It is with great pleasure that The Royal School can now publish the results of our recent Ofsted Boarding Social Care Inspection which has been recognised as ‘good’ in all aspects.
The report confirms that The Royal has ‘successfully created a nurturing, supportive and inclusive environment’ in boarding. Boarding remains a key focus of The Royal School and one of which we are very proud over the past 170 years. Our Boarders continue to be the ‘core’ of school life and help make The Royal unique in all that we do.
Most importantly, the report finds the relationship between the boarding staff and students as one of the stronger elements of boarding at The Royal. The report states that “The staff provide strong pastoral and academic support to ensure that the boarders’ holistic needs are met.” Our students feel the boarding staff support them and truly make boarding feel like they are part of a family. Our students enjoy boarding at the school, they feel listened to and believe they can influence change. Our boarders told the inspectors that they feel safe at school.
The Ofsted Inspectors judged The Royal’s boarding on three key elements, all of which came out good.
The report stated, “Boarders, parents and professionals are unanimous in their praise and describe the boarding provision as having a warm, welcoming, ‘family’ atmosphere.” Furthermore, the Inspectors said that there is a strong liaison between staff, parents and other professionals thus supporting boarders. Boarding staff provide a very clear structure enabling boarders to understand expectations both academically and in daily life. In fact, Royal School boarders outperform day pupils in both mathematics and English.
Ofsted were impressed by a recently introduced ‘boarding passport’ which covers a wide range of practical experiences. “British values, office skills, employability skills, and life skills are all taught and practised. This structured approach is beneficial in building broad skills in preparation for independent adult life,” they said.
The Inspectors also noted the “wide and exciting array of activities on offer” for our boarders. Staff work with our boarders to include their ideas and specific interests when planning activities and prioritise physical as well as mental health. There is a wide variety of trips, outings and activities but also ‘down time’ which is in line with boarders’ age and behaviour.
The report found that “Staff provide fair rules and clear boundaries. They have high expectations of boarders’ conduct. Boarding staff provide positive and respectful role models. Their dedication and commitment to boarders’ welfare is reflected in boarders’ behaviour, which is generally very good. The staff manage any incidents of inappropriate and unsafe behaviours quickly and effectively. Sanctions are proportionate and meaningful. The boarders rarely repeat unwanted behaviours, and this demonstrates that they learn from sanctions.”
With regard to the effectiveness of the leaders and managers, Ofsted reported that the Head of Boarding, Mr Large, had ample experience and as his role also includes teaching which just enhances the liaison between academic and boarding staff. Inspectors said, “The (boarding) staff are of a high calibre and provide positive role models. A diverse blend of culture, gender and age ensure that boarders can relate to the staff. Students on their gap year and ex-pupils supplement the team. This enhances the staff team.”
According to the report, “Staff from the local authority describe this as ‘stand out’ practice. They described how this has come about by the ‘school’s flexibility and willingness to engage differently’. The staff work in close partnership with the local authority to support UASC, children looked after and children in need, which continues to reflect the original foundation of the school for orphans in the 1850’s. The boarders who need assistance or extra support are given these. The headteacher leads a culture that is generous and caring and one in which vulnerable boarders are assisted towards their chosen career destinations and life choices.”
Of course, there is still work to do and some improvements to be made as with anything. The report noted the school’s building works which are still ongoing. The boarding houses are scheduled for refurbishment as part of the development plan as a Free School. However, overall the report is extremely positive.
This inspection was the final step in our journey to becoming a Free School. Now with the Boarding Inspection report published, we have successfully taken on all challenges to become a Free School and look forward to receiving even stronger reports when Ofsted returns in three years. We are very proud of our boarding students, staff their wider families as part of The Royal School boarding community.