Ofsted praise for leaders as changes are made at Wigan school

Education watchdogs have praised a Wigan secondary school judged “inadequate” only a year ago now that new staff have been brought in and changes made.

Ofsted inspectors carried out a remote monitoring visit to check on Hindley High School’s progress since it was given the lowest rating possible.

Last year, the education watchdog reported a “lack of ambition” among senior leaders and governors, teachers were given varying levels of support to deliver the curriculum effectively and expectations were not high enough for disadvantaged pupils, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

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The latest inspection came just months after Jude Norman was appointed as the acting headteacher, with two acting deputy headteachers, a lead practitioner and a teacher also taking up posts.

Acting headteacher Jude Norman with head girl Rebecca Cowburn and head boy Charlie WhiteActing headteacher Jude Norman with head girl Rebecca Cowburn and head boy Charlie White
Acting headteacher Jude Norman with head girl Rebecca Cowburn and head boy Charlie White

In a letter to the headteacher, inspector Michael Pennington wrote: “Since September 2020, you and the school’s leadership team have acted with urgency to address the issues identified at the previous inspection.

“You have done your best to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic. For example, you have taken steps to strengthen leadership across the school and to establish new expectations for staff and pupils.

“Leaders’ work to further develop the school’s curriculum has continued. You have ensured that teachers have received effective training so that they are able to deliver the improved curriculum offer.

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“You have fostered positive relationships in the school community. Staff are a cohesive team. They are excited about leaders’ plans to improve the school.”

He found changes had been made to the way the curriculum was delivered, which helped teachers when pupils were both at school and learning at home. Support was provided for vulnerable pupils - half of whom continued to attend school during lockdown - and staff kept a close check on their well-being.

Work was done to address any issues raised due to school closures during the coronavirus pandemic, including extra help in maths and English for year 11 pupils and phonics lessons and other help for those who needed support with their reading.

Mr Pennington found school leaders were getting “a healthy balance of challenge and support” from the interim executive board, while there was “useful guidance” from the local authority and another high school was helping teachers to improve the maths curriculum.

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Ms Norman said: “I am delighted with this vindication of all our efforts; this report is a recognition of a team effort.

“I am particularly pleased and proud that the inspectors recognised the cohesiveness of the staff and their excitement as we make the necessary improvements. We are all committed to providing the best possible school experience for our young people.

“I am also delighted that the inspection team made the decision that there was no need to issue further areas of improvement, something relatively rare. They recognised that we are doing everything they could expect and more.”

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