Short Visit 2023

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Exeter Cathedral School
The Chantry, Palace Gate
Exeter, EX1 1HX

[email protected]
+44 (01392) 255 298

Some questions and answers about the Short Visit 2023.

Routine inspections happen every three years. This was not one of those. This was an unannounced inspection.

Unannounced visits happen when a complaint is made to the DfE about some aspect of the School.

There were two people in the team.

They arrived on the Thursday morning and left on the Friday afternoon.

The ISI inspects schools against a set of ‘standards’ (ISSRs) and against the National Minimum Standards for Boarding (NMS).

The inspectors focus on the particular standards they wish to scrutinise. They determine either that a standard is ‘met’ or that it is ‘not met’. There is no grading nor qualitative judgement.

Inspectors met with the Head and other senior leaders in the School. They spoke with the Chair of Governors and with another Governor. They met with groups of staff and with groups of pupils. They reviewed policy documents and records.

Inspectors wanted to see the School’s records of complaints, and to know about a Governor’s handling of a recent complaint. They also wanted to see our records of first aid/injuries. They scrutinised our safeguarding procedures and documentation. They also scrutinised our supervision arrangements. They also reviewed our provision of information given to parents/guardians. In each of these cases they were satisfied with what they saw from the School. 

The standards relating to Health and Safety, to Supervision, to Provision of Information were all determined to have been ‘met’.  

Manner in which complaints are handled:
The inspectors determined that a Governor had handled a complaint without following the School’s policy, and therefore that this standard was ‘not met’.

Risk Assessment:
One of the drivers for the above complaint being handled as it had been was the unavailability (through illness) of some key Governors. The inspectors therefore determined that the Governors had not effectively managed this as a risk of governance at strategic level: it is for this reason that the ‘Risk Assessment’ standard was marked as ‘not met’.

The Report speaks positively about both Safeguarding Policy and Safeguarding Implementation at ECS. It references our effective arrangements for safeguarding and promoting the welfare and safety of our pupils; the wide range of staff available to our pupils; the appropriate keeping of our records; our close working with external agencies; our staff’s strong understanding of safeguarding requirements; the knowledge our staff team has of our pupils; the effective and prompt responding to any safeguarding concerns raised; the appropriate training received by our Governors; and the suitable review procedures for our policies and practices. 

You will see that the reason that the Safeguarding standard has been marked as ‘not all met’ is that the inspectors determined that we had ‘not met’ the three NMS for Boarding which relate to: risk assessment, handling of complaints, and leadership and management – an automatic knock-on from the inspectors’ findings as outlined above. These NMS have led to the safeguarding standard being marked as ‘not all met’. 

It is ISI policy that these standards being ‘not met’ leads automatically to the standard called Leadership and Management being ‘not met’. 

No. There were and are no concerns in the report about the safety, safeguarding or wellbeing of children, nor about the quality of academic education, nor about pastoral care, extra-curricular activities, range of opportunities, facilities, supervision – all the usual hallmarks of an excellent school. The inspectors commented that they were impressed with the staff and pupils that they met.

The School and the Governors have reviewed the findings and agreed an action plan to address where inspectors had determined that the standards had been ‘not met’. That action plan included alerting IAPS, reviewing and amending the make-up of the Board of Governors, strengthening the Board of Governors through new appointments (advertised for widely), appointing a new Chair of Governors and a new Safeguarding Governor, creating a Strategic Risk Register for the School.

We will be asked to send our action plan to the inspectorate. They will then return to the School to review our progress with the agreed steps. A new Report will be published, superseding the one published today.

UPDATE: you can find that new Report (February 2024) here.

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We are always happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the admissions process, or simply about life at Exeter Cathedral School in general.

To find out more, please contact our friendly admissions team using the button below:
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