The school was inspected in June. Margaret Beaufort is judged by Her Majesty’s Inspectors to be a good school with some outstanding features. The school is now led by an experienced executive Head teacher and National Leader of Education.
The main headline
- This is a good school that has improved significantly since the last inspection.
- Achievement has significantly improved in the last two years with all groups of pupils making better progress than found nationally. Pupils’ reading, writing and mathematical skills are well developed.
- A sharp focus on improving teaching and learning has paid dividends. This is good with an increasing proportion that is outstanding. At its best, the level of challenge posed and expectations of pupils’ contributions are consistently high; pupils work at pace, demonstrating maturity and independence in their learning. Dialogue is of an excellent quality with teachers probing through extended questioning; requiring pupils to talk through their answers with their peers and suitably challenge each other.
- Verbal and written feedback to pupils is detailed and informative.
- Behaviour is good. Pupils are courteous, respectful and welcoming. They take responsibility readily and contribute well to the positive learning environment in school. Pupils’ safety is given suitable priority.
- Attainment by the end of Year 8 is high and above that found nationally for this age group. Standards at Key Stage 2 improved sharply in 2011. In both reading and writing and mathematics, pupils’ attainment was significantly above national standards. From pupils’ above average starting points to the end of Year 8, pupils’ progress is consistently good.
- The school works hard to address achievement issues and tackle underperformance. For example, in 2011, more-able pupils did not perform as expected in the writing results at Key Stage 2. In response, monitoring procedures have been sharpened and a focus on improving writing for the more-able has been successfully introduced by the English department. Consequently, more able pupils are now achieving well, in line with their capabilities.
- The progress of potentially vulnerable groups is also consistently good. Disabled pupils and those with special educational needs make good, and sometimes outstanding progress, due to careful identification of their needs, a range of suitable interventions to support them, careful tracking of their progress and close liaison with home.
- Lesson observations during inspection indicated that pupils’ achievement is good across the curriculum. They are very responsive to teachers’ advice and demonstrate secure reading, writing and mathematical skills. Overall, they are well prepared for the next stage of their education within the Academy federation.
- The quality of teaching is good and continues to improve. An increasing proportion is outstanding. One of the federation benefits is the strong focus on professional development and the provision of greater opportunities for staff to share and develop their expertise. Most teaching is lively, interesting and promotes pupils’ enjoyment of learning. Relationships are strong; pupils eagerly take responsibility and contribute to the positive learning environment evident.
- In the very best lessons, a clear progression of suitably engaging learning activities is prominent. These meet the needs of all ability groups and suitably challenge all pupils, creating a notable buzz of learning. Teachers’ questioning is sophisticated, providing suitably varied opportunities for pupils to explore new concepts, make decisions and demonstrate what they know and can do.
- Teachers use assessment effectively to monitor progress; in the most successful lessons, learning is checked quickly through a variety of means, including effective peer assessment. Following this, teachers press on with new challenges so that the pace of learning is rapid.
- Pupils are pleased they can recognise their own good progress; for example, in an outstanding English lesson, Year 7 pupils were engaged in a stimulating discussion about the gothic genre. They made effective links with their prior learning about Macbeth, comparing two texts with confidence. Excellent speaking and listening skills were evident as pupils animatedly and cooperatively decided on the success criteria for Level 6 work, based on their knowledge of those for Levels 4 and 5.
- A highly successful Year 8 physical education lesson indicated similar strengths. Pupils demonstrated excellent skills in evaluating the performances of their peers in an athletics lesson, providing high quality feedback to their partners. Their observations and demonstrations reflected outstanding understanding of the key principles of the transition phase in sprinting.
- Literacy and reading skills are well developed through whole-school reading activities, for example, in school assemblies.
- Pupils work and behave well in school.
- The vast majority respond very positively to the school’s high expectations and contribute well to school life. A range of activities encourage large numbers to take responsibility readily; for example, over half of Year 8 pupils are trained as peer supporters; others take up the roles of prefects, captains or leaders, demonstrating maturity in supporting their peers and directing aspects of the school’s work.
- Impressively several pupils have been trained as pupil observers of teaching and learning. They complete lesson observations, and provide feedback on the quality of learning from pupils’ perspectives.
- Pupils feel safe and express confidence in staff to deal with bullying should this occur. They are positive about the school’s efforts to teach them about cyber safety; they are aware of different forms of bullying and the importance of keeping themselves safe.
- An uncompromising desire to raise expectations and improve standards and progress has been at the heart of the very significant improvements made since the last inspection. The executive Head teacher, leaders at all levels and the governing body have a very clear vision for the future of the federation and for Margaret Beaufort within it. There is a strong commitment to ensure that greater opportunities for pupils help them to succeed at the upper school through common approaches across the federation.
- The head of school has built a strong senior team around her; together they pursue a very ambitious vision for the school. Whole-school improvements have been achieved through a sharp focus on improving teaching as the school’s core priority and ensuring that pupils’ progress data is routinely collected, monitored and used consistently to target areas for improvement. This systematic use of performance data has resulted in clear, accurate evaluations of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement.
- Middle leaders are effective with well-developed skills; they are now a powerful force in driving school improvement.
- The governing body is both supportive and challenging. It holds the school to account through rigorous analysis of its performance and uses the strengths across the federation to support ongoing improvement.
- Safeguarding procedures are robust and consistently implemented. The school promotes equality of opportunity consistently well. Prompt and effective action is taken to close the gaps for potentially vulnerable pupils, with evidence of good impact on these pupils’ achievements.
- There is a strong commitment to provide an inclusive, enriching curriculum experience for all pupils, which broadens their horizons and prepares them well for the next stage of learning. The enrichment programme is particularly strong; many parents and carers comment favourably on the range of sporting opportunities available.
- Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is very well represented in school assemblies and across the curriculum.
- The track record in achieving several key improvements in the school’s work, together with the continuing resources from the federation, indicates a very strong capacity to make further improvements.
National Curriculum Tests & Results
Children in Year 6 at Margaret Beaufort take their SATs tests in English, Mathematics and Science in early May. The English and Mathematics tests are marked externally and pupils also receive a teacher assessment for these subjects. We also use optional SATs papers in Years 5, 7 and 8. In this way we can track the progress of individual pupils effectively. We teach an accelerated Key Stage 3 programme of studies to enable pupils to achieve national expectations a full year early in Year 8 (instead of Year 9 at the upper school). Our Key stage 2 (Year 6) SATs results in May and were outstanding. They are the best in the county for four years running and the best we have ever achieved; they are well above national expectations. 100% of the boys and girls achieved Level 4 and above in English and Mathematics. 85% and 89% of pupils achieve the national expectation of Level 5 and above in English and Mathematics respectively at Margaret Beaufort in Year 8. The progress and achievement journey made at the school from years 5 to 8 is outstanding.