Blue Coat excels at Inspection

Reading Blue Coat declared ‘Excellent’ by Independent Schools Inspectorate.

 The School was inspected in November last year, and the full report was published on Monday 6 January 2020. We are delighted to announce that the School achieved the highest rating possible in all categories of the inspection.

The two key findings of the Educational Quality Inspection were the quality of the pupils’ academic and other achievements, and the quality of the pupils’ personal development. Blue Coat was judged to be ‘excellent’ in both these areas, which is the most positive judgement possible. In the second aspect of inspection, Regulatory Compliance, the School was fully compliant and met all legal standards; no further action is required as a result of the inspection.

Blue Coat was found by the ISI to promote principles and values that ‘facilitate the personal development of pupils as responsible, tolerant, law-abiding citizens.’ Furthermore, Reporting Inspector Bill Burn wrote, ‘The teaching enables pupils to make good progress, encompasses effective behaviour management and is supported by suitable resources.’ He also noted that ‘pupils have high expectations for themselves and are prepared to work hard and do their best’.

Following the announcement of the Inspection findings, Headmaster Jesse Elzinga said, ‘I am absolutely delighted with the outcome of this Inspection. We have not had an Educational Quality Inspection since 2011, but we have known for a number of years that we are operating well beyond the expectations of an ‘excellent’ school. I am extremely grateful to all members of staff, both academic and operational, governors, pupils and parents, all of whom were asked to contribute to the inspection in some way. We can all take pride in being affiliated with this excellent school in the years to come.’

As they acknowledged the School’s academic prowess, Inspectors reported that ‘pupils make good progress over time in relation to their starting points, across the full range of subjects at both GCSE and A Level… In almost all cases, their examination results are at least in line with expectations based on nationally standardised test data, and frequently exceed them.’ The inspectors analysed exam results at the School over the past three years, and the record-setting results at A level and GCSE in this timeframe were part of the reason for the positive judgements. Inspectors also observed that ‘almost all pupils who apply are admitted to the university of their choice, including to those with the most demanding entry requirements.’

Six Inspectors, three of whom are Heads of other schools, visited Reading Blue Coat between Tuesday 12 and Thursday 14 November of last year, and were impressed by the personal development of pupils, noting in the report: ‘Pupils show exceptional qualities of self-confidence and self-esteem. They interact naturally and effectively with one another and with the adult world in formal and informal settings. They have a clear sense of what they are seeking to achieve during their time in School.’

Blue Coat also prides itself on its outreach programme, the Aldworth Partnership, which encourages pupils to partake in transformative community service, both locally and internationally. This was observed by Inspectors, who reported, ‘Pupils make an outstanding contributions to the lives of others’. The service work of the pupils is wide-ranging and mutually beneficial, as the Inspectors highlighted: ‘Pupils become more resilient as a result of the many demanding activities they all undertake. These include Years 7 and 8 outdoor programmes, the placements in primary schools to teach and coach, and the large-scale projects in Ghana and Nepal.’ The School currently works with Thameside Primary School, Sonning Primary and Highwood Primary School, amongst others. This summer, pupils will travel to their partner school in Ghana to help with the construction of school buildings.

The Inspectors also praised the School for the work it does in supporting its pupils’ mental health and well-being, writing, ‘They give their time and energy to others, and are often transformed as a result. Pupils also recognise the importance of being aware of their own mental health, thanks to the support of adult members of the community who quietly, but insistently, remind pupils that it is acceptable not to feel alright.’

In closing, the Headmaster was delighted by the description of the pupils in the report that reads, ‘Their attitude is characterised by enthusiasm and positivity. This is encouraged by teaching which is quick to praise the pupils for what they have achieved and to encourage them to be more ambitious still.’ Whilst Mr Elzinga is pleased with what the School achieved in the inspection, he also remains ambitious for the organisation. Staff were described as ‘friendly and professional, with confident pride in the School, but in no sense complacent’.  So whilst this glowing inspection report is an excellent marker, it is already back to business as usual, with the Headmaster challenging staff to continue to look for marginal gains, whilst ensuring that the pupils continue to make superb progress in all aspects of their education.

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