everyone has a personal best

Grateley House School

Grate expectations

In June 2013, Grateley House School achieved an amazing five consecutive years of ‘outstanding’ Ofsted inspection reports, insight asked head teacher Sue King why excellence comes so easy and whether there’s a secret to success.

Gaining even one ‘Outstanding’ rating from the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) is worthy of celebration, so when Grateley House School achieved five consecutive years, operating in a much tougher regulatory environment, needless to say staff and pupils were delighted.

Sue King, Head of Grateley House School, told Insight: “Achieving the ‘outstanding’ rating across all of the necessary standards was brilliant. I’m always in a state of anxiety at the beginning of the process but we usually know how it’s going as the days of the inspection unfold. It had only been six months since the previous full inspection, so it was a real shock for it to occur again so soon after. It was also GCSE exam week, which made the process incredibly tough for staff and I have to thank them all. As a residential specialist school we should have Ofsted care inspections once every year. With our last full, integrated inspection in December, we didn’t expect to have another full inspection for at least four years.

“When we received the final outcome we were all relieved, pleased and proud all at the same time. A good Ofsted inspection is a very big event for any head teacher and it is the single most important thing for a school. “The impact of Ofsted’s determination cannot be underestimated. It reports directly to Parliament and is both independent and impartial. Inspecting and regulating services which care for children and young people, a sector that is quite rightly coming under increasing Government and media scrutiny. This makes Ofsted’s comments and judgments extremely valuable for any school in the UK.

“For teachers who are expected to perform on the days of the inspection to a very high standard, it feels much more different to achieve outstanding. Like head teachers, teachers see Ofsted ratings as a significant judgement of their professionalism. Generally, our students continue their day as they always would and don’t really behave any differently because there is an inspector in school, but they also want a good result. It’s important for everyone.

“As far as possible everyone gets on as usual. This judgment was well deserved. We felt that it was a true reflection of our school and not something we pulled off that week.

“A key criteria that Ofsted is looking for is ‘rapid progress in student academic achievement’. This is something we have to work at all year round for and our recent GCSE and Post-16 accreditation results are testimony to this. By encouraging the students to find something they are good at and promoting it, they are less likely to be negative about life and one another.

“Is there a secret? No secret! What works has been built up over 10 years. There is a huge amount of mutual respect for everyone at Grateley House School. Visitors feel it when they walk around. People are generally as happy and relaxed as they are going to be in a school/work environment. I want to thank all the staff – but especially the senior staff of course who know what to do and do it so well.

“I love my job and really do think I’m in a privileged position. In order to maintain ‘outstanding’ we have to demonstrate improvements since the last inspection and although this time the last inspection was only six months ago, we could still provide an extensive list and we will continue to do this.”

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