St Patrick’s Catholic College in Thornaby has been praised by inspectors for taking “effective action” to educate pupils during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ofsted carried out a remote inspection on February 3 and 4 as it followed up a previous visit in December 2019 that found “significant” progress made since the appointment of a new headteacher and strengthening of its leadership and teaching teams.

The school had been judged to require special measures at its May 2018 inspection, but the latest findings continue to make encouraging reading.

“Leaders are working closely with pupils and families to make sure that pupils can benefit from a broad curriculum,” the report says.

“Leaders have checked that pupils have access to technology and other resources at home and at school. Leaders have decided to deliver a daily timetable of ‘live’ lessons. They feel this gives pupils a routine and helps teachers to check that pupils are taking part.

“In autumn 2020, leaders introduced a ‘recovery curriculum’ to address any gaps in pupils’ knowledge. Leaders have introduced one-to-one tuition to give pupils individual support and to help them to catch up. 

“Leaders are continuing to work with teachers to improve the quality of remote learning.”

Pupils the inspectors spoke to said the quality of remote learning had improved since the first lockdown.

Senior leaders are working closely with staff to help pupils with SEND get the support they need and keep a close eye on the wellbeing of vulnerable children, including phone calls and home visits.

Work to support reading and build pupils’ vocabulary was also noted, although some initiatives have been delayed because of the impact of Covid-19.

Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust, which runs the school, was praised for helping staff adapt the curriculum to meet pupils’ needs, both remotely and on site, while governors meet regularly to check leaders’ actions to provide education.

 “Subject directors are working with staff to develop the curriculum,” the report says. “This training is building staff confidence and expertise.”

Inspectors held meetings with senior leaders to discuss actions to provide education to all pupils during the lockdown and also talked to senior members of the trust and the governing body.

Last year Deborah Law was appointed to the leadership team as head of school, with Damian McCann becoming deputy headteacher and Michael Burns as executive headteacher and of both St Patrick’s and St Peter’s Catholic College in South Bank.

“This report is further evidence of the rapid progress being made here at St Patrick’s,” said executive headteacher Michael Burns. 

“I’m grateful for the support of staff, pupils and the wider community, who have all embraced the changes we are making with such positivity and enthusiasm.

“We will continue to do everything we can to give every possible opportunity to our pupils and ensure their time with us is happy and successful.” 

Trust CEO Hugh Hegarty added: “We’re delighted that the significant investment we have made in attracting further quality teachers is recognised as having the intended impact. 

“Our most recent moves to further improve standards include the appointment of a senior leader with responsibility for vulnerable pupils, lead practitioners and a head of department in English.

“The role of trust subject directors in science, modern foreign languages and mathematics who also teach at the college is further evidence of our commitment to quality-first teaching.”