Dear Parents/Carers, 

We have received the report following the Ofsted inspection of 16th and 17th April 2024. 

We are very proud of the strengths which were recognised during the inspection and specifically the significant number of highly positive responses from our parents and carers submitted via the survey portal.  

Following the previous (October 2022) ungraded Ofsted inspection, we knew there were key areas regarding our curriculum that needed further development. As I have said in my newsletters this year, we are on an ‘improvement journey’. The inspectors agreed with this and, although Leadership and Management, Behaviour and Attitudes and Personal Development were all judged to meet the criteria for ‘Good’, the Quality of Education was judged to be ‘Requires Improvement’. Within the Inspection framework, Quality of Education is a limiting judgement which means that we are judged to be ‘Requires Improvement’ overall. 

Since arriving at Alder in September, myself and the staff have been working together to ensure that our students feel supported and celebrated. We are pleased that this was commented on in the report where it states that Pupils feel well cared for in this school. They benefit from high-quality pastoral support.  Our pastoral staff, including Form Tutors, Progress Leaders, and support staff, go above and beyond each day to try to support the varying needs of our pupils as best as we can. This was seen as a clear strength. 

The following priorities have been at the forefront of our work:  

  • Pupils are encouraged to make meaningful contributions to the school community. For example, the student council recently helped to review the school’s anti-bullying policy. Pupils have an increasingly strong voice in the school. They value opportunities to work with staff to improve further their educational experience. This is an area of focus with Student Leadership and Student Voice having a significant raised profile during our Spring term. Inspectors recognised this and were impressed with the way our students communicated their feelings about the school. Alder is here for the students, and we want to ensure that they have a sense of belonging as we continue our improvement journey. 

  • The school has a programme in place to support pupils who struggle with their reading. We know that in order for students to effectively access the curriculum and excel in their subjects, they must be able to read fluently. Reading and the understanding of tier 2 and 3 vocabulary is fundamental to our current academic support offer via sessions at form times, focus times in each lesson and additional interventions such as Lexia. Inspectors noted that the work that has been started in this area is correct but that it is in its infancy. This will continue to be a key priority as we move forwards. 

  • Recently, the school has increased its expectations of pupils’ achievement, particularly of those pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). It has prioritised improving the quality of education that it provides. The school has a comprehensive understanding of what remains to be done. Ensuring we have a high ambition for all of our students, and especially those with additional needs is part of my own moral purpose as well as that of our staff and Governing Body. We have a clear vision to ensure no child at Alder receives ‘a good enough’ offer. We aim to be ‘outstanding in all we do’ and have clear plans in place to realise this vision. This work was audited and scrutinised by inspectors over the two days and they were complimentary about the clarity of this vision throughout the school. 

  • Recently, the school has taken swift and effective action to improve its provision for pupils with SEND. You will no doubt already be aware of our drive around improving SEND provision at Alder. Our new SEND leaders Miss Huddleston and Miss Sloan joined us in January and the improvements they have made so far to support our SEND students are clear to see. New processes have been put into place to accurately identify the additional needs of our students and to deploy appropriate interventions. However, there is much more work to be done in this area and the hard work continues – especially in the way the curriculum is adapted for our SEND learners. All of our staff are committed to ensuring that students feel fully included and supported by both the academic offer and pastoral support at the school. 
  • The school ensures that pupils are suitably prepared for life in modern society. Inspectors were complimentary of the comprehensive programme of Personal Development that our students experience and noted how our Extra Curricular offer and Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) are real strengths at the school.  

  • The atmosphere in the school is calm and orderly. Pupils are respectful to staff. A small number of pupils struggle to regulate their own behaviour. The school is taking thoughtful action to help these pupils and to ensure that staff are well equipped to support them. It was reassuring that inspectors noted the work we have done to ensure that our school environment is calm and orderly, and that disruptive behaviour is not tolerated. Students who behave in a way that negatively impacts other students from learning and staff from teaching are aware of the consequences within school and, where appropriate, including suspension from school. 

  • The school has sharply focused plans in place to develop the quality of education that it provides. It is implementing these at pace. Despite us feeling disappointed that we cannot yet say we meet all of the Ofsted Criteria to be judged to be a ‘Good school’, we are aware of the key areas of development and will continue to move forwards.  

I want to thank you, our parents and carers, for your continued support and also thank the staff for their ongoing commitment, ambition and dedication to the students in our care. The academic outcomes and positive experience our students receive is at the heart of all we do and we know that our students are fantastic ambassadors for Alder. 

Please follow this link to read the full report. 

Kind regards 

Michelle Critchlow 


Alder Community High School