At Sir Thomas Rich’s, we are committed to ensuring that our provision is as good as it can possibly be.
We have a rigorous programme of self-assessment, with each department and the whole school reviewing its practice on a continuous basis. While we judge out provision to be outstanding in all of the main areas, we are not complacent and seek to embed a culture of continual improvement.
The following Self Evaluation Summary contains some extracts from the school’s full self-evaluation document.
Pupils’ achievement - Suggested grade: Outstanding (1)
Pupils achieve at the highest level in their GCSEs. For example in 2017, 100% of pupils achieved a grade 4 or above in both English Language and Mathematics with 95% achieving a grade 5 or above (strong pass) in both qualifications. The average Attainment 8 score for pupils (a measure of their performance in a core curriculum of 8 academic GCSEs) was 72 which is equivalent to an average higher than a grade 7/A per subject. Over 64% of GCSE grades have been A/A* in every cohort since 2011. 77% of pupils achieved the EBacc (even though History and Geography are not compulsory).
Pupils also make excellent progress. For example, in 2017 at GCSE the Progress 8 score (a measure of the value added since Year 7) was +0.67. This represents well over half a grade above the expected progress nationally and was amongst the highest scores of schools in Gloucestershire. It also puts STRS above the average for Grammar Schools nationally (which is +0.45 according to analysis by the Fischer Family Trust of data from the Grammar School Heads Association).
In 2017 all pupils, except those taking full course RS GCSE, took RS short course in Year 10. Their achievement was excellent: 99% GCSE grades were C and above; 76% GCSE grades A/A*. Top set mathematicians sat Additional Mathematics (FSMQ) in Year 11 alongside their GCSE Mathematics with 12 of them achieving the top grade. Some gifted and talented pupils take Geology in Year 9, following extra-curricular tuition and independent study. Their achievement is very good. In 2017, all 15 pupils gained at least a grade B with 11 obtaining an A*.
Standards have been maintained at a very high level (over 64% of GCSE grades were A/A* in every cohort since 2011) and all pupil groups (e.g. SEND, pupil premium, gifted and talented, ethnicity groups) are expected to make at least the same rates of progress. Evidence suggests that these standards are likely to be maintained in the future. For example, in Year 10 examinations, pupils’ attainment was very similar to the three previous years’ cohorts indicating that this high level of attainment at GCSE will be maintained in 2018.
All pupil groups (e.g. SEND, pupil premium, gifted and talented, ethnicity groups) are expected to make at least the same rates of progress. Analysis indicates Progress 8 figures for all of these groups are similar to, or exceed, those for the whole cohort.
Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities achieve highly. In 2017 there were two pupils with SEN support and they achieved 20 GCSEs with 14 A/A* grades and no grades below a C. These pupils achieved value added score that were higher than the rest of the cohort.
Pupil Premium pupils make very good progress. For example, in 2017 unvalidated figures, the Progress 8 figure for pupil premium and non-pupil premium was almost identical (+0.61 and +0.68 respectively). The pupil premium funding is used to offer bespoke support for pupils based on a detailed assessment of their needs.
Gifted and talented pupils are identified according to the School’s detailed criteria and are supported through careful departmental and whole school monitoring, challenging learning activities and structured programmes that form the extended curriculum. These pupils achieve outstanding results.
Merits and commendations are awarded for outstanding achievement and contribution.
In order to continue to be outstanding we need to:
- Consolidate attainment at GCSE in reformed specification
- Improve attainment in A Level Sciences, MFL and Design
The Quality of Teaching
Pupils attain highly and make excellent progress because of the high quality of teaching. Teaching is very rarely less than good and is regularly outstanding. Teachers have excellent subject knowledge and communicate high expectations. Teachers regularly plan lessons in which provision is made for pupils to exceed their expected level of progress.
In the best lessons, the teachers’ excellent subject knowledge informs objectives which are linked to prior and future learning and challenge all pupils.
Carefully considered and memorable learning activities engage and challenge all pupils as well as support pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. In the best lessons, expectations are high and progress is visible, rapid and sustained. Questioning is used skilfully to check understanding, deepen learning and encourage higher order thinking; pupils are routinely asked to hypothesise, evaluate, justify. Plenaries are used very effectively by teachers to inform the next stage of learning and to encourage pupils to reflect on their progress.
Pupils’ resilience is developed; they are encouraged to take risks and think for themselves through a variety of learning activities. In the best lessons, pupils are robust, learn from their mistakes and take ownership of their learning. Behaviour for learning is outstanding. Pupils collaborate very successfully to support each other’s learning and are engrossed in and enthusiastic about their work. Low-level disruption is minimal. In the best lessons, there is a clear learning dialogue between pupils and between pupils and their teachers.
High quality formative and summative assessment informs teachers and pupils of progress and learning needs. Pupils are aware of the level at which they are working and how to improve. Pupils are routinely encouraged to take responsibility for their progress. Scrutiny of pupil work reveals that homework which challenges pupils is set regularly, marking is frequent, and constructive comments guide pupils to consider strengths and areas for improvement. Pupils routinely respond to feedback and are able to identify strengths and weaknesses in their own and in each other’s work.
The School has provided whole staff in-service training (28.2.13, 28.6.13, 2/3.9.13, 6.12.13, 27.06.14, 01.09.14, 05.01.15, 02.09.15, 04.01.16, 24.06.16) to improve the impact of teaching on learning. Teachers take ownership of their professional development, which is informed by a rigorous staff appraisal process. This is linked to the Teachers’ Standards, salary progression and school improvement. Newly Qualified Teachers follow a structured programme of CPD under the guidance of a professional tutor and receive training commissioned by the Gloucestershire Association of Secondary Headteachers. PGCE students from the University of Bristol have enjoyed successful placements in Science, Modern Languages, RE, History, PE and Maths departments and have all gained employment.
All pupils in Years 8-13 receive independent careers guidance so they are inspired and motivated to fulfil their potential. Pupils develop high aspirations and consider a broad and ambitious range of careers, training and higher education through individual support and guidance, which includes real-life contacts with the world of work.
In order to continue to be outstanding we need to:
- Strengthen pupils’ response to teachers’ feedback
- Improve quality of differentiation in lessons
- Embed a whole school approach to improving pupils’ spelling, punctuation and grammar
Behaviour and Safety - Suggested grade: Outstanding (1)
Pupils’ behaviour and attendance are outstanding. For example, the 2016-17 absence rate in Years 7-10 was 3.7%, (3.8% in 2016-17, 3.7% in 2014-15, 3.5 % in 2013-14, 3.4% in 2012-13). Pupils make an outstanding contribution to the School and wider community through their involvement in a wide range of activities, such as School Council, ‘The Green Team’, House events, Charity committee, Prefects, Observators (senior prefects), School Captains, volunteering at The Milestone School as well as enjoying leadership opportunities in Sport, Drama, Music and other clubs and societies.
Detentions are issued weekly for poor behaviour, typically two pupils per week per year. Detention data is analysed termly by the Behaviour and Attendance Manager. The total number of pupils in behaviour detention has fallen annually. Supervised homework detentions are issued daily for non-production of homework typically less than 10 a day. Many pupils use the library on a voluntary basis to complete homework tasks. There have been no permanent exclusions since the last inspection.
Bullying, including homophobic and cyber bullying, is rare and dealt with highly effectively through the PSHE curriculum. In the 2014 Parent Survey and 2012 Pupil Survey (Kirkland Rowell), control of bullying was given the highest performance figure of all whole-school issues, with every pupil rating it highly. Pupils are proud of their school and show considerable respect for all members of the school community as demonstrated through SEAL surveys. Incidents of discriminatory and derogatory behaviour and language are rare and discouraged by an effective PSHE programme, assemblies and tutor time. Respect, courtesy and good manners are modelled by all adults.
All staff undergo regular training in safeguarding. The single central record is maintained. Detailed checks and vetting of all staff take place including appropriate procedures for appointing staff. As part of induction, new staff receive safeguarding training. The School works with other agencies to safeguard children. E-safety is taught through the PSHE curriculum to KS3 pupils. The School also holds an information evening about internet safety for parents of Year 8 pupils. Safety on school trips is ensured through detailed risk assessment and planning and comprehensive internal scrutiny.
In order to continue to be outstanding we need to:
- Develop pupils’ resilience and promote their wellbeing
- Further promote racial harmony and educate against extremism
- Further reduce instances of low level disruption in lessons
Leadership and Management - Suggested grade: Outstanding (1)
The School has a clear vision which is shared by pupils, parents, teachers and governors. A concise annual school improvement plan with ambitious attainment targets and a broader 4 year development plan indicate a drive to continuously improve and maintain the highest levels of achievement and personal development for all pupils. Rigorous financial management underpins school improvement and ensures solvency and probity.
Effective school self-evaluation informs future planning. Every Department completes an annual SEF which includes examination results analysis, evidence of monitoring including pupil work scrutiny, curriculum development, outcomes of consultation with pupils, teachers’ professional development, and a development plan.
The School’s curriculum promotes a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning. A wide range of subjects provides opportunities for academic distinction.
The School has high expectations for all pupils, including those at risk of underachievement. Challenging attainment targets are set for each pupil in each subject using FFT. Progress towards these targets is tracked carefully through Order grades which are awarded for Effort and Attainment each half-term in every subject. Departments and Pastoral teams (Heads of Year and Form Tutors) review this data which is reported to parents. Pupils routinely reflect on their progress and take ownership for improving their attainment. This information will be used to develop a personalised learning and development plan for any pupil who is underachieving.
Governors bring a strong mix of expertise to the School, including legal, business, finance as well as educational experience. Governors regularly hold senior leaders to account through the active roles they play in Governor Committees such as Finance, Personnel and the Evaluation committee. Governors also ensure that School policies meet the needs of the School and they evaluate their impact and effectiveness through Governor Visits.
Learning and teaching is monitored and evaluated effectively through lesson observations, learning walks and pupil work scrutiny as well as discussion with pupils and analysis of data. Action is always taken to improve pupils’ engagement and progress.
Outcomes of pupil and parent surveys conducted independently every 3 years by Kirkland Rowell rate every subject strongly, and most as outstanding. Parent and pupil surveys rate every area of wider school life highly; almost all areas are rated outstanding. The overall rating from parents in November 2014 was 90%, where anything above 80% is considered excellent.
In order to continue to be outstanding we need to:
- Continue to improve careers information education and guidance
- Ensure that we put in place strategies to embed changes to Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 curricula to meets pupils’ needs and support them to realise their potential
Sixth Form - Suggested grade: Outstanding (1)
The majority of our pupils progress from Year 11 into our Sixth Form (81% in 2017). The Sixth Form is mixed with a total number of 394 pupils in 2017 (252 males, 142 females; 198 joined us from elsewhere) increasing from 393 in 2016, 391 in 2015, 354 in 2014 and 331 in 2013, highlighting our popularity.
2017 A Level results had a mean UCAS score of 372. 91% of grades were A*-C with 43% at A or A*.
The School consistently adds value to the performance of pupils in the Sixth Form (our pupils have, on average, made better progress than equivalent pupils nationally in every year since 2010; often significantly so). Pupils who join our Sixth Form from other schools make progress at least as good as that of pupils who join from our own Year 11. We monitor all groups of pupils to ensure that they make good progress.
Behaviour in the Sixth Form is outstanding with lesson observations highlighting a thirst for learning. Pupil attendance in the Sixth Form is also outstanding with pupils attending school 95.6% of the time excluding study leave.
All Sixth Form lessons are taught by subject specialists and learning is characterised by pupil engagement and rapid progress. In 2015-16, 75% of lessons observed were graded ‘Outstanding’, 25% were graded ‘Good’ (from 2016-17 we no longer grade lessons observed).
Pupils in Years 12 and 13 are offered regular one-to-one support with all new pupils receiving individual interviews in their first half term of joining the School. Careers guidance ranges from whole year support to one-to-one interviews depending on need. A few pupils who seek employment or training after A Levels receive an individual action plan. Support for pupils applying to Oxbridge, Veterinary Science and Medicine includes tutorials, one-to-one mock interviews and MMI practice. In 2016, 80% of our pupils were placed at their first choice university and 65% of Early Entry interview pupils gained a place at their first choice institution.
There is an outstanding range of extracurricular activities for sixth formers. Pupils gain from contributing to wider school life, including mentoring younger pupils. Pupils also support the wider community. There is an increasing provision of activities for our female pupils.
In order to continue to be outstanding we need to:
- Continue to improve preparation for Oxbridge candidates
- Endeavour to improve the percentage of A* grades at GCE Advanced Level
Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development – Suggested grade: Outstanding (1)
High quality assemblies have a very positive impact on pupils’ behaviour, academic attainment and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. RE makes an outstanding contribution to pupils’ personal and spiritual development and their education about and appreciation of other faiths. Pupils are able to justify their own ideas while providing detailed evaluation of the perspective of others and are aware of the dangers of extremism.
Outstanding coaching in Physical Education lessons and after school clubs, a comprehensive PSHE programme, together with effective use of the self-evaluation tools such as ‘The Gloucestershire Online pupil survey’ and Healthy Schools’ audit ensures pupils’ physical wellbeing, and safety. PSHE/Citizenship lessons cover health and wellbeing, with the aim of developing emotionally confident and well-informed pupils. Sport is extremely strong. Up to 15 sports’ fixtures take place at weekends. These are regularly attended by parents. School teams compete in rugby (U18 NatWest/Daily Mail Cup Quarter-Finalists in 2016-17 & 2011-12, U15 NatWest Plate Winners in 2017, NatWest Vase finalists in 2016 and Daily Mail Vase finalists in 2012), soccer, cricket, athletics, swimming, netball, badminton, basketball, tennis, table tennis, cross-country and squash. Pupils achieve representative honours at county and international levels. This helps pupils’ social development.
Over 20 House competitions, as well as an extensive extracurricular programme, including The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (most of Year 10 take part), Bridge, Chess, Brass Band, Jazz Group, Choir, Orchestra, Folk Group, Chamber Choir, String Group, Debating, Drama Club and whole school drama productions provides a myriad of opportunities for pupils to participate in school life beyond the classroom.
A large number of educational and extra-curricular visits provide opportunities for pupils’ social and cultural development. A comprehensive programme of events and visiting speakers enriches learning and personal development. Low-income families, including pupils who receive PP are financially supported so that they can take part.
The Year 7 and Sixth Form induction programmes are carefully constructed and delivered to ensure pupils settle quickly. Pupils are supported by comprehensive advice and guidance as they progress through the School. Careers advice, guidance and support ensures that pupils are well-prepared for the world of work. Work experience provides extended learning opportunities for pupils in Year 11 and the Sixth Form.
Pupils have many opportunities to develop their leadership and teamwork skills. For example, our Green Team has worked to reduce our energy bills and carbon footprint. Pupils have participated in National Mock Climate Change conferences and in the regional Magistrates Court Mock Trial Competition hosted by the Citizenship Foundation as well as School debates and elections to select a candidate to stand for Youth Parliament elections.
The School has developed extremely strong community connections. It is very well utilised by local groups outside school hours. Commercial Operations make an important contribution to the local area as well as the School’s finances. A well-established link with the Milestone (Special) School, Wednesday afternoon community service and weekly science lessons delivered to gifted Year 6 pupils, from Tredworth Junior School (in a socially deprived area of Gloucester) provide opportunities for pupils to contribute positively to the local community and broaden their knowledge of profound aspects of human experience.
A long-standing partnership with PMM School in Uganda (where 16 pupils visited in summer 2016, 14 in 2014 and 20 in 2012) gives pupils an opportunity to understand the lives of the people in the developing world. In Founder’s Week, pupils organise fund-raising events, to sponsor the education of 20 girls at PMM. A nominated charity is supported each term. The handing over a cheque in a whole school assembly enables pupils to reflect on the importance of each charity’s work.
The school has a more comprehensive self-evaluation summary available on request. There is a considerable wealth of evidence in support of these evaluations. Departments also conduct their own self-evaluations which are discussed in detail with senior leaders.