27 November 2023
Dear Parents, Guardians and Students/Annwyl Rhieni, Gwarchodwyr a Myfyrwyr
RE: 2023 Estyn Report
It is very pertinent that my 250th Headteachers Blog should celebrate the publication of such a positive Estyn report, following a full inspection of the school in September 2023.
A note from the Chair of Governors, Mr John Caddick:
Since the last Estyn inspection in 2016, Llanishen High School has been on a journey of complete transformation. I would like to celebrate the ongoing and sustained progress that has resulted in improved outcomes and life chances for our students. This has been driven by the hard work and commitment of the staff, students, parents, governors, and community partners. It is clear from the inspection report that the wellbeing of the students is central to all decision making in the school. It is a warm, welcoming, vibrant and diverse community where every individual can succeed. We look forward to celebrating these strengths and ensuring that these high standards continue and improve. Many congratulations to everyone at Llanishen High School.
A note from the Headteacher, Mrs Sarah Parry:
I am so proud of our diverse, vibrant and inclusive school community. The strengths that are captured in the report below show that our mission to create a supportive, inclusive environment that nurtures individual growth and success is woven through every aspect of our school life. I would like to commend our amazing staff body who work with passion and care every day. I would also like to give my sincere thanks to our students, their families, and our governing body for their contribution to this very unique school. Please enjoy reading the very positive report.
Main strengths within the Report
Llanishen High School provides pupils with a vibrant environment where they are nurtured and valued as part of its inclusive community. Leaders are committed to ensuring that every pupil succeeds. They have taken decisive actions to reduce the impact of poverty and support all its pupils. The school offers an exceptionally broad range of extra-curricular activities, which enriches pupils’ experiences and raises their aspirations.
Staff foster positive working relationships with most pupils, who in turn engage well in their lessons. They behave well and demonstrate high levels of respect for staff and their peers. In many lessons, teachers capture pupils’ interest and help them to make effective progress in their knowledge and understanding. In these lessons, teachers use questioning skilfully to check pupils’ understanding and develop their verbal responses. As a result, many pupils speak confidently and use a broad range of vocabulary to express their views.
Leaders and staff secure a positive safeguarding culture where most pupils feel safe and free from bullying. The school’s work to restore relationships following any reported incidents of bullying helps to create an inclusive culture where pupils feel confident to challenge or report any behaviour that causes them concern.
Pupils with additional learning needs, including those who attend the school’s Hearing Impaired and Autistic Spectrum Disorder resource bases, benefit from highly effective support. They make good progress against their targets and are fully integrated into the school community.
Many pupils make good progress in their subject knowledge and understanding. They show a sound recall of previous learning and many can apply their knowledge and skills appropriately for example when explaining the movement of different substances across membranes in biology. In a few cases, pupils make rapid progress in their understanding as a result of inspirational teaching.
Most pupils listen attentively to their teachers and their peers. Many speak confidently and offer extended responses to their teacher’s questions. They contribute well to class discussions and use their subject knowledge pertinently to support their views, for example when discussing the importance of stamina in different sports. They work together effectively and discuss their ideas enthusiastically in pairs and small groups.
Most pupils listen attentively and respond to their teachers’ instructions without having to ask for support or further explanation. Most pupils have well-developed reading skills. Many read aloud clearly with good expression. They use a range of useful strategies to gain understanding of unfamiliar words. A majority of pupils are able to gain understanding of more complex texts independently.
Wellbeing and Attitudes towards Learning
Most pupils at Llanishen High School are proud of their school. They value the inclusive culture and feel that the teachers care for them as individuals. Overall, pupils feel that the school is a safe environment where their well-being is a priority.
Most pupils are very respectful, polite and courteous to their peers, staff and visitors.
Most pupils say that they are free from bullying. They understand the antibullying procedures and know that they have someone to turn to if they have a problem. Most pupils behave well in lessons, when moving around the school and during break and lunch time.
Most pupils have positive attitudes towards their learning. They are punctual to lessons and motivated, and they engage well with the tasks set. Many pupils work effectively in group activities and persevere with challenging tasks. They take pride in the presentation of their work. In lessons where teaching is most effective, pupils demonstrate exceptional levels of concentration and show a real curiosity in their work.
Most pupils think that the extra-curricular provision is a very positive feature of the school. They appreciate the wide range of opportunities on offer, which includes creative writing, debating club, choirs and ‘inclusive badminton’ where ‘no kit is required, just enthusiasm’. There are high levels of regular participation within the after-school clubs. This has a positive impact on the health and well-being of pupils and helps build their confidence.
Teaching and Learning Experiences
Most teachers have strong subject knowledge and teach with enthusiasm. They foster positive working relationships with pupils and manage their classrooms effectively. This creates a safe and calm working environment for learning. In a few cases, inspirational teaching results in pupils making very rapid progress. In these lessons, teachers display a passion for their subject that inspires pupils.
Teachers have very high expectations of pupils’ behaviour and what they can achieve. They know their pupils very well and plan imaginative activities that capture pupils’ interest and motivate them. These teachers use questioning skilfully to probe and extend pupils’ thinking. They encourage pupils to offer high quality responses and adapt their teaching skilfully in response to the needs of pupils.
Teachers provide pupils with high-quality resources that engage them well in their learning. In these lessons, teachers provide clear instructions and explanations to help pupils understand concepts. They move around the classroom and ask questions to individual pupils to check understanding and offer them valuable support when necessary. They use closed questioning to check pupils’ recall and open questions beneficially to probe their understanding. They adapt the pace of their lessons in response to pupils’ learning. In many cases, teaching assistants provide valuable support to individual pupils. They ensure that pupils understand the work and develop their independence over time.
The school has a range of useful enrichment opportunities for more able pupils. These include a university outreach programme for Year 9 and Year 10, creative writing competitions, theatre trips and Year 7 and Year 8 mathematics challenges.
There are useful opportunities for pupils to reflect on cultural diversity and identity across the curriculum. As a result, many pupils develop an understanding of their contribution to society and to the well-being of others.
The daily extra-curricular programme of activities is a particularly strong feature of the school. It includes an exceptionally wide range of sporting clubs, a garage band, ‘philosophy debating’, choir, art, creative writing, product design, eco council, fashion and textiles, food and nutrition, drama and Duke of Edinburgh awards.
Care, Support and Guidance
Llanishen High School is a vibrant, inclusive and welcoming community where staff place pupils’ well-being at the heart of their work. They aim to nurture individual growth and personal success for all members of the school community.
Leaders strive to foster a sense of ‘cynefin’ (a sense of belonging) for pupils. A notable example is how the PSE provision develops the values of respect, resilience, honesty, ambition and responsibility. Leaders have worked with pupils to develop an anti-hate strategy, which has been shared widely with stakeholders and is impacting positively on pupils’ sensitivity to others. The school endeavours to reduce the impact of poverty on pupils’ well-being, for example by providing unlimited access to period and hygiene products, a sustainable ‘Prom store’ where pupils can borrow clothing and accessories, breakfast provision and a free bus for pupils attending after-school activities.
The school meets the needs of pupils who access the Hearing Impaired (HI) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) specialist base provisions very well. These nurturing environments ensure that pupils feel safe and well supported, in the centres and when accessing mainstream classes.
The Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Co-ordinator has a clear understanding of how to identify needs using a range of appropriate data. This information is used effectively to provide worthwhile individualised support. The ALN team know their pupils well and foster positive relationships with families. The ALN Co-ordinator is supported well by senior leaders and the school is making strong progress on their transition journey with the ALN Tribunal Act (ALNET).
Leaders have established a strong culture of safeguarding in which all staff are confident to identify and report pupils who may be at risk of harm. Child protection procedures are robust and are evaluated regularly through purposeful case review meetings. This helps the school respond promptly to reports of any safeguarding concerns, making appropriate referrals where necessary. The designated safeguarding team keep detailed records so that they can monitor closely and seek help for any pupils who they are concerned about.
Leaders have introduced a range of worthwhile strategies to improve pupils’ attendance and have focused purposefully on reducing persistent absenteeism, including anxiety-based school avoidance. This is leading to improvements for individual pupils and has reduced the number or persistent absentees. Staff work closely with families, providing appropriate support for those pupils who are reluctant to attend as often as they should. The school’s successful Flexible Learning Centre provides pupils with bespoke timetables, which supports their return to school.
The school has developed a beneficial whole-school graduated approach to dealing with instances of poor behaviour. There are effective procedures for dealing with any incidents of bullying, with a strong focus on educating all those involved through meaningful anti-bullying interventions. The school has developed a suite of worthwhile reflection resources linked to the protected characteristics. The school has introduced an offsite provision for pupils demonstrating particularly disruptive behaviour. The school’s onsite Alternative Pathway Centre (APC) is a notable feature of the school’s strategy to ensure that the needs of those pupils who display particularly challenging behaviours are met. This reflects the school’s commitment to meet the needs of all learners.
The vision, ‘to create a supportive, inclusive environment that nurtures individual growth and personal success’, permeates all aspects of the school’s life and work. From this clear vision, the headteacher has set a strategic course to fulfil these goals. Since her appointment, she has led the school successfully and systematically on its improvement journey, creating a strong sense of community and mutual endeavour.
A relentless focus on key aspects such as improving pupil performance and behaviour, developing leaders, and refining management systems, has resulted in a shift in culture and improved life chances for pupils. Leaders promote safety, inclusivity and well-being consistently, contributing to the welcoming and caring ethos of the school.
Leaders have developed a suitable cycle of evaluation and improvement. They use an appropriate range of information to consider the effectiveness of their work. For example, leaders at all levels make helpful use of a range of pupil data to identify strengths and areas for improvement. Senior leaders monitor their planned actions for improvement regularly and aim to ensure that every decision is based on what is best for pupils at Llanishen.
Governors are supportive of and knowledgeable about the school’s work. They visit the school regularly and have a broad overview of priorities for improvement. They make a helpful contribution to setting the strategic direction of the school and offer a suitable level challenge, for example about the quality of careers advice and support for pupils in the sixth form.
Leaders manage the school finances prudently. Spending is directed appropriately towards the school’s priorities and supporting the school’s vision and mission. A notable aspect of the school’s work is the approach that leaders take to tackle the impact of poverty. The Pupil Development Grant (PDG) is used carefully and creatively to support pupils eligible for free school meals and those from low-income households. Leaders use this to fund a wide range of valuable strategies to support pupils’ well-being, provide them with enriching experiences, and ensure that they have full access to school life.
- R1. Strengthen self-evaluation and improvement planning so that they focus more precisely on the impact of teaching on learning
- R2. Improve the provision for the progressive development of pupils’ skills including Welsh across the curriculum
- R3. Improve the quality and impact of written feedback
- R4. Continue to improve attendance
The next steps
Estyn will not be revisiting the school. In line with normal procedures following a full inspection, the school will draw up an action plan to address the recommendations from the inspection.
Excellent Case Studies
The school is delighted that Estyn have invited them to prepare two case studies relating to:
- The work that the school does to reduce the impact of poverty
- The school’s enrichment programme
Link to the Full Report: http://www.estyn.gov.wales/provider/6814051
Thank you for reading/Diolch am ddarllen,
Mrs Sarah Parry, Headteacher