Wotton House has been elected as a full member of the Independent Schools Association (ISA), just weeks after meeting all standards set by Ofsted inspectors.
Based on a philosophy of holistic education and rigorous blended learning, the school struggled to satisfy Ofsted benchmarks after it was set up in 2016. But following hard work by principal Dr Daniel Sturdy and his team of staff, Wotton House International School officially achieved all Ofsted standards late last year.
And following the new rating they have now been accepted into the ISA, which means future inspections will be done by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), rather than Ofsted.
“Membership of the ISA certainly suits us better,” said Dr Sturdy, “so we’re delighted to be accepted into full membership.
“The key difference is that the ISA makes judgements against the schools’ own aims and philosophies, whereas I’ve always felt that Ofsted only has one set of criteria which it applies to all schools, irrespective of their beliefs.
“The ISA are clearly satisfied that we’re a valuable addition to their membership and it’s great news for our students, for who this membership will open up a whole wealth of opportunities, such as competitions with other ISA schools in sports and arts.
“For me and my staff, the ability to access mentoring programmes as well as forums for sharing knowledge and developing new methods and styles of teaching is something we are all excited about.”
Wotton House International Schools is based at Horton Road and at also at the Wilderness Centre in the Forest of Dean. 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.
Dr Sturdy said: “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.”
Peter Woodroffe, Deputy CEO of the Independent Schools Association, said: “I am delighted to confirm that Wotton House International School has been elected to the status of Full Membership of the Independent Schools Association, and we are very pleased to welcome them.
“Membership of ISA provides fabulous opportunities for pupils – in the arts and in sport – as well as providing fellowship and support for the staff, in a network of 541 schools.
“We exist to serve all of our schools so that they can enhance the educational experience of all pupils in their care and ensure that their pupils go on to enjoy success and lead fulfilling lives.”