Dear Howard School Community…

I am delighted to share the outcome of our recent Ofsted inspection. The report is attached to this letter and available on our website via this LINK. It is scheduled for publication on the Ofsted website within 5 working days of the date of this letter.

Firstly, I am thrilled to announce that we were judged to be a ‘good’ school, with two areas — personal development and behaviour and attitudes—being judged as ‘outstanding.’ Achieving an outstanding judgement in any area requires the school to be exemplary, and I am very proud to confirm this to you.

During the verbal final feedback, it was overwhelming to hear the lead inspector speak about our school. I wish I could share a recording of this with you. She stated, “I don’t know how I am going to write this up in 700 words as 7000 words would not do justice to this school.” As the Headteacher, I am incredibly proud of our school community.

The inspectors recognised the ‘extensive action’ that has been taken since the last inspection and the positive steps we have taken to improve the education for our children. They acknowledged our efforts to address the development areas identified in the last inspection held in March 2020.

The inspection team were impressed by what they saw, noting that ‘leaders including governors are passionate about providing the best educational experience for the pupils at Ackworth Howard’ and that, because of this, ‘pupils achieve well academically’ and ‘flourish in all aspects of their personal development.’ They also commented on the strong safeguarding culture, which is a vital part of our work.

The personal development of pupils in our school is not only a priority but also a passion. It is something we have worked hard to develop to ensure education ‘for life in all its fullness.’ This is something we had self-evaluated as outstanding and spent significant time evidencing during the inspection process. Ofsted noted that ‘the personal development programme including pupils’ character development is exemplary’ and that ‘the school is aspirational for pupils,’ with experiences ‘designed to enrich pupils’ life experience.’

The report states that ‘from early years onwards, pupils are exceptionally well behaved.’ We were pleased that our intensive work on curriculum development was seen as a strength: ‘the curriculum is ambitious and well sequenced from early years to Year 6, reading is extremely important.’ During the inspection, the inspectors consistently praised our documentation and stated that the work undertaken since the previous inspection was, “astounding.”

One thing we pride ourselves on at this school is how we support others, including our wonderful staff. Ofsted commented that ‘staff well-being and workload are a priority for leaders’ and ‘staff are immensely proud to work at the school.’ I would add to this and state how proud I am to work with my colleagues in this school. Not every school is like this, let me tell you!

The report acknowledges that all pupils, including those with special educational needs, are ‘fully included in the life of the school’ and that ‘support for pupils with SEND is effective.’

During the inspection call, before the inspectors arrived, we had identified through our own monitoring that further refinement of the curriculum is needed to ensure the essential knowledge which children must learn is clearly identified within the foundation subjects. Although this is extensively planned, we have already begun to redevelop certain subjects to pinpoint the most crucial elements of prior knowledge within our detailed frameworks. We will continue to do this and are looking forward to the challenge.

Lorna Malkin, our Chair of Governors, in offering her congratulations, stated that:

“The governors are very proud of the dedication the team at The Howard School show every day to improve the lives of the pupils in the school and this Ofsted report is a fantastic acknowledgement of the impact of this hard work.”

“We are also immensely proud of our pupils, who live our school values every day and constantly inspire us with their commitment and creativity as courageous advocates, which Ofsted both recognised and praised.”

Our school, due to its foundation as a Church school, is subject to two inspections: The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), which inspects services providing education, and the Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS). Both inspections have been undertaken in recent months, and it is great to see them aligned in recognising the strengths of our school. You can find our SIAMS report here as a reminder - LINK.

Our vision drives everything and has been crucial in our school's journey. It shone through during both inspections and has genuinely held our school together over the last four years. Parents have an element of choice in the school they send their children to. It is clear what we stand for, and the vast majority of parents buy into our vision and values. We understand that some parents may choose other schools because they believe another approach is more appropriate for their children, which is why I believe schools having autonomy is the best choice for our education system.

If you have any questions regarding this report, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Congratulations to everyone who has been part of our journey and these well-deserved positive outcomes.

Thank you for your continued support, as always.

Yours sincerely,

Mr M Walker