‘Outstanding’ Ofsted Outcome for Harrogate Grammar School

After two days of inspection, with a team of six inspectors, Ofsted reached the judgement that the overall effectiveness of Harrogate Grammar School is outstanding. They also judged the school to be outstanding in all five areas of the framework: the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management and Sixth Form provision.

Ofsted had the following to say about Harrogate Grammar School:

  • Harrogate Grammar School is an extremely rewarding place to learn.
  • Pupils benefit from an exceptional curriculum.
  • Effective teaching and assessment enable pupils to learn well.
  • This depth of knowledge is sustained from key stage 3 to the sixth form.
  • Through sports, outdoor pursuits and performance opportunities, pupils develop their skills and self-confidence. Pupils are articulate and polite.
  • They are keen to engage in discussion and debate.
  • Teachers make sure that pupils’ views are heard.
  • Pupils are attentive to their teachers and to one another.
  • They listen to different opinions and evaluate arguments.
  • Pupils attend well and behave very well.
  • Teachers build an atmosphere of courtesy and respect.
  • Pupils’ personal development is as important as their academic progress.
  • Through the ‘Big Picture’ programme, pupils are taught about equality and diversity.
  • The sixth form curriculum is exceptional. Students access an extensive range of subjects.
  • The headteacher has built a very strong team of leaders at all levels.
  • Leaders demonstrate clear moral purpose in their actions.
  • Leaders maintain a constant focus on the safety and well-being of pupils.
  • Pupils feel safe because of the supportive environment built by staff.

This full report will be published on the Ofsted website in the coming days. https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/23/136497

On Tuesday 8 March we were informed that the school was set to be inspected the following day. We had been waiting for this call since the government removed the legislation exempting schools with an outstanding judgement from inspection. The last time the school experienced inspection was a MFL subject inspection in 2012 and, before that, a full inspection in 2007.

Since this time the school inspection framework – the standard by which we are judged – has changed many times and the most recent framework sets a very high standard. Christopher Russell,

National Director of Education, said:

There’s no doubt that under the current education inspection framework, outstanding is a challenging and exacting judgement to achieve. To achieve it, a school needs to fulfil all of the good criteria, securely and consistently. They then need to achieve additional outstanding criteria and they need to be performing exceptionally.

Due to the exacting nature of the new framework and since inspection resumed in September 2021, only 50% per cent of schools have maintained their outstanding judgement. Under the extremely challenging new framework, where the bar has been raised so significantly, Ofsted stress that a school may well no longer be judged as outstanding and be judged as good, even if the school has improved since their last inspection. We are therefore delighted with this outstanding judgement.

Neil Renton, Headteacher, said:

We would like to thank our students for their commitment and engagement to our school not only during the inspection, but also over the challenging few years of disruption that they have faced. We would also like to thank parents for their continued support and look forward to further working with our community to deliver our core purpose of excellence for all.

We would like to thank our staff who give such exceptional service to our school and thank our governing body for their challenge and support. Finally, we would like to thank colleagues across our Trust who provide support to Harrogate Grammar School in so many ways.

It makes us very proud to see the exceptional commitment that we experience every day from our community, being recognised in this way.

Paul Cotton, Chair of Governors, said:

The Ofsted report captures so clearly what takes place each and every day at the school. Harrogate Grammar School is indeed an extremely rewarding place to learn. Governors look forward to supporting and challenging the school so that we develop even further, pioneer and continue to deliver excellence for all.

Chief Executive Officer of the Red Kite Learning Trust, Richard Sheriff, said:

Students benefit from an exceptional curriculum at Harrogate Grammar School. Our dedicated team of staff, remarkable young people and the support of our local community, over many years, have all contributed to such an incredibly positive outcome. I look forward to seeing the school continue to nurture ambition, deliver excellence and enrich children’s lives.

Harrogate Informer