OFSTED has rated a Colchester secondary school ‘Outstanding’ in each category.

Nearly all parents and carers of the Gilberd School who responded to Ofsted’s questionnaire commented that children were “happy and safe”, the report stated.

The top rating is a step up from the school’s previous ‘Good’.

Headteacher Linda Exley was praised for having “painstakingly presided over many years of incremental improvement”.

She said: “It is a very happy school and it makes such a difference to the way we work together to create the right atmosphere for learning.

“Our students really are very special young people.


Humbled headteacher Linda Exley

“Reading a report that says, “Pupils enjoy coming to school and appreciate the high quality education they receive” is humbling.

“Ultimately, everything we do is about them and the school achieving an outstanding grade is a cause for celebration for them.”

Inspectors described students as “highly confident, mature, articulate and polite young people”.

They also highlighted the progress of children with special educational needs who are on par with others nationally.

Mrs Exley was “most proud” of the compliments towards its young people.

“The students are a credit to the school and their parents,” she boasted.


Ofsted said students were "overwhelmingly courteous and polite".

She added: “A school does not achieve an outstanding grade overnight - it comes from a sustained desire for continual improvement by the entire staff.

“The report reflects the way all members of the Gilberd community have worked so hard together over time to support our students.

“It is gratifying to see the hard work of our students, staff, parents, governors and community partners validated in this way.”

The only area for improvement from Ofsted is for the school to continue to “promote and strengthen opportunities for extended writing,” beyond English, particularly for boys.

John Simpson, chairman of governors, said: “This has come about through many years of hard work and the delivery of sustained and continuous improvement.”

He later said: “Our next challenge is to maintain outstanding performance and to continue the development of the school for future generations.”