A “forgotten school” waiting five years for an academy takeover has been put into special measures again, with Ofsted criticising the council and diocese for “failing its pupils for far too long”.
St Anne’s Roman Catholic High School, in Stockport, has been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted following an inspection in January.
The report, due to be published this week, paints a startling picture of the state of the school – describing it as a “dire situation” – with pupils feeling unsafe, incidents of racist behaviour and common use of homophobic language.
My question has consistently been through all of this ‘why has this not been done over the last five years?
The school was handed an academy order after being placed in special measures in October 2014. However it’s one of a handful still waiting for conversion years after orders – with one school now waiting nine years.
Ofsted found there had been “endemic weaknesses in the leadership of the school”, which is now on its ninth headteacher in 10 years.
“The people who are responsible for this school have failed its pupils for far too long… Leaders, including those on the governing body, in the diocese and the local authority have not acted with the required urgency.
“They have not demonstrated the expertise and capacity needed to bring about the sustained improvement that this school requires. This means that for many years pupils have not benefited from a good education.”
The school is officially a “stuck school” – as it has never achieved a grade above ‘requires improvement’ since the inspectorate began visiting the school.
According to an Ofsted report on the issue, which featured St Anne’s, a ‘stuck’ is a schools which has had “consistently weak inspection outcomes throughout the last 13 years”.
However the report does praise the new leadership, under current headteacher Daniel Wright, for bringing “new hope to this dire situation” and having “a clear-grasp of the deep-rooted issues that have dogged this school”.
Wright told Schools Week: “My question has consistently been through all of this ‘why has this not been done over the last five years?’”
He described St Anne’s as a ‘forgotten school’ and said the report was “accurate”, applauding the inspectors for providing a “caring and supportive process… It is the Ofsted report the school needs, it didn’t need to cling to another ‘requires improvement’ judgement.”
He also criticised the bodies in charge of the school. “We’re maintained by the local authority but the Catholic diocese of Salford is responsible for quite a large aspect of life at the school,” Wright said.
“We’re on the edge of Salford diocese and we’re one of the most northern schools in Stockport local authority, so we have been caught on the edge of two areas.
“The sad part is the school hasn’t been noticed or given any support for a really long period of time. We had a school that was resisting academisation and was trying to get the school to a place where leadership and management were rated as good, even if everything else was RI, to try and get that academy order rescinded.
For many years pupils have not benefited from a good education
“Instead of saying let’s just enact the order and get some support for this school.”
The school is now due to become part of the newly-formed Emmaus Trust in June. Wright added: “The school is finally going to be in a situation where, instead of being isolated and left alone, I can reach out to other Catholic headteachers and get assistance through the front door.”
Stockport Council has been contacted for comment.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Salford said they are “fully committed to continuing the improvements for the pupils at the school and recognise the improvements needed which the latest Ofsted report has confirmed.
“These areas were identified in the introduction of the new Senior Leadership Team and since then a robust action plan has been put in place and the SLT have been working on implementing these changes.”
The government has set up an academy trust to take on so-called “orphan schools”. It has been approved to take on its first academy and will be run by chief executive Gareth Mason, formerly assistant director of education at Delta Academies Trust.