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Inspector’s visit puts St Benedict’s Catholic School on track to ‘reclaim’ ‘good’ Ofsted rating

PUBLISHED: 10:26 13 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:26 13 February 2015

St Benedict's School in Bury St Edmunds.

St Benedict's School in Bury St Edmunds.

St Benedict’s Catholic School is “on track” to reclaim its “good” Ofsted rating, after an interim inspection last week praised the progress made.

The Bury St Edmunds secondary school was downgraded in September last year, despite impressive GCSE and A Level results placing the school in the higher reaches of the league tables.

The headteacher Hugh O’Neill said the monitoring visit from Her Majesty’s Inspector showed the school was making good progress.

“We have made changes to the leadership team which the inspector commended after the report criticised that aspect of the school,” he said.

“I am feeling very positive after the visit. It was helpful to look at how we can reclaim the ‘good’ rating we want and they highlighted some of the improvements we have already made.

“The staff and governors are completely dedicated to making the improvements required by the Ofsted report.

“We achieved some incredible results last academic year and I am hopeful we will repeat that performance. If we do, we should achieve a ‘good’ rating next year.”

The school was subject to national controversy in 2014, when the first release of its Ofsted report, following a no-notice inspection, highlighted concerns over “extremism” and “radicalisation”.

A revised report later removed all these references, but upheld the “requires improvement” rating. Despite this, just weeks later the school was added to a list of schools where Ofsted had significant concerns over pupils’ awareness of extremism.

A public letter sent to Mr O’Neill from the inspector Christopher Moodie, following his visit in January, said: “The school has made progress in key areas since the inspection. Your improvement plan is clear and succinct. It prioritises the right areas and enables you and your senior leaders to evaluate the impact of your work.

“You have re-structured the senior leadership team. Roles and responsibilities are now much more clearly defined

and this is helping you and governors to hold leaders to account more effectively.

“In addition, your approach to monitoring the quality of teaching has improved. As a result of more regular, informal checks, leaders are developing a better understanding of where the strengths in teaching lie and where improvement is needed.”

The school was previously criticised by Ofsted for the lack of achievement by disadvantaged pupils. Mr Moodie highlighted progress in this area and said the gap was narrowing.

Despite the progress, poor presentation of students’ work and a wide achievement gap between some pupils in Years 10 and 11 were highlighted.

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