Inspection Report on Blundell's School
From the Chairman of the Governors
The two-day inspection carried out by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) in March 2016 was one of a new format in which the inspection team checked the School’s compliance with Independent School Standards, including the National Minimum Standards for Boarding, which are overseen by the Department for Education.
For compliance inspections, the judgements given are either as ‘met’ or as ‘not met’; no qualitative judgements are given (please see below for the School’s last full qualitative inspection). I am pleased to report that Blundell’s met all the DfE standards and therefore no further action is required in any area of the School as a result of this. Do please read the Head’s assessment which gives further details and the full report below.
From the Head
Under new regulations, compliance inspections of independent schools by ISI will be carried out every three years with the full qualitative inspections taking place every six years. The compliance inspections ensure that schools continue to meet the high standards set. The Independent School regulations include all areas of the School and are classified into eight areas in addition to the twenty National Boarding standards. These are:
- Quality of education
- Spiritual, moral and cultural development of pupils
- Welfare, health and safety of pupils
- Suitability of staff, supply staff and proprietors
- Premise and accommodation
- Provision of information (for parents)
- Manner in which complaints are handled
- Quality of leadership and management
I am delighted that the inspectors concluded that Blundell’s met all the DfE standards and also all the National Minimum Standards; it is no insubstantial achievement to pass through the rigorous process in its entirety and we are very pleased indeed to have had such a positive outcome.
All pupils completed anonymous questionnaires for the inspectors and the large number of parents who responded to the online questionnaire request from ISI clearly showed an overwhelming confidence in the School and in the way in which we care for the pupils. The report itself confirms that the quality of education provided in both teaching and in the breadth of the curriculum enables the pupils to make good progress and the School’s principles and values actively promote the personal development of the pupils.
I am grateful to the staff as a whole for all the hard work and commitment they give to ensuring that we are able to fulfil our aims so successfully and also thank parents and guardians for their ongoing support.
ISI, 20th March 2013
From The Chairman of the Governors
An inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) is a very important occasion for a school as it provides an objective judgement about how the school is performing and, where necessary, makes recommendations for further improvement.
Their main finding was that the School is highly successful in achieving its aims – that of providing a rounded education in which pupils learn to be flexible, articulate and able to present themselves and their ideas well and capable of motivating themselves and others. There are many references to the excellence of Blundell’s provision and achievements by the pupils throughout the report. I urge you to read Nicola Huggett’s assessment and the report itself which is given below that.
From the Head
Although fielding a full inspection so early on in one’s tenure as Head might seem a challenge, it has been wonderful to have had such a full review, to have so much to build on that is good and to have any issues that need addressing so clearly identified and set out.
I am delighted that the inspectors have recognised Blundell’s success in achieving its aims in the academic, pastoral and extra-curricular spheres. I feel they have summed the School up neatly in stating ‘The school is highly successful in providing a vibrant, supportive and caring environment which encourages the growth of self-confidence and self-reliance’.
We are thrilled that they have recognised the ‘excellent and unforced rapport’ between staff and pupils, the fact that a significant proportion of the lessons are excellent, and that the pupils have excellent attitudes towards their learning, ‘being willing, cooperative and eager to succeed’. The teaching is also ‘characterised by good subject expertise, thoughtful planning and effective deployment of a variety of resources’ and the inspection team noted, as I do each and every day, that ‘members of staff are highly committed, their generosity with their time (being) recognised and appreciated by the pupils and parents alike’.
In addition, pupils’ personal development, curricular and extra-curricular provision, boarding welfare, medical and pastoral care were all judged to be excellent. The breadth of the extra-curricular programme was seen to be ‘extensive... providing academic and activity programmes that meet the needs, skills and abilities of all pupils’.
With such a team of committed staff within the School, in the houses, academic departments, on the extra-curricular and support sides, I am completely confident that we will meet and exceed the recommendations that have been made. We have already begun to formulate our response into an action plan.
It is important to note that though we did not comply with one regulatory requirement with regard to an ancillary staff recruitment procedure affecting a very small number of domestic staff, we remedied the situation immediately and the report notes that before the inspectors left the site, an appropriate procedure had been established.
Without doubt, the inspectors enjoyed the time they spent with us at Blundell’s and we enjoyed welcoming them into our community. It gave us a chance to show all that we offer and achieve. I truly feel this was recognised. This feedback has given us all, staff and pupils, a great and justly deserved sense of pride in the School. Our pupils deserve the very best and that is what all the staff are committed to giving them.
Ofsted, 3rd November 2010
We were absolutely delighted with the conclusions of the OFSTED inspectors who visited us in early November. In summary Blundell's was assessed as Outstanding in all six areas and Outstanding overall. These inspections are carried out every three years and last time Blundell's was rated Good overall and Outstanding in one area; we were relatively pleased with this judgement. There are four grades; unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good and outstanding. To achieve the highest grade in all six areas is very unusual. Please read the report in full because it highlights so many positive aspects about Blundell's. At the heart of the school is the strong, positive and purposeful atmosphere which is the result of a committed and enthusiastic staff and delightful and engaging pupils.
ISI, 4th March 2008
As Governors of Blundell's we are naturally proud of the School but we are also determined to keep it at the forefront of educational provision in the widest sense. The occasion of an ISI Inspection is therefore important not only for the Head Master and his staff but also for us as Governors. It provides us with objective judgement from experts as to how the School is performing in the various different fields of education. This helps us to assess the priorities for the future. I feel that it is important to share the results of this inspection with you as parents so that you too can feel fully informed as to how the School is progressing.
I have much pleasure in providing a link to the ISI report, below. In my view it makes extremely encouraging reading. The report contains many positive statements and conclusions about the School and the wider community. It is impossible to succinctly summarise a process which examines every element of the School so thoroughly; however there are some extremely important findings. As you will know we believe that at the heart of the School is the desire to provide a "whole" education and, very pleasingly, the Inspectors believe that Blundell's does this with considerable success. The Inspectors praised the pupils, their attainment and their personal qualities of friendship, tolerance, kindness and courtesy. They were also fully aware of the strong commitment of Common Room. The School was rated as "outstanding" in many areas e.g. leadership, social, spiritual, moral and cultural aspects, communication with parents and in relations between staff and pupils.
Prior to the inspection team arriving the Lead Inspector visited the School twice to make some initial assessments, one of which was that given the broad academic profile of the pupils entering Blundell's, the School should aspire to achieve academic success close to that of grammar schools. We were delighted that in the analysis we were found to be their academic equal, the report states "the School adds considerable academic value"; thus providing strong evidence of the progress in this area since the last inspection report in 2001.
The inspecting team took the time to understand Blundell's; the report therefore reflects their strongly felt belief that it is a rather special school, which draws out the best from its pupils. The pastoral system was found to be very strong; the spiritual, moral, social and cultural emphasis was highlighted by the team. They felt it was evident in all the pupils and staff do. They believe it greatly enriches the pupils' experiences and enhances their development. It was especially gratifying that they spoke so highly of the excellent relationships between staff and pupils which undoubtedly strengthens and supports the learning both in and outside the classroom. The academic initiatives begun since the last report are developing momentum, and this will continue to be a focus over the coming years.
There are aspects, of course which might be considered "work in progress": for example programmes to stretch the academically gifted, developing greater use of ICT and setting benchmarks for pupil attainment. In all these areas as the report recognises considerable progress has been made. Since the last inspection six years ago, both Mr Rivett and his successor Miss Jardine Young have been pushing ahead with specific academic programmes across the School. We have invested heavily in many areas which benefit the pupils' academic progression here and we will continue to do so. Eve Jardine Young continues to develop and implement strategies to stretch and inspire those pupils who are intellectually curious.
The state of the boarding houses has been brought to our attention. Over the past four years three of them have had a good facelift, but clearly we need to invest more heavily in these areas. The rise in boarding numbers has necessitated a full review of the accommodation in the school. The Head Master is exploring the various possibilities with the Governors. The necessary investment will be made in the near future.
Finally I want to reiterate the very positive comments made about the leadership of the School. This successful report is a tribute to the senior leadership team but in particular it is a tribute to the Head Master himself whose excellent work in driving the school forward, which we as Governors have seen at first hand, has now been recognised by the team of Inspectors as well.
E D Fursdon MA (Oxon) FRICS FAAV Chairman of the Governors