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School leadership, students reflect on road to Ofsted “Outstanding” rating

The+Office+for+Standards+in+Education+rated+the+school+%E2%80%9COutstanding%E2%80%9D+after+their+inspection+Nov.+14-16.+Community+members+reflected+on+the+process+of+implementing+changes+since+the+%E2%80%9CRequires+Improvement%E2%80%9D+rating+the+school+received+in+December+2021.
Rudi Chamria
The Office for Standards in Education rated the school “Outstanding” after their inspection Nov. 14-16. Community members reflected on the process of implementing changes since the “Requires Improvement” rating the school received in December 2021.

For Board of Trustees Chair Erin Roth, no word better describes her reaction than “speechless” after receiving the report that the school had now been rated “Outstanding” by the Office for Standards in Education after their inspection Nov. 14-16. Previously receiving an overall rating of “Requires Improvement” after inspections in December 2021, the school earned the highest merit “Outstanding” this year. The school was among hundreds of schools in the country who lost their “Outstanding” rating that year, according to The Guardian.
Head of School Matthew Horvat, who assumed his role July 2023, said the “Requires Improvement” ranking “wasn’t a place where the school wanted to be.” Horvat said Ofsted officials revisited the school in October 2022 and affirmed that the school had met standards, creating confidence that the school could gain a higher rating during an official inspection.

Communication with inspectors


Roth said the December 2021 inspection was unusual because inspectors had come during the last week of school before winter break. She said her understanding was complaints from the Department of Education prompted inspectors to arrive, and it was apparent that the inspection “did not feel as positive.”
Furthermore, Roth said she attended two meetings with inspectors in November. She said the recent inspection signaled a tonal shift.
“Communication was very positive,” Roth said. “They were professional. They asked questions, you know, they’re knowledgeable. That’s the feedback we got, as well from employees and faculty.”
Mahalia Eddy (’24) was among several students who were interviewed by Ofsted in November 2023. She said one of the inspectors asked her questions about how supported she felt to pursue her interests. Eddy said she believed the purpose of the questions was to gauge her personal connection to the school.
“I think she was trying to assess that the school made us feel comfortable and recognized,” Eddy said.
Horvat said the inspection felt fair and the inspectors seemed well-informed.
“I didn’t get the sense from them that they had any, you know, preconceived ideas about how the inspection was going to go,” Horvat said. “They were really, like, looking for evidence.”

Improvements implemented

Rudi Chamria

In 2021, the school failed three standards: quality of education, personal development and leadership and management.
Roth said Director of Teaching and Learning Jennifer Kirstein demonstrated “terrific leadership” in spearheading curricular changes to adhere to Ofsted’s standards. Among these efforts was political impartiality training of all staff members which was meant to enhance students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

“One of the criticisms by Ofsted was that student voice wasn’t always allowed to be developed because, in some instances, some teachers were presenting their own political views,” Roth said. “We did training for teachers on that and that’s something that is ongoing.”

In addition to political impartiality, Roth said Ofsted advised the school to make changes to the curriculum.
“The report mentioned multiple times that the school needed to make sure that it was providing subject-specific knowledge to students throughout the entire course of K-12,” Roth said. “Review of the curriculum was a high priority for the school.”

Horvat echoed Roth and said having specific curricular decisions in writing was critical.
“We have a pretty well-documented curriculum, and it’s documented in an application called Atlas,” Horvat said.
Moreover, Roth said the leadership and management standard is contingent on all other merits. If the school fails one of the standards, it automatically fails the leadership and management standard too.
Eddy said, from her perspective, it was clear that the school had implemented substantial changes.
“We followed the steps that they gave us and now we have a really good result from that,” Eddy said.

Rudi Chamria

 

Switch to the Independent Schools Inspectorate

The school is shifting from the Office for Standards in Education to the Independent Schools Inspectorate for future inspections. Both bodies work under the same guidance from the Department of Education.
Horvat pointed to ISI’s 17-page report of TASIS England on his desk, comparing it to Ofsted’s report which contains two pages of feedback. He said part of the reasoning for switching to ISI was simply due to their extensive feedback and knowledge regarding specific international school pedagogy, such as the Reggio Emilia approach implemented in the Lower School.
“They give you a much better report that you can use and say ‘Okay, this is super specific and areas that we can improve upon,’” Horvat said. “The inspectors have a greater familiarity with the program we have.”
Roth said, in terms of values, the ISI more directly aligns with the school.
“The ISI will work with a school in a way that is very ASL, like, it’s more of a growth mindset,” Roth said. “They provide a lot of resources that you can use.”

Reflecting on process

Eddy said she was proud to see the school recognized for its efforts.
“I was quite pleased,” Eddy said. “ASL is a good school, and I also am pleased that they, like, saw that it had improved and followed Ofsted guidance.”
Horvat said going into the inspection he hoped the school’s rating would improve, and the final results exceeded his expectations.
“Going into the inspection when I got the call on Monday, I was just like, I hope we get ‘Good,’ because there are four levels, right, and below outstanding is good,” Horvat said. “Now that we got ‘Outstanding,’ that’s wonderful for the school.”
Ultimately, for Roth, the new rating marks a turning point.
“Now we can look ahead,” Roth said. “It feels like we’re turning the page to the future.”

 

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About the Contributor
Rudi Chamria, Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Online
Rudi Chamria (’24) is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Online of The Standard. She joined the newspaper in Grade 9 as a staff writer because she enjoys connecting with people through interviewing and utilizing her platform to highlight underrepresented voices. In addition to her role on The Standard, Chamria leads the Social Justice Council, plays tennis and engages in community service.

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