English Martyrs School considering legal action after Ofsted says it needs to improve

English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College says it is excited for the future despite a disappointing Ofsted report.

Monday, 22nd July 2019, 4:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 10:43 am

The Catcote Road school has been given the rating of Requires Improvement following its latest inspection and bosses say they plan to challenge what they claim to be inaccuracies.

Ofsted say there are inconsistencies in the quality of teaching and progress pupils make, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

But the school says it is excited for the future and is on a continuing journey of improvement that has seen exam and other performance results get better in the last two years.

Stephen Hammond Headteacher at English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College. Picture by Frank Reid

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Staff are also looking forward to moving into a brand new building soon.

It is also taking legal advice to challenge areas of the inspection report it believes to be inaccurate.

Headteacher Stephen Hammond said: “It’s actually inaccurate in places and that’s what we are legally challenging.

“For two years we’ve worked with the national lead of education, the school improvement partner, the school advisory service, the diocese; all of whom have recognised the positive improvement that we’ve made and the journey we’ve been on.

English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

“The report is out of sync with all of those things.”

Ofsted said the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is improving, but is not consistently strong across a range of subjects or year groups.

Disadvantaged pupils’ progress in English, science and humanities has been ‘particularly weak’ over time, it adds.

In each of the last three years, less than half got a good GCSE pass in both English and maths.

But inspectors recognised the quality of teaching and subject leadership is improving.

The report added: “Since the previous inspection in 2017, the quality of teaching has started to improve, school policies are applied more consistently and more recently pupils’ outcomes are on the up.

“However, leadership and management require improvement, because some significant weaknesses remain.

“Disadvantaged pupils still underachieve, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment continues to vary across the school and although improving, pupils’ progress across several subjects is below average.”

Pupils’ personal development, behaviour and welfare was found to be good, along with English Martyrs’ sixth form provision.

Mr Hammond said the school has seen a number of significant recent improvements including better A-level and GCSE results.

He said significant inroads are being made into disadvantaged pupils’ outcomes.

And last year, English Martyrs’ Progress 8 score for the progress children make between the end of primary school and the end of secondary school improved from Below Average to Average – the only school in town to have done so.

Mr Hammond added Ofsted’s inspection was carried out under a framework that is soon to be replaced.

He said: “We’ve been inspected twice under this framework. It’s regarded by Ofsted themselves as no longer fit for purpose and a new one begins in 2019. It’s a much fairer framework.”

He said the school will continue to build on its momentum of improvements adding: “There’s still much to be done. The school’s on an improvement journey.

“We continue to make improvements. We have tweaked our staffing model for next year, our leadership model for next year to really try to secure the improvements that we have been seeking.

“We will pull out the learning where we believe there is learning to be had [from the report]. We look at what are the needs of the students, and what can we do to really address those needs and ensure they get the best life chances we can possibly provide them with.

“The future is really positive.”

In a statement Ofsted said: “While we accept that our current framework has had some unintended consequences, it is fit for purpose. The new education inspection framework will build on what has worked well in the current framework, while focusing more on the real substance of education - the curriculum.

“We take all complaints about our inspections seriously, and deal with them thoroughly.

“Our inspection judgements are never made lightly, and we are well aware of the significant impact they can have on a school, its pupils and parents, and the community.”