Staff and students at Sexey’s School in Bruton are celebrating after it was rated ‘Good’ in its latest full Ofsted inspection.
The positive report raises the school’s education grading to ‘good’ in all five areas of the inspection framework and is the third ‘good’ report the school has received following their Ofsted Social Care and SIAMS judgement.
Inspectors said that “Pupils thrive at Sexey’s School. They are happy and safe. Staff know them well as individuals. Pupils recognise and appreciate this” and that “the school has high academic expectations of all pupils. Staff start from the position that all pupils can succeed.”
Inspectors praised leaders for working very successfully to improve the school and highlighted that leaders “have an ambitious vision for the curriculum, a clear rationale for the way it is designed and have developed a shared view of the best way to teach it.”
Staff were praised by the inspectors for their “high expectations of pupils’ behaviour” and said that “pupils are polite to each other and to adults. They conduct themselves around the school calmly and maturely. If bullying occurs, pupils are confident that adults will help them sort it out.”
Inspectors described the school’s curriculum as “well conceived and sequenced to promote cumulative learning and that “consequently, pupils learn more, remember more and can do more” and that “Pupils acquire new knowledge with relative ease as the curriculum has given them a secure grounding on which to build.”
They also recognised that “Teaching is typically based on strong subject expertise” and that “Teachers use assessment well to evaluate what pupils have learned and what they need to learn next. Pupils respond well to the teaching they receive and have positive attitudes to their education.”
A key highlight of the report was the school’s achievements in the English baccalaureate and recognised this as being “at the heart of the school’s academically rigorous curriculum, with nine out of ten pupils going on to acquire qualifications in this range of subjects.” Inspectors also praised the Sixth Form for its “impressive range of courses for students to choose from” and that “Students achieve well and move on successfully to the next stage of their education or into employment.”
The report also praised the school’s dedicated reading programme stating “Reading is a central feature of school life. Those pupils who are at an early stage of reading or need some additional help with it get the support they need.”
Pupils’ personal development is at the heart of school life according to the report. Inspectors said that “this can be seen in the effective implementation of a well-constructed personal, health, social and relationship education programme. Pupils typically appreciate the help this curriculum gives them to grow as individuals.”
The report also recognised the school’s dedication to career support and guidance. Inspectors noted that “Careers education is very effective, including in the sixth form. Pupils understand the pathways available to them from early on.”
The school prides itself on its extensive range of extra-curricular activities and this was acknowledged by the inspectors who said that “Whatever a pupil’s interests, there will be opportunities to further them at Sexey’s.”
With respect to Safeguarding, the inspectors stated that “The arrangements for safeguarding are effective. The school has developed a strong culture of safeguarding. There are well established procedures to identify and help pupils at risk of harm. Leaders clearly understand the contextual risks in the community, such as criminal exploitation or county lines. The high-quality work of the pastoral team supports this culture of safeguarding well.”
Having joined the Quantock Education Trust in 2021, the report highlighted that “Trustees and trust leaders have a strong understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for development. Leaders understand what the trust can bring to Sexey’s and what Sexey’s brings to the trust, such as sixth-form provision.”
The Ofsted report, however, recognised that the implementation of the curriculum is stronger in some areas than others and that leaders should continue their work to improve the quality of the implementation of the curriculum for pupils with SEND.
Headteacher Helen Cullen is thrilled with the inspection outcome. She says “I will be forever grateful to the Governors and staff who put their trust in me to lead the school through the last 4 years, I am in absolute awe and filled with immense pride for what the Sexey’s staff team have achieved. To work relentlessly to move a school from Serious Weaknesses to Good, in all categories whilst also juggling a pandemic with school closures affecting teaching and learning is no small achievement. My staff have shown an unrelenting commitment to school improvement and with a sense of determination to ensure we make Sexey’s School the very best it can be.”
“The report encapsulates all that we have strived for, and it makes me extremely proud to be the Headteacher of such an exceptional school and community. This report is not the end to our commitment to be exceptional in all that we do, it is a check in point, where we will reflect and move forward with even more determination and commitment to make Sexey’s School the school our children deserve.”
Chrysta Garnett, CEO of the Quantock Education Trust said “I am incredibly proud of our colleagues at Sexey’s, who deserve to celebrate this fantastic Ofsted report. It is a testament to their perseverance and determination to deliver an exceptional education to every child within their school community, guided by the strong leadership of Helen Cullen and her team. I know that this is just part of a wider plan for Sexey’s, who are committed to continuous improvement and development. But for now, a huge well done from the whole QET community!”
The chair of governors, Malcolm Broad says, “This Ofsted judgement is an outstanding achievement given the school was in special measures just a few years ago and is a tribute to the excellent leadership provided by Helen Cullen, Headteacher. In her first headteacher appointment, Mrs Cullen against a pandemic background has shown remarkable resilience and determination to ensure children receive the best education possible. This is great news for the school and for the whole Bruton community of which the school staff, parents and pupils can feel rightly proud of.”
The report can be read in full on the School website.