The independent school inspectorate awards the school its highest rating

The Independent School Inspectorate awards the School its highest rating

The Royal Ballet School is always working towards excellence in everything we do and our most important role is teaching and nurturing the students in our care. We were therefore overjoyed to have our continued efforts recognised by the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI), who awarded the School its highest rating; excellent. We’re so pleased to share with you some of what they observed.

The ISI is an independent agency responsible for the inspection of schools, which reports to the Department for Education. It inspects all provision run by a school, including boarding and extracurricular activities.  

Our last full inspection was 2015. The inspection cycle runs over a six-year period but was interrupted by the pandemic. Schools are given one day’s notice to host the inspection team, who spend three days collecting their findings.

Visiting inspectors observed lessons, had discussions with students and staff, received responses from parents, students, and staff to a detailed questionnaire and examined samples of pupils’ work. They also spoke with the Chair of Governors, observed extracurricular activities, attended tutor group meetings, visited boarding houses and reviewed the provision for and performance of those students with additional learning needs and those for whom English is not their first language.

On this occasion, two types of inspection happened concurrently: a Focussed Compliance Inspection, which checks that a school’s policies and practices are compliant with the regulations set by the Department for Education; and an Educational Quality Inspection, which looks at the quality of education a school provides.

There are two specific areas which are covered;  (a) Pupils’ Academic and Other Achievements, and (b) Pupils’ Personal Development. Each of these aspects are awarded a rating from ‘unsatisfactory’ to ‘excellent’.

Here’s what they found.

We’re proud to foster an environment where students show kindness and respect to one another, and build supportive relationships based on trust.

Pupils demonstrate maturity, kindness, and empathy in their approach to one another and clearly collaborate well together.

Pupils’ moral understanding is excellent. They have an acute sense of what is right and wrong. This is underpinned by their love of being at school and their unwillingness to compromise their behaviour. They demonstrate maturity, kindness and empathy in their approach to one another.

Pupils demonstrate an excellent understanding of diversity. They show tolerance and compassion for each other, such as when helping overseas pupils to settle in.

They regularly organise collection boxes for local charities and community events, and raise money for local, national, and international charities. Pupils enjoyed broadcasting their ballet lessons to residents of a local retirement home for theatre professionals. Boarders enjoy roles of responsibility within their houses, such as becoming a guide for new pupils, writing welcome letters, and gifting decorated ballet shoes.

We’re proud that our students are resilient, and have been given the tools they need to flourish.

Pupils demonstrate exceptional self-discipline and high expectations of themselves beyond the norm. They develop a keen sense of resilience and honesty throughout their academic and artistic work; understanding the next steps required to improve their skills and performance.

Pupils are encouraged to ‘be brave’ and take risks in their learning, describing having to ‘take a leap of faith’ at times and to consider failure as part of growing. They are exceptionally well supported in this by the commitment of teachers and senior leaders which, in turn, are highly valued by the pupils.

We love that our students are dedicated to continuous learning and evolution.

Pupils are enthusiastic about acquiring new knowledge and are skilled in their application of techniques and methods.

Pupils demonstrate high levels of focus, self-discipline, and effective study skills in lessons. They conscientiously ask probing questions as they reflect on their work to identify next steps in their learning. They are curious thinkers and show confidence when analysing, hypothesising, and synthesising.

The discipline of learning, so highly developed in their ballet classes, is seamlessly emulated in the classroom to support their approach to academic work. Pupils respond highly positively to the School’s robust ethos of encouraging individuality, creativity, responsibility, and time management in their learning. They demonstrate a resolute sense of purpose.

A note from Academic & Pastoral Principal, David Gajadharsingh and Artistic Director & CEO, Christopher Powney

The significant achievements of the students simply could not happen without the tireless and completely professional support provided by all our staff. Every member of staff contributes to the orderly running of the school, and the excellent learning and living environment which is created for the students is a true team effort. We are immensely grateful to all staff for their continued hard work and their complete dedication to the students we serve.

While it is always pleasing to have an independent external body validate our endeavours, we remain committed to improving and innovating across all departments of the School.

Read the full report.