Westminster’s top performing state school has been lauded as “exceptional” by the education watchdog - proving it is far more than just “an exam machine”.
St Marylebone CofE School was given ‘outstandings’ across the board by Ofsted, with inspectors raving about the school in a glowing report.
It describes the Marylebone High Street school is “an exceptional place” where pupils “flourish, both academically and personally”, praising teachers for their “excellent subject knowledge” and the governors for their “exemplary” commitment.
The inspectors were also full of praise for headteacher Kathryn Pugh, who only took the reigns of the school in January - just a matter of months before Ofsted descended for its first full visit in seven years.
They note Ms Pugh has “quickly gained the confidence of staff, students, parents and governors through her inclusive and collaborative approach”, which leaves staff feeling valued.
Ms Pugh is, understandably, delighted.
“It is really good to see the work of teachers praised - they work incredibly hard,” Ms Pugh said. “It is difficult - it is a proper test, and I am glad it was.
“I do not think you should just be able to get ‘outstanding’. We say to our students you cannot just get A*s, you have to work.”
She is particularly pleased that the inspectors did not just focus on the school’s academic achievements - which saw it top the tables for both GCSE and A level results in Westminster last summer - and also take into consideration the other things offered, like the after-school clubs and educational trips.
“There are lots of things which are not just about getting results and outcomes,” she said. “We do lots of things developing the whole person, concentrating on people’s health and wellbeing.”
Ms Pugh, who had been a teacher at the school for nine years before becoming head, is very keen on the arts, and St Marylebone’s emphasis on them.
“We do not see the arts as being on the edge of the curriculum. It is in the middle rather than on the edge Creativity is part of becoming a successful learner and a successful employee. These are not hobbies on the side.”
The academic achievement of the girls - and boys in the sixth form - remains hugely important.
The school has also been praised for its science and maths departments - both areas which are “important for young women”, according to Ms Pugh.
But she concluded: “Results can speak for themselves but they don’t always show the whole picture. St Marylebone is not an exam machine: it is a place where whole people are nurtured.”