Praise by education inspectors for pupils’ high standards of behaviour and enthusiasm for learning has been matched by parents’ overwhelming support for their school in a report.
Parents’ “extremely high levels of satisfaction” with independent Barnard Castle School, in County Durham, met the inspectors’ “excellent” rating for pupils’ personal development, pastoral care and extra-curricular provision.
Leadership and management, governance, the quality of boarding and welfare arrangements also attracted the highest judgement.
All pupils, who come from across the ability range, are nurtured and encouraged to at least reach their academic potential with many exceeding it through predominantly high quality teaching that demonstrates rapid pace, thorough planning, a high level of challenge, strong subject knowledge and imaginative use of resources.
An 11-strong team from the Independent Schools Inspectorate visited the school, which has close to 700 prep and senior pupils aged 4-18, including 150 boarders, on a 50-acre site.
In their report inspectors described finding “a nurturing environment in which all pupils are encouraged to develop their talents and confidence” and young people who “are mature and thoughtful, with an excellent understanding of life in British society and the wider world”.
“The school is a community where mutual care is strongly evident,” they said, with excellent relationships among pupils with staff and each other and value placed on service and good citizenship.
Headmaster Alan Stevens said: “I am very proud of our whole school community but perhaps even more important than the inspectors’ judgement is the endorsement of our parents. The inspectors told me it’s almost unheard of for 95 per cent of those responding to give such positive feedback, saying their children made good academic progress, were happy and well cared for and stimulated by a wide range of activities.”
Early years provision was described as “excellent” leading to the school’s youngest children making “excellent progress in all areas of learning to achieve beyond the levels expected for their age”.
“Staff know the children well and have high expectations of them” and children demonstrate the highest standards of behaviour, the report says.
Prep school headmistress Laura Turner added: “Our aim has been to create a warm and friendly school that belongs to the children, where they feel happy, safe and confident and are enthusiastic about learning. We know and care for every child as an individual and I’m delighted that our staff’s hard work in creating our family environment has been recognised by the inspectors.”
Since the school’s last inspection, the prep school has been extended with new classrooms and a science laboratory, and a dedicated sixth form working and social centre has opened at the senior school.
In the senior school, literacy skills are said to develop rapidly from Year 7-9 and sixth form study is enhanced by a wide-ranging lecture programme and cultural trips in the UK and abroad.
Pupils’ physical development was described as “excellent” with success shown in a wide-range of extra-curricular activities and initiatives such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Combined Cadet Force, while many opportunities exist for performance in music and drama.