Ofsted praise for Thomas Whitham Sixth Form

Thomas Whitham Sixth Form headteacher Stuart Smith with students celebrate their very good Ofsted report. A190711/8
Thomas Whitham Sixth Form headteacher Stuart Smith with students celebrate their very good Ofsted report. A190711/8

A BURNLEY sixth form has been praised for the quality of its teaching and its place at the heart of the community.

Ofsted inspectors visited Thomas Whitham Sixth Form at the beginning of the month. They were impressed with what they saw and rated the sixth form, at the Barden Campus, in Barden Lane, as good with outstanding features.

Highlighted as outstanding were the institution’s highly inclusive ethos, care guidance and support and partnerships and the inspectors said the sixth form had continued to improve since its last inspection in 2008.

Staff were also commended for supporting students.

The report said: “The headteacher and senior leaders demonstrate a commitment to inclusion and excellence that is shared by staff, the governing body and sixth form and campus community. Morale is high, staff feel supported and valued and are proud to be members of the team.

“Most teaching is good and sometimes outstanding, enabling students to make good or better progress in lessons. Teachers have very good specialist subject knowledge and plan their lessons well.

“Relationships between staff and students are excellent and make a positive contribution to the quality of learning. Teachers make good use of resources, particularly information and communication technology, to enhance learning.

“Students benefit from outstanding care, guidance and support. This promotes their confidence and high aspirations and are enabled to make appropriate choices about their future education or employment.”

Headteacher Mr Stuart Smith said: “We are still very young to be good with outstanding features. We didn’t get outstanding overall but we are not far away.”

Thomas Whitham Sixth Form, which has 411 students, was formed in September 2006 under its previous name Burnley Schools’ Sixth Form and moved into the current building in September 2008 as part of the £250m. Building Schools for the Future programme.

The inspection revealed students described the sixth form as a “happy and harmonious learning community where everyone is respected as an individual” and “a big family” while students were also congratulated in the report. “Students’ outstanding behaviour and positive attitudes to learning contribute to their good overall achievement. They have a mature and conscientious approach to their work and show good levels of concentration in lessons.”

Inspectors said, to improve further, the sixth form could improve the quality and impact of its self-evaluation and development planning.

Mr Smith said he was confident Thomas Whitham would continue to succeed and improve. “I’ve got no doubt that in the next two or three years, if the inspectors came back, they would have no questions saying we were outstanding overall.

“I am enormously proud to be involved with Thomas Whitham Sixth Form and part of the campus. I’m proud to be working for the young people of Burnley.”

But he added it bothered him that some young people from Burnley were travelling out of the area for post-16 education.

“It’s really important for the town that these young people do their post-16 education with us or Burnley College. Unfortunately some young people are still deciding to go out of the area. I don’t understand why. Both us and Burnley College have very good and outstanding Ofsted reports and exam results.

“Burnley has got the best secondary and post-16 education facilities in the country.

“We are the envy of the country in terms of facilities and I believe our teachers are among the best in the country.”