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Hertswood School : Ofsted Report

2–3 May 2007
Reporting Inspector: 
Barbara Hilton
Description of the school: 

Hertswood School is larger than most comprehensive schools. The proportions of students entitled to free school meals and those with learning difficulties and disabilities are above those in most schools, although few have a statement of special educational needs. The proportion of students from minority ethnic groups is just below the national average; they mainly come from East European, Asian and African backgrounds. Few are just starting to learn English. The school occupies a split site. The school is the hub school for the Shenley, Elstree and Borehamwood extended schools consortium. In 2005 the school gained specialist arts college status.

Overall effectiveness and Average across all judgements

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Leadership, management and capacity for school improvement

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Overall achievement & academic performance

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Care, Guidance and Personal development

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Ofsted assessment

Hertswood School is a good school. Inspectors confirm the school's own evaluation of its effectiveness. Leadership by the headteacher and senior team is strongly and effectively focused on raising achievement. The governing body is outstanding in steering developments so that school provision is now good. They have encouraged the school to work in partnership with others and its position has been strengthened in the local community. Students now starting in Year 7 represent an average ability range, which is higher than when the school opened in September 2000. Developments as a specialist arts college and in sports are well managed and contribute significantly to raising aspirations and standards.

Improvement in GCSE results is marked. Students achieve well up to GCSE. Targets based on students' earlier achievements are challenging and used effectively. In 2006, virtually all students gained at least one graded result at GCSE, the proportion achieving at least five GCSEs was high and results for five A* to C grades were above the national average. Students made outstanding progress across Years 10 and 11. Results are good in arts subjects, as well as in business, information and communication technology (ICT), media studies, Spanish, philosophy and ethics. Results at the end of Year 9 are rising but are below the national average because results in science have lagged behind those in English and mathematics and the more able have not gained as many high levels as expected.

Good improvement since the last inspection stems from good leadership and management. Review and evaluation of provision are thorough. The school is maintaining its focus on GCSE results while strengthening the attention given to raising achievement across Years 7 to 9. Good emphasis is placed on the professional development of staff. Many teachers are in the early stages of their career and they feel well supported. Overall the school provides good value for money and has good capacity to improve further.

The curriculum is good overall and outstanding in Years 10 and 11, which includes an unusually wide choice of courses. The quality of teaching is good. Lessons include an interesting range of activities and are well planned to move most students on in their learning, but generally not enough attention has been given to stretching the most able. Provision for the arts, including teaching and the curriculum, is good. Many out-of-school activities are provided and links with community initiatives strengthen greatly students' academic and personal development. Support is good for students with learning difficulties and disabilities and satisfactory for the gifted and talented.

Students' personal development and well-being and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development are good. They enjoy school and develop pride in their achievements. Their attitudes to learning are good. Attendance has improved significantly and is satisfactory. Behaviour is good. Students adopt healthy lifestyles and have good understanding of how to stay safe. Care, support and guidance are good. Arrangements to ensure the protection of students and their health and safety are correctly in place. Pastoral support is strong. Students are confident they have people to turn to for help. Good use is made of assessment to guide students' progress.

What can be improved

  • Raise standards in Key Stage 3, especially in science, and in sixth form A-level subjects.
  • Match work more closely to the abilities of students, especially the more able.
  • Improve guidance for entry to sixth form courses.

Achievement and standards

Grade: 2

Grade for sixth form: 3

Standards have improved markedly in the last three years. Achievement up to the end of Year 11 is good because achievement across Years 10 and 11 is outstanding. In 2006, GCSE results for the proportion achieving five or more A* to C grades were better than the national averages for both boys and girls. All groups of students achieved well, including those with learning difficulties and disabilities. The school's rigorous approach to planning and monitoring students' progress has helped to raise standards. Students achieve very good results on vocational courses in business studies and ICT. While the proportions gaining higher grades, A* to C, in English and mathematics have lagged behind national averages, they are close to expectations among the current Year 11 students. Progress is good in lessons. Standards generally match or exceed national expectations.

Achievement up to the end of Year 9 is broadly average, but some of the more able are not gaining as many high levels as they could. Results have improved steadily in Year 9 national tests, particularly in English, and also in mathematics, but they have risen only recently in science. Standards have risen strongly in ICT. In other subjects, standards have improved and are broadly average. Standards and progress are satisfactory in lessons.

Progress of Special Needs learners, and equality of opportunity

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Behaviour & attendance of learners

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Curriculum and Teaching

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