Heathfield Community College en route to Ofsted ‘outstanding’

29th April

Headteacher Ms Caroline Barlow with students

Heathfield Community College is feeling optimistic – they have a real sense that making Ofsted ‘outstanding’ is within their grasp. The college was inspected just before the school closures, when parents, pupils and teachers lives were turned upside down. The results were delayed and although Ofsted are not publishing reports on their website until schools reopen, schools can share feedback with their community.

The report represents a very positive outcome under what was a Section 8 inspection, designed to check if a school rated good, remains good. It concluded that there was sufficient evidence that the school could be judged outstanding in a subsequent inspection. The two-day inspection included a thorough exploration of safeguarding, behaviour and bullying, the wider curriculum, staff workload and the quality of education evidenced by ‘Deep Dives’ over five subjects.

Heathfield Community College has been on a five-year journey of significant improvement, putting the College in a strong position to make the transition from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’.

The report and the verbal feedback given at the time was glowing, and a real testament to the quality and depth of education at the College. Recognising the curriculum as innovative and ambitious, it reflects the talent and expertise of the staff in designing and implementing learning in all subjects which enables all students to excel. The impact of learning outside the classroom and beyond examination classes is also highlighted as particularly enriching.

The superb work of the pastoral staff is emphasised as a strength of the school. Student wellbeing and the development of articulate, confident young people, who can thrive and succeed in the world was recognised by inspectors, in both what they saw and heard in College, as well as the feedback they received.

Headteacher Caroline Barlow was keen to praise the whole school community: “More than anything, to me this report represents the powerful community that is Heathfield; students who are keen to learn and thrive in their environment, positive families who are a supportive and dynamic influence; support staff who enable the college to function smoothly and efficiently, as well as the teachers and staff who work tirelessly for the development of the young people in our care. It describes and acknowledges all of us. I would also like to thank the governors and the local authority for their support and guidance in enabling the school to develop over the last five years. The combination of trust and challenge has enabled leaders to drive the necessary improvements.”

Richard Karn, Chair of Governors, spoke on behalf of all governors emphasising the quality of leadership required to drive an outcome of this nature: “It was inspiring to see the way in which a clear insight paid testament to the exceptional leadership of the College that has steered the College to this point.”

Governors also remarked that “the clear, consistent leadership required to fulfill a vision of improvement and achievement year on year, in a climate of financial and political change and uncertainty, is impressive and has made the College an outstanding place for all students to learn.”

The college will need to wait for the next step, which will be a further ‘full Section 5’ inspection in the next one to two years. It will be the outcome of this additional inspection which could facilitate a change of the Heathfield school’s official grading to Ofsted Outstanding.