Catholic academy trust tackled weaknesses 'at a brisk pace'

Ofsted inspectors have praised improvements at the Romero Catholic Multi Academy Company after visiting all eight of its schools.

Seven primary schools and one secondary run by the Coventry academy trust were visited in March as part of a focused inspection.

Inspectors said the trust had tackled previously identified weaknesses “at a brisk pace”, and commended the organisation for its “strong sense of moral purpose” and “team spirit and common identity”. These were fostered by the use of company training days, peer-to-peer reviews and special events to bring the schools together and create “overall improvements”.

Principals “willingly engage and work together to focus on improving pupils’ welfare and achievement across the company, not just in their own schools”.

Work to improve the schools has been stepped up in the last 18 months, with “positive effects” on the quality of leadership and teaching in the primary schools, and improvements in academic standards.

“There is no doubt that this is the result of a well-informed and coordinated approach to school improvement across the primary phase,” inspectors found.

One of the trust’s schools, Sacred Heart Primary, leads the Blue Sky Teaching School Alliance, which has had a positive impact on helping to develop staff and share best practice.

However, while leaders at the trust’s sole secondary school, Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School, have worked well, inspectors believe it would benefit from drawing on the expertise of other secondary schools elsewhere.

Delays to appointments to senior posts, which happened because of the need for approval by the area’s bishop and the trust’s founder member, “must not happen again”.

The board’s oversight of the use and impact of the pupil premium on the achievement of disadvantaged pupils was “underdeveloped but improving”.

Plans to appoint a CEO are being developed, which the trust believes will “enable decisions about school leadership and improvement to be taken and acted upon quickly”.

While the company has one ‘outstanding’ school and four ‘good’ schools, two of the primaries are still ‘requires improvement’.

Ofsted asked Romero to focus on boosting the progress of disadvantaged pupils, and improving maths outcomes in general.

Transition between key stages 2 and 3 was also identified as a “priority development area”.

Patrick Taggart, business director of the Romero Catholic Academy, said: “Eight school inspections and a multi academy company inspection in two weeks was an incredible experience for our staff.

“It has provided an excellent benchmark of our progress since becoming a multi academy company and validates the plans we have in place to ensure our children make outstanding progress and learn in a supportive and creative environment. 

“Our vision of ‘Becoming a beacon of excellence in Catholic education’ is on track and we are happy to share how we planned and managed the two weeks with educational colleagues who may be interested.”