Inspection Report 2014
An ‘exceptional’ school of ‘impressive and aspirational young men’
Merchant Taylors’ has now received the formal report of the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) on the Inspection of the School carried out under the leadership of Mr George Fisher, the Reporting Inspector from 25 – 28 March 2014.
Unlike Ofsted, ISI reports do not provide a single, overarching judgement on a school. They deliver distinct judgements on three aspects of a school.
1. The quality of achievement
(a) Pupil achievement
(b) The quality of curricular and extra-curricular provision
(c) The contribution of teaching
2. The quality of pupils’ personal development
(a) Spiritual, moral, social & cultural
(b) Pastoral care
(c) Arrangements for welfare, health & safety
3. The effectiveness of school leadership
(a) The quality of governance
(b) The quality of leadership & management
For achievement alone, there is a much-coveted exceptional judgement; otherwise, the highest grade is excellent.
Inspection reports follow a standard format. After a factual introduction, they comprise an overview (‘Main Findings’) that includes action points for improvement; they then cover in detail the eight aspects outlined above.
The headlines are that pupil achievement and learning are exceptional – the highest possible award. Curricular and co-curricular provision is excellent, as is the contribution of teaching – the highest possible award. The development of the pupils, and the pastoral care provided for them, are excellent. Arrangements for welfare, health & safety are good. The quality of governance is excellent and the quality of leadership & management is good.
2.1 Merchant Taylors’ School is highly successful in meetings its aims and in satisfying its central objective of being a place of opportunity in which pupils can learn and develop. Achievement is exceptional …
The … curriculum… offers choice at all stages. It fully meets the needs of academically able pupils and is enriched by an outstanding range of societies and clubs. The extra-curricular provision is exceptional, and pupils’ achievement within it is excellent. Pupils …are receptive, alert, highly articulate and well motivated. They show creativity and imagination…
The quality of teaching is excellent and is notable for its energy and enthusiasm, strong subject knowledge, and the rapport between teachers and pupils.
2.2 The pupils’ personal development is excellent, fostered through the mixed-age tutor groups. Pupils are friendly, happy and self-reflective… The quality of care provided by the school is excellent and pupils’ behaviour is exemplary.
2.3 Governance is excellent… Leadership and management are good; senior leadership is particularly strong… Academic middle management is good…Links with parents are excellent.
2. (b) Action points
(i) Compliance with regulatory requirements
2.4 The school is required to… ensure that all required checks on staff references and medicals are made before they start work at the school
(ii) Recommendation for further improvement
2.5 … the school is advised to … Enhance the effectiveness and consistency of academic middle management by identifying, sharing and implementing the best practices seen in the school.
3.1 The quality of pupils’ achievement and learning is exceptional.
3.2 At all stages, pupils… amply fulfilling the school’s aim for excellence. Pupils are highly articulate, expressing themselves confidently and clearly...
3.3 Pupils perform strongly across an extremely wide range of activities and competitions… The extent of the pupils’ contribution towards the work of charitable organisations is exceptional.
3.4 Pupils’ attainment in public examinations is outstanding at all levels…
3.5 Pupils’ progress is excellent…Pupils who are identified as being able, gifted or talented make high progress overall, evidenced by their exceptional levels of academic achievement and wider successes.
3.6 Pupils have excellent attitudes to learning. They enjoy studying, relishing the challenges set by their teachers and displaying intellectual curiosity…
3.(b) Curricular And Extra-Curricular Provision
3.7 The contribution of curricular and extra-curricular provision is excellent.
3.8 The curriculum… successfully fulfils the school’s aims to provide a broad, rounded and rigorous programme for its pupils. The emphasis throughout is on matching the provision to the individual needs of pupils …
3.9 The broad range of subjects… encourages a sense of ambition and a thirst for knowledge…
3.10 … Careers education and advice are very strong…
3.11 The extra-curricular programme is extensive and pupils take full advantage of the opportunities available … The provision of music, drama and sport is very strong throughout… The school is successful in supporting the development of the elite whilst encouraging the endeavour of all pupils.
3.12 Links with the community are outstanding
3.13 Parents’ responses … demonstrate an extremely high level of satisfaction.
3.(c) The contribution of teaching
3.14 The contribution of teaching is excellent.
3.15 Teaching is highly effective in supporting the school’s aims to be a place to learn which fosters a sense of awe and wonder and within which pupils can achieve high academic standards.
3.16 Teaching benefits from very high levels of subject knowledge and a real passion for the subject. This leads to pupils being inspired…
3.17 … There is a strong emphasis upon encouraging pupils to take increasing responsibility for their own learning, and pupils’ study skills are consequently developed to a high level…
3.18 The learning resources available are outstanding…
3.19 Teaching is notable for the excellent rapport between staff and pupils…
3.21 The overall quality of teaching has improved further on the already high levels observed in the previous inspection.
4.1 The quality of the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural education is excellent.
4.2 … Pupils’ spiritual development is excellent. There is a palpable sense of self- confidence and maturity amongst the pupils who are equally sensitive to the needs and views of others. Pupils of all faiths and those of none are valued and are provided with opportunities to express their beliefs in a variety of ways...
4.3 Pupils’ moral development is excellent. They have a strong sense of right and wrong and their exemplary behaviour is seen to underline this … Pupils are polite and courteous...
4.4 Pupils’ social development is outstanding. They demonstrate a real interest in and concern for the needs of others through numerous acts of service.
4.5 Pupils’ cultural awareness is very strong. The school is highly successful in its aim of celebrating the cultural diversity of its pupils.. pupils understand and respect other cultures and appreciate the achievements of those who come from backgrounds different from their own, so demonstrating a very clear commitment to harmonious relations with the whole community.
4.6 … pupils demonstrate an exceptional standard of personal development… The outstanding levels of behaviour and the significant generosity shown through so many facets of school life result in well-rounded and mature pupils who make a substantial contribution to the wider society.
4.7 Pastoral care is excellent.
4.8 Staff provide outstanding pastoral support and guidance...
4.9 Relationships between staff and pupils, and among the pupils themselves, are positive and highly respectful throughout. Tutors exercise a key role in supporting their tutees…
4.13 The school’s arrangements to ensure the welfare, health and safety of pupils are good.
Governance, Leadership & Management
5. Governance, Leadership & Management
5.1 The quality of governance is excellent…
5.5 The quality of leadership and management, including links with parents, carers and guardians, is good…
5.6 Leadership and management make a strong contribution to the promotion of the school’s ambitious aims. The school’s ethos of being a place of learning and opportunity is reflected in the very high quality of pupils’ academic and extra- curricular achievements. It is also manifest in the excellent standard of pupils’ personal development, particularly in the maturity of their self-reflection as learners and in the warmth of their consideration for each other… The school has a clear sense of its purpose in enabling pupils to flourish in a scholarly and caring community….
5.12 Parents greatly appreciate the quality of education and support provided for their child, as the parents’ pre-inspection questionnaire shows. Parents also value the quality of personal communications and the fact that any concerns are dealt with promptly…
5.13 The school maintains excellent relationships with parents in accordance with its aim that all its activities centre upon the development, in partnership with parents, of impressive and aspirational young men.
The school received the highest possible grade across the board except for arrangements for welfare, health & safety, scored as good because historically some staff had begun work at the school before the results of their medicals had been processed, and leadership, where the Inspectors judged that the school might be even better if there were more sharing of best educational practice across the academic departments.
Inspectorial regimes come and go in this history of a school like Taylors’; it is most gratifying to hear Mr Fisher reconfirm in 2014, what Stone noted about the School in 1602, “It made both good Schoolemaisters, and also good Schollers, diligently against such times to prepare themselues for the obtayning of this Garland” and what Charles Dickens, Jnr. reinforced in 1879, “Merchant Taylors’ School, is one of the best of the public schools of London, and has little to fear in any competition”.