Leyland St Mary’s showing signs of progress

The new executive headteacher of Leyland St Mary's, Philip Mooney, who has been brought in to help pull the school out of special measures
The new executive headteacher of Leyland St Mary's, Philip Mooney, who has been brought in to help pull the school out of special measures

Leyland St Mary’s High School is making ‘reasonable progress’ towards the removal of special measures.

Inspectors from Ofsted re-visited the troubled school in January, after judging the leadership and management, quality of teaching, and achievement of pupils as being ‘inadequate’ in October.

The education watchdog also found that the school’s improvement plan is fit for purpose, and said that the “senior leadership team demonstrates potential”.

A letter to headteacher Kathy McNicholas, seen by the Guardian, acknowledges: “Senior leaders are resolute in moving the school out of special measures.

“They are eager to improve their own practice by accessing both coaching and training opportunities.”

It adds: “The new governing body has a diverse and appropriate skills set which will enable its members to challenge and hold leaders to account with regard to future performance.

“The headteacher has worked hard to develop positive relationships with a range of outside support agencies to move the school forward.

“An executive headteacher brings a wealth of experience and has quickly understood the improvement needs of the school.”

Efforts to improve communication, according to parent and student feedback, are also improving rapidly.

But inspector Anne Pontifex did have some concerns, writing: “Work has started to improve the profile of teaching and learning, but the performance across the school remains mixed and much work needs to be done to create a ‘buzz’ about learning across the school.

“The re-establishment of the school site in temporary accommodation, although well maintained, makes movement between lessons more difficult.

“However, it is important that punctuality between lessons becomes a key focus for all staff and that a universal approach to prompt starts for lessons is adopted, alongside maximising the learning time for all pupils by ensuring that all lessons last for the allocated time.”

The new executive headteacher, Philip Mooney, responded: “The Ofsted monitoring report is encouraging although governors, members of the senior team and staff are under no illusions about the hard work that lies ahead.

“We expect the next monitoring report to be a stiff test of progress made and the staff are working very hard to ensure milestone targets are met and where possible, exceeded.”

He added: “It’s probably true to say that good news for the school has been thin on the ground and that understandably the school community, including parents, has been anxious about progress.

“Without belittling the task that lies ahead, I am very positive about the future of Leyland St Mary’s.”