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Barney achieves highest ‘Excellent’ rating following ISI inspection

09 Jun 2023

Barnard Castle School is delighted to announce that it has achieved the highest ‘Excellent’ rating awarded by our sector’s regulator, the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), following a rigorous and comprehensive inspection.

In April 2023, we welcomed inspectors from across the UK for a focused compliance inspection combined with an inspection of educational quality over a three-day period, which included lesson observations and staff and pupil interviews.

Following the rigorous inspection process, the ISI concluded that Barnard Castle School is fully compliant and meets all the standards in the schedule to the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014, the National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools 2022 and associated requirements. The team of inspectors also gave high praise about the quality of our students’ academic achievements and personal development, awarding ‘Excellent’ in both categories.

Barney’s overarching purpose, vision and aims shone through the ISI’s report, with the Inspectorate attributing students’ excellent personal development as ‘a direct result of the values and ethos of the school. This is driven by the senior leadership team through the innovative use of assembly and tutorial time, which is endorsed by the governing body, thus fulfilling the school’s aim to develop young adults with character’.

Inspectors noted many key findings throughout the report, including: 

  • The comprehensive and experienced pastoral care team are a huge strength of the school and embody the values and ethos they wish to promote.
  • Pupils reach for higher levels of knowledge and attainment whilst also having the freedom to make their own educational choices.
  • Pupils’ sense of awe and wonder in this circle of life was contagious.
  • Pupils have an excellent understanding of service to their community which is reflected in many aspects of their school lives.
  • Pupils demonstrate excellent collaborative and co-operative skills that reflect the school’s core values. 
  • Pupils’ contribution to others and the wider community is exceptional.
  • Pupils’ achievements outside the formal curriculum are excellent. They enjoy a wide range of extra-curricular activities, in which participation levels are high and enrich their education and personal development.

Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of parents and pupils responded positively to the pre-inspection questionnaire, with 91 percent of pupils, 96 percent of parents as well as 99 percent of staff ‘agreeing’ with or ‘strongly agreeing’ to each statement.

Tony Jackson, Headmaster of Barnard Castle School, said: “This was a rigorous and comprehensive inspection and we are unbelievably proud of the outcome, which is validation of everything we endeavour to do.

“Our children are preparing for a rapidly changing world and are having to contend with adversity on a local and global level. Throw into this mix the volatile and ubiquitous nature of social media and technology and it is clear that we need to evolve constantly to meet their learning needs as we prepare them for work in the 2060s and 2070s. The seamless implementation of our bespoke ‘Barney Education’ curriculum and ground-breaking ‘Apollo’ system ensure we remain at the forefront of technological advances in education, which has already had a positive impact throughout our entire School community.”

Mr Jackson added: “It is a pleasure to work alongside so many talented professionals and be part of such a special, unique community, and we are excited about what the future holds for our School.”

A full copy of the report can be accessed here.