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School Inspectors give Sheffield High School Top Marks!

At its recent school inspection, Sheffield High School was graded as excellent in all nine categories examined by the inspectors with the Junior School being graded as ‘Outstanding’ for its Early Years Foundation Stage. A team of nine inspectors from the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate (ISI) spent four days in the school, looking at the main areas of the school’s operations.

The inspectors’ lead finding was – “Throughout the school pupils receive an excellent education in accordance with the school’s aims to stretch and challenge the pupils so that they leave the school as strong, open minded and confident women who are independent and who use their initiative.” They also remarked on how the girls display a great sense of enjoyment in their learning.

Inspectors assess schools and grade them as ‘excellent’ (the equivalent of the state sector’s ‘outstanding’), ‘good’, ‘satisfactory’ or ‘unsatisfactory’.

They rated the school as follows –

  • The quality of pupils’ achievement and learning – EXCELLENT
  • The contribution of curricular and extra-curricular provision – EXCELLENT
  • The quality of teaching – EXCELLENT
  • The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the pupils – EXCELLENT
  • The contribution of arrangements for pastoral care – EXCELLENT
  • The arrangements for the welfare, health and safety of pupils – EXCELLENT
  • The quality of governance – EXCELLENT
  • The quality of leadership and management, including links with parents, carers and guardians – EXCELLENT
  • Early Years Foundation Stage – EXCELLENT

Early Years

The Early Years Foundation Stage, which sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to age 5, had its own dedicated inspector who gave the school a positively glowing report in every area, praising –

  • the girls’ progress
  • their creativity
  • the dedication of the staff
  • the excellently-resourced and stimulating environment and
  • the outstanding partnership with parents

Juniors, Seniors and Sixth Form

In the Juniors, Seniors and Sixth Form these are just a few of the comments which were made to support the ‘excellent’ judgements –

  • the girls show excellent application
  • parents are extremely pleased with all that the school offers with parental survey results showing extraordinarily high satisfaction ratings in every area
  • staff provide exemplary role models
  • the girls are bold, eloquent and independent and have an excellent work ethic
  • SEN (Special Educational Needs) and EAL (English as an Additional Language) girls achieve at the same high levels as other students
  • the girls show extraordinarily high levels of perseverance
  • the girls show outstanding levels of achievement in extra-curricular activities
  • the girls’ behaviour is exemplary
  • the girls are given excellent leadership opportunities which benefit the whole community
  • sharing of good practice among staff is excellent

Other Areas of Strength

Other areas of real strength highlighted by the inspectors were –

  • use of open ended, focused questions
  • the rapid pace of lessons
  • consideration of every girl’s learning needs
  • opportunities for independent thinking
  • modelling of best practice
  • excellent verbal feedback given in lessons
  • spiritual and moral development – the pupils’ awareness of other cultures is very strong and is significantly enhanced by the openness with which they happily discuss their own varied backgrounds
  • the relaxed yet purposeful atmosphere in lessons
  • the courtesy and respect shown by pupils
  • the sensitivity girls show to the feelings of others
  • how well staff know the girls

Pastoral Care, Health & Safety and Support Staff

In pastoral care, the team was praised for being highly effective, promoting excellent relationships and a strong sense of community. All the school’s health and safety arrangements and attention to pupils’ welfare was praised and governance both at Trust and local levels was described as contributing significantly to the success of the school. The support staff were also praised for the significant contribution they make to the success of the school and to fulfilling the school’s aims.

Leadership and Management

Leadership and Management at all levels was praised for –

  • being highly effective in setting a clear vision
  • monitoring standards
  • being proactive in implementing successful initiatives and for
  • the high levels of satisfaction shown by parents

Sheffield High School is part of the Girl’s Day School Trust (GDST) group of 26 schools and academies and Kevin Stannard, the GDST’s Director of Innovation and Learning, said that what stands out for him in the inspector’s report for Sheffield High School are the very glowing comments about teaching and the impact that teaching has on pupils’ learning. “In many good schools,” he said, ”pupils achieve highly in spite of the teaching because they are very able, but at Sheffield High they achieve highly because of the support given by their teachers both inside and outside the classroom.”

Commenting on the report, Headmistress Valerie Dunsford said: “I’m delighted with this report. We all work very hard at the school to provide the best educational experience possible for the pupils and the inspectors’ view confirms that we are delivering the very high standards we have set ourselves to achieve. As a school,” she added, “we look forward to continuing to offer a top class education to girls from a wide range of backgrounds in South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire and beyond.”

  • Download a full copy of the report here


The Independent Schools’ Inspectorate (ISI) is a body approved by the Secretary of State for Education for the purpose of inspecting independent schools and its work is monitored by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE).

Inspectors grade schools as ‘excellent’ (the majority of this area is assessed as being of the highest quality), ‘good’ (the majority of this area is assessed as being good), ‘satisfactory’ (some of this area is good and weaknesses are not widespread) or ‘unsatisfactory’ (this area is mainly weak).

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