The principal at Gloucestershire’s newest progressive school has praised his team’s efforts to meet Ofsted standards after inspectors visited late last year.
A new advisory board has helped Dr Daniel Sturdy, owner and principal of Wotton House International School in Gloucester, to meet the spectrum Government for education at 11 - 16.
The school was set up in 2016 – at twin sites in Horton Road and at the Wilderness Centre in the Forest of Dean – and is one of only 15 in the UK to offer the Middle Years Programme, which is the preparatory programme for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma.
The ethos behind the school, which has no formal exam assessments for its pupils from 11 to 16, is to offer an education which mixes integrated technology, inquiry-based knowledge and outdoor education.
Last November the school finally met all standards required by Ofsted, after inspectors raised concerns in 2017 about a range of measures at the school.
Staff and parents have now been informed about the updated inspection results and are looking forward with optimism to the future, aiming to grow pupil numbers from its current level of 40.
Dr Sturdy, who has been involved in education for more than 40 years and has qualified from universities in Oxford and Stirling with a degree and a doctorate in psychology and philosophy respectively, said meeting Ofsted standards was challenging for non-traditional schools, given the diverse beliefs in what constitutes good education.
“We’re delighted to have met all the necessary Ofsted standards,” he said, “and my team should be really proud of what they have achieved since 2017.
“It’s been a difficult journey but we’ve got there, and we’re looking forward to furthering the creative and intellectual growth of our current and future pupils.
“It’s a real challenge for principals and leadership teams at alternative schools to offer an education which helps a child grow holistically, while still fitting within the prescriptive Ofsted framework.
“Indeed, I’d like to lend my voice to the growing chorus across the UK who believe that GCSE examination is unfit for purpose and no longer suitable in modern schooling.
“The Department of Education should consider whether the minimal benefits of formal examination at 16 are worth the significant damage it can do to our young people’s immediate and future confidence in learning.
“So we’re pleased to be able to offer the MYP here. It provides a much more holistic learning environment and I would like to see more progressive approaches to education across the UK.”
Dr Sturdy believes that with new technologies changing both the world of work and the social world at an unprecedented rate, the key qualifications which will be needed in the future may well not be the qualifications which are currently the chief measure of success in a school.
He said that embracing new ways of learning was symptomatic of wider change in society in general, with a growing acceptance that traditional means were not necessarily serving the best interests of young people.
“As the world changes and the technological revolution sweeps away companies, careers and whole areas of the economy, I believe we should question the continued relevance and importance of skills and knowledge which are already out of date and which may well seem bizarre in 10 years’ time.
“It is hard to get away from the thought that the drive for efficiency in education inevitably produces a system which has little independent consideration for the psychological welfare of the individuals going through it.”