St Mary's CofE High School
Headteacher: Mrs Kate Roskell
Diocese of London
St Mary's and St John's CofE Primary School Result of Amalgamation
696 pupils, Mixed
|Unique Reference Number||101360|
|Inspection dates||23–24 September 2009|
|Reporting inspector||Clare Gillies|
|Type of school||Comprehensive|
|School category||Voluntary aided|
|Age range of pupils||11–18|
|Gender of pupils||Mixed|
|Gender of pupils in the sixth form||Mixed|
|Number of pupils on the school roll||751|
|Of which, number on roll in the sixth form||130|
|Appropriate authority||The governing body|
|Date of previous school inspection||6 November 2006|
|London NW4 1AB|
|Telephone number||020 8203 2827|
|Fax number||020 8202 5510|
|Inspection dates||23–24 September 2009|
© Crown copyright 2009
This inspection was carried out by four additional inspectors. The inspectors visited 30 half-lessons and held meetings with governors, senior leaders, staff and students. No Year 11 lessons were observed as these students were on work experience. They observed the school's work and looked at data analysis and monitoring documents, curriculum plans, provision for students with special educational needs and/or disabilities and questionnaires from 35 parents, 392 students and 35 members of staff.
The inspection team reviewed many aspects of the school's work. It looked in detail at the following:
This undersubscribed school is slightly smaller than average. There are more boys than girls except in Year 7. Over four out of five students are from minority ethnic backgrounds, the largest group being Black Caribbean. Almost two thirds of the students do not speak English as their first language and about one in six of them are at an early stage of learning the language; over 60 languages are spoken. An increasingly large number of students enter or leave the school at non-standard times; many who arrive are refugees. Students come from over 50 primary schools. The percentage of students with special educational needs and/or disabilities is well above average. The school is in its second year of specialist status in humanities, focusing on history, English, literacy and religious education.
|Inspection grades: 1 is outstanding, 2 is good, 3 is satisfactory, and 4 is inadequate|
|Please turn to the glossary for a description of the grades and inspection terms|
Overall effectiveness: how good is the school?
The school's capacity for sustained improvement
The school has moved forward since its last inspection as the satisfactory education it continues to provide now includes many good features. The headteacher's strong leadership and changes to the senior team and teaching staff have made a difference. Students are keen to learn and to do well, knowing that high standards are expected of them, and teachers enthusiastically share good practice to improve teaching further. Senior leaders monitor the quality of teaching and learning accurately and know what helps teachers to work efficiently, for example easy-to-manage data systems and accurate records of students' individual needs. Governors and senior leaders evaluate the school's work accurately. All these continuing strengths contribute to the school's good capacity to improve further.
The strong Christian ethos of the school underpins students' good spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Staff morale is high and this contributes to the cheerful atmosphere. Over nine out of ten staff who completed a questionnaire for the inspectors said they are proud to be a member of staff at the school. Students respect each other and enjoy celebrating their cultural heritages. For many of them, the school is a place of security where they mature into thoughtful young adults.
GCSE results were much better in 2009 because, in response to disappointing results in 2008, the school introduced tight, more accurate, monitoring systems. The quality of teaching and learning improved as well. Standards in art and design and in most design and technology subjects remained low. Boys do not do as well as girls and White British, Black Caribbean and some other minority ethnic groups do not do as well as others. However, the gap between these groups has been reduced and the school has good strategies to reduce it further.
Senior leaders and teachers now check students' progress regularly throughout the year and give them clear advice about how to improve their work. In several subjects, students assess their own and each other's work, which they find helpful. The percentage of good teaching is increasing and outstanding practice exists in several subjects. Some, but not all, teachers share their enthusiasm for the work and make it relevant to life outside school and students respond by concentrating well and working hard.
A new programme covering social, health, economic and citizenship topics and learning and thinking skills was introduced in Year 7 last year and extended to Year 8 this year. It successfully provides coherence to students' personal development and they enjoy it, particularly activities such as team-building exercises. Other curriculum strengths include a realistic assessment of different courses and adjustments to match students' interests and abilities. The introduction of BTEC science last year was a successful change.
Support for students with special educational needs and/or disabilities is very good and many of them do well and gain useful qualifications. The strong features of the school's work with vulnerable students, seen during the inspection, were included in a 2008 Ofsted document highlighting good practice in this area. Students with English as an additional language or who need help to improve their fluency receive good support. Staff give all students equal opportunities to succeed and to prepare them to cope with life beyond school.
Specialist status has had a clear impact on raising standards in English and the humanities and the school knows that the next development is to spread the impact of these subjects, particularly in developing effective literacy strategies across the school. Poor literacy skills remain a barrier to more rapid progress for many students.
About 40% of the schools whose overall effectiveness is judged satisfactory may receive a monitoring visit by an Ofsted inspector before their next section 5 inspection.
Outcomes for individuals and groups of pupils
Almost nine out of ten students enjoy school and nearly the same proportion are confident that they learn a lot in lessons; practically all the parents who responded to the questionnaire feel that their children enjoy school and make progress. Standards are broadly average. In the majority of lessons seen during the inspection, students made good progress. Their learning and achievement are satisfactory and are improving as they now follow courses which match their abilities, are gaining confidence in their ability to succeed and know that teachers have high expectations. Students behave well in most lessons.
Pupils go out into the community and share what they are doing through activities like the very successful Gospel Choir. They demonstrate their commitment to those less fortunate by their charity work. Year councils give students a fairly effective way for their views to be heard but the headteacher is right that the whole-school council needs to be strengthened. Students are aware of how to lead healthy lifestyles. Their participation in extra-curricular sports is good and students know about the negative impact drugs and smoking have on their bodies. Attendance is improving and students appreciate the related competitions and prizes. The number of fixed-term exclusions is falling. The school is taking action about a few students' concerns that they do not feel safe if they are late and have to walk around the perimeter of the buildings. Otherwise, students say they feel secure, that bullying and racism incidents are very rare and that relationships are generally good; inspectors agree with them.
Some Year 10 students feel that they need more guidance on their future education plans but Year 11 students are more confident and feel they receive helpful advice about the qualifications and skills they should consider and are given much guidance about the range of places they can study post-16. Students use computers confidently and, as more of them now attain GCSE or other qualifications in English and mathematics, so they are better prepared to cope with the world of work.
These are the grades for pupils' outcomes
|Pupils' achievement and the extent to which they enjoy their learning|
Taking into account:
The quality of pupils' learning and their progress
The quality of learning for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities and their progress
|The extent to which pupils feel safe||2|
|The extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles||3|
|The extent to which pupils contribute to the school and wider community||3|
|The extent to which pupils develop workplace and other skills that will contribute to their future economic well-being|
Taking into account:
|The extent of pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development||2|
1 The grades for attainment and attendance are: 1 is high; 2 is above average; 3 is broadly average; and 4 is low
Teachers use interactive whiteboards efficiently and many of them exploit their full potential effectively. Most teachers appreciate that lessons that move fast, and have several different activities, generate students' interest. Spanish lessons, for example, are characterised by a pace that stimulates concentration and participation and history teachers expect students to work at least as hard as they do! Less successful learning is when one or more of the following is present in lessons: the opening is uninspiring, the pace decreases, teachers talk too much or students cannot see the point of the work.
Teachers regularly assess students' progress and understanding, formally and informally, which helps the students to understand how well they are doing and how to get better. Some teachers are skilful at asking questions which make students think and extend their understanding. These strengths, combined with a greater flexibility in the choice and combinations of subjects students follow, contributed to the improved results in 2009.
The care, guidance and support for all students is a strength of the school. Teachers and support staff know the students' needs well. Students taking a combination of GCSEs with vocational and basic skills courses do well. This reflects the fact that individual curriculum plans and the high quality support provided by the inclusion unit, called 'the Bridge', serve these students well. Practically all 'Bridge' students stay in education post-16.
Assemblies and form time contribute much to students' personal growth and their sense of belonging to the school community. A Year 7 student wrote on the questionnaire that 'so far, since I joined, most of the Year 8s have been very welcoming'. The school has good links with its large number of primary schools and endeavours to make the transition to secondary school as smooth and happy as possible.
These are the grades for the quality of provision
|The quality of teaching|
Taking into account:
The use of assessment to support learning
|The extent to which the curriculum meets pupils' needs, including, where relevant, through partnerships||2|
|The effectiveness of care, guidance and support||2|
The headteacher is not alone in conveying her ambition for the school to be very good in the future. Governors and senior and middle leaders all promote the same message. Members of the senior leadership team have developed their skills so they can manage change and bring success. They have improved teaching and learning by accurate monitoring of its quality and well-considered professional development for staff. They have encouraged teachers who have particular skills to deliver training to others. When new data analysis systems were introduced last year, teachers rose enthusiastically to the challenge to use it to raise standards. New teachers feel well supported and gain confidence because they are given helpful and challenging advice.
The headteacher plans change thoughtfully, sets clear targets for judging success and identifies how to use resources wisely. The school gives satisfactory value for money. One example of the school's determination to promote equality is seen in its curriculum developments which mean that students can follow the courses best suited to their needs. The high quality care offered, to refugees for example, reflects the school's resolve to tackle discrimination and remove any barriers to students' learning.
Governors are becoming more effective because they are committed to their own development and hold regular training events. They gain first-hand knowledge of what the school is doing by being linked to departments and visiting the school during the day. They act as critical friends to the whole school as well as the departments with which they are linked. They have a very good understanding of the school's strengths and weaknesses.
Governors and senior leaders take safeguarding procedures and routines seriously and all the systems, for example for child protection, the care of looked after children and refugees, are sound. The school has good contacts with outside agencies which help to provide advice and support for a range of children, and some parents, who need help.
Because of the family nature of the school, and students and teachers coming from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds, community cohesion is a fundamental part of school life, and within the local and much wider community. Students see themselves as part of a family that extends, at home and abroad, to those less fortunate than themselves. Last year, for example, the 100 pupils in Year 7 produced 150 backpacks full of clothes and resources for children in Africa who needed help. The specialist subjects, particularly, explore topics related to the students' cultural heritage; the work done during Black History Month and London Peace Week is excellent.
These are the grades for leadership and management
|The effectiveness of leadership and management in embedding ambition and driving improvement|
Taking into account:
The leadership and management of teaching and learning
|The effectiveness of the governing body in challenging and supporting the|
school so that weaknesses are tackled decisively and statutory responsibilities met
|The effectiveness of the school's engagement with parents and carers||2|
|The effectiveness of partnerships in promoting learning and well-being||3|
|The effectiveness with which the school promotes equality of opportunity and tackles discrimination||2|
|The effectiveness of safeguarding procedures||3|
|The effectiveness with which the school promotes community cohesion||2|
|The effectiveness with which the school deploys resources to achieve value for money||3|
Science and related subjects are popular with 100% passes in A-level biology, physics and mathematics in 2009. Only a small number of students study the specialist subjects. Students' average points scores are below average which represents satisfactory achievement overall but there is considerable variation between subjects. The curriculum is already offering students a good mix of vocational and academic subjects and the school is fully involved with local diploma developments.
Teaching is predominantly good, ranging from satisfactory to outstanding. An exciting sports psychology lesson enthused students by boosting their confidence, successfully combining theory and practice, and promoting healthy lifestyles. An equally effective Year 12 physics lesson got students thinking about a problem within seconds of them entering the laboratory.
Students are entirely happy with the academic and personal support they receive, and appreciative: 'You get personal attention here.' There are many opportunities for them to contribute to school life and the community, supporting younger students with reading, for example. An innovative system of 'senior leader' students attaches them to subjects and gives them responsibility for events.
The new leadership of the sixth form has generated a sense of energy and drive that is already leading to tighter monitoring of standards and attendance and a reduction in the gap between higher and lower performing subjects. The sixth form leader has a clear and secure grasp of what needs to be done to improve teaching, learning and achievement.
These are the grades for the sixth form
|Overall effectiveness of the sixth form|
Taking into account:
Outcomes for students in the sixth form
The quality of provision in the sixth form
Leadership and management of the sixth form
Of the very small number of parents who returned the questionnaire, a very large majority recognise how much their children enjoy school and believe that teaching is good, that their children make enough progress and that the school helps their children to have a healthy lifestyle. Over half the parents feel the school deals effectively with unacceptable behaviour, though some written comments referred to inconsistencies in how staff address problems of this sort. All St Mary's teachers are working hard not to allow any student to spoil lessons and interrupt learning, and the headteacher keeps a close eye on how staff deal with poor behaviour. She is also aware that a few parents do not feel that the school listens to their suggestions and concerns.
Ofsted invited all the registered parents and carers of students registered at St Mary's CofE High School to complete a questionnaire about their views of the school.
In the questionnaire, parents and carers were asked to record how strongly they agreed with 13 statements about the school.
The inspection team received 35 completed questionnaires by the end of the on-site inspection. In total, there are 751 students registered at the school.
|My child enjoys school||10||29||21||60||1||3||1||3|
|The school keeps my child safe||9||26||17||49||6||17||1||3|
|My school informs me about my child's progress||15||43||14||40||2||6||2||6|
|My child is making enough progress at this school||7||20||20||57||4||11||1||3|
|The teaching is good at this school||9||26||19||54||5||14||0||0|
|The school helps me to support my child's learning||12||34||13||37||6||17||2||6|
|The school helps my child to have a healthy lifestyle||8||24||23||66||2||6||0||0|
|The school makes sure that my child is well prepared for the future (for example changing year group, changing school, and for children who are finishing school, entering further or higher education, or entering employment)||7||23||16||46||3||9||2||6|
|The school meets my child's particular needs||4||11||19||54||5||14||1||3|
|The school deals effectively with unacceptable behaviour||9||26||13||37||7||20||1||3|
|The school takes account of my suggestions and concerns||4||11||16||46||9||26||0||0|
|The school is led and managed effectively||8||23||17||49||5||14||2||6|
|Overall, I am happy with my child's experience at this school||11||31||15||43||4||11||1||3|
The table above summarises the responses that parents and carers made to each statement. The percentages indicate the proportion of parents and carers giving that response out of the total number of completed questionnaires. Where one or more parents and carers chose not to answer a particular question, the percentages will not add up to 100%.
|Grade 1||Outstanding||These features are highly effective. An oustanding school provides exceptionally well for all its pupils' needs.|
|Grade 2||Good||These are very positive features of a school. A school that is good is serving its pupils well.|
|Grade 3||Satisfactory||These features are of reasonable quality. A satisfactory school is providing adequately for its pupils.|
|Grade 4||Inadequate||These features are not of an acceptable standard. An inadequate school needs to make significant improvement in order to meet the needs of its pupils. Ofsted inspectors will make further visits until it improves.|
|Overall effectiveness judgement (percentage of schools)|
|Type of school||Outstanding||Good||Satisfactory||Inadequate|
|Pupil referral |
the progress and success of a pupil in their learning, development or training.
the standard of the pupils' work shown by test and examination results and in lessons.
|Capacity to improve:|
the proven ability of the school to continue improving. Inspectors base this judgement on what the school has accomplished so far and on the quality of its systems to maintain improvement.
|Leadership and management:|
the contribution of all the staff with responsibilities, not just the headteacher, to identifying priorities, directing and motivating staff and running the school.
how well pupils acquire knowledge, develop their understanding, learn and practise skills and are developing their competence as learners.
inspectors form a judgement on a school's overall effectiveness based on the findings from their inspection of the school. The following judgements, in particular, influence what the overall effectiveness judgement will be.
the rate at which pupils are learning in lessons and over longer periods of time. It is often measured by comparing the pupils' attainment at the end of a key stage with their attainment when they started.
25 September 2009
Inspection of St Mary's CofE High School, London NW4 1AB
On the questionnaire you completed for us, one of you in Year 9 wrote 'I enjoy my school and I hope you do too' - we certainly did! We appreciated your welcome and much enjoyed talking to many of you. In the last inspection report, everything at your school was described as satisfactory. Now, although it is satisfactory overall, there are many things that are good because it has improved so much, particularly last year. This is because Mrs Roskell and other senior leaders know exactly what needs to be done to make your school successful.
Teachers work hard to make lessons interesting and fun and we saw several really good lessons when you were enjoying what you were doing and working hard. The 2009 GCSE and A-level results were much better than in 2008. The next step forward is for all of you to make the same good progress as some of you already do, so that more of you attain five good GCSEs including the important subjects of English and mathematics. We have asked the school to improve standards in a couple of subjects and to ensure that whatever your ethnic background, or whether you are a girl or boy, you do as well as the best.
Several hundred of you completed the questionnaire and it was great that almost 90% of you said you enjoyed school. Fewer of you think behaviour is good but we saw you behaving well in most lessons ' perhaps you were making a special effort for us? We have asked teachers to make sure they discuss with you how work is relevant to your lives and to share their good practice so that even more lessons are successful and your literacy skills keep improving.
We were impressed with your charity efforts and contributions to the local community ' the Gospel Choir is clearly very popular. We hope you continue to make the most of all the opportunities the school offers you and have happy and prosperous lives.
|Any complaints about the inspection or the report should be made following the procedures set out in the guidance 'Complaining about inspections', which is available from Ofsted's website: ofsted.gov.uk. If you would like Ofsted to send you a copy of the guidance, please telephone 08456 404045, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.|