Dewsbury school ‘moving forward with pace and purpose’ after latest Ofsted visit ‘paves the way for future success’

A Dewsbury high school, which has been inspected by Ofsted 11 times since 2017, is continuing “to move forward with pace and purpose” after its latest visit from the education watchdog.
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St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy, currently graded as Inadequate, received a monitoring visit - its second since its last full inspection in November 2022 - by Ofsted on January 30 in which they praised leaders for making “progress.”

In a letter to the school’s headteacher, Mr Karl Mackey, His Majesty’s Inspector, John Linkins wrote:

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“Leaders have made progress to improve the school, but more work is necessary for the school to be no longer judged as having serious weaknesses.

St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy headteacher Karl MackeySt John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy headteacher Karl Mackey
St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy headteacher Karl Mackey

“The focus of this second monitoring visit was to evaluate the impact of leaders’ work to improve pupils’ attendance, behaviour and engagement in their learning.

“You have increased the capacity and expertise within your attendance team. Procedures for monitoring absent pupils are effective. Leaders understand the importance of checking on the most vulnerable pupils quickly if they do not attend school.

“Leaders and staff have high expectations for how pupils should conduct themselves. This includes taking pride in their uniform and school environment.

“Several changes have been made at the school to ensure that movement between lessons is calm and that pupils are well supported. As a result, most pupils now feel more positive about their experience around the school building. They said there was always a teacher nearby if they needed to speak to someone.

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“Leaders have introduced a new behaviour policy at the school. Leaders’ records demonstrate that this new policy is helping to reduce incidents of poor behaviour. In lessons, this has been particularly effective. Pupils agree that fewer of their lessons are disrupted by poor behaviour.

“Pupils are beginning to benefit from a better educational experience at the school.

"Because disruption to lessons has reduced, teachers can teach and pupils can focus.”

On updates to the curriculum at the school, based on Oxford Road, the letter states: “The curriculum has been broadened with the addition of more creative subjects such as dance, drama and music. Pupils spoke enthusiastically about these lessons. Pupils value the opportunity to develop their skills and interests.”

The letter also adds that the school knows “that external examination results must improve to give pupils the best chance of future success.”

In response to Ofsted’s latest findings, Mr Mackey said:

“Whilst we recognise that this is just a milestone on a much bigger journey that the school is currently on, we were very pleased with the feedback we received.

“Inspectors found that pupils are benefitting from ‘a better educational experience at the school’, and that our high expectations, new approaches and enhanced curriculum are having a very real and a very tangible impact.

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“What we take most pride from, however, is that many comments in the report directly refer to feedback from the students themselves. The inspector, for example, found that our young people value the new opportunities we are creating, feel that lessons are much more focused and talk about being ‘positive about their experience around the school building.’

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“We are working tirelessly to enhance every element of life at our school, and this feedback from those who matter most, our students, just strengthens our resolve to continue to move forward with pace and purpose.”

Rachel McEvoy, interim CEO of The Blessed Peter Snow Catholic Academy Trust which the school is a part of, said:

“A huge amount has been achieved since the last time Ofsted visited our school, and I am hugely impressed with the progress that has been made.

“This has been a real team effort, and our students, staff and families should be praised for how they have responded to changes in how we do things at the school.

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“It would also be wrong not to acknowledge the impact of Mr Mackey and the rest of the senior leadership team. They are at the centre of driving improvements, and their impact is significant.

“What I take most heart from, however, is that the whole community recognises that progress has been made, but there is still much more to do.

“That positive momentum is what makes this an important monitoring visit – and I have no doubt that it paves the way for future success.”

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