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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Ofsted tells Cumbrian senior school it must improve

A Workington school has been told it must improve following a blitz by Ofsted which put nearly half the county’s secondaries in the spotlight.

St Joseph
St Joseph's School, Workington

St Joseph’s Catholic High School was one of 16 schools to have “quick” inspections by the education watchdog following concern that Cumbrian schools were not good enough.

Three schools in west Cumbria were visited by inspectors last month, as part of an accelerated programme of visits. As well as St Joseph’s, inspectors swooped on Stainburn School and Southfield Technology College in Workington. Carlisle’s Newman school was also visited.

Results from the inspections are now starting to emerge, with St Joseph’s being the first in west and north Cumbria to be made public.

Although the school, on Harrington Road, was said to be ‘good’ in two of the four aspects it was judged on – quality of teaching and behaviour and safety of pupils – it was given a ‘requires improvement’ rating in the achievement of pupils and leadership and management. Overall it was deemed as ‘requires improvement’.

Some of the negative points in the report are that a minority of most-able pupils do not reach, or exceed, the standards of others nationally; standards in English last year declined to below those reached by most pupils nationally; teachers do not always plan tasks and activities carefully enough and since the last inspection in May 2012, leaders and managers have not sufficiently improved the teaching of the most able pupils so that it consistently increases their rate of progress.

However, the school’s strengths included standards by the end of year 11 rising overall and being in line with the national average; the headteacher has recently improved teaching so that most groups of pupils in the school are improving their rates of progress; teaching is good overall with a minority outstanding and pupils’ behaviour is good and they support each other well in lessons.

Even though the school has been told to improve, headteacher Tom Ryan said that he is very pleased that the report recognised the school’s great strengths.

Mr Ryan said: “The foundations of the success of any school are built upon the quality of teaching children receive and how well they behave and are supported, so I am pleased that they judged the school to be ‘good’ in both of these important areas.

“There are many complimentary judgements in the report and there was a high degree of confidence expressed over the two days of our inspection, in the school’s ability to go from ‘strength to strength’.

“The current Ofsted framework places great emphasis in specific areas and whilst these are important they make it a lot harder for the inspection team to make a more ‘holistic judgement’ about how well a school is performing.

“It is reassuring to know that even being measured against a more stringent standard, St Joseph’s is on the ‘cusp of being good’ and I have every confidence that it will be by the time of our next inspection.”

Ofsted bosses say the wave of inspections – which will be complete before Christmas – will help them work out why only 57 per cent of Cumbria’s 37 secondary schools are rated good or outstanding, compared to 70 per cent nationally.

They will report their findings from the 16 inspections conducted this term to Cumbria County Council.

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