Ofsted sees progress at St Mary’s

St Marys School in Wrestwood Road
St Marys School in Wrestwood Road

St Mary’s School has made progress to come out of special measures, according to the latest Ofsted progress report.

But the report also noted that a number of parents remain “adamantly unconvinced” by the management of the school.

Inspector Lesley Farmer judged that the trustees’ statement of action is fit for purpose, as is the school’s improvement plan, while the school may not appoint newly qualified teachers before the next monitoring inspection.

Her report was published on Wednesday.

This is welcome news for the leadership team which was also told this week that the Education Funding Agency is lifting the ban on recruiting new pupils.

The inspector believes that management “has correctly focused on securing rapid improvements” and had “wasted no time in putting together a comprehensive statement of action.”

Don Young, chair of trustees and governors, said: “This is a very encouraging judgement which we hope will send out a very reassuring message to staff, parents and carers, and indeed the wider community. Ofsted is saying that we are doing a lot of good work, and we want people to recognise that.”

The report said the management team has drawn “wisely” on external support and guidance and many of the Ofsted judgements previously made were “not a surprise” to CEO and Acting Principal Dr Sharon Menghini and her team.

New staff appointments include a full-time qualified social worker, head of therapy health and well-being, head of literacy and head of numeracy.

Mrs Farmer said during her visit it was clear pupils are set learning targets which are tracked, adjusted and then put on display, and there are plans underway for the reviewing of teachers’ assessments.

She also praised the newly-appointed head of therapies for deploying her team to ensure that their work aligns appropriately with that of teaching staff.

She felt effective action is being taken to address shortcomings in safeguarding and addressing national minimum standards not previously met.

Two new governors with necessary expertise have been appointed, a review of the use of Pupil Premium Funding will be completed by Easter, and stricter risk assessments and other policies have been introduced.

The school is also being urged to link up with another successful special school judged Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.

The inspector however claimed “there is much more to be done to secure the full confidence of parents.”

She said: “Since the publication of the report, a parent consultation meeting has taken place, chaired by the school improvement partner, with the principal and trustees in attendance.

“Opportunities have also been offered to concerned parents to meet with the principal or the chair of trustees on a one-to-one basis.

“ Despite this, a number of parents remain adamantly unconvinced.”

Don Young commented: “We are aware there is a small minority of parents who are still very negative about St Mary’s, and that is something we deeply regret.

“Communication with our parents is a high priority and it is something we will continue to do in the coming weeks and months.”