Chester Catholic High is ‘outstanding’ in all aspects of its provision for Catholic education, an inspector has found.
Mr J R Wilbraham carried out the inspection of the Old Wrexham Road school for the Diocese of Shrewsbury. The school has more than 900 students with more than 200 in the sixth form.
The inspector assessed how well students achieve and enjoy learning in religious education and religious studies, how well senior staff, governors and managers promote, monitor and evaluate the provision for the Catholic life of the school and plan and implement improvements for students and the quality of collective worship.
He found outcomes for students to be ‘consistently high’ in all three key stages with exam results in the top 25% and top 20% nationally in the sixth form.
GCSE results in religious studies are ‘equally consistent and strong’ being among the school’s highest performing subjects. Overall religious studies made a ‘significant contribution’ to the school’s national ‘Progress 8’ indicator making it the highest performing comprehensive school in Chester.
Mr Wilbraham found the general religious education programme in the sixth form is ‘well received’ by students and is successfully delivered by specialist teachers.
At Key Stage 3 the diocesan scheme for RE is effectively implemented with enhanced assessments to prepare students to cope with the demands of a new GCSE.
The standard of teaching throughout the department is ‘consistently high’. “Students value and enjoy the subject in all key stages,” suggests the inspector.
Headteacher John Murray provides ‘outstanding leadership and inspiration’ and is supported by his deputy head, assistant heads, the school governors, the chaplain, the religious education team and the other managers and staff who are ‘deeply committed’ to the school’s clearly declared Catholic values.
The school’s values are ‘firmly embedded’ in the daily life of the school which is reflected in the attitudes and behaviour of the students.
Regular feedback from parents is said to provide ‘positive evidence that the school lives out its values’ successfully doing all it can to provide for the needs of students of all abilities and backgrounds.
Collective worship and prayer are a vital part of the school’s daily life with students taking part in assemblies and classroom prayer and reflection.
“Worship and prayer are clearly linked to practical activities and enrich the students’ spiritual, moral and cultural education,” says the inspector.
These include a variety of charitable fundraising activities, a Lourdes group, regular retreats and other faith-related activities.
The school’s Catholic ethos is ‘palpable’ in relationships and is supported by inspirational images and quotations which are displayed throughout the school.
Local priests lead the celebration of Mass for a variety of events including special feast days.
Mr Murray says he is ‘delighted’ with the ‘outstanding’ finding.
“The inspector found that the values of the school are clearly to be seen throughout in terms of aspirations, relationships and student outcomes.
“Not only does the school provide success in academic terms but ensures that this success is based upon an effective provision for the education, welfare and spiritual well-being of students of all ages and needs,” he said.