Heckmondwike Grammar School 'an exciting place in which to learn', says Ofsted

The head teacher at Heckmondwike Grammar has said he has plans in place to regain the school’s “outstanding” Ofsted rating following its latest inspection report.

By Dominic Brown
Friday, 8th July 2022, 5:24 pm

After visiting in April, inspectors rated the school “good” overall - lower than the “outstanding” grade it received previously - highlighting that the sixth form requires improvement.

In their report, inspectors said Heckmondwike Grammar is “a friendly and welcoming school” and is “an exciting place in which to learn”.

They added: “Expectations are high, with regard to work in school and at home.

Peter Roberts, head teacher at Heckmondwike Grammar School

“Pupils are very polite, articulate and courteous. They live the school’s values of respect, responsibility and excellence.”

The report said pupils make very strong progress and the pace of learning is fast.

It added: “The head teacher is passionate about the school and has a clear vision for its development.”

However, inspectors raised concerns about the school’s sixth form provision.

The report said: “The vast majority of learners in the large sixth form achieve high grades. Many of them go on to gain places at the most competitive universities.

“However, there are some learners who do not adapt as well to the demands of A-level study. As a result, progress in the sixth form is not as strong as in the main school.

“Leaders recognise that work experience needs to be reintroduced into the curriculum and have plans in place to do so.

“The PHSE programme in the sixth form is not as well developed as it is in the rest of the school.”

Responding to the report, head teacher Peter Roberts said: “Whilst recognising an intended consequence of the new Ofsted framework is to reduce the number of ‘outstanding’ schools nationally, we are delighted by the numerous observations included in the report.

“Particularly pleasing statements include ‘Heckmondwike Grammar School is an exciting place to learn, expectations are high’ and ‘Behaviour is exceptional’.

“This exemplifies the hard work both students and staff put in on a daily basis and together have developed an excellent culture of each of us striving to be the best that we can be.

“What was initially intended as a throwaway remark to the lead inspector, of ‘we work hard and play hard’, has been included in the report and this does actually sum us up very well.

“Taking note of the excellent academic grades achieved by students and also the vast majority taking part in the wide range of over 70 extra-curricular clubs, means our students are both very busy and very successful.

“We are very pleased the inspectors recognised ‘the vast majority of learners in the large sixth form achieve high grades. Many of whom go on to gain places at the most competitive of universities.’ Given the sixth form is the key to career progression, this was particularly important to us.

“However, we had already recognised there was work to be done post-16, as we came out of the pandemic and we have already made great strides to strengthen the systems in place to support those students who have found the transition to A-level a challenge.

“Indeed, we have recently appointed a new sixth form staff team and new deputy and assistant head teachers to further develop teaching and learning in the school.

“Similarly, we had found ourselves somewhat restricted in terms of providing students with work experience, again due to the pandemic and the change in working practices for many companies.

“However, we now have plans in place for all year 10 and year 12 students to have this experience next year.

“As with all inspections, in any walk of life, the process can be quite stressful, but we knew we were all doing our best and so welcomed any observations.

“It was good to be confirmed that ‘Leaders know their school well…. Staff morale is high.’

“Meantime, we look forward to welcoming our new year six in to seven students for their induction days this week and similarly year 11 students in to year 12, who have just completed their GCSE exams.

If any employers would like to offer themselves as a work experience provider, we would be delighted to hear from you.”