The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) is the Government approved inspectorate responsible for the inspection of Association independent schools. Schools in the Associations are ranked among the best in the world and educate more than half a million children in 1,200 schools. We see inspections as a valuable experience, as they seek to improve the quality and effectiveness of schools’ education and care.
Inspections are carried out at short notice – usually only 1 day. The inspection teams are led by professional reporting inspectors with many years’ experience, who are supported by team inspectors such as heads and senior teachers currently working in independent schools.
The May 2017 report was the first of the Department for Education’s new-style inspections that were introduced in September 2016 that inspect against three areas:
- The quality of pupils’ personal development
- The quality of pupils’ academic and other achievements
- Focussed compliance
Moreover, under this new framework schools are only given 24 hours’ notice of an inspection, which means that the inspection took place through a snapshot of the school as it normally is by a team of independent and highly experienced professionals without the luxury of having been able to pre-prepare.
Oaklands received a positive set of reports, which recorded numerous comments that support and acknowledge the many positive achievements Oaklands has made in recent years as the school was judged to be ‘Excellent or ‘Good’ in all areas. With such rigorous criteria for inspections nowadays this is a far higher standard than the national trend.
Some of the quotes that are particularly worth noting from the ‘quality’ inspections are as follows:
- The quality of the pupils’ personal development is excellent.
- By the time pupils leave the school, they are confident and self-assured, and this is the outcome of the warm, caring relationships that they have with staff at every stage.
- Pupils can articulate clearly what they need to do to progress further in their learning.
- Pupils are well prepared for the next stage of their education.
- Pupils’ social development is excellent. Their behaviour around the school is exemplary.
- The relationships observed between pupils of all ages were extremely positive.
- Pupils have an excellent understanding about the values that underpin life in Britain today.
- Pupils’ attainment in English and mathematics is above average when compared to national data.
- Pupils have good levels of numeracy and they apply their mathematical knowledge effectively across the curriculum.
- Pupils of all ages are keen readers.
- Pupil develop a broad range of skills in many areas of learning as a result of the balanced curriculum and the support and encouragement of their teachers.
- Pupils of all abilities make good progress.
- Pupils’ attitudes to learning are extremely positive.
The Focused Compliance Inspection scrutinises all aspects of the Department for Education’s legal requirements, including the incredibly complex laws relating to the employment of staff, the welfare and safety of pupils and the curriculum and supporting documentation. Although it is normally difficult to tick every box in this area, Oaklands were fully compliant with the Education Regulations and no further action is required.