Inspectors praise “welcoming, caring and inclusive” school

Students and staff at the Elizabethan Academy were celebrating last week following the publication of the recent Ofsted inspection report.  Inspectors judged the school to be “good” in all areas, praising “positive relationships between staff and pupils” and the “strong progress” made by pupils from Years 7 to 13.

A team of four inspectors spent two days in the school, looking at provision at both the Hallcroft Road site and at Retford Post 16.  Their conclusion? “The school is extremely welcoming and inclusive… Pupils are respectful of themselves and others.”  The report quotes one of the many pupils they spoke to during the two-day visit, who said “there is lots of community in this school.  We all get on with each other and you can be who you want to be here.”

The report was highly complimentary about all adults working at the Elizabethan and the support they provide for pupils.  Teachers’ subject knowledge was described as a “strength” and inspectors praised skilful questioning which is used to probe and develop pupils’ understanding.  “Teachers are very encouraging and support pupils to develop their confidence”.  

Inspectors found that teaching has been “particularly strong over time in a range of subjects, including English and mathematics.”

The pastoral support and guidance offered to pupils was rated particularly highly.  Inspectors found that “the school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is good” and that “the school is calm and orderly.”

There was praise for PSHE (personal, social and health education) as a way of developing pupils and their awareness of the world around them.  The report also highlighted the “cohesive programme of careers education” which is “effective in preparing pupils for the next steps of their education, employment or training.”

Inspectors also looked into the wide range of extra-curricular activities on offer, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s award and the newly formed Cadet force.  They described the programme as “extensive”, and found that it helped pupils develop their cultural, artistic and sporting talents.  Pupils said they “appreciate and enjoy all the opportunities provided”. 

The two-day inspection included a significant period of time spent at Retford Post 16, including visits to lessons and interviews with students.  Sixth Form provision was also rated “good”, with an acknowledgement that it will only be enhanced further when A-Levels return to the school this September.  Inspectors said that “students enjoy being in the Sixth Form”.  They praised feedback from staff, which supported them in making “strong progress” and were particularly positive about conduct and attitudes to learning, which they described as “exemplary”.

Academy principal, Christine Horrocks, said she was “delighted” with the inspection findings.  “Inspectors may only have spent two days in our school, but the report encapsulates our special atmosphere and the pride that students have in their school very well.

“Time and again, pupils have referred to our inclusive nature, and that is very important to me personally.  They say that bullying is ‘extremely rare’ but are confident that it is dealt with swiftly.   I really do believe that our focus on the whole child, including their well-being and character as well as their results, is a genuine strength of our school.

“Staff say they are ‘proud to work at the school’.  However, nobody can be more proud of the Elizabethan than I am.”