Inspection joy for Hethersett Old Hall School

Staff and pupils at a south Norfolk independent school are enjoying the Easter break even more than usual after receiving a glowing inspection report.

Officials from the Independent Schools Inspectorate visited Hethersett Old Hall School earlier this year and were impressed with what they found.

They said the personal development of pupils was 'outstanding', and praised behaviour and standards of achievement. They also enthused about how pupils were allowed to 'enjoy the freedom of childhood'.

The 201-pupil schools, with 20 boys and 181 girls, was established in 1938 and caters for boys aged four to 11 and girls aged four to 19. It is led by headmaster Stephen Crump.

The report said: 'Pupils throughout the school achieve well in relation to their abilities. Good and sometimes outstanding teaching enables pupils of all abilities to make good progress.

'A particular strength is the involvement of all teachers in boarders' weekend activities, ensuring that boarding is integral to the school.'

Inspectors said the range of after-school extra-curricular provision was 'limited, particularly for boys in the junior school', but said measures were taken to enable boarders to pursue interests outside school.

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The report went on: 'The personal development of pupils is outstanding. Relationships of trust and respect are central. They ensure excellent learning and very high standards of behaviour, creating an environment in which pupils enjoy the freedom of childhood.

'Trust and respect are also reflected in relationships amongst pupils. Throughout the school, attitudes to learning are excellent.'

The school was also praised for its good governance, leadership and management, with inspectors saying: 'The senior management team and middle managers, under the recently appointed head, ensure that the vision is shared and that intrinsic values and attitudes are reflected in all aspects of school life.'

But the report added that a 'significant percentage of parents' felt the governors did not 'communicate effectively' with them - a point that the inspectors agreed with.

The report recommended that the school strengthened the impact of governance, including their engagement with pupils, parents, management and staff, developed the staff appraisal process, extended the curricular and extra-curricular provision for boys in the junior school and strengthened the development of boarding.