Despite three of its classes being closed due to strike action on one day of Ofsted inspectors’ visit and the whole school abandoning normal lessons on the other, Marlborough School in Falmouth has emerged with an “outstanding” rating across every category.
With less than 24 hours notice given of the inspection, head teacher Richard Gambier, was determined to go ahead with the school’s Big Dig Day two, which saw pupils and staff leave their classrooms for a day spent in parks and gardens across the town.
The Ofsted rating came as no surprise to Mr Gambier, though, who has always had faith in his school and its ability to impress. “We are aware that through our unashamedly child-centred ethos and individual ways of working, the school does indeed stand out - it was always going to be a question of whether Ofsted would agree. Although the inspection coincided with our second Big Dig Day, we weren’t going to change anything just to tick the Ofsted boxes.”
The new Ofsted framework, which has been in place since September 2012, rigorously assesses schools on the achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management, before making an overall judgement.
Marlborough is the first school in the Falmouth area to be graded as fully outstanding and one of only seven primary schools in Cornwall over the past 18 months.
“Even before the report was published, all the teachers felt buoyed up by the expressions of support from parents,” said Mr Gambier.
“I felt humbled by some of the amazingly kind comments submitted to the inspection team, but extremely content that the families we serve value the school so highly.
“This means more to us than the inspection findings, but nevertheless it is very gratifying that Ofsted has recognised the strengths and effectiveness of our community school.”
In her report, lead inspector Sarah Jones, said the curriculum is innovative, providing a highly effective and imaginative approach to learning that pupils enjoy and that pupils enjoy the challenges set.
Attainment at the end of year six is above the national average and reception class children acquire the communication and social skills needed to learn effectively.
Teacher’s performance was noted to be managed well and their morale, exceptionally high.
Mr Gambier also came in for praise with his creative vision proving an exceptional opportunity where all pupils want to engage and learn.
Mr Gambier, who has been head of the school for nine years, said he has no intention of converting the school to an academy.
“We have no desire to become an academy,” he said. “I believe in local schools, I believe in community schools.
“This is the longest I have been anywhere and I have no intention of going anywhere. I have a great team and I am committed to this school.”