A troubled secondary school – ravaged by fire – is rising from the ashes, say education watchdogs.
Leyland St Mary’s Catholic High School and Technology College was plunged into crisis when they school was partially destroyed by fire in 2013.
During rebuilding the Royal Avenue school suffered serious problems when some staff went on strike and others left amid claims of industrial dispute.
The school was then placed in special measures in October 2014 after a team from the Office for Standards in Education carried out a full inspection.
An executive headteacher was brought in from a high achieving school to help drive up standards.
And, in recent weeks the headteacher Kathy McNicholas suddenly quit her post.
Now though, the school has undergone a second “section eight” inspection by Ofsted and been told it is making reasonable progress towards becoming a good school.
The inspection, which took place mid-June, noted that the quality of teaching at the school was improving, aspirations for all pupils have been raised and “the current picture of the school is one of improved morale and positive attitude.”
Standards of education were said to be improving, pupil engagement is high and the school is on target to improve its GCSE results this year.
Executive headteacher Philip Mooney said: “We know that we are making real progress here at St Mary’s and it is really encouraging to have that confirmed by Ofsted.
“We know that we still have a long way to go but I am absolutely confident that we are putting the systems in place to ensure that we can maintain this progress as we strive to provide the excellent education that our pupils deserve.”
In her final report, Ofsted Inspector Anne Pontifex singled out a number of areas for specific praise, including the leadership.
She said: “The executive headteacher brings inspirational leadership which combined with passion, vision, energy and accountability has galvanised the staff ensuring that self-belief and self-confidence provide a unity of purpose for all at Leyland St Mary’s Catholic High School to move forward in a positive manner.”
The inspector also applauded the support governors have provided and added: “Improved staff attendance and reduced reliance on supply teachers is having a positive impact on classroom practice.”