Northampton High School GDST receives glowing ISI Inspection Report

Northampton High School GDST receives glowing ISI Inspection Report

28 March 2024

In February 2024, Northampton High School was inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) as part of their routine cycle of inspections. As one of the first schools in Northamptonshire to be inspected under the new ISI Framework, the GDST school was delighted to receive an outstanding and complementary review of their ‘calm, happy and purposeful’ learning environment.

Teachers and staff at the all-girls school earned exemplary feedback from inspectors, who were hugely impressed with the quality of care, standard of teaching and the breadth of opportunity at Northampton High. The new framework places pupil experience and outcomes, along with school culture, at the centre of the report, providing a more holistic and pupil-centred view of whether schools do what they say they do. Dr Lee, Head at the High School, proudly confirmed: “The strength of our ambitious, learning without limits and inclusive school culture was evident and commented on by the inspectors.”

In accordance with ISI’s new approach, the overall judgement of a school is no longer graded, as was the case in Northampton High’s last inspection in November 2019, where they received a double ‘Excellent’ grade for both pupil achievement and personal development. Alternatively, the new report offers a broader overview of a school’s performance, and is divided into specific sections focusing on leadership, management, governance, pupils’ education, physical and mental health, social and economic wellbeing, and safeguarding. In Northampton High School’s case, the report speaks directly to who they are and what a great school should be doing.

The High School’s purposeful and tailored approach to education enables all girls to reach their full potential and develop unique interests throughout their journey from Nursery to Sixth Form. In a school that is ‘Made for Girls aged 2-18 years’, inspectors recognised that “leaders across both the junior and senior schools work together as a coherent team to ensure that pupils from early years onwards are actively engaged and well supported in their learning as they progress through the school.” They also identified that “pupils relish opportunities to take on positions of responsibility […] apply themselves readily to acquiring new skills and are willing to take risks in their learning.” As reflected by their Holistic Learning Wheel, risk-taking – together with collaboration, independence, perseverance and curiosity – is a prized intellectual characteristic at Northampton High, and staff were proud to see this recognised by inspectors.

To build an authentic and comprehensive understanding of pupil and parent experience, the rigorous and detailed inspection process relies on extensive interviews with students and staff, lesson observations, learning walks, work scrutiny and questionnaires. Excellent observations and certifying responses led inspectors to praise staff for providing “suitable support for pupils who have SEND and additional challenge to extend pupils’ learning further.” Moreover, they identified the “positive relationships which the pupils develop with their teachers” as a key contributing factor to student’s feeling listened to and valued.

Reflecting on an exceptional ISI report, Dr Lee, Head, expressed her utmost thanks to the dedicated staff, students and families at Northampton High for shaping the positive outcome that their community celebrates today. In a closing statement, she added: “As we move forward, our focus remains on continuous improvement. I would never presume that we cannot be better in all aspects of school life, and we will continue to be reflective as an organisation and ambitious for all students. Our school is a very special place for children to grow and succeed, and we are delighted to have this formally acknowledged.”

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