Monmouth School for Boys has marked 400 years of educational excellence with an outstanding report from Estyn’s school inspectors in its anniversary year.
Founded in 1614, the independent day and boarding boys’ school is judged “excellent” in both current performance and prospects for improvement by Wales’ education inspectorate.
The school for seven to 18-year-olds, which includes the Monmouth School Boys’ Prep, is deemed to have attained an “excellent” rating in all categories, including for standards; well-being of students; learning experiences; teaching; care, support and guidance; the learning environment; leadership; improving quality; partnership working; and resource management.
The highest rating from the inspectors indicates “many strengths, including significant examples of sector-leading practice”.
As well as “excellent”, Estyn can also rank schools “good”, “adequate” and “unsatisfactory”.
Monmouth School for Boys’ then Headmaster, Dr Steven Connors, said: “The report does make very good reading and to see what we do confirmed as “excellent” by fellow professionals from an independent, external audit is probably the best kind of reward for all the hard work that contributed to such a positive result.”
On the school’s current performance, the inspectors found that the standards achieved by pupils were “extremely high and well above expectations”.
They praised performances in public exams as “outstanding”, with almost all its pupils attaining the level 2 equivalent of five or more GCSEs at grade A* to C, and 60% of entries graded A* to A, while at A level, half of entries were graded A* to A.
Pupils’ behaviour was also deemed “outstanding”, and the report highlights the school’s “extensive range of extra-curricular activities” for “contributing significantly” to social and personal development.
Teaching quality is “consistently high”, with the level of care, support and guidance “highly effective”.
The inspectors also state that the “inclusive ethos of the school contributes significantly to pupils’ learning and social development”, while its “well-maintained grounds, high-quality accommodation and specialist teaching areas provide an excellent learning environment”.
The report hails the school’s prospects for future improvement as “excellent”, highlighting “a strong corporate sense of purpose and commitment to the school’s values and to meeting its aims and high expectations”.
Leadership is deemed “outstanding”, and its governing body “extremely effective”.
The report added: “The rigorous use of performance data, together with challenging targets and exceptional monitoring and support, successfully drives forward the relentless quest for improvement in pupils’ performance.”
A “strong track record in securing improvements in the outcomes pupils achieve” is also highlighted. Pupils showed a strong interest in their work and are “well motivated”, and most had developed “highly effective thinking and problem solving skills” and “strong numeracy skills”, while Monmouth School Boys’ Prep was praised for many pupils achieving “exceptionally high reading standards” in its “stimulating” learning environment.
The report noted a “particularly smooth” transition from prep to the senior school, which provides a broad range of GCSE courses and “an extremely wide range at A level”, while Sixth Form provision is “enhanced considerably” by learning links with sister school, Monmouth School for Girls.
The school’s teaching is praised as an “exceptional feature”, with the inspectors remarking that staff “have very high expectations of pupils, presenting them with a strong level of challenge and instilling in them the confidence to meet that challenge”.
“The detailed monitoring of progress enables staff across the school to take prompt action to support and challenge pupils very effectively,” add the inspectors.
The provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is “outstanding”, including many opportunities to engage in a wide range of community-based activities.
“The mission and values of this calm and orderly school celebrate and endorse fairness and diversity in all aspects of its life,” the report states, with a high level of trust and appreciation between staff and pupils.
“The well-maintained buildings and grounds, spacious classrooms, sports facilities and specialist teaching areas across the school provide an exceptional learning environment,” it adds, boosted by the opening in March of the new William Jones teaching and administration block, named after the school’s founder.
On leadership, the report said: “The headteacher, supported by the senior management team, provides clear direction and sets high expectations… Throughout the school, there is a strong corporate sense of purpose and commitment to the school’s values and to meeting its aims and objectives.”
It noted that team meetings “contribute well to promoting best practice”.
The inspectors found that: “The strong emphasis on self-evaluation and improvement planning has supported a culture of continuous improvement throughout the school. This has resulted in exceptional pupil outcomes, excellent facilities and the development of a strong learning community.”
“Excellent progress” had also been made in addressing the recommendations from the previous inspection, helping secure “exceptional outcomes”.