Saffron Walden County High School rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted

PUBLISHED: 16:37 15 June 2012

SWCHS headteacher John Hartley with pupils

SWCHS headteacher John Hartley with pupils


SAFFRON Walden County High School has been rated ‘outstanding’ in a recent inspection.

The school received a two-day visit from Ofsted in May. Inspectors not only found SWCHS to be outstanding in its overall effectiveness, but also judged it to be outstanding in every other category – achievement and behaviour of pupils; quality of teaching; and leadership and management.

Inspectors also judged the sixth form outstanding, with very high achievement.

The school is one of only a handful of comprehensive secondaries graded ‘outstanding’ in the county, and the achievement is all the more impressive given the new, more rigorous framework introduced by Ofsted in Jaunary.

Headteacher John Hartley was delighted with the outcome and said the report is a “big moment for the school and for the town”.

“Throughout the report there are very many pleasing comments reflecting the improvement in standards that we have seen in recent years,” he added. “These improvements have been driven by a passion for excellence and a determination to do everything we can to ensure each pupil fulfils their academic potential.”

Mr Hartley picked out two of the inspector’s reports to illustrate the school’s key objective of raising standards: that “all teachers have consistently high expectations for all students” and “the pursuit of excellence is a theme that runs throughout”.

“Our students were described as ‘passionate... and fully committed to their learning’ and ‘having extremely good independent learning skills’,” he said. “The students deserve great praise for the polite and courteous way in which they presented themselves. They left the inspectors in no doubt about how proud they were to be students of SWCHS and the extent to which they enjoy their days at school and feel happy, safe and secure.”

Other key findings in the report showed that teachers had consistently high expectations for all pupils, that school’s leaders had established a culture of continuous improvement which resulted in an excellent learning experience, and that inspectors saw no examples of poor behaviour.

Strategic planning and governance were also judged to be excellent.

Mark Hayes, chair of governors, said: “Students in all year groups responded magnificently, both in terms of their enthusiasm for learning in lessons and in what the report describes as their exemplary behaviour around the school.

“The inspectors also received very positive feedback and comments from our parents, and I would like to thank them for their continuing support.

“Governors would like to congratulate all the staff for this magnificent achievement, which is well deserved.”

He added that the school will address the single action point from the report – raising further the quality of written feedback for pupils – over the coming months.

The full report is available on the school website at

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