School leaders have expressed their delight and optimism for the future after inspectors recognised that their action plan is helping Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough progress towards being rated as “good”.
Fifteen months ago the school – which has more than 1,300 pupils aged from 11 to 16 – was found to “require improvement” overall, with the same rating in each of the individual categories inspected.
But when Ofsted returned for their first monitoring inspection visit last month (December 11 2019) they found a vastly improved picture, concluding that: “Senior leaders and governors are taking effective action to tackle the areas requiring improvement identified in order for the school to become good.”
Since the previous inspection there have been sweeping changes in Trinity’s leadership and management, including the appointment of a new headteacher, Louise Dwyer, and the installation of a new interim advisory board.
And Ofsted has praised the transformation they can see beginning to take place at Trinity, which is part of Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust (NPCAT), a family of 26 Catholic schools across Teesside.
“Leadership and management across the school has been and is being, strengthened,” the report says.
“Leaders have introduced new behaviour, attendance, teaching and learning and marking and assessment policies. Staff are positive about the changes which the trust and school leaders have made.
“They comment on how they have been involved in the quality assurance and improvement strategies which have been adopted and on how leaders consider their workload and well-being. Leaders encourage all staff in the school to be open to the support from both the trust and from external partners.
“Pupils and staff report that behaviour has improved markedly. Pupils also say that this has had an impact on teaching and learning, which they feel has improved too. During this inspection, pupils were polite, courteous and cooperative in lessons and during social times.
“The school’s plans to tackle the areas requiring improvement identified at the recent inspection are effective. They outline clearly and accurately the priorities and actions needed to improve the school.
“Members of the interim advisory board understand the school’s priorities well. They are knowledgeable about the school’s actions and evaluate these with rigour. The trust and board members have strengthened senior leadership through new appointments, including that of the new headteacher.
“The interim advisory board takes its responsibilities for safeguarding pupils in the school seriously. The arrangements for safeguarding pupils are effective.”
The report says support from NCPAT, including new specialist directors of curriculum subjects, a trust standards team and a newly formed attendance support team, is beginning to have a positive impact.
It adds that the school should take further action to speed up the pace of change, share best practice and improve attendance.
NCPAT chief executive officer Hugh Hegarty said the report validates the work the trust has undertaken over the last year.
“The trust has always recognised the great potential at Trinity Catholic College, but we also recognised that there needed to be new direction,” he said.
“That appointment of Louise Dwyer as the new headteacher has provided that clear direction and the appointment of the new interim advisory board with a wider variety of experience and skills provides the necessary support and challenge for the headteacher.
“The standards team at the trust is working collaboratively with the leadership of the school and as a consequence of that we’re beginning to realise some of Trinity’s great potential.
“Parents visiting the school see a wonderful climate for learning that is now in place and pupils talk in glowing terms of how happy they are.
“This is by no means the end of the journey, but it does give important external validation to the work done to date and the significant progress we are making.
“The trust is committed to delivering outstanding secondary education at Trinity Catholic College and will leave no stone unturned to ensure we provide the necessary support to all staff so that this can be realised.
“Every child who attends the college can do so with confidence, knowing that their learning needs and their aspirations and dreams can be realised.”
Headteacher Ms Dwyer added: “As a school community we still have a long journey ahead of us. But I’m delighted that our work, drive and commitment to improve the life chances of our young people is being recognised.
“I would like to acknowledge the hard work of all my staff, who have embraced the need for change and are working so positively to bring about the improvements needed.
“Parents and carers have acknowledged the need for change and understand and accept the high expectations that have been set.
“The wonderful students of Trinity Catholic College deserve the very best. We are a family, and as such I am determined to ensure that every member of our family has the highest quality opportunities and all the support they need as they progress through our school.”
Mr Hegarty says the appointment of additional curriculum subject directors who took up their posts on January 1 is an additional step that underlines NPCAT’s commitment to helping Trinity and all the trust’s schools continue to improve.