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Imberhorne School : Ofsted Report

7–8 March 2007
Reporting Inspector: 
Clare Gillies
Description of the school: 

Imberhorne is a large, oversubscribed, language specialist school. The sixth form is also large. The school has Investor in People status and was awarded Artsmark and Sportsmark awards in 2004. The school is on a split site with Years 7 to 9 based over a mile away from the main site. The accommodation has not kept pace with the school's growth and many areas are cramped. The school has an on-site vocational centre and some students study at another one close-by.

The proportions of students with learning difficulties and disabilities and statements of special educational need are below average. A very low percentage of students takes free school meals. Over 90% of students are from White British backgrounds with small numbers from other ethnic groups. The school has 18 Gypsy/Roma and Travellers of Irish heritage, five looked after children and 16 students at an early stage of learning English as a second language. Standards on entry are slightly above the national average but below that for West Sussex.

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

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.

What can be improved

  • Strengthen teaching and learning to raise standards and achievement even further by sharing the good practice that exists in asking questions which check progress and extend students' thinking; keeping up a good pace; incorporating a variety of activities; and using interactive whiteboards effectively.

Achievement and standards

Grade: 2

Grade for sixth form: 2

Standards at the end of Years 9 and 11 are well above average. Between Years 7 to 11 students make excellent progress in the majority of subjects. For several years, students have done particularly well in the science tests taken at the end of Year 9. Following a period of intensive work on standards in mathematics, the percentage of students attaining the higher levels almost doubled in 2006. Year 9 English test results dipped slightly in 2006 and achievement was only satisfactory so the school is now focusing on improving performance in this subject.

GCSE results have gone up since the last inspection, especially in 2006 when almost two thirds of students attained five or more grades A*–C including English and mathematics. The percentage of A* and A grades also improved. Girls do better than boys in practically all subjects except mathematics and the school continues to work on reducing the gap. There is no difference in achievement between any groups of students. The high GCSE grades in German and Italian reflect the school's language specialism.

Sixth form standards have risen steadily in recent years. They are now above average, with over 40% A/B grades in 2006. Achievement, especially in vocational subjects, is good. It is outstanding in several subjects, for example health and social care, sociology, theatre studies, business and economics. Fluctuations and differences between standards in subjects partly reflect the school's encouragement of participation in further education by not making entry requirements too tight. They also reflect a lack of rigour in monitoring students' progress in the past. This has now been tackled and the 2006 AS results, grades for vocational courses, and the work seen reveal that students are achieving well.

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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