Head’s promise after fresh Ofsted criticism

Steve Tattersall
Steve Tattersall

A Longridge high school has been judged not to have taken enough action to improve after its October Ofsted.

Following a second and monitoring inspection in November by Her Majesty’s Inspector Sally Kenyon, her report in December on St Cecilia’s RC school said: “This visit has raised serious concerns about the school’s work. I will report these to the Senior HMI for the region who will consider what action to take and may arrange an inspection of the whole school.”

The visit was the first monitoring inspection since the school was judged to require improvement following the section 5 inspection in October, and was carried out under section 8 of the Education Act 2005.

Senior leaders, governors and the local authority were deemed not to be taking effective action and plans were not sharply focused on rapidly bringing about improvement.

The inspector stated the school should take immediate action to ensure all staff follow correct procedures for accurately recording attendance, set challenging targets for groups of students whose attendance was low in order to raise achievement, establish a more accurate and detailed picture of the day-to-day quality of teaching, engage with a National Leader of Governance to bring about improvements in the effectiveness of the governing body,eradicate inadequate teaching and ensure the progress of all groups was monitored robustly.

Head teacher Steve Tattersall commented this week: “We accept the inspector’s findings and welcome her helpful suggestions to further enhance the work that is already under way to improve our school.

“As she noted, our action plan covers all the key areas for improvement, and the school’s senior leaders and governors are prioritising areas for immediate action. Lancashire County Council and Salford Diocese are working in partnership with us, and the entire school community is pulling together to help make the improvements as quickly as possible. I have every confidence we will succeed.”

During HMI Kenyon’s visit, meetings were held with Mr Tattersall, other senior leaders, students, representatives of the governing body, a representative of the local authority and the Salford Diocese, to discuss the action taken since the last inspection.

The school action plan was evaluated. Four joint lesson observations took place, one with each of the senior leaders.

Achievement data were scrutinised alongside the school’s self-evaluation of its performance. HMI Kenyon found there had been no significant contextual changes since the Section 5 inspection.

She reports in a letter to Mr Tattersall: “Since the section 5 inspection you have put together a school improvement plan and a calendar of monitoring activities including looking at the quality of students’ work in their books, short visits to lessons and listening to students’ views about the quality of their learning.

“The school improvement plan covers all the key areas for improvement. However, you do not state clearly what the expected impact is on students’ progress.”

Key to the plan was the effective use of performance management, but this was hampered because senior leaders had an over-generous view of the quality of teaching and did not focus enough on evaluating the progress made by different groups of students in lessons.

Attendance needed to be urgently reviewed, rates for students eligible for the pupil premium funding remained low and had fallen further since last academic year.

A full review of attendance would be held by a specialist team.

The inspector stated the local authority and Salford Diocese were working in partnership to address weaknesses in leadership, improve teaching and to raise attainment in mathematics. The Lancashire monitoring and intervention team was also providing support, and head Mr Tattersall had linked with a National Leader of Education (NLE) and some senior leaders had been to observe practice at the NLE’s school.

“It is too soon to measure the impact of this support,” she adds. “Ofsted may carry out further visits and, where necessary, provide further support and challenge to the school until its next section 5 inspection.”