Ofsted Website – Lowton Church of England High School
27 January 2017
As a school we are on a journey of continuing improvement to ensure the highest standards of education for all our students. As you will be aware standards across the school are rising and that we have geared up our systems to support continued and sustained improvement. On the 13th and 14th of December 2016 we were visited by an Ofsted inspection team. This was an excellent opportunity to have an external review of what we are doing as a school. We were very pleased that Ofsted acknowledged that we are a school going in the right direction and that standards are improving. It was great that the inspectors recognised how well we know our school:
“The school knows its strengths and weaknesses well. The headteacher and governing body have identified areas for improvement carefully and devised appropriate initiatives to tackle them”
The report is very encouraging in that it shows that as a school we are improving and that we have a strong awareness of what we need to do to become even better and that we have the capacity to make our school even better.
The report highlighted strength in leadership right across the school from the senior leadership team, governors and middle leaders:
- “senior leaders have implemented a number of strategies and initiatives to tackle the areas that need improvement”
- “Middle leaders support the headteacher’s vision for improvement, especially the development of consistently high-quality teaching. They are fully involved in school improvement, including through their checks on the quality of teaching and the evaluation of staff performance in their areas of responsibility”
- Governors “understand the school’s strengths and areas for improvement” and they “provide vigorous challenge and useful support to senior leaders”
As parents and friends of the school I would like to encourage you to read our inspection report. It can currently be found on the school website in the parents link or on the Ofsted website (from Monday 30th January) www.gov.uk/ofsted. Paper copies are available from the school. Please contact the Head’s PA if you would like a copy. I would also like to take this opportunity to invite parents to a meeting at 6 pm on Wednesday 1st February where we can look at the report in a bit more detail and look at the journey ahead (please fill in the attached slip if you would like to attend)
As a headteacher I am very proud of my staff and students and of the support that you give as parents. Together we contribute to making Lowton a fantastic place to learn. The report gives so many positives about who we are. The inspectors noted that our students:
- “feel very safe” (and “parents overwhelmingly believe the school keeps their children safe”) in a school with a “strong culture of safeguarding”
- “are well looked after”
- “are happy at school and proud of what they achieve”
- “behave well” and are “calm, respectful and friendly”
- Have a school ethos that “supports good relationships and mutual respect”
- “have a variety of opportunities to develop their spiritual, moral and cultural understanding”
- “come to lessons prepared to learn, take pride in their work and are keen to explain it”
- “enjoy reading”
- “feel the school is ‘kind’ and it ‘treats everybody equally’”
- “are able to develop leadership skills” and were “involved in developing the school’s anti-bullying policy”
- “are given the opportunity to explore the full range of careers options”
Teaching and Learning and the classroom are at the heart of what we do. Whilst inspectors noted the need for consistency in the classroom, which we are already focussing on through our new Monday Staff Development Programme, it was very pleasing that our guests noted our great teaching strengths:
- “Leaders have introduced new school wide approaches to teaching”
- “the quality of teaching is improving most notably at Key Stage 4”
- Staff provide “additional activities” to “enable pupils to extend their learning”
- “Teachers use questioning well”
- Teachers encourage students “to express and discuss their ideas”
- Teachers work hard to address misconceptions that pupils might have”
- “Homework is set regularly and is a consistent feature of teaching across the school”
- Any poor behaviour is “quickly challenged by staff on the rare occasions” when student “behaviour is inappropriate”
It is fair to say that we have made numerous changes in the way we operate as a school, each one with the key focus of ‘how will this benefit our students’. Some of these systems are now quite established and some still in their infancy and will take time to show impact.
What we can see is that our GCSE outcomes are improving each year. With 64% of students achieving 5A*-C results (including English and Mathematics) in 2016 year compared to 54% and 47% in previous years.
In the new measures both our Progress 8 measures and Attainment 8 measures show improvements from last year. Our attendance is going up, our exclusions are going down and first choices preferences to the school are increasing each year. Inspectors highlighted many strengths including the good progress made by the most able students and students who have special educational needs. Inspectors noted the positive direction that the school is moving in. This I absolutely believe is a school that is going in an upward direction and is getting better and better year by year.
We are very pleased that the inspectors graded the areas of effectiveness of leadership and management as good and also graded the personal development, behaviour and welfare of students as good. It would also, be fair to say that we still have areas that we need to work on hence the judgements of requires improvement in the areas of teaching, learning and assessment and outcomes for pupils. The report, whilst giving an overall judgement of requires improvement, shows that we are definitely a school on a strong upward trajectory. As the report says “the school knows its strengths and weaknesses well” we are not exactly where we want to be yet but have systems in place to get there and the capacity to deliver as highlighted in the report.
The continued improvements in mathematics, which was a key focus from the 2015 inspection, were pleasingly noted in the report. Whilst outcomes are improving they are not fully developed but inspectors recognised that the strength of leadership in the department gives us the capacity to improve standards and outcomes:
“The new leader has brought a renewed vision for the subject and a stronger focus on checking the quality of teaching and pupils’ progress. As a result, the quality of teaching has improved, especially in key stage 4 where much teaching is now effective”
Inspectors also noted how we are continuing to close the gap for our disadvantaged students.
I hope that this letter has given you a taste of the report and that you will take time to read it through. As we move forward we move with a passion to provide the best education for all our students. As headteacher I have had the privilege to lead a team of dedicated staff and fantastic students for the last two and a half years. I am committed into ensuring the continued improvement of our school and providing our students with the education they deserve to prepare them for the next steps of their learning journey.