Outstanding features at County School

Government inspectors found several outstanding features at the County School – a school on three sites in Cambridgeshire, including one in Wisbech, which caters for pupils receiving alternative education provision.

The team from OfSTED – the Office for Standards in Education – said teaching was either good or outstanding, and behaviour was good or better. They also praised the headteacher’s ‘relentless drive’ to improve teaching.

Inspectors said most teaching was at least good, but found pockets of outstanding teaching, particularly in some of the vocational subjects.

“In the one-to-one literacy lessons teaching is outstanding. Pupils gain confidence in reading; improve their comprehension skills and become much better at writing. Outstanding lessons accelerate pupils’ learning,” said their report.

Pupils in turn were praised for their good behaviour and attitudes to school. “On entry all pupils lack confidence and their behaviour is challenging. Most soon change their attitude and become keen to learn and succeed. Parents and carers say that their children’s behaviour has improved significantly since being at this school.

“Pupils feel safe at school. Overwhelmingly, parents and carers say that their children are safe at school. Bullying and fights are exceptionally rare. Such instances are tackled swiftly and positive outcomes result,” the report added.

Inspectors particularly praised the leadership of headteacher Janet Heathcote and the school’s senior leadership team.

“The headteacher’s relentless drive to improve teaching has very significantly improved the amount of good and outstanding teaching since the merger of the three different schools in September 2011. Self-evaluation is thorough and accurate.

“The senior leadership team is highly effective. Each site has a teacher-in-charge and a pastoral lead. They work ceaselessly and largely successfully in supporting pupils in overcoming their fears about learning due to past failures and so raise their achievement,” they said.

Governance at the school was also highlighted. Inspectors said: “The local authority in its governance role works in an exceptionally effective partnership.”

The school was encouraged to improve teaching so all of it is consistently good or better across all three sites, to improve attendance; and to ensure schools from which its pupils are sent pass on pupil premium funding.

Headteacher Janet Heathcote said: “Since the school was established in September 2011, the staff have worked tirelessly to ensure that the students have a personalised education opportunity to guide them on the way to a successful future.

“The Teachers in Charge at each of the Learning Bases – Linda Thomas, Jeanette Butchard and Alvina Morey – have been instrumental in establishing the provision – which we are thrilled has been given such a positive judgement by OfSTED. The school provides its students with their best opportunity to access meaningful educational opportunities – and for many that is life changing. This is a mandate to ensure that this quality provision is available for Cambridgeshire students in the future.”