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Ofsted inspectors rate girls’ school as ‘outstanding’

It's been an emotional experience, says headteacher Gladys Berry

12 November, 2016 — By Joe Cooper

Head Gladys Berry with Year 10 pupils, from left, back, Lauren Harrison, Gloria Motondo and Ella Clements; front, Prima Ahmed and Hatice Zorpineci

PUPILS, parents and staff have all worked together to make Highbury Fields an “outstanding” school, according to Ofsted inspectors.

The all-girls school of more than 750 pupils has been judged outstanding in every respect following an October inspection.

Headteacher Gladys Berry and governors have known for a month about the glowing report but have had to stay tightlipped.

“It was quite an emotional experience,” said Ms Berry, who has been head for seven-and-a-half years. “We believed we were outstanding but this is validation for all the hard work and commitment demonstrated by staff, students and parents.”

The school, which received a bumper crop of GCSE and A-level results over the summer, was rated “good” by inspectors after their previous inspection in 2012.

Sitting in the main hall of the Highbury Hill school just after lunchtime, you could hear a pin drop – all part of its “calm, quiet focus”, according to Ms Berry, previously deputy head at Hornsey Girls’ School.

“We have very high expectations of students in the classroom and on behaviour and uniform and they know this and respect the rules,” she added.

Inspectors said: “The headteacher and senior leaders have embedded a vision and culture of extremely high aspiration and ambition.”

Pupils are punctual and have good attendance because they “love going to school”. Disadvantaged pupils also do well and teaching is “consistently very strong”, with the most able pupils “challenged to succeed beyond their comfort zone”.

The school had identified that white British pupils had “underperformed historically”, but “as a result of leaders’ strategies, this group of pupils performed well last year”, inspectors said

Ms Berry added: “All groups of students make good progress. Nobody is left behind.”

Middle management is praised, and governors are “forward thinking and refuse to stand still”, the inspectors’ report says. The school’s sixth-form is also rated “outstanding”.

Islington Council education chief Joe Caluori said: “It is a huge credit to the teachers, governors, parents and pupils at Highbury Fields that they have been uprated from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

“It’s always a pleasure to visit Highbury Fields and see the amazing work that takes place there.”

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