited on March 20 and March 21 and although the inspection has no official standing, staff and governors say the findings have confirmed that the school is improving.
The 1,130-pupil secondary in St George’s Road became an academy last year. It was judged good on achievement of students, quality of teaching, and leadership and management.
This was an improvement on the satisfactory ratings the school received in its official Ofsted inspection in May last year, when its overall rating dropped from good to satisfactory.
Last month the behaviour and safety of students category was judged to have improved from good to outstanding.
Mr Willis said the decision to request the inspection was prompted by the pupils’ excellent exam results last year – the best the school has achieved.
He added: “We were fairly secure in the knowledge that the school was going in the right direction but it was a slightly scary thing to do.
“I haven’t heard of other schools doing this – other schools may have called in inspectors but not published the results of the inspection in the same way and said in advance what was planned.”
Chairman of governors Ian Domville sent a copy of the inspectors’ report to all parents, stressing that it was not a formal Ofsted inspection.
He said: “We wanted to be sure that we had sustained improvements in the quality of teaching across the school and the only way to do that was to get an independent view.
“This was a slightly scary exercise because we could have had a bunch of lessons not going brilliantly on the days of the inspection.
“We are now aiming to be outstanding in the next official Ofsted inspection, which could be in 2014.”
Mother-of-two Susan Humphrey, 46, from Ewelme, whose children William, 16, and Grace, 14, attend the school, said: “I think the report shows the progress the school has made in all areas.”
William added: “I am revising for my GGSEs and found it very useful to get advice from the teachers at school over the holiday.”