Wigan school's mixed Ofsted report

A Wigan school has been praised for allowing pupils to “spread their wings” by trying new things - but changes are still needed to improve the education provided there.
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Ofsted carried out an inspection of St Mark’s CE Primary School in Newtown, the first since it became a sponsor-led academy with Wings CE Trust in 2017.

Before this, it had been rated as “inadequate” in 2015 and placed in special measures to ensure standards were improved.

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Inspectors found the school was now “good” in most areas, but it was given the lower rating of “requires improvement” overall after scoring that mark for the quality of its education.

St Mark's CE Primary SchoolSt Mark's CE Primary School
St Mark's CE Primary School

Lead inspector Claire Cropper wrote: “The subject guidance and curriculum plans that leaders have developed do not enable pupils to build up their knowledge equally well across curriculum subjects. Some curriculum plans are not sufficiently ambitious. As a result, pupils do not learn as much as they should. Some pupils cannot remember the essential knowledge that leaders expect them to know.

“Leaders should revise and refine their curriculum plans. They also need to check that teachers are following the subject guidance and curriculum plans that they provide so that pupils’ achievement continues to improve.”

She also suggested leaders should ensure pupils with low attendance go to school regularly.

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Despite the issues raised, the Ofsted report was broadly positive, with pupils said to “enjoy” attending the school and feeling “safe”.

The inspector wrote: “Pupils value being part of a strong and welcoming school community. They feel that staff listen to them and value their feedback.

“Pupils carry out leadership responsibilities with pride, such as being a ‘knight’ to younger pupils. They also relish the opportunity to contribute to their community, such as working with local care homes.”

Ofsted found pupils knew staff expected them to learn as much as they could and that they would get help if they needed it, with youngsters with special educational needs and/or disabilities quickly identified and supported.

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Pupils behaved “well” and bullying was “rare”, with records showing that staff followed up any incidents.

Staff, governors and trustees were developing “an increasingly well-thought-out curriculum”, checking how well pupils were learning and creating clear subject guidance setting out what they wanted them to learn.

New curriculum plans had been implemented fully in maths, reading and writing, but in other subjects staff did not follow them with “equal rigour”.

Ofsted found the knowledge that staff wanted pupils to learn was not fully identified in some subjects, so pupils did not achieve as well as they should.

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Reading had been “successfully prioritised” at the school, safeguarding was “effective” and leaders had thought “carefully” about pupils’ wider personal development.

Ms Cropper wrote: “They enable pupils to ‘spread their wings’ and try as many new things as possible. Pupils take part in times of reflection, including prayer and worship, with their local parish. Pupils are eagerly anticipating the restarting of the clubs and extra-curricular activities that happened before the pandemic.”

Headteacher Kayleigh Ferguson said: “In 2015, St Mark’s CE Primary School was inspected by Ofsted and was judged to be ‘inadequate’ and placed into ‘special measures’.

“Since then, staff and governors have worked hard to improve standards and we are pleased that Ofsted have recognised this improvement and have judged that the school is no longer in that category.

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“There are still some areas that require some improvement and we are determined to continue to address these.”

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