OUTSTANDING is the only way to describe Holmfirth High School.
At least that’s the view of government inspectors who have just awarded the school the rare honour of top marks in every single area covered by the Ofsted report.
Holmfirth High was awarded Grade 1, Outstanding, in all areas. These include achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils, leadership and management and overall effectiveness.
The 1,300-pupil school, which employs 140 staff, was given two days’ notice of the visit which took place on July 3 and 4.
Its previous full Ofsted inspection was in January 2007 when the school was judged under a slightly different system.
Just over five years ago Holmfirth gained outstanding grades for its overall effectiveness and student development, but was only awarded Grade 2 (Good) for students’ achievement and teaching and learning.
Ofsted recommended that teachers should be aware of students’ abilities when setting work to enable them to achieve to their full potential.
The latest report was full of glowing praise for the larger-than-average secondary school.
It stated: “Holmfirth High School is an outstanding school. It is an ambitious, harmonious learning community which is outward facing and characterised by strong, respectful relationships which support and encourage each individual to reach their full potential.
“Achievement is outstanding. All groups of students make progress at better than average rates. This is underpinned by the extremely well-developed communication skills they gain throughout their time at the school.
“Students benefit from excellent teaching which develops independence, creativity, innovation and risk-taking. Behaviour and safety are outstanding.
“Leadership and management are excellent at all levels. There is strong drive and ambition with priorities firmly centred on continuous improvement”
In a letter to all students, lead inspector Jacqueline Rothery wrote: “Your achievement is outstanding and your willingness to learn makes an exceptional contribution to that success.
“We were extremely impressed by your exemplary conduct, the respect and consideration you show towards one another and the enthusiasm with which your willingness to learn makes an exceptional contribution to that success. We wish you every success for the future.”
Not surprisingly executive head teacher Dr Andy Williams, who has been at the school for 12 years, is delighted by the latest Ofsted report. He is particularly pleased that standards have risen for students of all abilities, including those with Special Educational Needs (SEN).
He said: “I am delighted, everybody does work really hard here. You hope that the direction of the school fits the community’s needs in that parents get a high standard of education for their children, but also have the anxiety of satisfying the Ofsted inspection.
“The latest report is affirmation that the direction we have taken the school in is seen as the right one. We are teaching children to think for themselves and to develop confidence which will move them forward. The best lessons have a real pace and get children engaged and enthused.”
Mr Williams said the school had undertaken a big drive to modernise its teaching methods over the last five years, creating a much more varied curriculum which was tailored to individuals or small groups of students.
He added that the top marks had been gained as a result of a lot of hard work by both staff and students.