Holcombe Grammar School
Catchment Area, Reviews and Key Information

Post 16
School Guide Rating

Maidstone Road
11 - 18
Academy converter
4 1 1 2 3 4
Ofsted Inspection
Full Report - All Reports
5+ GCSEs grade 9-4 (standard pass or above) including English and maths
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School Description

The leadership team has maintained the good quality of education in the school since the last inspection. Since your appointment as executive principal, you have worked determinedly with the two vice-principals to raise attainment, improve teaching and give a much greater focus to the quality of pupils’ learning and thinking. Governors, middle leaders, staff and pupils share your vision for the school as well as your commitment, dedication and work ethic. Leaders and governors have an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of educational provision in the school. Your vision to develop pupils’ thinking skills is having a positive impact on the quality of learning and teaching. The majority of lessons observed were engaging and challenging, with feedback which enabled pupils to improve as well as develop their confidence, resilience and the desire to keep on learning. More recently, you have focused on developing and empowering middle leaders so that they might be more active in taking responsibility for teaching and outcomes in their own areas. Middle leaders welcome their greater involvement in the decisionmaking and quality assurance of the school. I had the privilege of talking to a group of middle leaders, and they were confident and articulate about their roles and responsibilities, especially in terms of developing teaching and improving outcomes. Pupils’ progress and attainment continue to be well above national averages, but the progress of disadvantaged pupils is below that of their peers although now in line with national averages. Leaders are aware that high prior attainers are not making as much progress as middle prior attainers, so they have focused on ensuring greater challenge in all lessons. Attainment and progress in the sixth form are similar to local and national averages, although the trend over time is one of improvement. Your well-targeted and personally tailored professional development programme is having a positive impact on improving classroom practice and raising expectations. Inspectors identified particularly strong learning and progress in the core subjects. Leaders acknowledge that learning and progress in humanities are less secure. Learning walks confirmed teachers’ strong subject knowledge and examination awareness, as well as their positive relationships and supportive interactions. Your curriculum is appropriately adapted to the needs, abilities and interests of all pupils. A range of extra-curricular activities further promotes personal development and welfare. Form time and school assemblies are used to promote actively inclusive values such as democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law and an acceptance of those of different faiths and beliefs. The sixth-form curriculum provides an appropriate range of courses which is responsive to pupils’ aptitudes and future needs, as evidenced through the high staying-on rates. Safeguarding is effective. Leaders and governors have ensured that all safeguarding arrangements are fit for purpose and meet statutory requirements. The trust’s safeguarding policy is very comprehensive and the single central record fully compliant and easy to follow. The staff training programme has ensured that all staff are familiar with child protection practices. Reporting procedures are well known, with regular safeguarding updates and frequent reminders to staff, pupils, parents and carers. Senior leaders and governors have received safer recruitment training, which informs the recruitment and selection of all new staff. Governors are knowledgeable about safeguarding requirements and engaged in ensuring that these are actively implemented. The school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is a priority. Pupils say that they feel safe and secure in the school. They are aware of different forms of bullying, including homophobic and racist bullying, and say that bullying is always challenged and dealt with firmly. Pupils spoke positively about the advice and support provided about online safety and the opportunities to talk about any worries or concerns. The large majority of parents who completed the online questionnaire Parent View agreed that their child was happy and well looked after. Most parents agreed that their child felt safe. Inspection findings At the start of the inspection, three lines of enquiry were agreed with the executive principal and senior leaders at the school. The first line of enquiry asked whether outcomes were high enough for all pupils in all subjects across all phases. School documentation confirms that raising outcomes of all pupils has been an ongoing priority for the school. Leaders have been working particularly hard to improve the performance of disadvantaged pupils and high prior attainers, as well as outcomes in humanities and the sixth form. In the classroom, teachers are much more focused on disadvantaged pupils and higher-attaining pupils. Lessons observed confirmed that these pupils are known by the teacher and that their specific needs are recognised and addressed. Outcomes for disadvantaged pupils have risen dramatically, so that their progress is now similar to national averages. Outcomes for higher-attaining pupils are also improving as a result of the greater challenge offered and teachers’ focus on developing pupils’ thinking skills. Progress in the sixth form continues to rise, as a result of better teaching and strong leadership. Staying-on rates from Year 11 are particularly high, although approximately one quarter of the pupils join the sixth form from other schools. The school has worked hard to ensure that these pupils are better inducted into the sixth form. Similarly, more rigorous quality assurance has identified where teaching is weaker and provided support to ensure improvement. This is particularly true in German, economics, geography and media studies. The second line of enquiry concerned the quality and consistency of teaching, learning and assessment in meeting the needs of all pupils. Across the school, procedures for monitoring the quality of teaching, learning and assessment are regular and robust, with increased moderation opportunities to ensure consistency in expectations and judgements. Where teaching is identified as requiring improvement, tailored support is provided to secure a rapid and sustained improvement. Lesson observation data confirms that teaching is improving. The use of regular lesson observations, personalised professional development and ongoing support from other trust schools has contributed well to meeting the needs of all pupils in all subjects across all phases. Lessons observed confirm strong subject knowledge as well as high levels of teacher challenge and pupil engagement. The school’s focus on developing pupils’ literacy and thinking skills was especially evident, through the use of key words and a range of thinking strategies including circle maps and flow maps. In the humanities lessons observed and the work samples seen, this was much less evident. The third area of focus concerned the effectiveness of the leadership and governance of the school in addressing differences in outcomes, creating a culture of high expectations and developing an inspiring curriculum. Certainly, the recently appointed executive principal has a clear understanding of the school and its strengths and areas for improvement. He is ably supported by a hardworking senior leadership team and a knowledgeable governing board. In a relatively short time, leaders have improved teaching, raised expectations and ensured a greater focus on individual pupils through the use of data. Leaders have worked hard to develop the curriculum and ensure that schemes of work are challenging and developmental. Highlighting literacy and thinking skills has been appropriate in responding to pupils’ relative weakness in communication, in order to develop resilience and determination in their learning. Leadership in the sixth form is particularly effective and, as a result, the quality of teaching is improving, as confirmed through lesson observations, work samples and collected data.

Holcombe Grammar School Catchment Area Map

This pupil heat map shows where pupils currently attending the school live.

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All attending pupils
National School Census Data 2020
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The concentration of pupils shows likelihood of admission based on distance criteria

01634 331110

This School Guide heat map has been plotted using official pupil data taken from the last School Census collected by the Department for Education. It is a visualisation of where pupils lived at the time of the annual School Census.

Our heat maps use groups of postcodes, not individual postcodes, and have naturally soft edges. All pupils are included in the mapping (i.e. children with siblings already at the school, high priority pupils and selective and/or religious admissions) but we may have removed statistical ‘outliers’ with more remote postcodes that do not reflect majority admissions.

For some schools, the heat map may be a useful indicator of the catchment area but our heat maps are not the same as catchment area maps. Catchment area maps, published by the school or local authority, are based on geographical admissions criteria and show actual cut-off distances and pre-defined catchment areas for a single admission year.

This information is provided as a guide only. The areas from which pupils are admitted to a school can change from year to year to reflect the number of siblings and pupils admitted under high priority admissions criteria.

3 steps to help parents gather catchment information for a school:

  1. Look at our school catchment area guide for more information on heat maps. They give a useful indicator of the general areas that admit pupils to the school. This visualisation is based on all attending pupils present at the time of the annual School Census.
  2. Use the link to the Local Authority Contact (above) to find catchment area information based on a single admission year. This is very important if you are considering applying to a school.
  3. On each school page, use the link to visit the school website and find information on individual school admissions criteria. Geographical criteria are only applied after pupils have been admitted on higher priority criteria such as Looked After Children, SEN, siblings, etc.

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