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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

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Barrow school has 'serious weaknesses' say inspectors

INSPECTORS have handed a Barrow secondary school a damning Ofsted report declaring it has ‘serious weaknesses’.

Ofsted inspectors have branded St Bernard’s School, in Barrow, as ‘inadequate’ after a visit as part of a blitz of Cumbria’s schools last month.

The report, seen by the Evening Mail, sees the school drop from an overall rating of ‘good’ to inadequate.

Inspectors said: “Achievement is inadequate. Since the last inspection, overall standards have fallen to below average; in particular there was a decline in English in 2012 and 2013.

“Despite booster work, the gaps in attainment and progress have widened to more than a gradebetween students supported by pupil premium funding and those not.

“Many students are slipping behind and not meeting their targets.

“Given their ability, too few are aiming high enough and too many show little pride in what they do.

“English has a low profile in the school; too little is done to celebrate students’ best work or to lead and drive programmes to resolve persistent errors in the basic skills of spelling and punctuation which undermine students’ work across the curriculum.

“Teaching is inadequate because inconsistencies result in too much variability in students’ engagement, learning and progress.

“Too many teachers accept poorly presented work of mediocre quality, and fail to deal with low-level disruptive behaviour in lessons.

“Weak monitoring, with insufficient evaluation of the impact of teaching on learning, has in the past given too rosy a view of the quality of teaching.

“Some subject leaders have been slow to drill down into available information to identify exactly where problems lie and the factors that account for them.

“ Departments are not working in concert; some staff have been reluctant to accept changes in ways of working or to acknowledge their accountability for students’ progress.”

Students are said to have spoken of hearing homophobic language that has gone unchallenged by staff.

However, inspectors have acknowledged the politeness of students and the strength of the leadership at the school.

They added: “Governors, headteacher and senior leaders continue to take action to halt the decline and resolve staffing issues.

“They are holding staff rigorously to account for students’ progress and have clear expectations of subject leaders.

“Some departments, such as mathematics, continue to improve.”

A statement issued by the school said: "Following our inspection towards the end of December we have now received the report from Ofsted.

"Whilst we were clearly disappointed with the grading of the school as having “serious weaknesses” we are not complacent as the report highlights the following strength: “Governors, headteacher and senior leaders continue to take action to halt the decline and resolve staffing issues. They are holding all staff rigorously to account for students’ progress and have clear expectations of subject leaders”.

"The tougher new framework has changed the goal posts for all schools, as has been highlighted in other recent inspection reports.

"The inspectors also identified a great deal of good practice in teaching across the school and commended staff for effectively supporting pupils in their learning.

"The inspectors also recognised that St Bernard’s is a caring school where pupils show respect for staff and each other and there is good pastoral support in line with our Christian ethos.

"Progress in mathematics is improving and standards in science, design technology and drama are very good. We have focussed as a school on improving our Maths results during the last two years.

"We are delighted that our efforts have led to St Bernard's being the top performing school for Maths progress in the Furness area.

"We have already increased our efforts to ensure the proportion of our pupils making expected progress in English improves year on year.

"This has included the appointment of new head of department and we have recently welcomed two new English teachers to the school.

"Pupils are involved in activities to promote their English skills both in the classroom and during competitions organised by the English department.

"It is my role as headteacher to continue to build upon this and I will be working closely with staff at all levels to ensure our detailed development plan has an immediate impact on outcomes for pupils.

"The inspection team recognised that St Bernard’s has the potential to be an Outstanding school, and as headteacher I am determined to realise that potential. We will be striving to ensure this over the coming terms.

"As a result of our actions so far this term, I am confident that all the pupils at St Bernard’s Catholic High School will achieve the results that they deserve this coming Summer and that the next full inspection will show a much fairer and balanced report of our school."

Have your say

FAO 'At Last':

Yours has got to be the most laughable excuse for a comment I have ever read! Below is my response to your utter nonsense:

The good and outstanding teachers are allowed to be good and outstanding. I am one of those teachers, and I should be able to hold my head high.

Posted by Good Teacher on 19 February 2014 at 21:52

Concerned parent, how do you know teachers are not cooperating? Are you there in the staff room and in the classrooms during the working day? The teachers are working as hard as ever. They want the pupils to achieve their best but unfortunately not all the pupils want to do this. The behaviour policy in the school is followed for all incidents but unfortunately some pupils just don't give a damn and there is only so much the school can legally do. As for staff being off for months at a time, they get ill as well you know, they're not super human! It was obvious standards at St Bernards were going to take a bit of a dip once the pupils who would have probably attended Alfred Barrow School had to go elsewhere. I am sure there were plenty of great kids at that school but I also know that they had a high proportion of very poorly behaved kids. Let's see what happens to Chetwynde's results in a couple of years time now they have to have bigger class sizes and take on poorly behaved children.

Posted by Anon on 10 February 2014 at 19:06

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