Headteacher disappointed after school was judged to need improvements

Pupils studying
Pupils studying

A headteacher has voiced his disappointment after his school was judged to need improvements by education inspectors.


Byrchall High School in Ashton was previously rated as “good” by Ofsted, but was given the lower score of “requires improvement” after a two-day visit.
Changes were needed to leadership, governance and teaching, along with the progress made by pupils in several subjects.

Headteacher Alan Birchall said: “There were a large number of positive features of the school recognised and discussed during the two days but, sadly, these do not receive the weight intimated in the final report.”

He highlighted that pupils’ behaviour was very good, personal development and care were particularly strong, and the school’s English and maths results placed it second in Wigan.

Mr Birchall continued: “We are, therefore, somewhat disappointed with the final outcome of ‘requires improvement’. That said, it is important that we take on board the messages of where we need to improve and ensure that the actions required to secure those improvements are put in place as a priority.

The governors and leadership of the school are totally committed to doing this.”

Ofsted gave the overall rating of “requires improvement”, with the higher mark of “good” for personal development, behaviour and welfare.

The report states: “The impact of leadership at the school is mixed, so it is not fully effective. There are strengths, including at senior leadership level, but there are currently too many aspects where leadership requires improvement.

“As a result, the quality of teaching and the progress which pupils make are not consistently good.”

Inspectors found leaders had a “clear understanding” of what the school needed to do to improve and action had been taken to secure good attendance for disadvantaged pupils and good subject leadership in English and maths.

But the effectiveness of subject leadership was “mixed” with additional training and support needed in some areas.

While action had been taken to improve the curriculum, the impact had not been “fully effective”.

Governors were found to take their responsibilities seriously, but efforts to strengthen their capacity to drive improvements had “limited impact”.

The quality of teaching varied between subjects, with geography, history, science, computing and religious education not consistently good.

Pupils, especially the most able, were not challenged sufficiently in the weaker subjects and teachers did not use assessment information to set work which matched their needs.

Recent examination results were “mixed” and below the national average in a range of subjects.

However, exam results and progress were stronger in other areas, with Ofsted stating they were above national average in maths and for girls, and in line with others nationally in English.

Overall, the progress of the most able pupils was “not good” and despite an upward trend, disadvantaged pupils ’ progress was “too varied”.

Pupils were described as “confident and courteous” with “positive and aspirational attitudes”. They were “happy at school” and behaved “well” in lessons.

Support services provided by leaders were “wide-ranging” and spiritual, moral, social and cultural development was “a strong feature of the school’s curriculum”.

Leaders planned a wide range of extra-curricular activities and ensured equal opportunities for disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs or disabilities.

The careers guidance programme was “effective” and action to support those with lower than average levels of literacy and numeracy to catch up was successful.

“Most” teachers had good subject knowledge, which they used to engage pupils in “challenging and interesting” activities.

Ofsted said the school should improve leadership and management, raise progress by ensuring pupils receive the support and challenge needed, and improve the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, particularly in geography, history and science.