Stoke Damerel Community College rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, as inspectors highlight the safe and caring environment
Stoke Damerel Community College has reason to celebrate, after being judged as a ‘Good’ school following a recent inspection by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).
Ofsted inspectors visited the college for two days in February, and in their report just published, they have upgraded the college from its previous inspection grade of ‘Requires Improvement’. The routine Ofsted inspection on 15-16 February 2022 was the first at the college since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The inspectors found Stoke Damerel Community College to be ‘Good’ in all the key areas: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, and sixth form provision.
The report and inspectors’ comments have been welcomed by College Principal, Miss Frier: “We are absolutely delighted to be judged by Ofsted as a good school. The report reflects the dedication, skills, and hard work of everyone involved at the college - our staff, our students and their parents and carers.
“We will be continuing with this hard work in the future and aim to build further on the improvements that have already been made and which have been acknowledged by the Ofsted inspectors.”
The report highlights several aspects where the school is doing well. It says: “Leaders expect much of their pupils. They want the best for pupils academically and holistically. Many pupils recognise this. They know that staff care for them. Pupils say they feel, and are, safe.
“Pupils embrace the opportunities to enrich their understanding of the world through learning and extracurricular opportunities. For example, pupils enhance their knowledge through school performances, art and through useful links to their spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development.
“Leaders strive to help pupils achieve their potential. They have constructed a well-designed curriculum that is broad and balanced. They have focused on ensuring that the core elements of the curriculum are more effective than it was when the school was last inspected. Consequently, staff deliver the curriculum successfully in English, mathematics and science, including in the sixth form. There are other strengths in the curriculum, including in the performing arts and computing. Pupils do well in these subjects. Pupils’ reading is a priority. Pupils benefit from a range of strategies to help them to read more widely.
“Leaders act swiftly and appropriately to tackle areas that could be better. For example, pupils’ attendance overall is improving and suspensions reducing.
“Leaders responsible for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are effective. They work with teachers to plan learning activities that suit the whole range of pupils’ needs. SEND pupils learn the same curriculum alongside their peers. SEND pupils rightly believe in the support they receive because teachers and support staff know them as individuals. Teaching enables most pupils with SEND to achieve according to their potential.”
The school’s careers provision is also noted in the Ofsted report: “Careers advice is woven carefully into the curriculum from Year 7. Leaders ensure that pupils benefit from advice that is sequenced logically, including for those who continue into the sixth form. As pupils get older, the advice and support they get is more specific.”
And safeguarding arrangements are described as “effective,” with safeguarding responsibilities shared between “skilled” leaders: “They ensure that those who work at the school prioritise pupils’ safety and well-being.”
Miss Frier said the college was already addressing the use of homophobic language by some students, prior to it being mentioned in the report: “Our curriculum Collapse days focus on tolerance and diversity which our students appreciate. However, sometimes students may use words and terms without thinking about the impact on others,” she said.
Stoke Damerel Community College has 1,300 students aged 11 to 18. In January 2021, it joined the Greenshaw Learning Trust.
During the two-day visit, the Ofsted inspectors met with senior and subject leaders, staff, governors and pupils. They also visited lessons and scrutinised students’ work. More than 50 responses from parents on Ofsted’s online parent survey were also scrutinised.