THE NEW headteacher at Connah’s Quay High School has vowed to place it ‘back at the heart of the community’ after an inspection found it in need of significant improvement.
Estyn, the training and education inspectorate, visited the Flintshire school in January and has drawn up a raft of measures for its leadership to implement, while it is monitored for the next 12 months.
The inspector’s report flagged up concerns that issues such as bullying are not dealt with well at the school, and senior leadership roles aside from the headteacher have become unclear.
It states: “In general, pupils are positive about their school experience and value the support that is provided. However, a few pupils feel that issues such as bullying are not dealt with well enough, and a minority do not feel that the school’s approaches to managing behaviour are consistently fair.
“Although membership of the senior leadership team other than the headteacher has remained relatively stable during recent years, over time, their roles have become unclear and unbalanced.
“This hampers their capacity to secure improvement and makes it difficult for them to be held to account fully.”
The report adds: “Systems to evaluate the school’s provision and plan for improvement are not robust or precise enough. This has led to leaders at all levels having an overgenerous view of the school’s performance.
“As a result, leadership has not had sufficient impact on, for example, the quality of teaching or pupils’ attendance, engagement and progress. In the majority of cases, teaching is suitably effective, but pupils are not always challenged enough, which limits the progress they make.”
The recommendations Estyn has made to the school for the future are to;
Refine the roles and responsibilities of senior leaders so that they are equitable and enable them to carry out their roles effectively and be held to account for securing improvement.
Strengthen processes for self-evaluation and improvement planning.
Improve teaching and assessment in order to challenge and engage all pupils.
Strengthen provision to improve pupils’ attendance, engagement and attitudes to learning.
Strengthen provision for the progressive development of pupils’ skills in literacy, numeracy and Welsh, and their digital skills.
In a statement, a spokesman for the school’s governing body said it accepted the findings along with the positives picked out in the report.
“Although the judgement comes with disappointment, the Governing Body accept the findings of the report and its specific recommendations”, they said.
“However, the report also highlights many positive aspects of the school’s provision and the work of the staff who ‘foster a nurturing, inclusive environment’.
“The report identified that, at its heart, the school benefits from dedicated teaching staff noting that ‘pupils enjoy school and feel safe and well-supported by staff’.
“The report also states that ‘teachers develop positive, mutually respectful working relationships with their classes’ and that pupils with additional needs and pupils with English as an additional language are well supported. It notes that ‘the majority of pupils make suitable progress in developing their knowledge, understanding and skills’.”
The school welcomed new headteacher, James Forber, just two weeks before the inspection team arrived and he has brought a wealth of new ideas and initiatives, highlighted in the Estyn report.
It adds: “The very recently appointed headteacher has a clear vision that he is beginning to share. This encompasses high achievement for all pupils alongside ensuring their safety and wellbeing. He is rapidly gathering a realistic view of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement.”
The governing body is also recognised for its enthusiastic support for the school but needs to receive more appropriate information from senior leaders to ensure that they can sufficiently evaluate the effectiveness of the school’s quality of teaching, learning and leadership.
Responding to the findings of the inspection, the new headteacher Mr Forber said: “Having been appointed in January 2023, I took on this role with the knowledge that hard work, commitment and dedication to school improvement were needed to place this school back at the heart of the community.
“I welcome the findings in our Estyn report, as this has given me a clear direction in which to take the school forward.
“In a matter of weeks, through the support from our dedicated governors, staff, parents and amazing learners, alongside valuable support from the Local Authority and its school improvement partner, GwE, we have seen a demonstrable improvement in the learning environment, uniform and standards of behaviour and conduct.
“I look forward to continuing this journey with all members of the Connah’s Quay community and ensuring rapid progress in the next 12 months and beyond.”
The inspection report can be read in full on the Estyn website.