Preparatory School Inspection
Independent Schools Inspectorate – November 2009
The following summarises the main findings of the Independent Schools Inspectorate following their four day visit by a team of seven inspectors to Downsend Preparatory School in November 2009.
‘Downsend is extremely successful in meeting its overarching aim of providing pupils with a high quality academic education combined with a wide range of opportunities. High academic standards result in an outstanding number of awards to pupils at the ages of 11+ and 13+. These are the result of good governance and strong leadership, good and often excellent teaching, and pupils’ ability to settle quickly, to persevere, to enjoy their work and generally behave well in lessons.’
What the School Does Well
The school has many strengths, amongst which the following are the most significant.
- The quality of leadership and management is good.
- The curriculum is well planned providing both continuity and progression so that it supports pupils’ learning.
- The school is extremely successful in achieving its aim of enabling pupils to succeed in examinations and other activities.
- Achievements at all levels are widely celebrated to support and encourage excellence, which help give pupils confidence, an understanding of team responsibilities, and respect for others.
- The quality of teaching is good overall. Expert and enthusiastic teaching challenges pupils’ intellectual, physical and creative talents, and successfully encourages pupils to behave responsibly and to enjoy their learning.
- The quality of relationships between staff and pupils and between pupils themselves is positive and friendly.
- The outstanding extra-curricular activities and quality of sports all help to make Downsend a school for pupils who enjoy life and who say they love their school.
- The quality of pupils’ personal development is good across the school, with some outstanding features
- The quality of pastoral care is good overall and it is outstanding in the Junior School. Arrangements for pupils’ welfare, health and safety are outstanding.
- Links with parents are outstanding and links with the community are good.
What the School Should Do Better
The school has no major weaknesses.
In order to strengthen its future development it should:
- Formulate subject development plans which incorporate staff professional development, as part of the whole school improvement plans;
- Ensure that PSHCE receives regular and adequate time throughout the year;
- Share the best practice in teaching and lesson planning to ensure consistent provision for those who require learning support.