St Michael's Catholic School
phone: 01494 535196
headteacher: Mr Robert Simpson Bed Hons Ma
1115 pupils capacity: 99% full
555 boys 50%
550 girls 50%
Last updated: June 19, 2014
All Through — Voluntary Aided School
- Education phase
- All Through
- Religious character
- Roman Catholic
- Establishment type
- Voluntary Aided School
- Establishment #
- OSGB coordinates
- Easting: 486233, Northing: 191806
- GPS coordinates
- Latitude: 51.618, Longitude: -0.75586
- Accepting pupils
- 3—18 years old
- Census date
- Jan. 16, 2014
- Ofsted last inspection
- Oct. 24, 2013
- Diocese of Northampton
- Region › Const. › Ward
- South East › Wycombe › Abbey
- Urban > 10k - less sparse
- Admissions policy
- Main specialism
- Science (Operational)
- Investor in People
- Committed IiP Status
- Sixth form
- Has a sixth form
- Free school meals %
- Learning provider ref #
- 0.1 miles St Augustine's Catholic Primary School HP111PW
- 0.3 miles Wycombe High School HP111TB
- 0.3 miles Woodland First School and Primary Centre HP111TB
- 0.3 miles Wycombe High School HP111TB (1303 pupils)
- 0.4 miles John Hampden Grammar School HP111SZ
- 0.4 miles John Hampden Grammar School HP111SZ (1056 pupils)
- 0.5 miles Wycombe Abbey School HP111PE (560 pupils)
- 0.6 miles High Wycombe Church of England Combined School HP112JU (208 pupils)
- 0.6 miles Buckinghamshire New University HP112JZ
- 0.7 miles Chiltern Gate School HP123NE (99 pupils)
- 0.8 miles Crown House School HP111BJ (144 pupils)
- 0.8 miles Verney Avenue School HP123NE
- 0.8 miles Kiteridge Education Unit HP123NE (10 pupils)
- 0.9 miles Chepping View Primary School HP124PR
- 0.9 miles Shelburne Infant School HP124PR
- 0.9 miles Vinio House School HP124PR
- 0.9 miles Park Crescent School HP124PR
- 0.9 miles Chepping View Primary Academy HP124PR (423 pupils)
- 1 mile Bowerdean Nursery School HP136HR (102 pupils)
- 1 mile Green Street First School HP112RA
- 1 mile Oakridge School HP112PN (414 pupils)
- 1 mile Hamilton Primary School HP136SG
- 1 mile Middle School Centre HP112RA
- 1 mile Hamilton Academy HP136SG (642 pupils)
St Michael’s Catholic
Daws Hill Lane, High Wycombe, HP11 1PW
|Inspection dates||24–25 October 2013|
|Overall effectiveness||This inspection:||Good||2|
|Achievement of pupils||Good||2|
|Quality of teaching||Good||2|
|Behaviour and safety of pupils||Good||2|
|Leadership and management||Good||2|
Summary of key findings for parents and pupils
This is a good school.
It is not yet an outstanding school because:
| Students make good progress in the primary |
Teaching is usually good and some is
Teaching assistants are particularly effective
Teaching in the Early Years Foundation Stage
and secondary phases. Standards at the end
of Key Stages 2 and 4 are broadly average.
outstanding. Teachers have good subject
knowledge, present introductions clearly to
classes and support students well with their
learning. Teachers check on learning
regularly in lessons and adapt activities where
necessary so progress remains good.
throughout the school and ensure that
disabled students and those with special
educational needs make good progress.
is particularly strong and the wide range of
interesting activities on offer supports
children’s development well in all areas of
| Students have positive attitudes to learning |
Leaders, managers and governors have
Governors hold senior leaders to account
and behave well around the school. They say
they feel safe in the school and they have a
good awareness of how to keep themselves
safe in different situations.
overseen the growth of the school from a small
secondary school to an all-through school very
effectively. They have ensured that good
standards of teaching and achievement have
been maintained in the secondary phase and
that these have improved in the primary
effectively and have a good understanding of
the strengths and areas for development in the
| There is not enough outstanding teaching. |
Standards of presentation and handwriting in
Work does not always help the most-able
make the fastest progress and marking does
not give students clear steps to improve.
the primary phase are not high enough and
there are not enough opportunities for pupils
to write at length.
| The sixth form requires improvement as some |
students do not do well on some courses and
students’ progress is not monitored closely
Information about this inspection
- The inspection team observed 39 lessons or part-lessons. Some of these observations were
carried out with members of the senior leadership team.
- Inspectors held meetings with several groups of students across the primary and secondary
phases. They also met with senior staff, subject leaders, four governors and a representative
from the local authority learning trust.
- Inspectors looked at a range of students’ work in lessons and some in more detail with one of
the school’s senior leaders.
- The inspection team took into account the responses of 47 parents and carers to the online
questionnaire Parent View, written correspondence from parents and carers and questionnaires
completed by 59 staff.
- Inspectors reviewed records of students’ recent attainment and progress, the school’s evaluation
of its own work and plans for the future, minutes of meetings of the governing body, and
safeguarding, behaviour and attendance records.
|Susan Williams, Lead inspector||Additional Inspector|
|Kevin Morris||Additional Inspector|
|Caroline Pardy||Additional Inspector|
|Lynne Thorogood||Additional Inspector|
Information about this school
- The school is an all-through school. The primary phase is larger than the average-sized primary
school and the secondary phase is smaller than the average-sized secondary school.
- The majority of students are White British with others from a range of backgrounds including
other White, Caribbean and African. The proportion of students whose first language is not
English is double the national average.
- The proportion of disabled students and those who have special educational needs supported at
school action is below average. The proportion supported at school action plus or with a
statement of special educational needs is also below average.
- The proportion of students for whom the school receives the pupil premium funding (additional
funding for students known to be eligible for free school meals, children who are looked after by
the local authority and those from service families) is below average. There is one student from
a service family in the school.
- The school does not receive any Year 7 catch-up funding. This is additional government funding
for students who did not achieve the expected Level 4 at the end of Key Stage 2.
- A small number of secondary students attend part of their education off site at the local
authority pupil referral unit.
- The school works closely with other secondary schools in a local sixth form consortium.
- The school meets the government’s current floor standards at the end of both Key Stages 2 and
4. These set the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress in English and
- The school expanded from a secondary school to include a primary phase starting with reception
children from September 2011. A new nursery opened in September 2013.
What does the school need to do to improve further?
- Improve teaching so that more is outstanding by:
precisely planning work that helps all learners, particularly the more-able, to make faster
ensuring all learners have clear next steps in marking and feedback to help them in their
learning and give them opportunities to reflect on these and to respond to teachers’ comments
improving the quality of presentation and handwriting in the primary phase and giving pupils
more opportunities for extended writing across different subjects.
- Improve the effectiveness of the sixth form by ensuring students choose more appropriate
courses based on their prior attainment and assess them regularly to ensure their good
achievement in all areas.
|The achievement of pupils||is good|
- Children enter the Early Years Foundation Stage with skills and knowledge below the levels
expected for their age, with particular weaknesses in their communication and language
development. A wide range of activities and a good balance of child-initiated and adult-led
activities enables children to learn skills quickly and make good progress. At the end of
Reception in 2012 standards were broadly average, and in 2013 the majority of children reached
a good level of development before moving into Key Stage 1.
- In the first year of the primary phase the proportion of pupils reaching the required standard in
the phonics (letters and their sounds) check was below national levels. A new reading and
writing scheme has been introduced, with comprehensive staff training and pupils taught in
small groups. The impact of this has been significant, with most pupils reaching the required
standard in the check in 2013 and a similarly high proportion in Year 2 having caught up.
- Key Stage 1 pupils say they enjoy reading and read a variety of books including fiction, non-
fiction and poetry. They say they read regularly at school and at home. They use the strategies
they have learnt to help them read difficult words automatically without any prompting or extra
help. The school promotes the development of literacy and reading well at all key stages.
- When Year 2 pupils entered the school in 2011 they were behind the expectations for their age.
By the end of the year they had caught up in reading and mathematics, reaching average
standards and had made good progress in writing, although this remained below average.
Standards improved in 2013 in reading, writing and mathematics with pupils making good
progress from their starting points, although the proportion of pupils reaching the higher levels
is lower than usually seen nationally.
- Standards at Key Stage 2 were broadly average in 2012 and, as in Key Stage 1, progress was
strong, helping pupils to make up ground during the year. There were improvements in 2013
although performance at the highest levels was less strong.
- Students make good progress across a range of subjects, including English and mathematics, in
the secondary phase. The proportion of students gaining five good GCSEs, including English and
mathematics, was broadly average in 2012 and similar standards were maintained in 2013. The
proportion of students who achieved five A* to G grades at GCSE has been above the national
average for the last three years, with all students achieving at least five qualifications in 2013.
Although there was some slight variation between subjects in the past, students make at least
good progress across the school and the gaps between subjects reduced further in 2013. There
were also increased proportions of A*and A grades in most subjects.
- Early entry for GCSE is only used in mathematics for the highest set in Year 10 and in the first
examination session in Year 11 for other students. Students are not disadvantaged because the
school ensures that they have the opportunity to resit the examination if they do not reach their
- Students known to be eligible for pupil premium funding had previously not made as rapid
progress as others. These pupils were just over two years behind other pupils in the Year 6
national tests in English and mathematics in 2012 and students at Key Stage 4 were just under a
grade behind in English and a grade-and-a-third in mathematics. The school tracked the impact
of different types of support in 2012 and adjusted how it used this funding the following year. In
2013 the gap narrowed at both key stages and the school now tracks the progress of these
students very carefully, and makes sure extra help accelerates progress. School data show that
those students currently in the school who are eligible for additional funding are making good
progress and gaps are narrowing. Students receive individual and small-group support and the
school has used the funding to provide targeted support for emotional development and
mentors, which has supported students’ improved progress.
- All groups of students, including White British, any other White, Black Caribbean, Black African
and those whose first language is not English, make good progress across the school.
- Support in lessons for disabled students and those who have special educational needs is
particularly strong, with highly skilled teaching assistants working across both primary and
secondary phases ensuring these learners make good progress. In the sixth form, disabled
students and those with special educational needs are given excellent support and they make
rapid progress in their courses. This demonstrates the school’s success in promoting equality of
opportunity in students’ learning.
- The small number of students who have part of their studies elsewhere make good progress in
their learning and the school monitors their progress carefully.
- Achievement in the sixth form is not overall as strong as in the rest of the school. Although
attainment at the end of Year 11 is broadly average, students’ starting points on entry to the
sixth form are below average for this stage. Achievement has fluctuated over the last three
years and is less strong in A-level and AS-level qualifications than in vocational subjects.
Sometimes students start courses with low grades, which means they struggle to tackle the
demands of some courses. The development of vocational subjects has been very successful and
has supported disabled students and those with special educational needs to achieve well. All
students are successfully supported to take up apprenticeships or go on to higher education and
all Level 3 BTEC students gained places at university last year.
|The quality of teaching||is good|
- Teaching is usually good and there is some that is outstanding in both the primary and
secondary phases, leading to students’ good achievement.
- Particular strengths of teaching across the school are the respectful relationships between staff
and students and the way staff and students respect the contributions of others in lessons.
Teachers have good subject knowledge and presentations to classes are clear. Teachers check
on learning in lessons, give individual support where necessary and adapt activities to ensure
students make good progress in their learning.
- Support for disabled students and those who have special educational needs is particularly
strong across the school. Teachers adapt activities skilfully to help these students access them
and teaching assistants are able to engage students in their work, help them to work out
answers and use questioning skilfully to guide learning. This helps these students to make good
and in some cases better progress.
- In the primary phase the teaching of early reading is now very effective. A comprehensive
training programme has ensured all staff deliver an early reading scheme to a high standard to
small groups in Year 1. The sessions contain a range of activities linking reading with writing and
ensure that pupils enjoy the learning and make consistently good progress. However, teachers
do not always ensure pupils’ handwriting and presentation are of a high standard or that there
are enough opportunities for pupils to write at length across different subjects.
- Although teachers adapt activities well for less-able students, tasks which enable more-able
students to make rapid progress in their learning are not routinely used across the school.
Although these students make good progress, this limits them making rapid progress and more
students achieving the highest grades. Teachers regularly mark books but they do not routinely
give students clear next steps in marking and feedback to help them in their learning or give
them opportunities to reflect on and respond to their comments.
- Teaching in the Early Years Foundation Stage is particularly strong. The staff have worked as a
team to build on the success of the reception area, providing the new nursery with a wide range
of equipment, including a superb outdoor play area set up with a variety of experiences for
children to explore. Children learned particularly well, for example, in an outstanding session in
the nursery. They enjoyed making woven ‘Elma the elephant’ pictures linked to the theme of the
rainbow, as the teacher modelled the process expertly and children succeeded in creating their
own pictures. Children made shakers which they used to record music and some explored the
light from different coloured torches in a tent. They thoroughly enjoyed their learning and made
- Although teaching in the sixth form is often good, over time it has not resulted in good
achievement, particularly in academic subjects. Students taking these courses are not always
assessed regularly and given extra help if they start to fall behind and they do not do as well on
these courses as students who study vocational options.
|The behaviour and safety of pupils||are good|
- Students across all key stages have positive attitudes to school and to their learning which
results in effective engagement in lessons and good progress in most of the school. Behaviour in
lessons is consistently good, and students listen to instructions and are respectful of staff and
each other. Outside and in dining rooms students respond politely to adults and behave well.
- Staff and parents and carers agree that behaviour is good. Students also said that they thought
behaviour was good and staff deal very well with any instances of misbehaviour. They
understand the importance of rules and that the community is happier and safer if everyone
keeps them. Behaviour logs show improvement over the last three years and short-term
exclusions have reduced. The school is effective in promoting positive relationships and ensuring
there is no discrimination.
- Behaviour is not outstanding as students do not display a thirst for knowledge and take enough
responsibility for their own learning. Students of all ages have a good awareness of different
forms of bullying, including cyber bullying. All those spoken to said they felt safe in school and
show high levels of awareness of how to keep themselves safe, including out of school on roads
and in social contexts. There have been no racist incidents and no bullying recorded over the
- The school ensures students who attend part of their courses elsewhere are safe and well looked
- Overall attendance in both the primary and secondary phases is above average and improving.
Students are routinely punctual to school and to their lessons.
|The leadership and management||are good|
- Leaders, managers and governors have managed the transition from a secondary school to an
all-through school very well. A new leadership structure is in place across the school and the
vast majority of staff are positive about the leadership of the school.
- The school’s own evaluation of its work is accurate and there are well-focused improvement
plans with clear steps and monitoring which have led to improvements, particularly in the
primary phase, to teaching and pupils’ achievement. Good standards of achievement and
teaching have been maintained in the secondary phase over time.
- There is a clear structure for performance management which is linked to the national standards
for teachers. Teaching is monitored regularly and leaders’ judgements are accurate. Targets are
linked to students’ progress and have a whole-school focus, and staff each have an individual
target to help them improve their teaching.
- Subject leaders in the primary and secondary phases are taking increased responsibility for
leading improvements in their areas. Professional development for staff is strong and new
leaders are being developed in their roles and supported to become the senior leaders of the
future. Areas for development are identified and used to plan specific training for staff.
- The curriculum has been developed in the primary phase to support pupils’ development of
reading. However, although writing has improved, there are not enough opportunities for pupils
to write at length. Good use is made of secondary specialist staff, for example in science and
physical education, to support pupils’ learning in these areas.
- The school has an effective plan for use of the new sports funding, including the use of specialist
staff to develop primary teachers’ expertise, and to increase the opportunities for extra-curricular
provision, for example with tag rugby, cross-country running and multi-skills activities.
- The secondary curriculum has been developed with the introduction of AS-level critical thinking
in Year 9 and a wider range of vocational qualifications which have been extremely successful,
with high pass rates in 2013.
- Students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is promoted well with good
opportunities for prayer and reflection. There is a strong moral code in the school with a sense
of what is right and wrong. Students have the opportunity to discuss topical issues in lessons
such as the one child policy in China. There is a wide range of trips, clubs and societies which
support students’ cultural development including theatre trips and visits to museums.
- The leadership and management of the sixth form require improvement. The sixth form
curriculum is developing and use is made of the sixth form consortium to provide a wide range
of choice for students. Students also have the opportunity for retakes at GCSE in English and
mathematics. However, leaders have not ensured that students are successful on all their
courses, particularly students taking A-level qualifications. Students receive strong guidance in
writing personal statements to support their applications for university or work-based
employment and all students continue with apprenticeships or higher education.
- The local authority learning trust has provided effective support for the school in helping it to
develop an accurate view of its own performance and in improving teaching.
- The governance of the school:
Governors have a thorough understanding of the school. They provide challenge for senior
leaders and hold them to account for bringing about improvement, questioning them in
meetings and visiting the school to see for themselves what is happening. They have a good
understanding of the school’s performance compared with that of other schools and receive
regular updates on students’ progress which they discuss in detail. They know how pupil
premium funding is being spent and what changes have been made to make sure progress for
these pupils has improved. Governors receive updates on performance management, including
targets for all staff, so they know that this has been carried out thoroughly. They know about
the quality of teaching in the school and ensure pay awards are linked to strong performance
and meeting targets. They know where underperformance has been challenged in the past
and the difference it has made. They ensure statutory requirements are met, including for
What inspection judgements mean
|Grade 1||Outstanding||An outstanding school is highly effective in delivering outcomes |
that provide exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs. This ensures
that pupils are very well equipped for the next stage of their
education, training or employment.
|Grade 2||Good||A good school is effective in delivering outcomes that provide well |
for all its pupils’ needs. Pupils are well prepared for the next stage
of their education, training or employment.
|Grade 3||Requires |
|A school that requires improvement is not yet a good school, but it |
is not inadequate. This school will receive a full inspection within
24 months from the date of this inspection.
|Grade 4||Inadequate||A school that requires special measures is one where the school is |
failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and
the school’s leaders, managers or governors have not
demonstrated that they have the capacity to secure the necessary
improvement in the school. This school will receive regular
monitoring by Ofsted inspectors.
A school that has serious weaknesses is inadequate overall and
requires significant improvement but leadership and management
are judged to be Grade 3 or better. This school will receive regular
monitoring by Ofsted inspectors.
|Unique reference number||110516|
This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.
|Type of school||All-through|
|School category||Voluntary aided|
|Age range of pupils||3–18|
|Gender of pupils||Mixed|
|Gender of pupils in the sixth form||Mixed|
|Number of pupils on the school roll||1,062|
|Of which, number on roll in sixth form||72|
|Appropriate authority||The governing body|
|Date of previous school inspection||29–30 September 2010|
|Telephone number||01494 535196|
|Fax number||01494 446523|