Schools inspector OFSTED sent a representative to Highfields School in Matlock last month to look at its provision of alternative learning, as part of OFSTED’s national research.
On June 4 and 5 inspector Ian Middleton spent time talking to students, staff and community workplaces. He commented on the development of independence and confidence of the young people involved in the alternative curriculum, and particularly liked the clear emphasis on developing skills valued in the workplace, such as teamwork and problem solving. He noted that all Year 11 students taking part in the alternative curriculum have secured places on post-16 college courses, supported by the school.
He said: “Relationships between students and staff are clearly a strength,” and praised the variety of what the school offers, reflecting the range of learning needs of the students involved.
He was also pleased that whilst some youngsters do undertake alternative programmes there continues to be a clear focus on good academic standards, saying: “whatever the programme, the school promotes the importance of accredited achievement. This includes English and mathematics qualifications.”
Stuart Briddon and Craig Allsobrook, who oversee students undertaking alternative courses at Highfields, said: “We are very pleased with OFSTED’s findings. The inspector spent two full days looking at what is on offer and could see that we put a lot of effort into meeting the needs of every single student on the programme. He could see their confidence and skills really benefitting from the individual curriculum we have in place for each youngster, including the time spent working with local employers.
Headteacher, Eddie Wilkes, said, ‘This is our fourth Ofsted visit of the year through a combination of school inspections and surveys. The outcomes have been very positive on each occasion. This is a real tribute to the hard work of our staff, the attitudes of our youngsters, support of our parents and the wider support of our community’.
A full copy of the report is available on the school website.