Queen Elizabeth’s was awarded Ofsted’s highest grading of ‘outstanding’ in January 2008. The School now has five consecutive inspection gradings at the highest level.
Overall effectiveness of the school Grade: 1
Queen Elizabeth’s is an outstanding school. It is held in very high regard by the vast majority of students and their parents, and rightly so. One parent summed up the views of many when she wrote, ‘The school is phenomenal and we are extremely pleased!’ Students flourish in a climate that ensures that they achieve their very best academically and personally. Excellence pervades all aspects of its work.
Leadership and management are outstanding at all levels. A real strength of the school is the high quality of teamwork and commitment which ensures that everyone, including support, premises and office staff play an integral part in moving the school forward. The headmaster and his two second masters provide inspirational leadership and is held in the highest regard by staff, students and parents alike. One parent summed up their views when he wrote, ‘The headmaster is first class!’ Relationships with parents are very positive and their views are taken fully into account. The school looks to the future with confidence. Leaders have an excellent understanding of its many strengths and the few minor weaknesses, and take highly successful action to bring about improvement. The school has successfully tackled the few areas for improvement identified at the last inspection. It has an outstanding capacity to improve further.
Students show great pride in their school’s specialist music status. This is having a positive impact on their academic achievement. Standards in music are exceptionally high, for example. A very high proportion of students take part in musical activities, including a Big Band, a Saxophone Quartet, several choirs and an Indian Music Ensemble. This makes a major contribution to the students’ excellent spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. A new, and popular, A level course in music technology has been introduced. Management of the school’s work as a specialist music college is excellent and fosters the school’s vision of continually seeking to raise students’ expectations and achievements. Specialist status has also contributed to improvement by allowing the school to extend its community provision, develop excellent links with partner schools and significantly improve its resources.
Key to the success of the school, and threaded through its fabric, is the focus on encouraging the boys to achieve both academic and personal excellence. This is evident at all levels. The standards reached by students in external tests and examinations are exceptionally high, and are steadily improving over time. The proportion of students gaining five or more A* and A grades at GCSE has been rising steadily in recent years and far exceeds selective school norms. For example, in 2007 48% of the grades achieved were A*. Results in Key Stage 3 tests also improved in 2007 and remain exceptionally high in English, mathematics and science. Despite these very high standards, the school is constantly trying to drive them even higher and regularly exceeds its challenging targets. Students, irrespective of ethnicity or background, make excellent progress and their all-round achievements are outstanding, comparing extremely favourably with other selective schools nationally. This is because the school’s ethos motivates students to perform to the best of their ability and makes them thirsty to learn. A strong work ethic pervades. Teaching is confident and collaborative, with students sharing ideas and listening with maturity to their teachers and to each other. Teachers build on students well above average prior attainment very successfully through excellent teaching that encourages the boys to develop independent learning skills and an enthusiasm for learning. As one boy commented, ‘The culture here is to want to learn and do well.’ As a result, students are completely involved in their work, whether it is composing a piece of music, writing a poem in German or drawing a self-portrait.
Excellent achievement is a result, not only of high quality teaching, but also of the outstanding curriculum. A particularly strong feature of the curriculum is the superb range of extra-curricular and enrichment activities. Students speak particularly highly of these, saying that the only problem is that there are so many things to do that it becomes difficult to make a choice. Sporting activities are very popular and large numbers of boys take part in the excellent range provided, including rugby, Eton Fives and fitness training. Many of these take place on Saturdays, and are extremely well attended by both students and teachers. Boys are particularly appreciative of the excellent facilities, especially the new eight-lane swimming pool. Although sports and music are especially popular, the school’s many clubs cater for a very wide range of interests and are extremely well-attended and often over-subscribed. The Forensic Club, for example, is popular with younger students and the recently introduced Mandarin Club already has a long waiting list.
High academic standards have not been achieved at the expense of students’ personal development and well-being, which are also outstanding. Students show high levels of confidence and maturity. Behaviour is exemplary and students show great courtesy towards each other and to visitors. They especially value the excellent opportunities they have for exercising responsibility, both within the school and the wider community. As one student commented, ‘We help to manage the school – it’s our school.’ The Student Conference gives very good opportunities for their views to be heard and the popular House system promotes friendly competition and positive relationships between older and younger students.
Safeguarding and child protection procedures are fully in place. Staff know their students well and they provide outstanding levels of care, guidance and support for them. Every department, for example, has a clinic, a club and competitions to provide support for students who are struggling, extra activities for those who are interested and opportunities to be stretched for the most talented. This is a safe place where students thrive and develop into highly articulate and mature young men who are exceedingly well prepared for their future lives.
Effectiveness of the sixth form Grade: 1
Provision in the sixth form is outstanding. Because of excellent teaching, a stimulating curriculum and their own positive attitudes to learning, students reach very high standards and make excellent progress in both their academic and personal development. The percentage of A and B grades in 2007 (97%) far exceeds selective school norms. Students are articulate and confident learners and show genuine pride in their achievements. They relish the opportunities for intellectual challenge in their lessons and develop exceptional independent learning skills. Teaching is both scholarly and exciting and provides the foundations for students’ impressive progress. Students praise the teachers for their level of dedication and support both in lessons and outside normal hours. The curriculum is enriched through an excellent range of cross-curricular and extra-curricular provision. Retention rates are high and increasing. Almost all students leave the school to study in higher education, with increasingly high proportions being accepted into the most prestigious universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. Leadership and management of the sixth form are excellent. Leaders have a clear sense of purpose and high expectations of work and commitment from students.