‘The quality of pupils’ academic and other achievements’ at St Swithun’s school ‘is excellent’, independent school inspectors have found. During their most recent educational quality inspection of both St Swithun’s senior and junior schools, carried out in February, the quality of pupils’ personal development was also awarded the highest rating the inspectors can use.
In the senior school, pupils’ outstanding success in academic examinations and national competitions was noted, together with achievement in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, with county and national recognition in several sports. Pupils had exceptional communications skills and the ability to analyse complex problems. A highly effective academic tracking and monitoring system was found to support strong progress. The report highlighted collaborative working among pupils, considerable positive commitment to others, both within and beyond the school, and a strong sense of moral responsibility as features of pupils’ personal development.
Children in the early years’ foundation stage at St Swithun’s Junior school were said to make individual progress through a carefully planned, broad curriculum. Across the school, outstanding achievements in a range of activities, including sport, music and drama were noted by the inspection team, as well as pupils’ success in winning places at independent day and boarding schools against strong competition. The report found ‘there are excellent relationships between teachers and pupils themselves, who are highly supportive of one another’, and that pupils at all ages show high levels of self-knowledge, self-esteem, self-confidence and resilience. Staff at the junior school plan to set out more clearly the system of merits and house points to maintain levels of motivation amongst all pupils.
In the context of the ‘excellent’ grading awarded by the inspectors, St Swithun’s school was advised to increase opportunities for pupils to use digital and ICT skills to support their learning. The school’s digital learning programme, which began in September 2016 and is being rolled out, aims to establish integrated, consistent digital learning practices throughout the school and confirm St Swithun’s staff and students as leading practitioners of digital learning.
The report of the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate follows recent results for St Swithun’s of baseline predictive tests administered through the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at the University of Durham. The tests predict the most likely grade outcomes for students based on the performance in the past of other students nationally with similar academic profiles. They also provide ‘value added’ data for students’ results in public examinations. The 2016 analysis shows that girls at St Swithun’s achieve approximately ½ grade higher than their baseline ability across all A-level subjects suggests, and almost one grade at GCSE.
Headmistress, Jane Gandee, said “I am delighted that the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate has recognised the hard work of the staff in both schools to ensure that we provide an outstanding, rounded education at St Swithun’s. These positive inspection findings and our strong value-added scores demonstrate the success of our unique blend”.