The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors and four Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Theale Green Community School is an oversubscribed, larger than average school. It has slightly increased in size since the last inspection. The proportion of pupils from minority ethnic groups is below that found in most schools. Very few speak English as an additional language. The number of students eligible for free school meals is well below average. The proportion of students with learning difficulties or disabilities is similar to that found in most school. The school manages a resource unit with capacity for twelve students with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. The school is a specialist Performing Arts College.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Theale Green Community School is a good and improving school with some outstanding features. Under the excellent leadership of the headteacher, there is a shared commitment at all levels within the school, to provide an interesting and relevant education for all students. She is well supported by her senior leadership team. Following the last inspection there was a period when standards fell. However, the school is now clearly focussed on improving student achievement. Standards at the end of Year 11 have risen significantly in recent years and are now well above the national average. Students make good progress through the school although there is still some variation in the progress made between different subjects.
The school has developed very effective systems of self evaluation. The headteacher is clear about the school's strengths and weaknesses and excellent plans are in place to address those areas that need improvement. Teaching is monitored by senior and middle leaders. This monitoring, linked to good support, has led to an improvement in the quality of teaching. Teaching is now good overall with some outstanding practice. However, some inconsistency in quality across the school still remains.
The personal development of students is good. They behave well in lessons and around the school. Students enjoy school and attendance has improved this year and is now above the national average. Relationships between students and between students and staff are very good. The care, guidance and support of students are outstanding. The progress of students is tracked well and there are very good systems of intervention and support in place to help those students who are underachieving. These systems have played a significant role in raising standards in the school. The curriculum has been developed well and is now outstanding. It meets the needs and interests of all students very well. The school provides a wide range of after school clubs, trips and visits.
The school has clearly demonstrated that it has outstanding capacity to improve. It has successfully addressed the issues raised at the last inspection, student achievement has risen significantly in recent years and clear priorities for improvement have been identified. Performing Arts College status has also contributed to improvement by enabling the school to enrich its curriculum, further support good personal development and extend its community provision.
Effectiveness and efficiency of the sixth form
Standards in the sixth form are above the national average. The school has an open access policy and students achieve well in both academic and vocational courses. Leadership and management are good.
Students are looked after well and their personal development is good. The tutoring system and the responsibilities given to students prepare them well for higher education or employment. The head boy and girl and the sixth form leadership team contribute well to their community. Guidance on higher education is very effective but the school is aware of the need to improve careers guidance. Some Year 12 students feel that they would have benefited from more help in choosing courses.
Teaching and learning are good. Teachers are very knowledgeable and the best lessons are very well planned, challenging and exciting. Some are providing good opportunities for students to learn independently. Information and communication technology (ICT) resources are often used well by teachers and students. The curriculum is good and there are many opportunities for enrichment activities. Students choose from a wide range of academic courses. The school offers a limited range of vocational courses and it is aware of the need to extend this provision.
What the school should do to improve further
- Improve the quality of teaching and learning so that all is as good as the best.
Achievement and standards
Grade for sixth form: 2
Standards are well above the national average and achievement is very good. Student attainment on entry to the school is broadly average. Due to good teaching, students make very good progress during their first three years at the school attaining well above average standards by the end of Year 9. They make particularly good progress in mathematics and science and standards in these subjects are above those seen in English.
The percentage of students achieving 5 or more A* - C GCSE grades rose significantly in 2005 following two years of decline. Standards rose to well above the national average and remained at this level in 2006. The inclusive nature of the school is demonstrated by the fact that, in 2006, very nearly all students achieved five or more GCSE passes. All groups of students now make good progress during Years 10 and 11. However, there is some variation in the progress made by students in different subjects. For example students make outstanding progress in English catching up the ground lost in Years 7 to 9. However, the progress made by students in mathematics is only satisfactory. Effective action taken by the school to address this issue is already beginning to impact on student achievement.
The standards obtained by Year 13 students in Advanced level examinations in 2006 were in line with the national average. However, post-16 standards are rising in the sixth form due to improved teaching. The standards achieved by Year 12 students in the 2006 Advanced Subsidiary level examinations were above the national average. Students are now making good progress during their time in the sixth form.
Personal development and well-being
Grade for sixth form: 2
Personal development and well-being are good in both the main school and the sixth form. Students behave well in lessons and around the school and, in this way, they make a noticeable contribution to its calm and friendly atmosphere. They enjoy good relationships with adults and each other. Students express enjoyment of all that the school provides for them and this is reflected in their good attendance and participation in after school activities.
Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is effective and well complemented by strong pastoral education. Students have a good understanding of the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle. Most students feel they are becoming increasingly well-informed about healthy eating. However, this is not consistently reflected in the independent food choices that they make, especially at break and in their packed lunches. Standards in literacy and numeracy are good and students develop well the skills and attitudes which are necessary in the world of work. The contribution which students make to the community is outstanding. The school council is very active and involved in a wide range of decision making within the school. Their opinions are sought on a number of issues and their views are frequently acted upon. A fact much appreciated by students.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Grade for sixth form: 2
Teaching and learning are good. Lessons observed during the inspection ranged from outstanding to satisfactory. The school has achieved improvements in teaching and learning through its monitoring and evaluation systems which have identified areas for development. Good targeted support and training has been provided to teachers.
Good working relationships are reflected in students' confidence in their teachers and this helps them to engage in classroom activities. Lesson plans are focused on learning and take account of different abilities within the class. Good pace, well used praise and high expectations help students learn effectively. Most lessons contain interesting activities that engage and interest students. In one very effective lesson, a Year 10 Dance lesson, students made rapid progress because of outstanding one to one intervention by the teacher and high levels of challenge.
Despite these good features there is some inconsistency in teaching and learning. Some lessons are too teacher dominated, inhibiting student engagement and preventing them from developing independent learning skills. On occasions the planning of lessons does not take account of the full student ability range in the class and so some students are not sufficiently challenged. Many teachers engage students in peer and self assessment, and also mark work well highlighting the steps they need to take to improve further. However, this good practice is not yet consistent across the school.
Curriculum and other activities
Grade for sixth form: 2
The school has developed its curriculum very well so that it is now outstanding. It provides excellent opportunities for all learners, including those with learning difficulties and disabilities, to achieve well. The development of the curriculum has had a positive impact on raising student achievement.
The curriculum in Years 7 to 9 meets the needs of students well. In Year 9, fast track classes are already following GCSE courses. There are also opportunities for students to receive additional support for their literacy development. The option choices in Years 10 and 11 provide students with a wide range of both academic and vocational courses. The flexibility of the curriculum enables students to choose courses, which are well suited to their needs and interests. These include an alternative curriculum where students spend time off site developing their work related learning.
The curriculum reflects the school's status as a Performing Arts College through an enhanced arts programme and arts week for Year 7 to 9 students, arts master classes and drama and music productions. The school also provides students with a wide range of both sporting and cultural extra curricular activities and trips.
Care, guidance and support
Grade for sixth form: 2
The level of care, guidance and support students receive is outstanding. As one student said and;quot;Teachers are not only here to teach us but they care about us as welland;quot;. Students say that they feel safe and valued. Secure child protection and health and safety arrangements are in place. The school has very good systems to track students' progress and to offer academic mentoring to all students, including those with learning difficulties and disabilities. Students who are in danger of under performing or whose behaviour is unsatisfactory are identified early and provided with good advice and guidance. The school makes excellent use of outside agencies, and its own specialist staff to offer a wide range of support which is tailored to meet the needs of individual students. They all work together very flexibly to provide a comprehensive package of support and this intervention has had a positive impact on raising standards.
Leadership and management
Grade for sixth form: 2
Leadership and management are outstanding. The headteacher provides a clear and determined direction for the school ensuring that it has a strong focus on raising standards and that it maintains an unwavering drive towards improvement. She is very well supported by a strong senior leadership team. School leaders work closely together because their efforts are very firmly co-ordinated by the senior leadership team. As a result, middle leaders are clear about their respective roles and responsibilities and play their full part in raising standards and improving provision.
The school monitors and evaluates its performance very well. Assessment data is analysed thoroughly by senior leaders and middle leaders to set challenging targets. Careful checks make sure that individual students and different groups of students are making the expected progress and prompt action is taken to remedy dips in performance. For example, the recent introduction of a modular course and fast track sets in mathematics is already having a positive impact on students' motivation and achievement in the subject. Teaching and learning is monitored well and this has led to improvement. Although teaching is improving some inconsistencies remain.
Planning for improvement is excellent. Priorities arise out of very careful analysis of school information and discussions among stakeholders. Well-costed plans are rigorously evaluated against measurable targets relating to students' performance. Governors know the school well through the high quality information provided by the school and their own very effective monitoring. This allows them to participate fully in managing the school's strategic development.