A SNAP inspection has found a secondary school is on its way to being 'outstanding'.

Ofsted visited the Gilberd School in Colchester to check on progress since its last full inspection in 2013 when it was rated 'good'.

Kay Leach, who led the inspection this spring, said in her report: "Based on the evidence gathered during this short inspection, I am of the opinion that the school has demonstrated strong practice and marked improvement in certain areas. This may indicate that the school is improving towards being outstanding."

Ms Leach recommended the next visit by Ofsted should be a full inspection which could determine if the school has moved up a step to the top outstanding grade and this would take place in one to two years.

Other than Colne Community School and College in Brightlingsea, it would then be the only comprehensive school in Colchester to be rated Outstanding.

The inspection team said since the 2013 inspection, the Highwoods based school has improved year on year.

Pupils’ progress from the end of primary school to sitting their GCSEs was in the top 20 per cent in the country and significantly above average scores nationally.

The inspection report added: "The behaviour of pupils around the school is impeccable. Low-level disruption in lessons is extremely rare. Pupils are polite and courteous to adults and each other.

"They wear their uniforms smartly and treat the inviting school environment with respect. In lessons, the atmosphere is positive and industrious."

Head teacher Linda Exley said she was most pleased with the comments about pupils' behaviour.

She added: “We are constantly striving to make the school the best it can be. Parents chose this school because they have a clear idea of what we offer and the effectiveness with which we deliver it. Whilst we are, of course, immensely proud to have achieved results that put us in the top 20 per cent of schools nationally, The Gilberd is about more than this. We strive to develop character through clear values, high standards of personal conduct and extra-curricular involvement.

“This report is a result of the hard work and dedication of our students, staff and governors, as well as through the constant support of our parents.”

The school was told it now needs to improve progress in languages, so that pupils achieve the same high standards as in other subjects and refine the extensive careers information and guidance available to pupils, so they can make well-informed choices about their next step.