Good report: Wigan borough school where pupils are ‘proud’ to attend bounces back

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A school in Wigan graded as “requires improvement” by inspectors four years ago has now been given a “good” rating.

The Ofsted report says pupils are “proud” to attend Atherton High School.

“They value the positive relationships they have with their teachers,” it said. “Pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), feel happy and safe.

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“They relish the warm and welcoming atmosphere at the school.”

Atherton High SchoolAtherton High School
Atherton High School
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It said that, in the main, pupils are respectful of each other and work hard to meet the high expectations that the school has of their achievement.

“They are motivated to learn and maintain a positive attitude towards their learning,” the report continued. “As such, the learning environment is clam and purposeful.”

The school is part of the Education Partnership Trust, which means that other people in the organisation also have responsibility for running the school.

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Its head teacher is Ben Layzell, but the trust is run by chief executive Sharon Roscoe and overseen by a board of trustees, chaired by Ian Brown.

The report sais the trustees and local governing body have a “good understanding” of their roles and responsibilities.

“They provide appropriate challenge and support to the school,” the report said. “This helps the trust and the school to make the necessary improvements to policies and systems.

“The school has increased its engagement with parents and carers over time. This means that staff are better informed about the barriers that prevent some pupils from attending school or achieving well.”

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Inspectors said this is leading to positive action to help improve attendance rates and pupils’ academic success.

The curriculum, including for those with SEND, is “ambitious”, they said.

“It identifies the knowledge that pupils should learn and in the order in which subject content should be taught.”

“The trust works closely with the school to review how well the curriculum is being taught and teachers value the time and guidance they are given to develop their teaching practice.

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“This makes their workload manageable and improved their confidence and effectiveness in delivering the curriculum.”

The report said that the strategies that most teachers use to check and address pupils’ “misconceptions” are “typically effective”.

“This means that most pupils build on their learning well over time,” it said. “However, on occasion, some teachers do not check and address forgotten learning effectively.

“For some pupils, this slows down their progress through the curriculum.”

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Some pupils, the report said, have limited opportunities and experience to learn about life in modern Britain.

“A small number of pupils do not understand the importance of tolerance and respect for others as well as they should,” it went on.

“The school should enhance its programme to promote pupils’ personal development so that they are prepared well for the diverse world in which they live in.”

And the report said that some pupils do not receive enough information about different career pathways. “This means that they do not have the knowledge they need to make informed choices about their next steps in education or employment,” it said. “The school should improve its careers programme, so that pupils across al key stages are better prepared for their chosen careers.”

The report said arrangements for safeguarding at the school are effective.

Headteacher Ben Layzell said: “We are delighted with the ‘good’ Ofsted inspection which we have been working hard to achieve.

“The report recognised the many strengths of our school including the quality of education, the motivation of pupils, that pupils achieve well, that they have good relationships with their teachers and feel happy and safe.

“Inspectors highlighted our ambitious curriculum for everyone, our academic success, our varied extra curricular activities and the warm and welcoming atmosphere at the school.

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“We will continue to focus on the areas for development identified in the report as these were already in our improvement plan. This report demonstrates that Atherton High School has transformed into an exceptional school that its community deserves.”

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