‘Ambitious’ Fairfield praised by Ousted

Fairfield High School in Bristol is a nurturing school that is ambitious for the future of all students. 

That’s the view of young people, their parents and carers – and also of the education watchdog Ofsted, which has given FHS another glowing report.

Following a two-day inspection in February, Ofsted  says FHS continues to be Good, with a “calm and purposeful atmosphere”.

Lead inspector James Oldham writes in his report: “Pupils are happy and safe. They feel that that staff are caring and respectful and ambitious for their futures. Parents say this too.”

The school’s leaders are praised for planning carefully what pupils need to know and when, and for their good use of assessment.  “Teachers have the subject knowledge they need to teach the curriculum well.”  The report recognises the contribution the curriculum has on personal development; also that “the curriculum helps pupils to develop an understanding of healthy relationships appropriate to their age.”

Leaders at the school are said to have high expectations for the behaviour and conduct of their 1,069 pupils, who are aged 11-16.

“Staff are quick to challenge any form of disrespectful behaviour or bullying. Pupils and parents appreciate this and have confidence in leaders to resolve any issues.

“Pupils feel that they have a voice in the school. They enjoy opportunities to be leaders themselves. For example, pupils say they want to help build their peers’ awareness of how to prevent, and keep (themselves) safe. Leaders listen to pupils’ ideas and act together to tackle this important issue.”

The inspector highlights the emphasis on personal development. “Leaders carefully respond to local and national trends. For example, they recognised the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on pupils’ well-being. As a result, they place a strong emphasis on supporting pupils’ mental health.”

Safeguarding is said to be effective. Other areas of strength include extra-curricular opportunities languages clubs and equalities societies, effective support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), staff morale and governance.

Mr Oldham says the leaders of FHS, which is part of Excalibur Academies Trust, are determined that pupils gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life.

The only area for improvement suggested is early reading support.

Principal Amanda Bridgewater said: “I am so proud of our whole school community for this wonderful report, which includes so many positive comments. The inspectors have recognised the unique qualities of our school, where young people are able to thrive in their learning and development because they feel safe, are happy and have confidence in the adults around them.”