The inspection was carried out by two of Her Majesty's Inspectors and one Additional Inspector.
Description of the school
Beal High School specialises in media arts. Boys slightly outnumber girls. A low percentage of students is eligible for free school meals. A very small number of students has English as an additional language. An average proportion has learning difficulties or disabilities. The school has a Communication and Learning Department (CLD) for students with a range of social and communication difficulties, including autism and Asperger's Syndrome as their main presenting need. The school draws half its students from Asian minority ethnic groups and about one fifth of students from other minority ethnic groups.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Beal High is a Media Arts School, and is a very good school with outstanding features. The senior leadership team and staff have successfully created an inclusive community, where students of diverse faiths and cultures learn well together. Students come to the school highly motivated and due to the good provision, they make excellent progress and reach standards that are well above average in most subjects by Year 11 and sixth form students reach consistently high standards by Year 13. Examination results have significantly improved in the last year. Students with learning difficulties and disabilities achieve very well as do students in the specialist autistic provision (CLD unit). Students feel safe and happy and believe the school to be 'the best in Redbridge'. They have good opportunities to stay fit and healthy through a wide range of extra curricular activities, but the take up is not high, especially among girls. The school has created a harmonious community where student behaviour is excellent and they are encouraged to show tolerance and respect for others. Students are given many opportunities to serve the school community, whether as prefects, on the school council, or as peer mentors and also are actively involved in the wider community, through fund raising charity events and community service. Students leave the school well-equipped as citizens and well-prepared for employment, with the vast majority in Year 11 continuing their studies into the sixth form.
Care, support and guidance are good in Years 7-11 and outstanding in the sixth form. Sixth form students receive exemplary guidance on future choices. Academic and pastoral support programmes are used effectively to help students, depending on their ability and they receive good quality support from teachers, support staff, curriculum mentors and peer mentors. The school is developing its academic target setting procedures, used currently in Years 10 and 11 and the sixth form, with younger students. Students know what they need to do to improve their work.
The curriculum provides a good framework for students to progress to the sixth form and to further education or employment, and the school's developing media arts specialism is highly valued by all pupils. Teaching and learning are good, because students are very motivated and keen to achieve well and teachers prepare well structured lessons with clear objectives that help students to make very good progress. Information and communication technology (ICT), is used well to support teaching and to sustain students' interest. Support staff are used effectively, particularly in supporting students with learning difficulties and disabilities, with some very good practice in some subjects, which is not yet shared across the curriculum.
The school's outstanding leadership and management by the executive headteacher, the associate headteacher and their colleagues has resulted in significantly improved achievement and outstanding personal development and well being for students. The leadership and management of the sixth form are outstanding. The school has excellent capacity to improve even further.
Effectiveness and efficiency of the sixth form
The leadership and management of the sixth form are outstanding. The sixth form is very popular and students' achievements are consistently high. General Certificate of Education (GCE) A-level results are outstanding with 99% of students passing their A levels. Students make excellent progress and achieve very high standards in relation to what is expected of them based on their GCSE performance. The school is in the top 5% of schools for this indicator of progress. The progression rate for Year 11 students to the sixth form is very high at 80%. This is a good indicator of the high esteem in which students view the work of the sixth form. A broad range of GCE A-level subjects are offered. Provision at level 1 and 2 is limited, although the school is planning to extend this offer. The overall standard of teaching is good. Students are highly motivated and participate well in lessons. Students receive high levels of support from teachers, especially when choosing their future options. A high proportion of students progress to higher education and the support they receive when making their application is exemplary. Sixth form students make a valuable contribution to the life of the school and they act as creditable role models to younger students.
What the school should do to improve further
- Extend the tracking, monitoring and assessment for students in Years 7 to 9
- Build and extend on the good teaching and learning support practice already established.
Achievement and standards
Grade for sixth form: 1
Students join the school with above average attainment and overall students make outstanding progress between Years 7 and 11. Boys and girls achieve equally well. In Year 9 students' standards of work in all core subjects and in Year 11, students' attainment in 5 A* to C GCSE and 5 A* to G GCSE are well above averages. In 2006 students' attainment in 5 A* to C GCSE improved significantly on 2005 to 77% and students attainment in 5 A* to C GCSE including English and mathematics, was very high at 69%. This is due to the tracking of individual students' progress and successful implementation of additional booster sessions and curriculum mentoring that support students' learning if they are underachieving in Years 10 and 11.
In relation to their other subjects, students perform best in science and media arts subjects. Students based in the school's Communication and Learning Department with below average attainment on entry make outstanding progress by the time they leave school, and a good proportion work towards one or more GCSEs with Entry Level qualifications. Students at early stages of learning English make good progress.
Personal development and well-being
Grade for sixth form: 1
Student's personal development is outstanding. Spiritual, social, moral and cultural development is excellent and is a result of high quality assemblies and activities throughout the year, including celebratory religious and cultural events such as Black History Month and the Eid al-fitr gathering, where all students take part. Behaviour in lessons and around the school is excellent and attendance is very good. Students are developing well their awareness of healthy eating. Students feel safe, greatly enjoy the education they receive and value highly the personal support they are given. One commented, 'In the Communications and Learning Department people check up on you to make sure you are feeling comfortable.' Students' views are proactively sought and acted upon, for instance, with regard to the new uniform, the provision of ablution facilities for Muslim students' prayers and an easy to understand learning agreement written by students. Students are also involved in charitable activities for local and international communities and have good opportunities to serve the school community as prefects and mentors. The school has a strong focus on an 'enterprise culture' and students benefit from sound opportunities for work related learning, work experience and citizenship lessons, where they develop and gain confidence in the key skills of literacy and numeracy. In the East London Young Enterprise Competition, Beal High School students ranked in the top four London Schools.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Grade for sixth form: 2
Teaching and learning are good. Teachers make effective use of ICT to enliven lessons. They give clear explanations and use a variety of tasks to maintain interest. In science lessons, students' practical work is especially well organised. Teachers give much praise and make constructive comments to students on where to improve. Much extra support is provided by teachers outside of lessons. One student commented that 'teachers always pick up when you are not doing as well as you should and help you'. There are very good working relationships between students and staff. The behaviour of students is excellent. They are eager to participate in lessons by answering and asking questions and taking part in discussions.
In a minority of lessons, teachers do not sufficiently check individual students' progress through directed questioning and too few students participate actively. Teachers have not yet developed successful learning strategies and materials for use in lessons, for the small, but increasing number of students, in the early stages of learning English as an additional language. Students are routinely tested in most subjects and marking of students' homework and course work is very thorough and constructive.
Curriculum and other activities
Grade for sixth form: 2
The curriculum offers students a good provision that meets the needs of its students well. The school uses its media arts status and the re-designation of Arts Mark Gold Award well to develop the self-confidence and skills of students. Students are able to make informed choices in Year 10 for vocational courses. One third study Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) qualifications in art and design, business, media or vocational GCSE in ICT or history, with a small number attending a local college for one half-day per week for National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 1 vocational training in construction, hair and beauty and catering, as part of the school's reflex programme. The school is developing further post-16 progression routes for these courses and vocational options for Year 9 students. The CLD unit provides students with learning difficulties and disabilities with a challenging and appropriate curriculum that enables them to gain accreditation and make excellent progress.
Students receive two hours of physical education in Years 7 to 9 but only one hour in Years 10 and 11 and none in the sixth form. The school offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities and accreditation is available for some of these, such as first aid. Overall participation in these activities is relatively low; in particular, take up by girls of sporting activities. Music is popular and a large number of students take part in clubs, bands and lessons and participate in successful musical performances and plays.
Care, guidance and support
Grade for sixth form: 1
The school provides a caring and supportive environment where students have high aspirations, develop their personal qualities and make excellent progress towards the academic targets set for them. Those with learning difficulties and other disabilities are very well supported and their progress towards targets set in their individual education plans are regularly monitored and evaluated. However, the use of tutor time is inconsistent in offering high quality pastoral support to students. Provision for ensuring health and safety is very strong. Child protection and risk assessment procedures are securely in place. Where appropriate, the school works very effectively with external professional agencies.
Guidance for students in relation to choosing their options is now very good. Students working with teachers to simplify this process have produced a clear and helpful DVD for Year 10 students. The use of information on students' abilities to set academic targets and to carry out regular student reviews, is very good in Years 10 and 11 and in the sixth form, but is still developing in Years 7 and 9.
Leadership and management
Grade for sixth form: 1
Leadership and management are outstanding. Since May 2006, the headteacher has been seconded to lead the Borough 14-19 Steering Group. Her role is very effectively implemented by the associate headteacher for three days a week. This joint headship, supported by a highly effective leadership team has been very successful in raising students' achievement and standards.
Performance management of departments and monitoring of teaching and learning is effective and the school makes good use of students' evaluations within this process to set challenging targets for its staff. This has had a significant impact in raising pupils' performance in science and geography and the school is now rightly identifying other subjects for improvements. The school's self evaluation process is good and has identified its strengths and captured well, most of the areas where the school needs to improve.
The school has made changes to staffing and is prioritising the development of its middle managers, especially those who are new. They greatly appreciate the opportunities they have for good induction and support from senior managers. Governors are highly supportive and bring with them a wealth of experience. Finances are well managed, and the school is developing further the media arts provision.
The school's keen focus on learning and the link to professional staff development is helping to create an outstanding environment for students to consolidate their academic progress and develop their personal well being. Parents think highly of the school. One reported 'since my daughter started this school in September she has made excellent progress academically, her confidence has shot up and she loves school'.