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Luton high school wins praise and advice from Ofsted inspectors

A Luton high school helps its students study a broad range of subjects according to its latest Ofsted inspection

Icknield High School was judged to be good following a short inspection in November.

Lead inspector Richard Kueh said: “At Icknield High School, pupils are polite, respectful and enthusiastic. Around school, they behave in mature ways. Their lessons are calm and orderly, which creates a positive environment for them to learn in. Pupils feel safe at school. They are confident to talk about their concerns and worries, including about bullying, to leaders.”

Icknield High School

But he pointed out pupils at the Riddy Lane school felt some teachers did not act as quickly or were as helpful as leaders at the school.

There was also praise, and advice, on learning. Mr Kueh said: “Leaders promote educational pupils’ cultural development well. Pupils, including pupils with special needs and/or disabilities (SEND), are supported extremely well to think about the careers that are right for them. Some pupils, including pupils with SEND, struggle with their learning because teachers introduce more complicated tasks, such as exam practice, too early. Pupils do not know enough of the different elements of subjects before they are expected to apply their knowledge.

“There is a strong culture of achievement. Leaders plan for all pupils to finish their education having studied a broad range of subjects, including an arts subject and religious education (RE). Leaders have adapted the curriculum offer so that there are no barriers to pupils choosing the English Baccalaureate selection of subjects.

As a result, the number of pupils choosing this combination has increased from over a third of pupils to well over a half. In Years 7, 8 and 9, teachers’ assessments of pupils’ understanding focus on exam techniques and skills rather than on Too often, pupils attempt tasks which require them to use a range of information, some of which they have not been taught. In some cases, teachers to learn complex ideas without explaining them in enough detail.

“Pupils who need the most support are disadvantaged by this approach. They do not learn as well as they should in lessons.”

Weaker readers are supported across the school but there needs to be more support for pupils with SEND who does not yet have an education, health and care plan in place, the report states.

“Leaders are aware of this issue and have begun to investigate what needs to be improved,” said Mr Kueh. “This is at an early stage and has not yielded significant improvements at this stage. Leaders organise information events with sign language interpreters and language translators. This allows parents and carers to work with the school to help prepare with pupils SEND for their next steps in their lives.

From the very start of school, all pupils benefit from a well-sequenced careers programme. This includes, for example, meeting different professionals. The program gives pupils opportunities to learn extensively about a wide range of jobs and professions.

“They receive the help they need to work out their career aspirations. Leaders develop the expertise of staff to help them understand which teaching approaches will help students remember the curriculum.

“Staff value the actions that leaders have taken to reduce workload and to help them concentrate on activities that will benefit students the most. Leaders are considerate of the needs of their staff.”

The report concluded that while the school concentrates on exam success, it can impact on pupils who have not had the opportunity to learn enough of the subject context.

“This means that those pupils who most need to be secure in crucial component knowledge, such as pupils with SEND, struggle unnecessarily to complete complex tasks,” said Mr Kueh.

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