A high school on Chester’s border is now one of the top schools in Wales, it believes.
Headteacher Craig Burns says St David’s High in Saltney ‘is certainly progressing at a pace’ and has been ‘transformed’ over the past two years.
In 2016 the school was in the bottom 25% of schools for GCSE performance and was judged by watchdog Estyn to require ‘significant improvement’.
Mr Burns, an ex-pupil of the school and his newly appointed senior leadership team took ‘quick and effective action’ to put essential plans in place to ensure students’ learning experiences improved rapidly.
The head reveals the school has just received its monitoring inspection from Estyn and inspectors judged St David’s no longer requires significant improvement due to the ‘good progress’ it has made in just 18 months.
A team of three inspectors visited the school and praised the improvements in pupils’ standards and progress. They also found that since the inspection in 2016 ‘performance in the majority of indicators has improved and now compares more favourably with that in similar schools’.
Mr Burns, recently nominated for ‘Headteacher of the Year’, argues St David’s is now one of the top schools in Wales and one of the most improved secondary schools in Flintshire.
Expressing pride in the school’s achievements Mr Burns said: “This has been a real team effort, one that has seen the whole school community come together to improve the whole learning experience.
“We have seen nearly every subject make rapid progress and to go from being in the bottom 25% of schools to the top in such a short space of time is something we are all very proud of. It was great to have the inspection team in to confirm this too”.
Inspectors commented on students’ positive attitudes towards their learning saying they ‘behave well, show respect towards adults and are polite’. And in a recent questionnaire sent out to parents, around 90% said they felt St David’s had improved over the past 18 months with particular praise for more effective communication between home and school.
Mr Burns adds that in addition to the successful inspection and ‘outstanding examination results’ in the summer, the school has made many changes.
It has opened a new fitness suite sponsored by the National Lottery and has provided new ICT equipment and new changing rooms as well as investing in the school building including a new entrance that is safer for everyone.
The school is also looking forward to opening its new student support centre in September where students will be able to go for additional support or guidance should they need it.
A literacy garden with sheltered quiet study areas for students to use during their lunchtimes has also been opened.
Year 10 student Sophie Cheers commented: “The school has been transformed and it is a really great place to come to every day. We get opportunities to express our opinions and views about what needs to be improved and recommend next steps for the school”
Student Shaun Hingston points to the ‘improved school ethos’ and ‘how much happier and proud everyone is to come to such a great school’.
The head concluded: “Although we are really proud of everything we have achieved, we are far from complacent. There is still much to do, particularly with regards to improving the current school uniform and the need to increase the school’s role in the local community and beyond.
“We are, however, well on the way to becoming a first choice outstanding community school for all”.
The school says it actively encourages parents to visit to see first-hand how well it is now doing at any time during the year. In addition St David’s open days are on September 19 and 20 with an open evening on Thursday September 20.