Highbury Fields School
phone: 020 72881888
headteacher: Ms Gladys Berry
746 pupils capacity: 97% full
720 girls 100%
Last updated: June 18, 2014
Secondary — Community School
- Education phase
- Establishment type
- Community School
- Establishment #
- OSGB coordinates
- Easting: 531721, Northing: 185476
- GPS coordinates
- Latitude: 51.553, Longitude: -0.10153
- Accepting pupils
- 11—18 years old
- Census date
- Jan. 16, 2014
- Ofsted last inspection
- Jan. 18, 2012
- Region › Const. › Ward
- London › Islington North › Highbury West
- Urban > 10k - less sparse
- Admissions policy
- Main specialism
- Science (Operational)
- High performing leading options
- Leading Edge
- Sixth form
- Has a sixth form
- Free school meals %
- Learning provider ref #
- 0.2 miles Drayton Park Primary School N51PJ (335 pupils)
- 0.3 miles St Joan of Arc RC Primary School N52UX (432 pupils)
- 0.3 miles Highbury Grove School N52EQ (1129 pupils)
- 0.3 miles Samuel Rhodes MLD School N52EG (85 pupils)
- 0.4 miles Highbury Quadrant Primary School N52DP (372 pupils)
- 0.4 miles St John's Highbury Vale CofE Primary School N51DL (206 pupils)
- 0.4 miles London Metropolitan University N78DB
- 0.4 miles University of North London N78DB
- 0.4 miles St Mary Magdalene Academy: the Courtyard N78LT (15 pupils)
- 0.5 miles Ring Cross Primary School N78EE
- 0.5 miles Canonbury Junior School N12UT
- 0.5 miles Canonbury Infants' School N12UT
- 0.5 miles Gillespie Primary School N51LH (238 pupils)
- 0.5 miles Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School N78JN (407 pupils)
- 0.5 miles St Mary Magdalene CofE Primary School N78PG
- 0.5 miles Primrose Independent School N52TE
- 0.5 miles Canonbury Primary School N12UT (467 pupils)
- 0.5 miles St Mary Magdalene Academy N78PG (1182 pupils)
- 0.6 miles New River College Secondary N78RH (78 pupils)
- 0.6 miles Lough Road Class Base (Central) N78RH
- 0.6 miles Laycock Primary School N11SW (420 pupils)
- 0.6 miles North Bridge House Senior Canonbury N12NQ
- 0.7 miles William Tyndale Class Base (South) N12AQ
- 0.7 miles Ambler Primary School and Children's Centre N42DR (292 pupils)
|Inspection date(s)||18–19 January 2012|
Highbury Fields School
|Unique reference number||100455|
|Inspection dates||18–19 January 2012|
|Lead inspector||Anne Wellham HMI|
This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.
|Type of school||Comprehensive|
|Age range of pupils||11–18|
|Gender of pupils||Girls|
|Gender of pupils in the sixth form||Mixed|
|Nu mber of pupils on the school roll||735|
|Of which, number on roll in the sixth form||67|
|Appropriate authority||The governing body|
|Date of prev ious school inspection||18–19 March 2009|
|School address||Highbury Hill|
|Telephone number||020 7288 1888|
|Fax number||020 7288 2121|
You can use Parent View to give Ofsted your opinion on your child’s school.
Ofsted will use the information parents and carers provide when deciding
which schools to inspect and when.
You can also use Parent View to find out what other parents and carers think
about schools in England. You can visit www.parentview.ofsted.gov.uk, or
look for the link on the main Ofsted website: www.ofsted.gov.uk
|Anne Wellham||Her Majesty’s Inspector|
|John Meinke||Additional inspector|
|Diane Sherman||Additional inspector|
|Avtar Sherri||Additional inspector|
This inspection was carried out with two days' notice. Inspectors observed 24
teachers teaching 25 lessons, of which three were joint observations with subject
leaders; they also made a series of brief visits to another 19 lessons. Meetings were
held with four groups of students, three members of the governing body and school
staff including senior and middle managers. Inspectors took account of the
responses to the online questionnaire (Parent View) in planning the inspection,
observed the school’s work, looked at a wide range of documentation and analysed
216 parental questionnaires and others completed by students and staff.
Information about the school
The school is a smaller-than-average sized secondary school. The proportion of
students known to be eligible for free school meals is well-above average. The
students come from a wide range of socio-economic, ethnic, religious and cultural
backgrounds. Most students are from minority ethnic groups, the largest being of
Black African and Bangladeshi heritages. The proportion of students who speak
English as an additional language is much higher than that found nationally. While
the proportions of disabled students and those with special educational needs are
above average, the proportion with a statement of educational needs is below
average. The school meets current floor standards (national minimum expectations
for attainment and progress).
The school specialises in science. There is a small sixth form which is part of a large
sixth form consortium with three other local schools. Since the previous inspection, a
new headteacher has taken up post and there have been changes to the leadership
structure, including the leadership of English, mathematics and science.
|Achievement of pupils||2|
|Quality of teaching||2|
|Behaviour and safety of pupils||2|
|Leadership and management||2|
- This is a good school where there has been a relentless focus on raising
attainment during the last three years. There is a trend of improvement in the
percentage of students gaining five GCSE results at grades A* to C, including
English and mathematics. The sixth form is good and students achieve well. It
shows a similar trend of improvement. Most students make good or better
progress. The achievement of a small number of students lags behind because
low aspirations and regular, occasional absence prevent them from making the
progress they are capable of.
- Teaching is mainly good with some examples of outstanding teaching. Despite
the strengths of individual teachers, there are inconsistencies within and across
subjects, particularly in the use of assessment, so that students’ experien ce of
learning often depends on who teaches the lesson. High expectations of
students and their good habits for learning make a strong contribution to
progress in lessons where teaching is satisfactory. The school provides high
quality support for disabled students and those with special educational needs
and those who face challenging circumstances. These students make the same
good progress as their peers.
- The high levels of tolerance and respect that students show each other and
staff are an exemplary feature of the school. Parents and carers raised concerns
about incidents of poor behaviour disrupting lessons. Inspection evidence did
not confirm this. Consistently good behaviour was observed in lessons and
around the school and students and staff report that the management of
behaviour is more rigorous that at the time of the last inspection.
- The headteacher, senior staff and the governing body have an accurate view of
the school’s strengths and weaknesses and have been effective in raising
achievement since the last inspection. Middle leaders use well-developed
systems to monitor and evaluate performance but they are not being used
consistently enough to eliminate variations in the quality of teaching and
What does the school need to do to improve further?
- Improve the achievement of those students who are falling behind by improving
their attendance and raising their aspirations.
- Ensure that middle leaders adopt a consistent approach to improving
taking action to improve the quality of marking and assessment across
subjects so that all students receive high-quality written feedback on their
sharing the features of good and outstanding practice and ensuring that
these are applied within subjects to improve the consistency of students’
offering clear developmental feedback to teachers and other adults so that
all teaching can be consistently good or better
reducing the variability in the progress of students within year groups by
evaluating the impact of interventions more precisely.
Achievement of pupils
High expectations and a clear focus on developing the knowledge and skills students
need to move on to the next level of attainment were key features of the learning
observed during lessons. All students know their targets and the school tracks their
progress rigorously. When students meet their targets they are adjusted to provide
further challenge or if progress is too slow, targeted support is provided. This allows
students to reach average standards of attainment from their low starting points and
make good and sometimes outstanding progress. The majority of parents and carers
agree that their children are making good progress.
The curriculum and teaching are focused precisely on students’ emerging needs and
revised accordingly. For example, higher-attaining students in Year 11 have been
challenged to work at higher levels in mathematics since they were in Year 8. They
are currently working at AS level, having achieved high grades in the GCSE
examination after early entry. Lower- and middle-ability students at Key Stage 4,
including disabled students and those with special educational needs, make better-
than-expected progress because the curriculum has been broadened to include
courses that are well matched to their needs and interests. Students known to be
eligible for free school meals also achieve well and make the same good, and
occasionally better, progress as that of their peers.
Effective strategies to improve the motivation and engage the interest of some Black
Caribbean students, for example, by changing their learning environment and
providing enrichment activities, are closing the gap between their attainment and
that of all students nationally. Actions taken to improve the achievement of a
minority of White British students are not so effective because of their poor
attendance and low aspirations.
Many students enter the school with low-level skills in reading, writing and
communication. The best teaching supports the development of these skills by
precisely identifying students’ needs and providing opportunities within lessons to
practise and develop skills as part of the taught subject. In Years 10 and 11, reading
and writing skills are developed well, but teaching does not always provide sufficient
opportunities for extended writing or higher-level speaking and listening skills.
Quality of teaching
The quality of teaching is good overall, including in the sixth form. The responses
from parents, carers and to inspection questionnaires reflect this. Students value the
high quality of support they receive from teachers and the additional study and
revision clubs provided for them. However, students report that not all teaching is of
the same good standard and that a few teachers are not consistent in the way they
give feedback or manage behaviour.
The best learning takes place when students are challenged to think for themselves
and tasks are planned to develop their oral and literacy skills, whatever the subject
content. They develop workplace skills and personal qualities well in lessons, where
they are able to pose questions, work in groups and solve problems collaboratively.
Students respond enthusiastically when they are given opportunities to participate in
lessons. Sometimes they seek out ways to extend their own learning. For example, a
Year 7 student studying Spanish decided to complete her homework in French as
well because she wanted to use her prior knowledge.
In an outstanding lesson observed in English, the sequence of the tasks carefully
built on students’ developing knowledge to add depth to their understanding of the
text. The teacher used skilful questioning to check learning at each stage of the
lesson and encouraged students to extend their dialogue during their discussions to
evaluate rather than just describe or comment. The marking of students’ written
work over an extended period of time contained detailed and informative feedback
linked to the progression of their skills and knowledge. In an outstanding Spanish
lesson, clear success and assessment criteria were shared with students and the
lively and engaging delivery inspired students to take risks and formulate their own
questions. Role play was used effectively to build the confidence and skills of all
Where teaching is not above satisfactory, learning activities are not matched well
enough to the different needs of students and the key learning points are not
consolidated clearly. As a result, some students find the work too hard or too easy so
they do not all make the progress they are capable of. Teachers generally provide
helpful verbal feedback during lessons and inform students about the progress they
are making against their targets. However, the quality of written feedback varies
considerably; some teachers rely on ticks or comments that focus on effort or
presentation rather than providing regular, meaningful advice on how to sustain
The planned curriculum makes a good contribution to students’ achievement and
provides good opportunities for students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural
Behaviour and safety of pupils
Students, including those in the sixth form, report unanimously that they feel safe in
school and that they have a good understanding of the risks they may encounter
both within and outside school. The different forms that bullying can take are
understood by students and they express confidence in the prompt manner in which
the school deals with the rare instances that occur. Most parents and carers’
responses in the questionnaires confirm these views. Attendance is average overall.
Actions taken to reduce persistent absence have been effective and fixed-term
exclusions have reduced. The school monitors the attendance of all groups of
students and a range of actions is taken to promote good attendance. The school
has improved the attendance of Black African and Black Caribbean students, whose
attendance has risen to be above average. There is less success in breaking down
barriers to improving the attendance of some White British students.
Students’ good behaviour in lessons and the support they provide for each other
make a positive contribution to their learning. They have a clear understanding of
the school rules, sanctions and rewards. Any unacceptable behaviour is dealt with
effectively and students who struggle to control their own behaviour receive targeted
support through interventions. Students feel secure enough to explore their emotions
leading to negative behaviour and reflect on self-control and consider their choices
and consequences of their actions. School data and reports from staff and students
show that behaviour has improved over time with a reduction in exclusions and
recorded instances of negative behaviour, including racist and homophobic bullying.
Leadership and management
Since the last inspection, the headteacher, governors and other leaders and
managers, including leaders of the sixth form and the consortium, have focused
successfully on raising achievement and improving the curriculum. Consequently, the
school’s capacity to improve further is good. The governing body challenges
performance vigorously and has strong links with curriculum areas. The roles of
middle leaders are sharply focused on monitoring students’ academic progress and
their personal and social development to contribute to a broader view of
achievement. Subject leaders observe the quality of teaching and learning in their
departments through formal observations and short visits to lessons. However, there
is still some variability in how well they share outstanding practice and in the quality
of feedback they provide to teachers and other adults on how to improve their
performance. Year leaders regularly collect assessment data to track students’
achievement against their individual targets and plan interventions. Despite this
rigour, the precise impact of actions taken on students’ outcomes is not recorded and
The school meets all the statutory requirements for safeguarding and the sy stems in
place are coherent and effective. A strong commitment to promoting equality and
tackling discrimination is at the heart of the school’s work. As a result, the school is a
harmonious environment where students from a very wide range of religious, ethnic
and cultural backgrounds work together and respect each other. The curriculum
provides valuable opportunities for students to interact and work together, which
support their good spiritual, social, moral and cultural development. Students are
keen to discuss their learning and contribute well to the school community by
participating in a wide range of clubs. Musical, artistic and sporting activities are
The school knows and understands the needs of students and their families and
provides well-targeted care and support to help students make good progress
whatever challenges they may face. Collaborative work with a range of external
agencies, for example health and social services, promotes the health, welfare and
behaviour of all students. Good guidance is provided for students when they transfer
from primary school, when they choose options at the end of Years 9, 11 and 12 and
for their future choices when they leave school. Nearly all students continue to
education, employment or training. The school provides parents and carers with
regular information on their children’s progress and actively encourages them to
engage with students’ learning and celebrate the school’s achievements.
What inspection judgements mean
|Grade 1||Outstanding||These features are highly effective. An outstanding |
school provides exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs.
|Grade 2||Good||These are very positive features of a school. A school |
that is good is serving its pupils well.
|Grade 3||Satisfactory||These features are of reasonable quality. A satisfactory |
school is providing adequately for its pupils.
|Grade 4||Inadequate||These features are not of an acceptable standard. An |
inadequate school needs to make significant
improvement in order to meet the needs of its pupils.
Ofsted inspectors will make further visits until it
Overall effectiveness of schools
|Overall effectiveness judgement (percentage of schools)|
|Type of school||Outstanding||Good||Satisfactory||Inadequate|
|Pupil referral |
New school inspection arrangements have been introduced from 1 January 2012. This means that
inspectors make judgements that were not made previously.
The data in the table above are for the period 1 September 2010 to 31 August 2011 and represent
judgements that were made under the school inspection arrangements that were introduced on 1
September 2009. These data are consistent with the latest published official statistics about
maintained school inspection outcomes (see www.ofsted.gov.uk).
The sample of schools inspected during 2010/11 was not representative of all schools nationally, as
weaker schools are inspected more frequently than good or outstanding schools.
Primary schools include primary academy converters. Secondary schools include secondary academy
converters, sponsor-led academies and city technology colleges. Special schools include special
academy converters and non-maintained special schools.
Percentages are rounded and do not always add exactly to 100.
Common terminology used by inspectors
Achievement: the progress and success of a pupil in their
learning and development taking account of their
Attainment: the standard of the pupils’ work shown by test and
examination results and in lessons.
Attendance: the regular attendance of pupils at school and in
lessons, taking into account the school’s efforts to
encourage good attendance.
Behaviour: how well pupils behave in lessons, with emphasis
on their attitude to learning. Pupils’ punctuality to
lessons and their conduct around the school.
Capacity to improve: the proven ability of the school to continue
improving based on its self-evaluation and what
the school has accomplished so far and on the
quality of its systems to maintain improvement.
Leadership and management: the contribution of all the staff with responsibilities,
not just the governors and headteacher, to
identifying priorities, directing and motivating staff
and running the school.
Learning: how well pupils acquire knowledge, develop their
understanding, learn and practise skills and are
developing their competence as learners.
Overall effectiveness: inspectors form a judgement on a school’s overall
effectiveness based on the findings from their
inspection of the school.
Progress: the rate at which pupils are learning in lessons and
over longer periods of time. It is often measured
by comparing the pupils’ attainment at the end of a
key stage with their attainment when they started.
Safety: how safe pupils are in school, including in lessons;
and their understanding of risks. Pupils’ freedom
from bullying and harassment. How well the school
promotes safety, for example e-learning.
20 January 2012
Inspection of Highbury Fields School, London N5 1AR
Thank you for the very friendly welcome you gave us when we inspected your
school recently. We really enjoyed visiting your lessons and talking to you. Your
school is providing you with a good education and helping you to make good
progress in your learning. We were impressed with your good behaviour and the
respect that you show to each other and the staff. The headteacher and senior staff
lead your school well. They make sure that you are continually encouraged to have
high expectations of yourselves and others.
The sixth form is an important part of the school and the students set an excellent
example for younger students to follow. They benefit from the wide opportunities
provided through the consortium.
You told us that you enjoy most of your lessons and learn a lot but you also told us
about a few lessons where teaching is weaker so you learn less. We want the senior
leaders, subject leaders and year leaders to make teaching more consistent by
making sure that all teachers mark your work and provide high quality written
feedback to tell you how to move on to the next level. We have asked them to learn
from each other and help all teachers to be as good as the best. We have also asked
the year leaders to make sure that the extra support you are given is effective. You
can help by telling the teachers what makes you learn best.
Some of the parents and carers who completed questionnaires are concerned about
the few students who do not always behave as well as everyone else. We visited a
large number of lessons and saw good behaviour. The school’s records and the
students we talked to reported that good behaviour is typical and any bullying is
rare. We were concerned when we found out that there are some students who do
not come to school regularly and do not seem to realise how important it is to have a
good education. You can all help by attending regularly and continuing to work hard.
We wish you all at Highbury Fields a happy and successful future.
Her Majesty's Inspector