WHIS - gardens
WHIS - Wilderness learning
WHIS - dining hall
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Our Latest Inspection Outcome: 100% Success (November 2021)
 

Wotton House International School is a member of the Independent Schools Association (ISA), one of the seven associations which together are represented by the Independent Schools Council (ISC), and inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI).

All independent schools are inspected (whether by ISI or Ofsted) against the Independent School Standards Regulations (ISSRs); non-compliance could lead to being de-registered by the Department of Education (DfE).

There are approximately 150 requirements in the ISSRs, collected into 35 separate Standards which are organised into 8 Parts (such as Quality of Education; Leadership & Management. Some of the requirements are to 'pay regard to official guidance' on specific issues, such as safeguarding, which probably doubles the number of requirements.

 

There are currently two types of ISI inspection, one which focuses only on regulatory compliance (RCI) and one which focuses on outcomes (Educational Quality or EQI). Only the second type of inspection is able to provide a school with an overall grade, comparable to the notorious Ofsted grades (although couched in less hostile language).

 

As we have only been a member of ISA since March 2020 this was our first inspection and so we await our first EQI. The Inspection report can be found here: it makes very dry reading but it confirms that we meet all of the regulatory requirements. 

 

It is surprisingly difficult to find data on how many schools meet all regulatory requirements. Roughly half (1,200) of all independent schools are not members of an association and so are inspected by Ofsted. The DfE report that in 2021 14% of inspected non-association schools did not meet regulatory requirements. This is the same percentage as the number of schools judged to be Requiring Improvement or worse (but it is not clear if it is the same schools in each case).

 

The ISI don't make it easy to find the data as they include it in the About Us / Governance section of their website rather than under Inspections, where it might seem to fit more naturally. Their document called Key Performance Indicators shows that the non-compliance rate in association schools is surprisingly similar to that in non-association schools: 14% in 2018-19 and 12% in 2019-20. Data for 2020-21 is not yet available

 

Since the ISSRs include many standards about Quality of Education and, to a lesser extent, Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development (SMSC), to be compliant with those standards means that a school must, by definition, at least be providing a 'Good' education, both in terms of Academic Outcomes and Personal Development. Those are the two criteria for the EQI inspections by which independent schools are formally graded. 

It is almost impossible for non-selective schools to attain an outcome of Excellent for academic achievements. This is because one of the current criteria reads as follows: “A7 – Academic and other achievements: Their achievements in scholarships and competitions, other academic distinctions, and success in sports, the performing and other arts.”

 

Nevertheless we would hope that we can be graded both now and at our next inspection, as, at least, Good for Academic outcomes and Excellent for Personal Development.

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Wotton House School .....

  1. gives all pupils the opportunity to learn; enables pupils to make good progress, involves well-planned lessons, effectively manages behaviour, and encourages pupils to act responsibly

  2. actively promotes mutual respect and tolerance; enables pupils to develop their self-knowledge and self-esteem

  3. safeguards and promotes the welfare of pupils; promotes good behaviour among pupils; effectively implements its Health and Safety policy

  4. properly checks the suitability of all staff

  5. provides suitable accommodation for learning & sports

  6. provides information to parents & prospective parents

  7. has an effective complaints procedure

  8. has leadership and management who demonstrate good skills and knowledge and actively promote the pupils' well-being.

IB Verification Visit 2019

These are all extracts from the Verification Inspection report. Afterwards we did a presentation which can be found here.

  • The school's mission and vision are in perfect alignment with IB philosophy 

  • The mission statement is viewed and discussed by students who are actively involved in seeing how it is brought to life at school 

  • The visual presence of the IB mission statement is tastefully displayed in a unique art piece in the school dining room. 

  • The school fosters student awareness of the values embodied in both the IB and the school's mission statement 

  • Discussions with the school board, administrative and pedagogical staff clearly indicate that IB philosophy has been internalized and drives school life

  • The parent body is well-informed because of information sessions held regularly by the pedagogical leadership team. 

  • In conversations with students, it is clear that they have a sound understanding of the MYP and how they are learning. 

  • Parents are well-informed about their children ́s learning and progress and, in conversations, emphasized the open channels of communication that they enjoy with teachers, administrative staff and the Head of School.

  • All groups within the school community demonstrate a deep understanding of, and commitment to, the MYP. 

  • Conversations with students show that they can explain the goals of the personal project and they are excited to be involved in this process 

  • The IB learner profile is a natural part of the school discourse and students can describe themselves, using the IB learner profile attributes

  • The school has developed its own IB learner profile posters which are visible throughout the school and at the campus extension site. 

  • The school has embraced the IB learner profile attributes which guide patterns of behaviour in the community.

  • Conversations with the MYP coordinator indicate a clear understanding of the promotion of responsible action within and beyond the school community 

  • Parents, students and teachers feel safe and confident to express themselves openly and respectfully.

  • There is an atmosphere of warmth at school which promotes respect and open communication among all members of the community. 

  • Conversations with parents and students show an awareness of the importance of language learning and they show enthusiasm for the learning of additional languages. 

  • The school offers a totally inclusive programme and shows an open-minded attitude when receiving potential students. There is a positive and fluid relationship with the two Local Educational Authorities so students have a smooth transition to and from the school. All students have access to the programme and there is an effective induction of students which includes the identification of all students' strengths and interests. Simply participating in the programme is not a goal in itself so there are systems in place to support students to be successful and be able to showcase their strengths. 

  • During classroom visits, it became evident that students are taking responsibility for their own learning and are able to show initiative.

  • Parents comment that they are very happy to see their children becoming more self-directed learners.

  • In conversations with students and in classroom visits, students demonstrate that they are developing an awareness of diversity and multiple perspectives. As their learning experiences diversify, teachers express the hope that students will reach an understanding of human commonality. 

  • Parents express their pride in the empathy their children show for the needs of others and for the natural environment.

  • Students, teachers, parents and the school's advisory board speak respectfully of and to each other. 

  • There is an attitude of respect and warmth at the school which is evident even during the verification visit; this facilitates inclusion for all types of learners and provides all students with an environment which is caring and safe. 

  • The school has built a stimulating, safe environment based on understanding and respect throughout the school community 

  • From conversations with teachers and students, it is evident that most learning experiences allow students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways, taking into account their strengths and interests.

  • The advisory board of governors provides strong support for the school and is aware of the IB philosophy. 

  • The school's advisory board is highly proactive and supportive, showing dedication and commitment to the school's mission, vision and sustainability. 

  • There is a highly collegial atmosphere at the school which facilitates the positive implementation and ongoing improvement of the MYP.

  • The school has provided qualified staff to implement the programme, all of whom express enthusiasm for both the MYP and their school; these qualified teachers are willing learners of best MYP practice. 

  • There is an attractive library which is well-populated with print resources. The library is a safe and inviting place for students to work, learn and foster a love of reading. 

  • In discussions with teachers and students, they could explain how global issues inform class discussions and help nurture diverse perspectives. 

  • A rich outdoor learning programme for MYP1-4 students further expands students perspectives and enriches their learning experiences in a rural context. 

  • The community is very involved with the school and parents are willing to give of their time to be guest speakers, guides, lead extracurricular activities and support service projects. For a small, new school the involvement and expertise of the community is a highly valuable resource. 

  • The school draws on the resources and expertise of the community which enriches learning within the MYP. 

  • Students can describe themselves, using the IB learner profile attributes and teachers use them in their day-to-day lessons and they include activities related to the IB learner profile attributes when they plan lessons and units.

  • Teachers can explain how they foster awareness of local. national and world issues in their lessons. They make use of varied activities including debates, seminars, field trips and guest speakers. Not all these activities are documented in unit plans but their impact is evident in the attitude all students have towards the school and their studies. 

  • Rich learning experiences promote students' awareness of individual, local, national and world issues and motivate them to be life-long learners. 

  • Parents comment on their children's interest in current events, global issues and the fact that their perspectives are broadening.

  • The IB learner profile is infused into school life, both in and out of the classroom.

  • The school has designed its own IB learner profile posters which are displayed in every room of the school and at the campus extension. 

  • Teachers and students use the IB learner profile attributes in everyday conversations and both parents and the school's advisory board embrace the IB learner profile attributes. 

  • Students respond well to teaching and learning strategies in the classroom and they are encouraged to think about why they are learning.

 
Preparing for our next inspections

Over the next three years we can expect further, slightly different, inspections from both the IB and the ISI. This section outlines what we need to do to prepare. 

Our last inspection was a Regulatory Compliance Inspection (RCI) from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) which checks our performance against all the Independent School Standards (ISS). Our next inspection will be an Educational Quality Inspection (EQI). The inspection criteria our different, but it will also look at some of the ISS.

 

This part of the EQI is called a Focused Compliance Inspection (FCI), it lasts one day and looks at these Parts:

  • The welfare, health and safety of pupils [Part 3, Standards 7-16]

  • Suitability of staff, supply staff and proprietors [Part 4, Standards 18-21]

  • The provision of information [Part 6, Standard 32]

  • Manner in which complaints are to be handled [Part 7, Standard 33]

  • Quality of leadership in and management of the school [Part 8, Standard 34]

The EQI, which lasts for two days, looks at pupil outcomes, split into two different domains:

  • Pupil Achievement (PA)

  • Personal Development (PD)

The criteria for judging outcomes are not made publicly available by ISI but are summarised in these tables:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspectors will evaluate these outcomes by collecting evidence from six different sources:

  1. Observing lessons and extra-curricular activities

  2. Scrutinising pupils’ work

  3. Discussion with governors, staff and pupils 

  4. Examining documents and records

  5. General observations around the school

  6. The responses of parents and pupils to the questionnaires

The records to be examined are:

  1. Single Central Register of Appointments and staff personnel files

  2. Bullying/behaviour and sanctions records

  3. Health and safety records, including risk assessments

  4. Fire records and risk assessment

  5. Information provided for parents of current and prospective pupils

  6. Complaints log and records (including any complaints which went to a panel hearing)

  7. Safeguarding records – liaising with local authority 

  8. Training records for safeguarding, fire, first aid, etc

  9. Medical and accident records, records of administration of medicines, etc.

  10. Admission and attendance registers

Inspectors look explicitly at the contribution made by the different factors in the school:

         Pupil Achievement              Personal Development

  • Curriculum                              Curriculum (PSHE / SMSC)

  • Teaching                                    Pastoral Care

  • Information handling            Role models

  • Resource provision                 Resource provision (eg extracurricular activities)

  • Governance                               Governance

  • Leadership & Management  Leadership & Management

We explain how our curriculum promotes Pupil Achievement in the section on Curriculum

We explain how we promote Personal Development in the section on Enrichment

Putting all our abbreviations together we can now proudly say "Since we joined ISA we are part of ISC which is inspected by ISI; having cleared our last DfE PMI we have had our first RCI and now await our first EQI, part of which is an FCI."

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Past Inspections

Inspection History

8. Independent Schools Inspectorate (Nov 2021). Report.

7. DfE confirmation of Full Compliance (Dec 2019). Letter

6. Ofsted Progress Monitoring (Nov 2019). Report

5. Ofsted Progress Monitoring (March 2019). Report

4. IB Verification Inspection (Feb 2019). Report

3. Ofsted Progress Monitoring (Sept 2018). Report

2. Ofsted Inspection (Nov 2017). Report

1. Pre-registration Ofsted Inspection (July 2016): Letter  Registration