Weydon School has been downgraded from ‘outstanding’ to ‘good’ after its first Ofsted inspection in 14 years.
The Farnham secondary school was named the third best state secondary in the UK in The Times’ Parent Power league tables for 2023.
And inspectors judged Weydon ‘outstanding’ for ‘quality of education’ and for the ‘personal development’ of students.
Yet despite the positive report, the single word assessment controversially used by Ofsted rated Weydon as ‘good’.
This after the school scored ‘good’ in the remaining two inspection categories: behaviour and attitudes, and leadership and management.
Ofsted spoke in glowing terms of Weydon’s “happy and successful” pupils and ethos for excellence, which it said is both supportive and nurturing.
The “highly productive and happy learning environment” was commended along with the strength of relationships between pupils and teachers.
School leaders were described as having “ambition for all students” and for providing opportunities for students’ personal development that last long after they have left school.
Teachers were recognised for their “innovative and engaging teaching” and students for their “exceedingly good” behaviour, respect and kindness.
But the school was downgraded after inspectors highlighted a single area for improvement deemed to be a “limiting judgement” under the new inspection framework.
The inspectors stated: “Attendance for some pupils with SEND and some who are disadvantaged is not regular enough. Persistent absence for these pupils is limiting their learning and progress through the curriculum.”
Persistent absence is defined by Ofsted as below 90 per cent.
The school challenged the basis for this judgement with a formal complaint to Ofsted, arguing inspectors essentially observed children not attending school regularly are not benefiting from the same ‘outstanding’ education those in school enjoy.
But the complaint was dismissed, and the school says it continues to take action to reduce persistent absence in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Jackie Sharman, Weydon principal, said: “The report in full is extremely positive and reflects the vibrancy of day-to-day life and exceptional education students enjoy at Weydon.
“My thanks go to the staff, students and families who are all a part of ‘Team Weydon’ and who have been part of this journey to success.”
John Winter, chief executive of Weydon Multi Academy Trust, said: “As the lead school within our trust, I am delighted Ofsted judged the quality of education as ‘outstanding’ at Weydon School.
“This recognition of excellence, under a much tougher framework than in the previous full inspection in 2009, is fundamental to our future success as a major educational provider in our local area.
“We are therefore very excited about our future.”