This is a good school with outstanding features, particularly the leadership of the school and the personal development and well-being of students.
The headteacher, supported by excellent governance and senior leadership team, provides outstanding leadership. The headteacher leads the school with integrity. This inspires the whole school staff to have confidence in and share her vision. Some of the systems that the school has put in place have been highly effective. For instance, teaching has improved significantly since the last inspection as a result of training and support for teachers. Other systems need time to become established. For example, there is very good support for students not achieving as well as they can in Year 11 but these systems are not yet consistently implemented lower down the school. Consequently last year progress was slower for some students. This has now been addressed.
The processes for keeping the school's work under review and planning for improvement are excellent. The school has an accurate understanding of its strengths and weaknesses. Inspectors did not find any issues that the school was not already aware of and addressing.
Teaching and learning are good overall and outstanding in the sixth form. Senior leaders are committed to ensuring all teaching is at the level of the best in the school. The in-house programme of training, coaching and developing staff is exemplary and a strength of the school.
Standards at the end of Year 9 and Year 11 are exceptionally high; students make good progress from Years 7 to 11. Students in the sixth form make outstanding progress and achieve excellent results. The results for AS level music and business studies are amongst the best in the country. As a result of effective action, achievement in areas which were a cause for concern last year are no longer so.
The school's specialist status has had a good impact and improved provision. The number of students taking A level mathematics has increased significantly. Although good practice exists in the use of ICT (information communication technology) throughout the school, this is not yet consistent across the school.
'This school is a happy and secure place to be', a student told inspectors. Parents and students praise the care and support teachers provide to them and the range of extra curricular activities they are able to take part in. Students enjoy coming to school. Their attendance is excellent and their behaviour around the school and in lessons is good. Students' spiritual, moral and social development is outstanding. This is seen in the numerous activities students initiate to support their local and wider community. Cultural development is good, the school recognises the need to develop the curriculum further so it increases students' cultural awareness.
Students are articulate, confident and courteous. The contribution they make to their school and local community is outstanding, ranging from the Horizon sports club for children with learning difficulties in the community to organising events for fellow students. They are very well prepared for life outside school and benefit from an excellent range of well thought out activities that contribute to their well-being.