The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors and three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This is a smaller than average secondary school. The majority of students are from White British backgrounds. Around 32 percent of the students are from a range of minority ethnic backgrounds. Fourteen percent of the students speak English as a second language and around 8 percent are at an early stage in learning English. A significant number of these are recent arrivals whose first language is Polish. The proportion of students eligible for free school meals is broadly average. The proportion of students identified with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is below average and the proportion that has a statement of special educational needs is well below average.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Christ the King is a satisfactory and improving school. Students start at the school with average levels of attainment and they make satisfactory progress to reach broadly average standards in national tests and examinations by the end of Years 11 and 13. In 2007, the proportion of students who attained five or more A* to C grades dropped from the previous year and students did not make the expected progress. Senior leaders have rightly identified the causes of this decline and taken steps to reverse it. Challenging targets are set and senior leaders are confident that the 2008 examination results will reflect the positive impact of action taken so far. The school's own data supports their view.
The students' personal development and well-being are good. Students make a good contribution to the school community because of the good opportunities they have to express their views. The promotion of students' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development across the school benefits individuals. Students feel valued and safe. They are actively encouraged to live healthily and most do so, for example through their participation in sports activities. Students have positive attitudes to learning and the great majority attend regularly, enjoy school and lessons and behave well around the school. However, a few are boisterous around corridors and stairs and need reminding to get to lessons quickly.
The curriculum and other activities are satisfactory. The introduction of applied GCSE and other accredited courses illustrates the school's drive to widen access further and make learning more suitable to students' specific needs and interests. However, the impact of these initiatives has yet to be demonstrated in terms of students making better than satisfactory progress. Links with local businesses and other providers help students to prepare satisfactorily for their future economic well-being. Senior leaders have widened opportunities for work-related learning. They also recognise the need, rightly, to ensure that parents' reports include an assessment of citizenship, but this is not done currently. Care, guidance and support for students are satisfactory with good elements. Staff display high levels of commitment towards every student, reflecting the school's strong Catholic ethos. There are some examples of good guidance to students, which informs them of their progress and how to improve their performance. However, this is not consistent across all subjects.
The quality of teaching and learning is satisfactory. There is a calm working atmosphere in nearly all lessons and students settle quickly, concentrate, enjoy their work and make satisfactory progress. The school has focussed professional development and support for teachers on improving the quality of teaching and learning and -teachers are clearer about what constitutes effective teaching. Although teaching is satisfactory overall, not enough of it is good or better to ensure that all students make consistently good progress. Assessment information is not always used rigorously enough to inform planning or to check students' progress. The monitoring of teaching and learning by senior leaders is increasingly robust, leading to a virtual eradication of inadequate teaching. There are well-judged strategies in place to share the best practice across the school.
Leadership and management are satisfactory. The executive headteacher provides good leadership. He has encouraged senior managers to focus more sharply on those aspects of the school's work that will secure sustained improvement. For example, timely concentration on underachievement has resulted in in the current Year 11 students' improved progress. The embedding of strategies that have worked well is spreading their impact to other groups of students. Governors take a keen interest in the school by visiting and supporting staff. Improvements have been made since the last inspection on most fronts and the school's use of self-evaluation is effective and reflects good capacity for further improvement.
Effectiveness of the sixth form
This is a satisfactory sixth form. The majority of the students begin their post-16 education with average attainment. By the end of Year 13, standards are in line with the national average indicating that students' progress is satisfactory. The school has a positive ethos, which ensures that students enjoy their studies. Students' personal development and well-being are good. The school offers a wide range of enrichment activities available, which supports students' economic well-being and encourages them to adopt healthy lifestyles. Students also make a positive contribution to the community through their work with younger students and their involvement in a wide range of fund raising activities. Curriculum provision is satisfactory with a range of AS and A level courses that have increased over time as a response to student demand. However, students do not have opportunities to follow any level 2 courses. Teaching and learning are satisfactory. In the better lessons, students are more active in their learning and are able to work well independently. Although pastoral care is good and students appreciate the support they receive, guidance and advice on improving performance in individual subjects is inconsistent. Leadership and management are satisfactory and increasingly focused on improving students' performance. The management team's evaluation rightly indicates that in order to raise achievement further, staff need to improve the use of information gathered from the tracking of students' progress.
What the school should do to improve further
- Increase the proportion of good or better teaching so that students make the progress of which they are capable.
- Ensure the rigorous application of effective assessment practice across the school, including in the sixth form.
- Comply with the statutory duty for reporting on citizenship studies.
A small proportion of the schools whose overall effectiveness is judged satisfactory but which have areas of underperformance will receive a monitoring visit by an Ofsted inspector before the next section 5 inspection.
Achievement and standards
Grade for sixth form: 3
Students start at the school with average levels of attainment. In 2007, results in national tests at the end of Year 9 were broadly average and students made satisfactory progress. GCSE results over recent years have been average and rose significantly in 2006 to above average. However, in 2007 the proportion of students who attained five or more higher GCSE A* to C grades was below average. The proportion attaining five or more higher grade GCSEs, including English and mathematics, was broadly average. The percentage of students attaining five or more A* to G grades has been consistently above the national average. Students' progress from their starting points to the end of Year 11 has been declining over the last three years and most noticeably in 2007. The school has now put in place strategies to tackle this decline based on an accurate analysis of why students did not make the expected progress. Well directed intervention is leading to improvement. Current performance data indicates that students are making satisfactory progress across the school, including those students who have learning difficulties and/or disabilities. The very recent increase in students who are at an early stage of learning English is providing a new challenge and there are well-judged strategies in place to ensure that these students achieve as well as their peers. Other students from minority ethnic groups make at least satisfactory progress.
Personal development and well-being
Grade for sixth form: 2
The nurturing of students' spiritual development is good. Assemblies, the curriculum and positive role modelling by staff promote students' social and moral development well. Students have a good awareness of local and national cultural diversity. Racial harmony in the school is a strength. Students feel safe at school and say that bullying and racist incidents are rare but when they occur are dealt with swiftly and effectively. Students have positive attitudes to learning and behaviour is good in lessons and around school. Many students are sensible and have good manners, but a few are boisterous on the corridors and stairs. The number of exclusions has reduced and the use of the internal isolation unit is effective in supporting students with behavioural difficulties. The school works hard to improve attendance and overall attendance is now average. Citizenship and personal development lessons ensure that students are well aware of safe and healthy life-choices. Participation rates in the many sports related extra-curricular activities are high and contribute to the school's good promotion of healthy lifestyles. Students work with a good awareness of their own and others' safety in practical lessons such as science and physical education. They are regularly involved in community and charitable activities. Students satisfactorily develop skills that will be of use to them in adult working life.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Grade for sixth form: 3
Lessons are usually carefully structured and behaviour is managed well. Teachers clearly explain what they expect students to do and achieve. Relationships are good and teachers praise students for hard work and good achievement. Better teaching is characterised by a range of stimulating, often challenging activities, moving at a brisk pace, which involve students actively in their learning. The best teaching refers to students' current standard of work, and makes clear what students need to do to reach higher grades. In these lessons, teachers check students' progress regularly, so that they and their students know the gains made in learning. Students benefit well from teachers' detailed comments on strengths and clear pointers about how to improve. In some subjects the use of self and peer assessment plays a helpful role but practice varies. In many satisfactory classes teachers talk too much and students are not sufficiently active. Some teaching takes account of students' differing needs and learning styles but teachers do not always match work to the full range of students' capabilities.
Curriculum and other activities
Grade for sixth form: 3
The school provides a satisfactory range of courses, which is increasing, particularly in Years 10 and 11. This has the potential to improve students' progress further and increase their enjoyment in learning. There is a marked improvement in challenge for those higher attaining students who are pursuing a GCSE course in French in Year 9. Modification to the science curriculum has helped to remove barriers to learning for a significant group of students. Form tutors teach a well-planned personal, social and citizenship programme but the quality of the delivery is not always consistent. The statutory duty to report on citizenship is not yet evident. Year 10 students have access to one week of work experience and there is an annual enterprise day that helps to develop students' understanding of the world of work. However, work related learning is not yet fully developed across the curriculum. The school offers a wide range of enrichment activities and the take up is good. These activities include foreign exchange visits, retreats to the diocese youth centre and a good variety of sporting opportunities.
Care, guidance and support
Grade for sixth form: 3
Good links with primary schools, involving regular visits by staff, ensure that students in Year 7 quickly feel at home, helped also by the support of senior students. Students receive helpful guidance and support when they make choices for options in Years 10 and 11 and in the sixth form. Gifted and talented students' progress and personal well-being are nurtured through careful support and provision. The vertical structure of tutor groups further reinforces students' sense of security and well-being. As a result, they feel safe and develop self-confidence. Procedures for child protection and all aspects of health and safety are observed meticulously. Satisfactory support ensures that students who have learning difficulties and/or disabilities make expected progress. However, the accurate identification of students' specific learning needs is insufficiently rigorous. While there are examples of at least satisfactory practice in some areas of the school, inconsistencies in marking and academic guidance prevent students from making better than satisfactory progress.
Leadership and management
Grade for sixth form: 3
Since his recent arrival, the executive headteacher's clear vision for improving students' enjoyment of school and increasing their life chances has won the support of staff and parents. His good leadership is raising expectations and ensuring a shared purpose of continuous improvement. Senior and middle leaders are increasingly adept at identifying underachievement and supporting teachers to improve the quality of teaching and learning. Self-evaluation and school improvement planning are strong and the views of staff, students and parents are included in the process. This leads to the identification of the right priorities for inclusion in the school improvement plan. Although there are systems for tracking students' progress, teachers do not use these consistently in the classroom. Data is regularly collated but not all middle leaders are able to access it to enable them to evaluate students' progress across all subjects. Governance is satisfactory. Governors visit the school to gain first hand experience. Governers both support and challenge the school during discussions within the governing body and in committees. They help ensure that the school provides satisfactory value for money and wish to improve this further.