The headteacher of Catholic High School in Ellesmere Port has expressed his disappointment after inspectors placed the school in special measures.
The decision by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector is hardly the outcome Peter Lee, due to retire in the spring, would have wished for his school.
“Staff and governors who have read it (the report) do not recognise it as the school we work in every day,” he insists.
But a team of four inspectors, led by Mr Neil MacKenzie, were in no doubt the achievement of pupils, the quality of teaching, the behaviour and safety of students and the leadership and management of the school were all inadequate.
That meant special measures had to be taken under the 2005 Education Act as Catholic High was said to be failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and leaders, managers and governors were thought to lack the capability to bring about improvement.
In 11 key findings, the inspectors say achievement in Key Stage 3 and some GCSE courses is inadequate as is the progress made by disabled students and those with special educational needs.
The progress of different groups of students in maths is consistently weak and the sixth form is inadequate.
Students at the school, which has 897 pupils and 125 in the sixth form, make insufficient progress as many have been allowed to start inappropriate courses and their attendance is poor.
Teaching overall is inadequate and is not strong enough to rapidly improve the slow progress students make, particularly in Key Stage 3.
Teachers’ expectations are too low, lessons do not hold students’ attention and too many do not enjoy learning.
The rate of improvement is not fast enough because governors, chaired by Mr J Coucill, a governor since 2004, leaders and managers do not hold teachers and other staff to account well enough for poor performance.
Teachers, school leaders and managers are not sufficiently skilled in analysing the performance of their students to pinpoint weaknesses in order to implement suitable improvements.
Leaders, including governors, have been too slow to address deficiencies in safety procedures in the design and technology department. Effective action was only taken during the inspection.
Too many students do not attend regularly enough. This has been the case over recent years. Learning time is lost because some students and some teachers are not punctual to lessons.
Leaders at all levels are not demonstrating the capacity to drive the improvements necessary to accelerate students’ achievement. Consequently, the school’s overall effectiveness has declined since the last inspection.
Finally, say the inspectors, ‘a high proportion of parents expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the school’s leadership and management’
The school’s strengths are said to include improved progress made by middle and high ability students in English and maths at Key Stage 4, the personal development of students, described as ‘good’ and a rapid improvement in the numeracy and reading skills of Year 7 students because of the additional support they receive.
The detailed report accepts the majority of teachers are keen to improve.
The school’s leadership and management is inadequate as underachievement is widespread, there is ineffective teaching across all year groups and attendance is consistently below average.
Actions taken by leaders have not proved effective and a large proportion of older students are critical of the school as it does not meet their needs.
A significant proportion of parents also do not believe the school is well led and governors do not hold leaders and managers to account with sufficient rigour.
Its assessment of the quality of its teaching is said to be ‘overgenerous’.