Bradfield College achieves ‘excellent’ ISI Inspection Report

January 30, 2023

Bradfield College is delighted to report that the school was found to be ‘excellent’, the highest judgement possible, in terms of Pupil Attainment and Personal Development following the recent inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI).

Between 29 November and 1 December 2022, the ISI conducted a Focused Compliance Inspection combined with an Inspection of Educational Quality at Bradfield College. They also considered and approved a ‘material change’ request to allow for a slight expansion of our numbers to a maximum of 850 (currently 830) following completion of an extension to Stanley House. The College was found to be compliant in all respects and ‘excellent’ in terms of Pupil Attainment and Personal Development.

Below is a summary of the key findings of the Inspection Report and the single recommendation made by the inspectors. The Report can be read in full via the link below or the link at the bottom of this article. Other than the parts in italics, which summarise elements of the Report, all the text below is taken directly from it and retains its original numbering.




What the school seeks to do

1.3 The school aims to provide an outstanding education for life in order to equip pupils with the skills to flourish personally and professionally and to make a positive contribution to society. It seeks to develop pupils’ confidence, open-mindedness and resilience along with a sense of inquiry, good communication skills and the ability to be innovative and creative.

Regulatory Compliance Inspection

The Regulatory Compliance inspection reports on the school’s compliance with the Independent School Standards, National Minimum Standards for Boarding and other applicable standards under the Equality Act 2010 and Education Act 1996. Judgments are given either as met or not met. Bradfield met the standards in each of the eight Parts.

Key findings

2.1 The school meets the standards in the schedule to the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014, National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools 2022, and associated requirements, and no further action is required as a result of this inspection.



Educational Quality Inspection

The inspection reports on the quality of the school’s work. It focuses on the two key outcomes, the achievement of the pupils, including their academic development, and the personal development of the pupils. The headline judgments apply one of the ISI descriptors ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘sound’ or ‘unsatisfactory’.

Key findings

4.1 The quality of the pupils’ academic and other achievements is excellent.

  • Pupils’ communication skills are excellent throughout the school and enhance all areas of their learning.
  • Pupils’ knowledge, skills and understanding are excellent, particularly towards the top of the school.
  • Pupils’ study skills are strong, and they have excellent attitudes towards learning.

4.2 The quality of the pupils’ personal development is excellent.

  • Pupils are confident, understand themselves well and so are self-disciplined and resilient in their studies and well prepared for the future.
  • Pupils’ moral understanding and responsibility for their own behaviour are excellent.
  • Pupils make highly positive contributions to their boarding houses and to the wider school community.
  • Pupils are excellent decision makers, taking a lead successfully in many aspects of school life.
  • Pupils are aware of the needs of those around them; they are supportive of each other and work together most effectively.


4.3 The school is advised to make the following improvement.

  • Enable pupils to further develop and apply a spirit of inquiry, and their innovative and creative skills, to their curricular and co-curricular activities.


The three excerpts below expand upon the judgments above and have been selected to give a representative overview of College activity in the academic, pastoral and cocurricular spheres (although they are not discrete in the report as Attainment and Personal Development are influenced by and evidenced in all three areas). There are numerous other sections in the full report which reflect the talents and qualities of our pupils and the strengths of the College, but it is not appropriate to select these out of context, tempting though it may be to compile a ‘highlights reel’! Please do read the full report to get a proper overview of the many elements of the broad education we offer.

The quality of the pupils’ academic and other achievements

4.5 Data analysed show that even from their high starting points, at GCSE, A level and for the IBDP, almost all pupils achieve grades higher than expected for those of their ability. Pupils of all abilities and groups, such as those with SEND and EAL, and the most able scholars, achieve highly in examinations, particularly at GCSE where, on average, they attain almost a grade higher than expected. This indicates that support for pupils with SEND and EAL and mentoring programmes for scholars are highly effective. The overwhelming majority of pupils are successful in attaining places at their higher education course or apprenticeship of choice. This high level of attainment continues the steady improvement in academic standards seen in examination results since the previous inspection and is a consequence of pupils’ excellent attitudes to learning, knowledgeable teaching and governors’ successful investment in staffing and resources to raise the standard of academic achievement for all pupils.

4.9 Pupils achieve highly in a wide range of co-curricular areas. A high number of pupils take LAMDA examinations, and, over the last three years, a large majority of these attained distinctions. Able musicians enter for national music examinations with several reaching grade 8 in their time at school. Pupils compete successfully in a variety of national mathematics and science competitions. Some notable achievements include winning work experience placements at a large chemical company or being published in the Young Scientists Journal. Film studies pupils have been highly successful with some of their short films winning, or being shortlisted for, nationally recognised awards, and the school has been recognised as a centre for excellence in film making by the WJEC examination board. Pupils’ achievements in a wide range of sports are excellent, with the most able competing at national level in hockey and football and a number of individual sports. Sports teams had a particularly successful year in 2022 with the 1st XI boys’ football team winning the HUDL National Independent Schools League for the first time, the 1stXI U18 girls’ cricket team winning the School Sport Magazine National T20 competition, and tennis, hockey, shooting and golf teams winning national competitions or league honours.

The quality of the pupils’ personal development

4.13 Pupils’ self-knowledge and self-esteem are excellent. Many pupils cite boarding as a key element in helping them to understand themselves, including their strengths and weaknesses. Day pupils are fully integrated into the houses, so reap the benefits of belonging to a supportive community where matrons, personal tutors and house masters or mistresses know their pupils well and are readily available to them. Pupils say they develop their self-confidence early in their school life through taking part in the sports leadership, community action or Combined Cadet Force (CCF) options in the Bradfield Diploma. These activities offer leadership opportunities, and pupils, including those with SEND and EAL, say that they feel they are being trusted and given positions of responsibility which have helped them develop their strengths and self-esteem. Pupils quickly learn to be self-disciplined. They say they are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning, and, in the houses, are expected to get themselves up in the mornings and to keep their own rooms clean and tidy. As they move up the school, pupils are given more freedom to organise their own time and learn how to balance their commitments within a busy schedule, so preparing themselves for the future. Pupils are mature and highly resilient in their work and in their activities helping to meet the school’s aim to equip its pupils to flourish personally and professionally.

Inspection Evidence

5.1 The inspectors observed lessons, had discussions with pupils and examined samples of pupils’ work. They held discussions with members of staff and with the chair of governors and the safeguarding governor, observed a sample of the extra-curricular activities that occurred during the inspection period, and attended chapel and assemblies. Inspectors visited boarding houses and the learning support and educational resource areas. Inspectors considered the responses of parents, staff and pupils to pre-inspection questionnaires. The inspectors examined curriculum and other documentation made available by the school.