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Brixham Community College : Ofsted Report

19–20 November 2008
Reporting Inspector: 
Anne Looney HMI
Description of the school: 

Brixham Community College is an average-sized secondary school which serves the coastal town of Brixham, although the college takes students from an increasing number of primary schools across Torbay. The community in which the college is situated is one of average socio-economic mix. The percentage of students for whom English is an additional language, or who are from minority ethnic groups, is very low. The college has an above average percentage of students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, although the percentage with a statement of special educational need is below average. The presence of grammar schools in Torbay has an impact on the number of higher attaining students at the college. The college manages the local authority enhanced specialist provision for students with autistic spectrum disorders. Brixham Community College is a specialist visual arts college and has achieved a range of awards for its work, most recently one for Investors in Careers and Work-Related Learning, the International Schools Award and a 'Futures Visions' award from the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.

Overall effectiveness and Average across all judgements

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Leadership, management and capacity for school improvement

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Overall achievement & academic performance

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Care, Guidance and Personal development

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Ofsted assessment

Brixham Community College is a good school. It has a deservedly good reputation for its inclusive approach and for the outstanding care, guidance and support it provides for its students. One parent wrote, 'The student pastoral care is second to none.' The college has also developed increasingly robust systems for tracking students' progress and has a very accurate picture of how well students are doing. The college leaders have used that data well in the last few years to identify students who were underachieving. They have then put in place intervention strategies to ensure students are supported but also challenged to do better. Students arrive at the college with broadly average Key Stage 2 tests scores but with literacy levels which are clearly below average. Targeted intervention, particularly in English, has resulted in students making good progress overall by the end of Year 9 and achieving standards which are slightly above average. Standards by the end of Year 11, whilst remaining below the national average, have risen steadily over the last three years, particularly in terms of the percentage of students who have achieved five or more A* to C grades including English and mathematics. Results have improved for Year 11 students even though their levels of attainment on entry have been declining, and represent good progress for those students. The college has focused appropriately on improving students' skills in English and mathematics, and its leaders are aware that their challenge now is to raise standards in all other subjects.

Students' personal development and well-being are good. Students say they feel safe and enjoy college. One student told inspectors, 'There is no need to inspect us, we're a good school.' Students' contribution to the community is first rate and is very well supported by the excellent partnerships the college has developed, particularly through its specialist status in visual arts. The specialist provision for students with autistic spectrum disorders is a particular strength. Students are generally considerate in their behaviour towards each other around the college, but their behaviour overall is satisfactory rather than good. A number of students and their parents expressed concern that excessive chattiness of some students in lessons prevented their peers from learning as well as they might. Inspectors agreed with these views.

Teaching and learning are good overall. There is, however, variability in the teachers' skills. There is some good and outstanding teaching in a range of subjects, and in these lessons there is good pace and activities engage, challenge and interest the students. There are also some lessons where excessive teacher talk limits students' active involvement or leads to students pursuing their own social discussion rather than focusing on the task in hand. Students' learning is, however, greatly supported by an outstanding curriculum which is exceedingly well enhanced by enrichment opportunities for students of all abilities. There is a high level of personalisation at Key Stage 4 and the new faculty structures and timetable are enabling some innovative practice in delivering the Key Stage 3 curriculum. The college's specialist status in visual arts has very effectively enhanced provision in all creative media subjects. The college has met its specialist school targets and is the lead institution for the new creative and media diploma.

The leadership and management of the college are good and the governing body fulfils its duties well. The principal and the senior leadership team are clearly focused on raising standards and on developing their students well. The recently changed faculty and timetabling structures have been developed as part of the drive for improved achievement with an aim to increase creativity and collaboration. It is too soon for the leadership team to have completed any formal evaluation of the impact of these innovations on students' learning. Strategic planning is good and senior leaders monitor the teaching regularly. The role of the middle leaders in monitoring teaching is currently underdeveloped. The college's contribution to community cohesion is outstanding. The college has taken effective steps to promote improvement since the last inspection and has good capacity to improve further.

What can be improved

  • Extend the successful work done in raising standards in targeted subjects to improve students' achievement in all other subjects.
  • Reduce the amount of off-task chatting by students in lessons.
  • Empower middle leaders to take a greater role in monitoring, so that good practice in teaching and learning can be shared and the quality of all classroom practice brought up to that of the best.

Progress of Special Needs learners, and equality of opportunity

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Behaviour & attendance of learners

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Curriculum and Teaching

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