HARD work and ambition has paid off at Kingsdown School, which has won a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted.

The step up has broken the ‘requires improvement’ rut it’s been stuck in since 2012.

The school, which has more than 900 pupils between the ages of 11 and 16, was given the second lowest rating in 2016, 2014 and 2012.

In the 2016 report the school was rated ‘requires improvement’ in all categories and was told there are too many exclusions and that not all of the pupils showed a positive attitude to learning.

It added that some teachers finished lessons too early.

At the time it was one of two schools in Swindon to be given the rating. The second was Grange Junior School.

But this time round it has been rated ‘good’ in all categories, including quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management.

The new report says: “The headteacher has an ambitious vision for the school to ‘champion each and every pupil’. 

“Pupils say they feel that it does this.

“Leaders have set clear expectations of conduct and attitudes that encourage pupils to work hard and to achieve. 

“Pupils say the school’s expectation that they ‘have a go’ and persist helps them to do well.”

Headteacher Emma Leigh-Bennett, spoke of her pride at the result and praised the hard work done by staff and pupils. 

She told the Adver: “Kingsdown has been on the rise for a number of years. 

“We’ve worked extremely hard and put everything in place to make the improvements, including putting the right staff in place, and equipping the students with the skills they need when they leave here as well as what they need to pass exams.

“We’ve built a school with high expectation and I was delighted to read in the report that there was no disruption to learning.”

Before inspectors set foot in the school they spoke to Mrs Leigh-Bennett over the phone. 

She said: “I was hoping they would see all of the foundations we have put in place. Everything discussed over the phone had been seen in practice.

“It’s a very vigorous process, when they are here they’re looking in lessons, talking to pupils and the staff.”

The school did a self-evaluation before the inspectors came to the school where it judged itself based on the Ofsted handbook.

Mrs Leigh-Bennett added: “We knew where we were. All the categories we knew were good.

“They came and they saw that too. 

“We know the formula for rapid improvement and it’s now a case of doing more of the same.”

When it comes to the staff of the school, Mrs Leigh-Bennett was very impressed with how they performed.

“The fantastic thing is we are one team,” she added: “We’re 50 per cent teaching staff and 50 per cent support staff. There isn’t one person who stood out because the whole team flowed.

“The staff completed a survey and 100 per cent of those who did said they were proud to be part of the school.”

CEO of the River Learning Trust, which is responsible for the school, Paul James was equally pleased saying: “The determination, commitment and energy shown by staff has been exemplary and the students have responded really well, and rightly show pride in their school.

“A number of the things that Kingsdown has done to improve over the past two years provides a great example of what can be done and school leaders from both RLT schools and other schools have visited Kingsdown to learn what has been working so well.”

What the report says:

Students feel safe and ambitious

In Kingsdown's Ofsted report, inspectors had different sections based on what it's like to attend the school as well as what the school does well.

The report said: "Pupils at Kingsdown School say the school is ambitious for them. They know staff have high expectations of them to do well.

"Pupils can see how the school has improved. They say they now feel safe and can learn without disruption.

"Pupils say there is very little bullying and staff tackle it will if it does occur."

When it comes to teaching, Ofsted praised the work done by the staff.

It said: "Leaders and teachers have thought carefully about what they need to teach and when.

"As a result, teaching promotes effective learning and positive behaviour.

"Teachers use assessment well to know when to change the curriculum or review content, so they can set the right work for pupils."

The report also praised the students' attitudes towards the environment and the schools behaviour policy when it comes to sanctions and rewards.

Where Kingsdown can be improved

The 'good' rating is a positive for the school but it is not the highest rating Ofsted can give.

To reach 'outstanding', Kingsdown needs to do a variety of things including improving the curriculum.

The report said: "Leaders have made considerable inroads into developing the curriculum. However, there is still more to do.

"Leaders should ensure that their plans for a broader and richer curriculum are implemented effectively in all subjects.

"They should help all pupils, including those with SEND and those who are disadvantaged, to make ambitious choices."

It added: "Leaders do not make consistently good use of the key information the school holds. This can prevent identifying and analysing behaviour patterns that may lead to fixed-term exclusions. A deeper analysis of the information would identify the impact of their systems. This would help to support pupils at risk of repeated exclusion."