Ofsted: Hartlepool school is improving - but could still do better

CHALLENGE: St Hild's Church of England School on King Oswy Drive, in Hartlepool.
CHALLENGE: St Hild's Church of England School on King Oswy Drive, in Hartlepool.

A SHARP focus on improving the quality of teaching and learning at a secondary school is leading to accelerating progress and constantly improving attainment by pupils, says Ofsted.

And ever-increasing parental confidence in the effectiveness of St Hild’s Church of England School in Hartlepool is evident as students’ achievements and the quality of teaching continue to improve, according to inspectors.

Although Ofsted says the school still requires improvement, the inspectors’ report highlights many positives which, I believe, show we are making good progress.

Penny Barker, headteacher

But Ofsted, which inspected the school on February 4 and 5, ruled overall that the school requires improvement.

It says that improvements that have been made have yet to be seen to be sustained over time.

Headteacher Penny Barker said: “The leadership and management of the school was judged to be good, and the inspectors acknowledged that the school’s strengthened senior and middle leadership and its “shrewdly-led” governing body were key factors in students’ quickening progress rates and rising achievement.

“Although Ofsted says that the school still requires improvement, the inspectors’ report highlights many positives which, I believe, show we are making good progress.”

This is the second time in recent weeks that the school’s leadership has been praised as a SIAMS (Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools) inspection carried out for the Church of England’s Durham Diocese in December also found it to be driving rapidly improving academic attainment.

The Ofsted report says: “The drive and passion of the headteacher is successfully driving improvements in all that the school provides. Under-performance and under-achievement are being systematically eradicated. Increasingly confident and skilled leadership in English and mathematics is playing a crucial role in driving up students’ achievement and attainment.

“Increasing proportions of students are achieving at least five good GCSE grades, including English and mathematics.”

Although the inspectors feel the most effective teaching motivates students very well, they say both the quality of teaching and the achievement of pupils still require improvement.

They add that to improve further the school must improve the quality of teaching to at least good to enable students to make even faster progress and attain better.

This, they say, should be done by raising expectations further of what each student can do and achieve, share even more widely the effective practice that exists in the school, make more effective use of the good information the school has about students to eliminate attainment gaps, promote higher levels of reading, writing and communication skills across all subjects and provide well-defined written steps for improvement and provide time for misunderstandings to be corrected.

The behaviour of pupils was also rated as good again and described by Ofsted as being a direct consequence of a positive school ethos which encourages care, honesty, respect and responsibility throughout all aspects of school life.

Mrs Barker added: “The challenge for the school now is to strive for further improvement in all areas and to ensure that this is sustained over time. I am confident that I have the team in place – along with the support of pupils, parents and governors – to take the school to the next level and I believe we can look to the future with considerable optimism.”