The school's overall effectiveness is good and it has many outstanding features. Achievement is very high in many subjects. The school has successfully generated a culture that 'It's cool to learn; education is more precious that gold'. Recent innovations have increased students' motivation and led to rising standards. These include giving each student a staff mentor and having a graduation ceremony for Year 11 students.
Standards are well above average at the end of Year 11 as students' achievement in Years 7 to 11 is excellent in several subjects and good in most of the others. Students receive high quality careers advice as well as acquiring the essential skills to proceed into further education, training or employment. Students study diligently and attentively and teaching and learning are good with some outstanding practice. This includes, especially in Years 7 to 9, teachers asking excellent questions which check and extend students' understanding, a fast pace, imaginative activities and effective use of interactive whiteboards. The school is working to spread such good practice.
Students' personal development and well-being are outstanding and they mature into articulate, confident and happy young adults. They behave well, are considerate and thoughtful. This is because all of them, including those with learning difficulties, receive exceptional care, guidance and support in all years. A strength of the citizenship and personal, social and health education programme is the school's realism about what students encounter beyond the school gates. Students are fully aware of the importance of health and safety in their lives.
Leadership and management are outstanding at all levels. The headteacher and senior leadership team, along with many confident heads of department and year heads, are not complacent but always seeking new ideas to raise achievement. This is done by penetrating, realistic evaluation of everything the school offers. The whole school focus last year on 'making underachievement unacceptable' was developed from the conviction that 'everyone can succeed'.
The excellent curriculum offers a wealth of courses to match the wide range of students' aptitudes and interests. Reflecting the school's specialism, the curriculum is particularly strong in modern foreign languages. Well developed overseas links, such as those with Tanzania and several European countries, benefit students' appreciation of other cultures and extend their global awareness. Closer to home, numerous musical and sporting events, an interesting range of extra-curricular activities and many trips and visits help to make school life enjoyable.
Parents are very pleased with the education their children receive and all members of the school community can easily keep in touch with school life by using the informative, clearly set-out website. The school has ambitious information and technology communication (ICT) systems that allow students to learn as easily at home as in class.