Burnley school in special measures ‘heading in right direction’

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THE headteacher of a Burnley high school criticised by government inspectors says it is now “heading in the right direction” after its first follow-up visits since being placed in special measures.

Parents, pupils, staff and governors at Blessed Trinity RC College were left reeling in July when Ofsted identified four areas where the school was failing and must improve.

Although Ofsted inspectors have yet to return, the school was last week visited by Lancashire County Council’s Monitoring and Intervention Team and inspectors from the Salford Diocese.

Headteacher Miss Bernadette Bleasdale, who vowed in July to turn the school around, said she was encouraged by early comments from the two inspections.

Ofsted inspectors had demanded improvements be made in:

pupils’ achievement in terms of value added performance;

behaviour in lessons;

standard of teaching;

strategic leadership of the school.

Miss Bleasdale said, in July, the school had suffered unprecedented disruption as it waited for its new home to be built in Ormerod Road, at one stage operating from three sites.

She told the Express this week the feedback from the latest visits were proof the school was moving in the right direction. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are pleased with the initial response from these two inspections.

“The MIT inspectors will look at the four different areas over the coming weeks and on Friday looked at the behaviour of pupils as well as our teaching and learning.

“They said they found the behaviour of pupils outstanding when sitting in on lessons, walking the corridors and in the playground.

“We have had a relentless focus on behaviour since the inspection and are seeing changes. We have staff walking corridors and talking to pupils in the school grounds.

“I must say, though, this come from everybody – pupils, parents, staff and governors. We all want to get it right.

“Indeed, pupil forums have now been extended from a full school council through year group council and even form councils. The children have had a lot of input and are enjoying lessons more.”

Special measures is a status applied by Ofsted to schools when it considers they fail to supply an acceptable level of education. A school subject to special measures will have regular short-notice inspections to monitor its improvement. The senior managers and teaching staff can potentially be dismissed and the school governors replaced by an appointed executive committee. If poor performance continues the school may be closed.

Blessed Trinity, a merger of Burnley’s former top performing high schools St Theodore’s boys and St Hilda’s girls schools, was created under the Building Schools for the Future programme.

Local authority MIT visits are triggered when a school is placed in special measures and Blessed Trinity will be visited every three weeks by the team. The MIT will report back to governors in November.

The Salford Diocese inspectors visit Catholic schools as a matter of course following any Ofsted inspection and look at a school’s RE as well as leadership and management.

Diocesan inspectors said teaching and learning in Religious Education was “good overall with some outstanding practice seen in some lessons”.

The Diocese rated the school as either outstanding or good in the five categories it inspected.

Miss Bleasdale added: “We are delighted with the Diocesan comments. RE is an important academic subject, but it is also important in fostering a community spirit within the school, something we have lacked during the upheaval of the last few years.

“There is still work to be done, and we will not stop, but we are at least moving in the right direction.”