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Wrexham’s secondary school removed from special measures

Rhosnesni High School in Wrexham (source: Google)

WREXHAM’S largest secondary school has been removed from special measures less than a year after it was placed in them.

The action was taken against Ysgol Rhosnesni High School last year with education inspectorate Estyn citing a lack of progress in improving pupils’ skills and the quality of teaching as reasons for the move.

But a follow-up visit last month has impressed inspectors sufficiently to swiftly revise the school’s status in an unusual move coming straight after its first monitoring visit.

The follow-up report, published today states: “Since the last monitoring visit, the school has refined its approach to developing pupils’ literacy skills.

“This is helping to improve pupils’ vocabulary and leading to more frequent and accurate use of subject specific terminology. The majority of pupils have a suitable vocabulary and a minority have a broad vocabulary.”

Other areas the school has improved in is the attendance of pupils, development of Welsh language skills, and strengthening its leadership.

The report adds: “Since the core inspection and the most recent monitoring visit, the school has made positive progress in terms of strengthening leadership. Leaders’ vision for the school is clear and well understood by staff.

“School improvement planning focuses appropriately on the recommendations from the core inspection and issues raised on the last visit, and there is a clear strategy for improvement in each area.

“Overall, positive progress has been made against the recommendations from the core inspection.”

But the report adds that there is still room for improvement in some areas.

“In a minority of lessons, pupils make more limited progress”, it states.

“This is because teachers’ expectations are too low or that pupils do not focus well enough on their learning.

“In a minority of lessons where teaching is not as effective, shortcomings limit the progress that pupils make. In these lessons, teachers provide pupils with tasks that do not challenge them well enough, or the pace of learning is too slow.”

Overall, inspectors have reported marked improvement in the school, adding: “Many pupils read a range of suitably challenging texts and gather relevant information successfully.

“In mathematics, pupils develop their numeracy skills well. Most pupils demonstrate positive attitudes towards their learning. Their work is neat and well presented. In lessons, most teachers foster positive working relationships with pupils.”

Headteacher, Andy Brant said he is delighted with the outcome of the follow-up inspection.

“Our stakeholders know how much this school has grown and improved in recent years”, he said.

“However, I must thank our staff, students and parents for their hard work and unwavering support.  Our governors, past and present, also deserve huge credit.”

Mr Brant added: “I can’t comment on our experiences during the previous Estyn visit, but we’ve been told it’s unprecedented for a school to be removed this quickly.

“I’ve never doubted my team, but I’m extremely pleased that we’ve been able to help Estyn to understand the challenges faced by all schools in this post-pandemic world.

“I hope that the nation’s inspectorate will strive to improve and develop its approach, in very much the same way that Rhosnesni High School clearly has.  After all, this is about parents and teachers having confidence in all of our institutions.”

The chair of governors, Elinor Doherty, said: “This is fantastic news for everyone involved with Ysgol Rhosnesni, and thoroughly deserved.  As a governing body, we are delighted that inspectors have now recognised how far this school has come and how much we have achieved for our young people. Our school is at the very heart of the community, and we are determined to give every child the best start in life.”

Brynyffynnon Councillor Phil Wynn, Wrexham Council’s lead member for education, added: “We are extremely pleased that the Estyn inspection team have recognised the continued and sustained progress made by the school through strong leadership and teaching and learning.

“Congratulations to the headteacher Andy Brant, the leadership team and all the staff at Rhosnesni High School for their ongoing commitment and dedication to supporting their pupils to achieve their potential and ambitions.”