The view comes from headteacher Peter Lee after the school’s sixth form turned in the best A-level results in the town in last summer’s exams.
He said: “We do well at A-level because we have the highest aspirations for all our pupils to age 16 and over the years they have risen to the challenge of following courses to GCSE level in the main.
“This has prepared them for work, college or A-level very well.
“Our school performance on GCSE examinations has been ahead of national figures by a long way for the past three years and it remains so.
“In our sixth form we have a good range of ability. The teaching to GCSE in the earlier years means all are able to succeed and 75% of those that aspire to university gain places in their first choice universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and Imperial College, London.”
Offering frank comments on the Ofsted inspection, Mr Lee believes the reason for the judgment “has to do with how inspectors are forced to make judgments about schools in a very limited time against a very rigid framework’ in which ‘A-level is rather secondary.
“The inspection process means that the inspectors can spend just 14 hours over two days trying to evaluate and understand a school of 1,000 pupils, 60-plus teaching staff, 24 different subjects, three different key stages, two different ways of measuring progress and three different examination systems, all while observing more than 30 lessons and within a rigid framework which even dictates the words they must use in their final report.”
Although the inspectors decided the Catholic High had made increased progress, this wasn’t quick enough.
Mr Lee said: “It was inevitable that we couldn’t demonstrate what was required and we knew in our own assessments, shared with our governors and the inspectors, that we were still on an upward improvement journey.
“We told them of our expectations for the current Year 11, for example, but those were dismissed as speculation.
“We were delighted in the first week of January with the results for Year 11 in the November GCSE exams.
“Of pupils who took GCSE English early, 87% achieved grade C and better, with 83% making the expected progress.
“These are a long way ahead of national figures. The hard evidence from maths early entry was set aside too.
“The fact that Year 10 pupils achieved A* grades in the summer and were now tackling A-level work was ignored.”
Looking ahead, he said: “We are continuing at an accelerated rate the plans for improvement that we have had.
“They will continue this term to my retirement and then onwards with my successor, Mrs Caroline Vile.
“We together fully expect that within 18 months, certainly by the autumn of 2015, we will be inspected again and be judged ‘Good’.”