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Posted on: November 11th 2016

"A Community of Scholars" Harris Westminster Sixth Form 'Outstanding' in First Ever Ofsted Report

Harris Westminster Sixth Form has been rated ‘outstanding’ in every category in its first ever Ofsted report.

The academically selective sixth form opened in September 2014 as a partnership between Westminster School and the Harris Federation. It caters to the most able of London’s young people, prioritising students who receive free school meals, are in care or are from low-income backgrounds.

The Harris Federation runs over 40 academies in and around London. Each Harris school that has been inspected by Ofsted is rated either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. Westminster School is one of the country’s leading academic schools with an ethos which resides in the enduring values of the liberal tradition.

Inspectors praised the academic rigour of Harris Westminster Sixth Form and the commitment of its students, staff and leaders. The report said:

  • Westminster Harris 117“Governors and senior leaders have set a clear mission and purpose for the school, which, through the creative vision of the principal, has resulted in an environment in which students thrive within a community of scholars.”
  • “Teachers and students share a keen sense of inquiry and lessons are characterised by a mutual interest in the subjects.”
  • “Teachers frequently make links from one subject to another and, as a result, students are able to apply their learning across a range of subjects, which helps to equip them for their next steps to university.”
  • “Students receive excellent support and guidance to prepare them for university, in conjunction with staff and students at Westminster School, and very high aspirations are set to attend institutions that have very challenging entry requirements.”
  • “Leaders, managers and teachers are unrelenting in their pursuit of outstanding teaching.”
  • “Students have a profound understanding and appreciation of how their education is preparing them for future success.”

The report also commended the support of the unique educational partnership under which the school was established:

“The school receives excellent support in equal measure from its partnerships with the Harris Federation and Westminster School to promote students’ learning, and from Westminster Abbey staff to develop students’ sense of purpose and community.”

James Handscombe, Principal of Harris Westminster Sixth Form, said:

“At Harris Westminster the staff and students agree that learning is amazing. The Ofsted report recognises that together we form a “community of scholars”, a description which accurately reflects the environment and ethos of the school.

“With support and backing from the Harris Federation and Westminster School, we are ensuring that London’s brightest children – from all backgrounds – are able to achieve their potential.”

Sir Dan Moynihan, Chief Executive of the Harris Federation, said:

Harris Westminster Sixth Form is a highly ambitious institution, and one that is changing the face of selective education in this country. In the short time that it has been open, the students and staff have done everything in their power to ensure its success. It is wonderful to see their diligence and enthusiasm recognised by Ofsted in such a positive report.”

Patrick Derham, Head Master of Westminster School, said:

“The success of HWSF has been both humbling and inspiring. It is a partnership that the entire Westminster School community has embraced and it is a true partnership that has at its very heart a commitment to genuine scholarship.”

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who chairs the governing body, said:

“The governors are proud of what has been achieved, from the time when we first conceived the idea of Harris Westminster Sixth Form, through the support of the Harris Federation and the whole community of Westminster School."

“We are all happy for our Principal, staff and students that Ofsted has recognised HWSF’s outstanding quality. I am personally delighted to be offering a life-changing sixth form education to young people who might not otherwise have had that opportunity and to have involved Westminster Abbey in support of their education.”

Edward, who is studying maths at the University of Cambridge following his A Level success at Harris Westminster Sixth Form, said:

“The passion my teachers had was inspiring and they were always stretching me with questions and problems that have given me a rich appreciation for my subject.”

Nora, a former Harris Westminster student who is studying history at the University of Oxford, said:

“Harris Westminster has given me what were undoubtedly two of the best years of my life. The nexus between hard, testing work and an enchantingly scholastic and inspired teaching atmosphere gives the sixth form a uniqueness which has ultimately better prepared me for future challenges in academia and in life; I have no doubt that it will continue to inspire many generations to come.”



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