Following their inspection visit on 8-10 November 2016, the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) have published their report, the highlights of which are as follows:
The quality of the pupils’ achievements and the quality of the pupils’ personal development were both found to be ‘excellent’ by the ISI inspectors, which are the highest possible judgements under the recently-revised criteria for the inspection of independent schools, and St Helen’s was recognised as a school where ‘pupils achieve high standards in lessons, extra-curricular activities and external examinations.’
The inspection report finds that the ‘Pupils’ attitudes to learning are exceptional. They enjoy taking responsibility for their own work and are highly motivated to learn.’ By the time the students reach the Sixth Form ‘A-Level progress is high in relation to the average for pupils of similar abilities’.
The ISI inspectors fully recognised that St Helen’s places exceptional academic achievement for its pupils at the centre of its ambitious vision: ‘The academic success of pupils is a key aim of the school and the leadership has actively promoted independent learning and challenge. This has been most successfully implemented by the teaching staff and is one of the strongest factors contributing to the pupils’ academic successes.’ The girls, too were singled out for praise by inspectors for their exemplary attitudes to their learning, commenting in their report that: ‘Pupils are highly motivated, curious, enjoy learning and are keen to take full responsibility for the quality of their work.’
Pastoral care at St Helen’s was recognised as being a particular strength, with inspectors finding that ‘The school makes an exceptional pastoral commitment to its pupils and this supports their strong progress.’
St Helen’s was particularly praised for promoting social responsibility among the pupils. Inspectors commented that ‘pupils play a full and active part in the local, national and global community, and show high levels of commitment to their charity work and service to others.’ The inspectors were also impressed by the sense of community which they found at St Helen’s, commenting ‘Pupils are exceptionally accepting of others. They respect their peers, valuing the diversity of faiths, cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities within their school and they form friendships without regard to these differences.’
The ISI inspectors also found that St Helen’s fully meets the requirements of the Independent School Standards.