The Oxford School of Drama

A World-Leading Drama School: OFSTED Report Finds OSD Outstanding On All Counts

a group of students at a world-leading drama school cheering and celebrating

As a world-leading Drama School, we pride ourselves on our ability to continue improving and responding to the needs of our students and staff. This month, the results of our most recent OFSTED Report have been published. The report awarded us Outstanding ratings in all areas of Inspection.

Our last inspection was carried out in 2015, and since then, the landscape of OSD and the education sector has evolved significantly. Alongside these changes, OFSTED has also changed its inspection framework considerably. Staff and Tutors have worked incredibly hard to listen and respond to these changes with care while balancing our commitment to the craft of Acting.  

This report is a testament to our adaptability and resilience, recognising us as one of the best training institutions in the UK. Although it is a great achievement to be classified as Outstanding, we will continue to listen to our community with the aim of finding ways to improve the student experience. This report has fuelled our desire to continue challenging ourselves to listen and grow as an institution.

In response to the report, our Principal, Edward Hicks, and the Co-Chairs of our Board of Trustees, Anne Millman and Martin Neild, wanted to extend their thanks and appreciation to all staff for their cooperation and work across the inspection period and to all students for always being the best advocates for the school.  

At OSD, we are immensely proud of this achievement. Following an earlier inspection by the CDMT, it has indeed been a year filled with evaluations. This latest result exemplifies our commitment to providing students with the highest quality training. I extend my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to all the staff for their hard work and dedication. Our collective effort ensures that the school can continually improve and evolve, preparing our students to become the exciting storytellers of tomorrow. Secondly, a huge thanks to our student body. Your dedication and commitment to your training inspire us all, and you are the school's best representatives. Our Staff and Student bodies are what makes OSD such a special place.

The Ofsted outstanding award is a fitting tribute to the extraordinary hard work, vision and commitment of staff and students at the School. It is so pleasing to see Ofsted recognise the uniqueness of the OSD which clearly shone through at all stages of the inspection. The Board of trustees is very proud of all the School’s achievements recognised and endorsed by Ofsted. We remain committed to supporting the staff and student body in every way we can as the School builds on its strong foundations while changing and adapting for a bright future.

The inspection covers a range of areas. Inspectors met with staff, tutors, and students alike over the course of three days. They also observed classes and met with our trustees. The areas covered in the inspection, which were each determined to be Outstanding, are as follows;

  • Quality of Education
  • Behaviour and Attitudes
  • Personal Development
  • Leadership and Management
    • Safeguarding
  • Adult Learning Programmes
  • Overall Effectiveness

Here are some wonderful comments from the report:

On the Culture of the School

“Learners appreciate the inclusive culture at the school. Staff nurture and celebrate learners’ successes in the classroom and during their performances. Learners respond very positively to constructive critique of their practice. They feel safe to take risks using feedback to improve their work as a member of the ensemble or as an individual artiste.”

On Pastoral Care

“Learners develop a firm understanding of the importance of keeping themselves mentally and physically healthy. Tutors are trained in mental health awareness and provide learners with a wide range of advice and guidance such as living a healthy lifestyle, managing stress and anxiety, and being resilient.”

On Equal Access

“Since the previous inspection, leaders have maintained a clear focus on ensuring that they provide equal opportunity for learners to access training. They use funding very effectively to support learners who would struggle to access specialist actor tuition to study at the school. As a result, the learner population represents an inclusive and diverse mix of learners from a variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.”

On Our Tutors and Visiting Practitioners

“Staff expertly teach the curriculum so that learners strengthen and refine their performance skills. They successfully use contemporary teaching strategies to help learners make connections between the foundations of acting technique and new learning…Acting tutors are highly qualified and experienced in their respective fields of voice, acting, movement, song and theatre. Visiting lecturers are specialists in directing and well-known in the artistic community and field of dramaturgy. As a result, learners benefit from training by subject experts who have experience and who use their professional knowledge and skills to inform teaching and directorial practice.”

On Adaptable and Accessible Learning

“Tutors carefully assist neurodiverse learners or those with special educational needs and/or disabilities to submit their written work for assessment in accessible ways. In their reflective journal work, learners use annotations and drawings to explain how they are developing their craft. Others submit their journals in film or audio format. This helps such learners to discuss their progress with tutors and be assessed in ways that are accessible and inclusive.”

On Our Graduate Success Record

“Graduates progress into high profile, positive destinations and many are offered roles in well regarded productions. Recent graduates have performed in acting roles and have either been nominated for, or have won, the Stage’s Best West End Debut Award, Olivier nominations and the Fringe First Award for Best New Writing. Learners highly value their training and know that they acquire the attributes to be a versatile actor.”

One Sentence To Describe Life at OSD

“Learners benefit from demanding actor training in an exciting and dynamic learning environment.”

Of course, OFSTED is just one of the many ways we measure our success and effectiveness. We are also inspected for accreditation by the CDMT and Trinity College London, meaning we are continually reviewing our procedures and aim to be an adaptive institution that continues to improve. Nevertheless, receiving Outstanding grades across all areas is a wonderful inspiration for all of us here as we continue to broaden access to our training and challenge ourselves to listen, respond, and grow as a world-leading drama school.

You can read the full OFSTED report on their website here.

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