ArtsEd receives highest accolade from Independent Schools Inspectorate

Guest blog by Peter Middleton, ArtsEd Head Heacher

At the end of March 2024, ArtsEd Day School and Sixth Form were inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) as part of their routine cycle of school inspections.

This latest inspection took place under the new framework that was introduced in September 2023. There is no ‘overall judgment’ of the school – ISI have removed single word judgments.

However, they are permitted to identify key areas of Significant Strength in a school. It is a label applied only where a school does something truly exceptional and with impact across the whole student body; the bar is set incredibly high. Accordingly, the School is thrilled that their inspection team identified the following area of Significant Strength at ArtsEd:

“standards that students achieve in performing arts, in line with the school’s expressed aims, are a significant strength of the school.”  ISI Inspection report  2024  (paragraph 4)

The inspection, and report, place student experience and outcome, along with school culture, at its heart; consequently, it provides a much better assessment on whether schools do what they say they do.

During the inspection, ISI inspectors look at whether the standards (The Independent School Standard Regulations) have been met in the following five areas, and the report provides commentary to support its findings:

  • Leadership and management, and governance
  • Quality of education, training and recreation
  • Pupils’ physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • Pupils’ social and economic education and contribution to society

It was evident that the Inspectors left having really understood the essence of an ArtsEd education, our values, and crucially our students.  Not only was ArtsEd found to have met these standards in all areas, but the inspection team also identified a key area of outstanding excellence in our school – the strength of our performing arts provision.

The inspectors also recognised key attributes of our students and staff, and the centrality of the ‘ArtsEd Curriculum’, our ethos and values, and the pastoral care. These can be seen throughout the report, and some examples are reflected below:

“Leaders plan a curriculum through which pupils study a wide range of academic and vocational subjects. Pupils develop linguistic, mathematical, scientific and technological skills.  Leaders strategically plan ahead and adapt their curriculum in the light of the changing demands of the world of performing arts.

“Pupils are articulate, attentive, listen with respect and enjoy opportunities to work together

“Pupils have a sense of responsibility; they apply effort to their work and are self-motivated and ambitious” ISI Inspeciton report”  ISI Inspection report 2024  (paragraph 17)

“The leaders of the school have developed a culture of mutual respect and tolerance which is seen in the interactions between pupils and pupils and staff around the school. Inclusion and diversity are prioritised by leaders with the recent appointment of staff and pupil equality, diversity and inclusion leads.” ISI Inspection report 2024 (paragraph 38)

“The curriculum, school policies and school activities encourage and support an ethos of mutual respect where pupils appreciate the individuality of others and feel they can be their natural selves.  Pupils are kind and tolerant, and there is a clear focus on matters of equality and inclusion.” ISI Inspection report 2024 (paragraph 27)

“From their arrival at the school, pupils learn to accept responsibility for the standard of their performances and their behaviour. They develop skills of teamwork and leadership through the many opportunities to perform throughout the year.” ISI Inspection report 2024 (paragraph 42)

The inspection process is, quite rightly, rigorous and detailed and relies on extensive interviews with pupils and staff, lesson observations, work scrutiny and questionnaires. The judgment of the school is built from the bottom up,  from the experience of our students and our parents.

“Leaders and managers have the knowledge, skills and experience to help pupils thrive and flourish.  They are highly attuned to the specific demands of a creative performing arts environment, where pupils need a challenging and broad education as well as a high standard of vocational training.” ISI Inspection report 2024 (paragraph 10)

Further detail from the report describes the teaching of the performing and creative arts, our Significant Strength, as being:

“inspiring and informed by current professional practice.  Teachers have high expectations of pupils, who receive challenging tasks and are given a busy schedule of performance opportunities.  Pupils respond with focus and energy, producing work of a notably high standard both in the classroom and on the stage.” ISI Inspection report 2024 (paragraph 22)

“The teaching of performing arts is dynamic and responsive to the needs of the pupils.  It is delivered by professionals who have expert knowledge so that pupils make rapid progress and achieve results well above the national averages in these areas.” ISI Inspection report 2024 (paragraph 4)

We are one of very few schools to have been described as exhibiting a Significant Strength, as it is the highest accolade under the new inspection structure. This is a hugely exciting validation of all that we do here at ArtsEd.

We know this to be a major feature of the education we offer alongside a rigorous academic education, where continual review of teaching and learning strategies is also part of our culture.

I am incredibly proud of this feedback and it clearly reflects our school and who we are.  I am extremely grateful to the whole team here at ArtsEd for their hard work and support, and to all of our families for making our school and community a very special place for children to grow and succeed.

The Acting Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mrs Farida Mannan, is delighted with this outcome:

“The Report is a testament to the dedication of the Day School and Sixth Form staff to our pupils, and also to the genuine affinity the pupils have for this exceptional school.

“The trustees are immensely proud of this achievement on obtaining such a positive report and we will continue to work with the leadership at ArtsEd to maintain high standards across all areas of ArtsEd’s offer. I would like to thank the Senior Leadership Team for leading this successful inspection and all of the staff for their attention to detail, support and continuous hard work.”

This Inspection follows the extremely positive affirmations for ArtsEd’s Higher Education provision, which was recently recognised as being Outstanding by Ofsted (Higher Education RADA funding) and was awarded TEF Gold in late 2023.  Such accolades demonstrate  ArtsEd’s commitment to delivering the highest calibre of teaching and learning within performing arts education.

 At ArtsEd we are conscious that students often seek to move mid-year, or outside the usual entrance points. We have recently opened registration for our September (Day School & Sixth Form Open Evenings 2024 – ArtsEd), but we sometimes have occasional places and would be very happy to consider any and all such applications.  

Please contact pupils@artsed.co.uk to discuss any potential application.

The full ISI report can be found at this link:  ArtsEd-School-Inspection-Report-March-202418

Details of our Day School and Sixth Form Open Event:  Day School & Sixth Form Open Evenings 2024 – ArtsEd

Peter Middleton is the Head Teacher of the day school at ArtsEd 

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