Every six years we open our doors to the Independent Schools Inspectorate whose recent report found St John’s to be an ‘excellent’ school.
The regular inspections which every school receives are a good way for parents to get an outside professional’s view of a school and to evaluate how well it is meeting its responsibilities.
The most recent inspection took place in March 2016 when five inspectors, each one a Head or senior teacher in their own right spent four full days in school to get a 360° view of everyday life at St John’s. They observed lessons, interviewed boys and examined samples of pupils’ work. They met with senior members of staff and governors, observed many of the numerous extra-curricular activities taking place and attended registration sessions and assemblies.
They also had a large amount of written evidence including regulatory documents and policies and the responses of parents and pupils to pre-inspection questionnaires.
A copy of the report is available to read in full
It may be helpful to note that the language used by inspectors is very deliberate: when commenting on any aspect, they must use one of four words – ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘sound’, or ‘unsatisfactory’ – which are the equivalent of the grade the school receives. Only rarely is the word ‘exceptional’ used where it refers to achievements at the very highest level.
“Pupils of all needs and abilities are extremely successful in their learning. The school enables each boy to extend and develop his talents and interests, grow in confidence and fulfil his potential.”
ISI Inspection Report 2016
The inspectors’ main findings were summarised in three areas: teaching and learning, personal development and school leadership and in each area St John’s was rated ‘excellent’ with pupils’ achievements singled out as being ‘exceptional’.
The inspectors said: “pupils of all needs and abilities, including the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), are extremely successful in their learning. The school fully meets its aims to enable each boy to extend and develop his talents and interests so that he can grow in confidence and fulfil his potential.”
The learning environment in the Nursery, Reception and Pre-Prep was highly praised as providing “a highly stimulating environment... where committed and caring staff use highly effective planning to ensure that each child’s unique needs and interests are considered, with the result that all children are suitably challenged.”
The inspectors were particularly keen to observe the teaching of boys at each end of the academic spectrum and found that “provision for more able pupils and those with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) or English as an Additional Language (EAL), is excellent. The curriculum is well adjusted to meet their needs and enables them to make progress in line with their peers. Able, gifted and talented pupils are challenged through extension activities provided in all areas and are very well prepared for scholarship examinations. The school’s very successful record of pupils’ entry into selective senior schools reflects the effectiveness of its preparation of the pupils for the next stages in their educational careers.”
Teaching beyond the classroom was mentioned with boys benefiting from “an excellent broad and balanced curriculum, with exceptional achievements in extra-curricular activities across sport, drama, and notably in music. All pupils can take advantage of the many outdoor learning opportunities provided.”
The standard of teaching is excellent, with robust planning and strong in-class support.
“Pupils have opportunities to take part in an extremely comprehensive, wide variety of activities. More than 50 clubs and after-school activities are greatly appreciated judging by the high numbers participating.”
The inspectors also found personal development to be “excellent” with a “friendly and caring atmosphere and high standards of behaviour. The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the pupils is excellent, with an expectation of every boy to respect, value and appreciate the feelings and beliefs of others.”
“All teaching promotes tolerance and respect and is non partisan ensuring that balanced viewpoints are provided. Teachers promote equality, respect and tolerance and maintain a vibrant atmosphere which helps pupils to flourish. The school’s community links are very strong and significant charity fund raising is undertaken annually. The promotion of fundamental British Values is embedded throughout the whole of the school.”
Personal safety is a vital basis for development and the inspectors reported that St John’s anti-bullying policy, which also covers cyber bullying, is most effective saying: “The arrangements for safeguarding, welfare, health and safety are excellent, with comprehensive and robust procedures in place.”
Finally, the inspectors turned their attention to the school’s leadership and governance and here again their comments were very positive. “The quality of governance is excellent ” they said.
“All board members have a clear, ambitious vision for the school’s future. Governors know the school well through regular visits and provide very strong support to the senior leadership team. Leadership and management of the school are excellent. All managers are highly effective in self evaluation and planning, which enable excellent standards to be maintained. A robust three-year development plan is in place, as well as strong financial strategic planning.”
They also found that St John’s “maintains strong relationships with parents who are highly positive about the school’s provision.”
A copy of the report is available to read in full
Potter Street Hill
Middlesex HA6 3QY
Tel: +44 (0)20 8866 0067