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Ofsted report

Larkmead rated Good for third inspection in a row

We are delighted to share our Ofsted report from the March 2024 inspection. As the first line of the report says, “This school is a very happy and inclusive place because, as one parent said, pupils ‘are at the heart of what Larkmead does’.”

The report highlights Larkmead’s high aspirations, expectations, ethos and culture, alongside our strengths in behaviour, careers education, curriculum, leadership, pastoral care, personal development, safeguarding, sixth form and teaching & learning.

What is it like to attend this school?

  • This school is a very happy and inclusive place because, as one parent said, pupils ‘are at the heart of what Larkmead does’.
  • Pupils are polite and respectful with staff and each other.
  • Pupils feel safe and ‘seen’ here.
  • Pupils are very clear that the school does not tolerate bullying or prejudicial behaviour.
  • Pupils know who to go to for help and have confidence that the school will listen and address any concerns.
  • The school’s caring ethos ensures it maintains its high expectations, both academically and personally, while also continuing to provide strong support to pupils.
  • Pupils benefit from strong personal development.
  • A wide range of extra-curricular activities bring the community together through shared interests and spaces.
  • The school is aspirational for all pupils academically.
  • Recent curriculum developments are starting to have a positive impact on current pupils’ achievement, most of whom are working to increasingly higher standards and are proud of their work. This includes pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

What does the school do well?

  • Pupils study an ambitious curriculum in all key stages and can follow subjects through from Year 7 to 13.
  • Sixth-form students particularly appreciate the open and inclusive approach to A-level courses options.
  • Staff have identified and sequenced important subject knowledge to help prepare pupils for the next phase of learning.
  • Most teachers introduce new content well and select activities effectively.
  • In key stage 4 and in the sixth form, pupils increasingly and effectively draw on their prior learning to help them with more sophisticated tasks.
  • There is a sharp focus on reading, especially for pupils who are not yet fluent readers. Staff identify where pupils have gaps in reading and target extra support accordingly. These pupils make strong progress.
  • The wider literacy strategy and robust staff training to accompany it are having a positive impact on pupils’ reading across the curriculum.
  • Staff manage behaviour very effectively, through clear expectations and positive relationships with pupils.
  • Most pupils behave extremely well, both in lessons and during social time.
  • Sixth-form students are excellent role models.
  • The school has increased and integrated its pastoral and inclusion teams, to further strengthen how it works with pupils and families.
  • The increased and integrated pastoral and inclusion teams have already had a marked impact on behaviour, especially where pupils have more complex social and behavioural needs.
  • The school’s excellent personal development programme covers required content but also responds to issues of broader importance, for example linked to current affairs.
  • Pupils in all years have an age-appropriate understanding of healthy relationships and how to stay safe, including online.
  • Pupils learn about equality and are proud of their welcoming school community.
  • Careers provision is impressive. Pupils benefit from regular careers and employability events and talks, often involving their wide range of partners from the world of work, education and training.
  • Pupils are very well prepared for their next steps.
  • As with all areas of the school’s work, staff ensure that all personal development and careers activities are fully inclusive.
  • Staff value the access they have to high--quality and collaborative professional development.
  • The school and trust are mindful of colleagues’’ workload and well-being in their decision--making. This is recognised by staff, and they are extremely proud to work at the school.

We are as every grateful for the support of parents, reflected in the Ofsted Parent Survey. Well done to Larkmead students, staff and governors for this recognition by Ofsted of the special features at the heart of our school community.