Extracts from the 2009 Outstanding Ofsted Report

Colchester County High School for Girls is an outstanding school that continues to offer an exceptionally high quality of education. It continues to strive for, and achieves excellence in all that it does. The school provides outstanding value for money.

Teaching and learning were judged good at the time of the previous inspection. The school now judges them outstanding and the inspectors agree. Teachers have excellent subject knowledge and high expectations of their students.  In return, students have high expectations of themselves. Very good working relationships exist between students and teachers and students say they relish the independence teachers give them and appreciate the high levels of encouragement.

The curriculum is outstanding and well supported by a wide-ranging menu of extra-­curricular activities. Students have excellent opportunities to take on additional responsibility and make a positive contribution to the school community and beyond, for example, through the vocal school council, as mentors for their peers and through a range of extensive charity and volunteer work.

The school makes excellent use of its specialist designations to raise students’ aspirations and achievement. The levels of care, guidance and support are outstanding. The school has further enhanced its provision by an increasing focus on well-being. Students say they feel safe and supported both by the school and by each other.  A comprehensive and popular personal, social and health education programme helps students cope well with the demands and stress of schoolwork.  Enhanced transition arrangements have further strengthened students’ progression to the school and through Key Stages.  Student performance is meticulously tracked and analysed.  Any students with additional support requirements, or those identified as not on schedule to achieve their potential, receive swift support and achieve as well as their peers.

The standards reached by students during their time at the sixth form are exceptionally high. In 2008, 86% of students gained A or B grades at A level. Students make excellent progress in most subjects. The positive influence and impact of the school’s specialist subjects pervades the sixth form also.

For example in relation to science, over 45% of A-level leavers in 2008 progressed into science or mathematics based degree courses. In languages, the proportion of students studying a language has increased notably. The language curriculum has expanded with a recently introduced evening course in Mandarin and a short course in spoken Japanese specifically aimed at Sixth Form students. The development of students’ leadership and team working skills is excellent. Involvement in extra-curricular activities is high with many run by the Sixth Form students themselves, including clubs for younger students.

The school rightly regards Sixth Form students as excellent ambassadors and role models. Virtually all students progress into higher education and most into their first choice of university.

Dear Students

Inspection of Colchester County High School for Girls, Colchester C03 0US

I would like to begin by thanking you all for welcoming me to your school on the 21 January 2009. Your courtesy and maturity were impressive from the outset. I was also impressed with the midday assembly that some of you led on topics such as how to be more eco-friendly. During the inspection, I visited your lessons, met with a number of you and talked at length to various members of school staff. This letter aims to outline to you my findings from the day.

I found that your school and sixth form continue to be outstanding. It is outstanding in all key aspects of its provision. Your standards of work are very high and many of you leave with superb GCSE and A-level grades. You develop an excellent understanding of science, mathematics and English that prepares you well for further education and life after school. I have left the school with one additional area to develop. You do a wide range of activities locally, national and internationally, to help promote your understanding of different cultures and communities, but I found the school could review this work better in regards to how many of you participate in these activities and evaluate how these opportunities contribute to your broader understanding of diversity. This way the school can more clearly celebrate its successes and focus on any aspects it could do better.

Your headteacher, along with her team is doing an excellent job in maintaining your high standards and moving your school forward. Your school knows its students well and is committed to making your experience in education  a happy and successful one.

You can of course help maintain your school’s outstanding status by continuing to work as hard as you can to achieve your best. Also, continue to share your views through your school council. This way, the school will know what you think it does well or what you think it needs to improve further.

Thank you again for your help in this inspection and we would like to wish you all the very best in your studies and every success in the future.

Deborah Vaughan-Jenkins