A headteacher whose school was branded “unsatisfactory” in a report has said he is determined to turn it around.
St David’s High School, Flintshire, faced criticism from Estyn inspectors who said that pupils were falling behind in key areas.
Overall the school’s performance was deemed unsatisfactory but added there were adequate prospects for it to improve.
Craig Burns, who took over as head in September acknowledged the need to make rapid improvement.
He said: “I am very proud of our students, the inspectors praised the majority of them highly stating that ‘many pupils display positive attitudes to learning and engage productively in lessons’.
“We are pleased that the inspectors agreed with us that things need to improve, particularly teaching and the consistent use of marking and feedback.
“In addition, they asked that we improve attendance and overall standards in Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11).”
A former pupil at the Saltney secondary, Mr Burns said a lot of work would be done to put in improvements by the time inspectors returned.
He added: “What is heartening is that the inspectors were convinced that our school can make these improvements and thrive so that all students achieve their maximum potential at St. David’s.
The inspection team will return in around 12 months’ time to look at what progress we have made. We continue to work closely with, and be supported by, the local authority.”
Among other findings inspectors said there had been a significant decline in key stage 4 performance indicators and the standard of teaching and assessment varied too much.
They also said in a minority of lessons some pupils do not behave well enough or show sufficient respect to their teachers and that for the past four years attendance had been weak.
In this year’s Welsh Government schools categorisation the school was marked down as red showing it was in need of big improvements.
But there were some positives for St David’s with Estyn inspectors praising Mr Burns saying: “In a short period of time, the headteacher has communicated successfully his vision for the school and gained the confidence of staff, pupils, parents and governors.”
Overall the report found that the current performance was unsatisfactory and prospects for improvement adequate.
The following positive aspects were identified:
In the majority of lessons, most pupils make sound progress
Many pupils develop their information and communication technology (ICT) skills well in many subjects across the curriculum
Many pupils display positive attitudes to learning and engage productively in lessons
The school has useful strategies in place to develop pupils’ literacy skills
However, the current performance at St David’s High School is judged as unsatisfactory because:
In key stage 4, performance in many key indicators has declined significantly since 2013 and is now well below that of similar schools
Performance in all core subjects has declined, although performance in English is close to that in similar schools
In general, pupils make weak progress from previous key stages
The performance of pupils eligible for free school meals has been below that of the same group of pupils in similar schools for the last three years in most indicators
In a minority of lessons, where the teaching is less effective, a minority of pupils do not behave well enough or show sufficient respect to their teachers
For the past four years, pupils’ attendance has been weak and is below modelled outcomes
Planning for progression of pupils’ numeracy skills is not co-ordinated well enough
The quality of teaching and assessment varies too much
Prospects for improvement
The prospects for improvement are adequate because:
In a short period of time, the headteacher has communicated successfully his vision for the school and gained the confidence of staff, pupils, parents and governors
Leadership capacity has been strengthened
Leaders and managers have responded well to the national priority to improve literacy
Governors have improved their understanding and analysis of performance data and provide greater challenge than in recent years
The school has made recent changes to strengthen the culture of self-evaluation and improvement planning
More recently, pupils are contributing usefully to making decisions relating to school improvement
The introduction of a rapid action plan has been successful in focusing the school priorities on areas that require an urgent response
The school’s self-evaluation and improvement planning have not improved outcomes for pupils
Actions to reduce the impact of poverty and improve numeracy have had less impact on standards and progress than that for literacy
The governing body does not ensure that statutory requirements to provide a daily act of collective worship and reporting to parents on pupils’ progress in numeracy are met
The school has not made enough progress in response to recommendations from the last inspection
As a result of falling roles and the loss of the sixth form, the school has a budget deficit