Reporting Inspector: Declan McCarthy
Description of the school:
Deincourt Community School is smaller than most secondary schools. The roll has fallen significantly since its last inspection. Most students are White British, with a few from other minority ethnic backgrounds. A very small proportion of students are learning English as an additional language. A higher than average proportion of students are eligible for free school meals. The proportion of students who find learning difficult, including those with a statement of special educational needs, is very high. The number of students joining the school during the school year is higher than average. Students enter the school in Year 7 with standards which are often well below average. The school is designated as an extended school and holds a number of awards, including Investors in People, Artsmark, Healthy School status and the International School Bronze award. The school is also part of the National Challenge initiative to raise standards.
At the time of the last inspection, the school was judged as requiring special measures. As a result it was subject to termly monitoring visits to evaluate its progress against the areas for improvement. An acting headteacher was appointed in January 2008. She became the associate headteacher in September 2008 of the ‘soft’ federation of the school with Tibshelf School, under the leadership of an executive headteacher.
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In accordance with section 13 (4) of the Education Act 2005, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) is of the opinion that the school no longer requires special measures. The school now provides a good education and high quality care for its students as a result of the outstanding leadership of the associate headteacher and acting deputy headteacher. Together they have built a highly effective leadership team so that nearly all leaders have been very successful in improving the quality of teaching, the curriculum and care, guidance and support. This in turn has resulted in rising standards and good achievement, which is reflected in discussions held with several parents. They praised the work of the school, describing it as well managed with good teaching and a very caring ethos enabling their children to achieve well. Improvement in all areas identified for development at the last inspection has been outstanding.
At the last inspection, standards remained exceptionally low over a three year period. In 2008, GCSE results were inadequate overall with 17% of students gaining five A* to C grades, including mathematics and English. Standards have now risen significantly and are broadly average throughout the school. Students’ achievement is good, given their well below average starting points. In Key Stage 4, students are on course to meet their challenging targets for five A* to C grades, including mathematics and English. They are expected to exceed them for one A* to G and five A* to C grades in all subjects. At Key Stage 3, they are on course to exceed their targets in all subjects. Some pupils make exceptional progress in exceeding the challenging targets set for them, particularly in vocational courses. This good achievement is due to good academic guidance, good teaching and a good curriculum.
The quality of teaching was judged satisfactory at the last inspection and is now good. Teachers’ planning is good and their expectations for students’ learning are high. The use of assessment is now good overall. Students know their targets and marking usually shows them how to improve their learning. However, some inconsistencies remain in how assessment information and questioning in lessons is used to inform students how to improve their work. The good curriculum effectively promotes learning, achievement and personal development, particularity through the highly relevant courses at Key Stage 4 and the innovative approach in implementing the ‘Opening Minds’ curriculum at Key Stage 3. Students say how much they enjoy and achieve with these programmes.
Students’ personal development, including their spiritual moral, social and cultural development, is good. They leave school as mature young people well prepared for the next stage of their lives. As a result of good care, guidance and support and an effective programme to promote personal development, behaviour is good and students have a clear sense of morality. They have very good relationships with others and make a significant contribution to their school and local communities. Students eat healthily and exercise well, and they stay safe.
Leadership and management are good. The rigorous and regular monitoring by senior and middle leaders, together with good oversight of governors, has led to the outstanding improvement since the school was last inspected. There is a sharp focus on monitoring the quality of teaching in terms of its impact on learning and achievement at all levels of management. Nearly all leaders share a strong drive for improvement and effectively use self-evaluation to bring about improvements. Community cohesion has been promoted effectively, with a detailed audit carried out and a clear development plan in place to develop this further. Governors have been rigorous in monitoring the key areas for improvement since the last inspection, through learning walks, focused discussions with key members of staff and scrutiny of documentation. As a result of good leadership and effective governance, the school has a good capacity to further improve.
What can be improved
- Use assessment information, marking and questioning more consistently in teaching to help students improve their work.