Staff, pupils and parents from Gad’s Hill are capping off a tremendously successful year in style, when terms such as ‘excellent’ and ‘outstanding’ were used to describe the Higham school in their latest inspection report. The glowing inspection results have come in the same year that Gad’s Hill was named as the country’s top independent by the BBC, The Times, The Daily Telegraph and in the Government’s School League Tables, as well as eighth best school overall when including state schools.

Inspectors who visited the school, which caters for boys and girls aged three to 16, last week (29th-30th November) said the quality of leadership and management at the school – which is led by Headmaster Mr David Craggs – is excellent. The assessors from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) also said in their report that “the quality of teaching is good with some excellent features” and that pupils’ overall achievement was ‘good’. The inspection also found that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) at the school provides good quality education and care, and the quality of its leadership – run by Head of Kindergarten and Junior School, Ms Fiona McPherson – is outstanding.

It is this success that has enabled Gad’s Hill to invest in a new, state-of-the-art £10 million school within the grounds of its current residence, Gad’s Hill Place, the Georgian building formally belonging to world-renowned author Charles Dickens. The Grade One listed property – where Dickens penned classic novels such as ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ – has been used by the School for teaching since the 1920s.

Mr David Craggs has long campaigned for pupils to vacate the historic and increasingly fragile 18th century house and for Dickens’s home to be opened to visitors on a permanent basis. He said: “Our academic achievements have been consistently good over the past ten years and this last year has been second-to-none, especially in traditional core subjects such as Maths, English, Science, French and IT. While it is a real, and extremely rare, honour to be able to learn English in what was Charles Dickens bedroom, it’s no longer practical for our growing number of pupils to use this building.” “But thanks to positive reports from the likes of ISI inspectors, we are able to further validate the fact that Gad’s Hill School is a top-quality institution, providing first-class education for our pupils. This has put us in a very strong position for future success and growth, and will allow us to release Gad’s Hill Place to a trust which will turn it into a heritage centre.”

Headmaster Mr Craggs, agreed that it had been yet another fantastic year for Gad’s Hill and was delighted with everyone’s performance. “Our staff work so tremendously hard to make life at school enriching for pupils, ensuring they leave ready to face whatever challenges may lie ahead, and this latest report is testament to this. “2011 has been a marvellous year for Gad’s and all our plaudits are a credit to every single member of the Gad’s community, not only staff, but pupils, parents and their families too.”