The North Halifax Grammar School

Name The North Halifax Grammar School
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
Inspection Date 19 January 2011
Address Moorbottom Road, Illingworth, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX2 9SU
Phone Number 01422244625
Type Academy
Age Range 11-18
Religious Character None
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 1193 (51% boys 49% girls)
Number of Pupils per Teacher 17.9
Local Authority Calderdale
Percentage Free School Meals 2.3%
Percentage English is Not First Language 5.2%
Catchment Area Information Available Yes, our catchment area data is FREE

Information about the school

The North Halifax Grammar School is a larger than average 11–18 selective school located on the northern boundary of Halifax. It draws students from a wide area and a large number of primary schools. The proportion of students attending the school known to be eligible for free school meals is much lower than the national average. The proportion of students with special educational needs and/or disabilities is also much lower than the national average. A small proportion of students are from minority ethnic backgrounds. The school was designated a high-performing specialist school in 2009, with a main specialism in science and a second specialism in modern languages. The school has achieved a number of awards including Investors in People, the Artsmark, Healthy School status, Eco-Schools Silver Award and intermediate International Schools Award.

Main findings

The students of this school bring with them a record of high attainment in their previous schools and a strong desire to learn. Their outstanding behaviour, supported by a calm, studious and very caring school environment enables them to achieve results in their examinations at GCSE and A level which are significantly above the national averages. Inspectors noted many occasions where students’ thoughtful behaviour made an outstanding contribution to the learning taking place in classrooms. Students quickly focused on tasks, responded promptly to requests from their teachers and were very willing to support the learning of others. Attendance and punctuality are excellent. The school provides an outstanding curriculum, well suited to the abilities of the students. It is also successful in creating a supportive and nurturing environment for students. There are effective arrangements to help the induction of students joining the school in Year 7 and those who enter the sixth form from other schools. Students feel very safe and well supported and are confident that the school will deal effectively with bullying or other concerns. The school has also developed very specific ways to support the needs of its students, such as the highly effective use of sixth-form mentors to assist learning. There are tailored study support programmes for students who feel under academic pressure. The progress of students from all backgrounds is good, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities. The school has appropriate policies and procedures to promote equality. The headteacher provides strong and consistent leadership for the school. He and other leaders are aware that even though students attain well, their progress could be even better, particularly in achieving the highest grades. As a result, the school has made teaching and learning a priority and has taken actions which are showing impact in improved performance. In English, for example, the percentage of students obtaining the highest grades at GCSE has increased from 46 to 71 per cent over the last three years and more students are choosing to study the subject at Advanced level. There has also been a marked increase in the number of students progressing to the most demanding universities, which is helping to raise the aspirations and attainment of sixth-form students. Leaders recognise, however, that there is more to be done to ensure that the quality of all teaching and learning in the school matches that of the best. There is inconsistency in the quality of teachers’ planning, in the effectiveness with which assessment of progress is used to shape learning and in the extent to which teachers are making best use of the exceptional learning skills of the students. In the sixth form, a few Year-12 students are not sufficiently well prepared by the school for the difference between GCSE and A-level courses. There is also variation in the progress that students make in different subjects at A level. Action to improve the school since the last inspection has been effective, although in relation to improving all teaching and learning, has not been as rapid as it could have been in all subjects. There are, however, many examples of outstanding teaching and learning, and evidence of good impact where leaders and managers have taken decisive action to improve. There is an effective programme of staff development and performance management; as a result, the school’s capacity for further improvement is good.