Staff and pupils at St Patrick’s Catholic College in Thornaby are celebrating after the school was judged to be Good in all areas by Ofsted, having previously been given an Inadequate rating in 2018.

Inspectors visited the Baysdale Road site on September 14 and 15 and concluded that St Patrick’s is now Good in terms of overall effectiveness, quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management.

The findings mean the school – part of the Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust (NPCAT) family of 27 schools throughout Teesside and North Yorkshire – is no longer in special measures.

The glowing report says that there have been dramatic improvements in the quality of teaching, welfare and behaviour since the appointments of Michael Burns as executive headteacher and Deborah Law as head of school.

“St Patrick’s Catholic College has improved substantially since its last inspection,” it says. “Pupils are rightly proud of their school. They enjoy attending school.

“Senior leaders have made many changes to make the school better, including changes to the curriculum. The quality of education that pupils receive is good.

“The curriculum is broad and ambitious. It captures the interest of pupils and motivates them to do well. This is leading to pupils knowing and remembering more in most subjects.”

Michael Burns

Michael Burns

Mr Burns, a former pupil at the school who was born and bred in Thornaby, said it’s a proud day for the whole community.

“I am incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication that staff and pupils at St Patrick’s have shown,” he said.

“The support from our trust, governors, parents and wider community has helped us to rapidly improve our school. In St Patrick’s, Thornaby now has a school our parents, staff and pupils can be rightly proud of.

“Our pupils have shown that despite a pandemic, they can be resilient and as successful as any other child in the country, with school and trust staff working collaboratively to remove all barriers to their learning. St Patrick’s pupils are at the heart of our school family. They have pride, ambition and a determination to face the future.”

The inspectors said behaviour is a strength, with the school’s Catholic ethos supporting pupils’ personal development.

“Strong relationships between staff and pupils mean that pupils feel safe and well cared for. Pupils say that bullying is rare. When it happens, they are confident that adults will resolve it quickly and effectively.

“Leaders have acted with urgency to address previous weaknesses. They have improved the quality of education that pupils receive. Leaders have constructed an ambitious and well-considered curriculum for all pupils.”

The school’s reading curriculum was found to be well thought out and organised, resulting in a love of reading among the 494 pupils.

St Patrick's Catholic College head of school Deborah Law

St Patrick’s Catholic College head of school Deborah Law

Support for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) was also found to be effective.

“Lessons are calm, orderly and purposeful. This helps pupils to learn well. Pupils understand what is expected of them. They behave well in and out of lessons.”

The report also praised the school’s careers guidance programme, which it said is “exceptional”.

“Knowledgeable and highly skilled governors and trust leaders know the school well. Staff feel valued and they are proud to work at this school.

“The trust oversees the school’s safeguarding arrangements. Leaders and governors make sure that safeguarding has a high priority.

“Pupils are taught and know how to keep themselves safe in different ways, including when using the internet.”

Trust CEO Hugh Hegarty said: “I am delighted with this news. St Patrick’s pupils and community can be rightly proud.

“Our staff have been magnificent in ensuring that the challenges associated with taking a school out of special measures have been met head-on and all their efforts and persistence has been acknowledged in this report.

“When I asked Michael to take on the role of executive headteacher at St Patrick’s I was acutely aware of his determination to succeed. The news of the Ofsted judgement means so much to Michael, both professionally and personally, and all the praise is deserved.

“I must also pay tribute to the school leadership team and the role played by Deborah Law, the head of school.

“NPCAT directors are confident that the work across its secondary schools is making a difference. Turning a school around that has significant weaknesses is complex and takes time. This report provides further validation that we are on the right course.

“The work of NPCAT senior standards officer Angela White and her team of curriculum directors is making significant differences in the learning experiences of all pupils and this impact can be seen at every layer.”

The report is the latest in a series of inspections chronicling the dramatic improvements since Mr Burns took up his post.

A monitoring visit in December 2019 had said that the new headteacher had made significant steps in a short time and had a clear vision for improvement. It also found that subject directors were improving the quality of the English and maths curriculum.

A further interim report in February said leaders kept a close eye on the wellbeing of vulnerable pupils, while governors met regularly to check leaders’ actions.