Ofsted back plans to improve Kirk Hallam school

Saint John Houghton Academy headteacher Joan McCarthy
Saint John Houghton Academy headteacher Joan McCarthy

Ofsted inspectors have said a Kirk Hallam school must improve after a visit last month, but have backed the head’s plans to turn things around.

Inspectors gave the Saint John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy, on Abbot Road, the second lowest possible rating of ‘Requires improvement’, in four out of five categories.

Their findings arise from a visit on March 1-2, and represent a downgrading since inspectors’ last visit in 2013.

Headteacher Joan McCarthy said that she had anticipated the report and that improvement plans had been put in place prior to their visit.

She said: “We are moving ahead with our action plan to ensure that the progress of all our children reaches the high standards we expect, which includes measures where necessary to improve the outcomes for disadvantaged groups and boys.

“Ofsted noted that these plans were already taking effect and we expect to secure rapid improvements.”

Inspectors found particular weaknesses in pupils’ progress, across all ability levels and socio-economic groups, and attributed the problem to variations in the effectiveness of teaching.

It also found significant issues with the levels of absence and exclusions of disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs.

The report did agree with Ms McCarthy’s plans though, noting: “The governing body, senior leaders and the staff are now focused well on making the necessary improvements.

“The leadership of the school reflects the headteacher’s candid, honest and accurate appraisal of things that need to improve, and her deeply held sense of values.”

It added:“Messages about what needs to improve at the school have been conveyed unequivocally and are understood widely among the staff.”

Inspectors reported that the school had strengths in building positive relationships, pupil behaviour, and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

To read the full report, go to http://bit.ly/2nH63N8.