A private school in North Wales has been hailed by inspectors as a “vibrant international learning community”.
It was the first ever inspection carried out by Estyn at Myddelton College in Denbigh which was the UK’s newest independent school in the UK when it opened in the autumn of 2016.
Their report praised the way the co-educational day and boarding school celebrates diversity and said that pupils’ behaviour was “exemplary”.
The inspectors were also impressed by the high level of support and guidance provided by the “committed staff”.
They singled out headteacher Mark Roberts for his “motivational leadership”.
Two thirds of the school’s 215 pupils come from Denbighshire, Flintshire and Conwy and it also attracts boarders from 16 different nationalities from as far afield as Kazakhstan, Russia, China, Nigeria, Spain, Italy, Mexico and Chile.
Mark Roberts, who took over the reins at the school in 2017, has pledged to turn Myddelton College into the best independent school in Wales.
He said; “Overall, I was very pleased with the report because it contains many positives as well as highlighting the fact that we are addressing the need to strengthen the middle leadership of the school and ensure high quality teaching at all times.
“It was a brand new school when it opened in 2016 and it was always going to take time to bed in.
“When I took on the headship, it was in difficult circumstances so we had to have a very methodical approach to improving the school.
“Our first focus was ensuring the school was fully compliant in all regulatory areas and we then focused on making sure the ethos was right, students who feel safe and happy are the ones that learn the best”
“We have now put structures in place to ensure the students make rapid progress and the standard of teaching and learning becomes outstanding which is where it should be.
“All the building blocks are there for long term success rather than a quick fix and that is recognised in the report. They completely agreed with my analysis of the school and that gives me great confidence we know what to do to improve.
“As part of the process, we have strengthened the leadership within the school with some key appointments, including new heads of the maths and science departments and both are having a really positive impact.
“Our wonderful staff deserve a huge amount of credit for the great strides we have taken in creating something really special here at Myddelton College. They are exceptional.
“I should also pay tribute to the invaluable support we receive from all of the parents and the Friends of Myddelton College group who encourage the school to continue to strive for excellence in everything we do.
“We are still the one and only school in North Wales with a 5G internet network but I am also a firm believer that the traditional skills of reading, writing and arithmetic are still as important as they have ever been. Our 21st century equipment is in addition to those skills not instead of those skills.
“Our ambition is for Myddelton College to be seen as the best independent school in Wales where students achieve the very best results and leave here as happy and fulfilled young people who can thrive and cope with all the pressures of the modern world.”
According to the inspectors, Myddelton College complied with all the regulatory requirements whilst the pupils all shared a great sense of belonging to their school community and thrived in developing their personal and social skills.
Pupils from a wide range of cultural backgrounds integrated positively and felt safe and secure in school.
The report added: “The proprietor, headteacher and senior leaders have been successful in establishing the school as a vibrant, engaging and innovative international learning community.
“Since its inception, there has been a healthy growth in pupil numbers, in part due to the opening of the preparatory school.
“The headteacher provides reflective and motivational leadership. Since his appointment, he has established a strong, nurturing community ethos and succeeded in embedding the school’s vision based on ‘the three pillars of resilience, scholarship and fellowship’.
“After a difficult and extremely challenging initial period for the school, leaders are now implementing suitable structures and strategies to improve outcomes and provision.
“The school has also taken steps to establish a governing body to oversee, support and challenge its work appropriately.
“Together with the senior leadership team, the headteacher provides clear direction for all areas of the school’s work.
“He is supportive of colleagues but has also taken appropriate action where necessary to challenge underperformance and strengthen provision.
“There is a suitable number of well-qualified and experienced staff to deliver the curriculum. The school provides an engaging learning environment and makes excellent use of the stimulating natural location through its learning through the outdoors programme.”
The chair of the Friends of Myddelton College, Punam Spencer, who has two children at the school, said: “The one thing that comes shining through in the report is that it is a happy school.
“My children couldn’t wait to get back to school after the holidays and on the morning they were due back at school they were both up at 6.15am. For me that speaks volumes.
“Mark Roberts has made a tremendous difference since he was appointed as headteacher. He leads from the front, he leads by example and he has the respect of the students, the teachers and the parents. He is also very responsive, he listens and he acts accordingly.
“I have every confidence that, under Mark’s leadership, the school will make changes happen so that it continues to improve. The future looks very bright for Myddelton College.”
It was a sentiment echoed by vice chair Victoria Godberford, who is also one of the parents and was a pupil at the former Howell’s School.
She said: “What I find attractive about Myddelton College is that the ethos is about developing the whole, rounded person – the character building and the confidence building is a huge aspect of what they do here.
“A happy, motivated child will also flourish academically and the confidence of my daughter Ophelia since she started here has just grown and grown.
“Before Mark Roberts arrived, there were a few teething problems at the school initially but it is now going from strength to strength and the Friends of Myddelton College have provided as much support as we can.”