Headteacher’s dismay at report

A headteacher has expressed his frustration at his school’s latest Ofsted report.
Headteacher Julian PollardHeadteacher Julian Pollard
Headteacher Julian Pollard

Inspectors gave the overall rating of “requires improvement” - the third lowest of four possible scores - to Lowton CE High School after a visit in June.

One of the comments made was that leaders thought outcomes for pupils were improving quickly, but this was due to teachers’ assessments in some subjects being “unreliable”.

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But headteacher Julian Pollard said the school’s subsequent GCSE results showed leaders had been correct.

A standard pass (A* to C) in five subjects, including maths and English, was achieved by 70 per cent of pupils, which was a massive 10 per cent improvement from last year.

The results were published in August, two months after the inspection but before the report was available last week.

Mr Pollard said: “We got the best results ever. We closed gaps, our progress measure is I think the fifth best progress eight in Wigan.

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“The things we have said, that outcomes were improving quickly, well the results we gave them were achieved.

“I would love to be inspected now because we have the scores on the doors.”

He said he believes the school is “really strongly going in the right direction” and will be working to become more consistent in future.

The Newton Road school was judged to require improvement in all four inspections since it became linked to the Church of England in 2012.

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Lead inspector Emma Gregory wrote: “Leaders have improved many aspects of the school since the previous inspection.

These include improvements in: the quality of teaching; the level of challenge provided by the key stage three curriculum; the teaching of mathematics and more effective use of the year seven catch-up funding. All of these were aspects prioritised for improvement by inspectors at the previous inspection.

“Despite improvements across the school, leaders have been unable to secure a consistently good quality of education for pupils. Weaknesses in some aspects of leadership have hampered the pace of improvement.”

She said some senior leaders had an “overgenerous view” of the quality of education provided.

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The quality of teaching had improved, particularly in maths, but it was “not consistently good” across subjects and year groups.

Weak teaching in the past meant some key stage four pupils could not reach high standards, the report said.

The proportion of pupils achieving a strong pass in English and maths increased last year and progress in English, science and humanities was in line with pupils nationally.

But Ms Gregory said some children underachieved at key stage four, particularly boys and middle-ability pupils, and there were still differences in the progress made by disadvantaged pupils and other pupils nationally.

The school was rated “good” for personal development, behaviour and welfare, with pupils found to have good behaviour and “highly positive attitudes” to learning.