School etc

Thornleigh Salesian College

Thornleigh Salesian College
Sharples Park
Astley Bridge

phone: 01204 301351

headteacher: Mrs Alison Burrowes


school holidays: via Bolton council

1429 pupils aged 11—18y mixed gender
1490 pupils capacity: 96% full

705 boys 49%


725 girls 51%


Last updated: June 18, 2014

Secondary — Voluntary Aided School

Education phase
Religious character
Roman Catholic
Establishment type
Voluntary Aided School
Establishment #
OSGB coordinates
Easting: 370735, Northing: 411734
GPS coordinates
Latitude: 53.601, Longitude: -2.4437
Accepting pupils
11—18 years old
Census date
Jan. 16, 2014
Ofsted last inspection
Sept. 20, 2011
Diocese of Salford
Region › Const. › Ward
North West › Bolton North East › Astley Bridge
Urban > 10k - less sparse
Admissions policy
Main specialism
Sports (Operational)
Sixth form
Has a sixth form
Free school meals %
Learning provider ref #

rooms to rent in Bolton

Schools nearby

  1. 0.3 miles Oldhams Primary School BL17BN
  2. 0.3 miles Holy Infant and St Anthony RC Primary School BL16QJ (195 pupils)
  3. 0.3 miles Starting Point BL17BN
  4. 0.3 miles Compass Centre North BL16QY
  5. 0.5 miles St Paul's CofE Primary School, Astley Bridge BL18QA
  6. 0.5 miles Smithills School BL16JS
  7. 0.5 miles North Bolton Sixth Form College BL16JT
  8. 0.5 miles St Paul's CofE Primary School, Astley Bridge BL18QA (209 pupils)
  9. 0.5 miles Smithills School BL16JS (1177 pupils)
  10. 0.5 miles Eden Boys' School Bolton BL13JN
  11. 0.6 miles St Thomas CofE Primary School, Halliwell BL13JB (321 pupils)
  12. 0.7 miles High Lawn Primary School BL17EX (423 pupils)
  13. 0.7 miles Wolfenden Primary School BL13QE
  14. 0.7 miles St Peter's Smithills Dean CofE Primary School BL16LA (209 pupils)
  15. 0.8 miles Brownlow Fold Primary School BL13DX (301 pupils)
  16. 0.8 miles Oxford Grove Primary School BL13EJ (342 pupils)
  17. 0.8 miles St Joseph's RC Primary School, Halliwell, Bolton BL13EJ (207 pupils)
  18. 0.8 miles Madrasatul Imam Muhammad Zakariya BL18LX (131 pupils)
  19. 0.8 miles Al-Huda Primary School BL13EH (15 pupils)
  20. 0.9 miles Chalfont Primary Community School BL18JS
  21. 0.9 miles Sharples Primary School BL18RX (248 pupils)
  22. 0.9 miles The Oaks Primary School BL17HS (210 pupils)
  23. 0.9 miles Sharples School Science Specialist College BL18SN (807 pupils)
  24. 0.9 miles The Valley Community Primary School BL18JG (507 pupils)

List of schools in Bolton

Thornleigh Salesian College

Inspection report

Age group 11–18
Inspection date(s) 20–21 September 2011
Inspection number 377214
Unique Reference Number 105264
Local authority Bolton
Inspect ion number 377214
Inspect ion dates 20–21 September 2011
Reporting inspector Shirley Gornall HMI

This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.

Type of school Secondary
School category Voluntary aided
Age range of pupils 11–18
Gender of pupils Mixed
Gender of pupils in the sixth form Mixed
Nu mber of pupils on the school roll 1,625
Of which number on roll in the sixth form 302
Appropriate authority The governing body
Chair John Corrigan
Headteacher Alison Burrowes
Date of prev ious school inspection 06 October 2008
School address Sharples Park
Astley Bridge
Telephone number 01204 301351
Fax number 01204 595351
Email address reveal email: cont…


This inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors and five additional
inspectors. They observed teaching and learning in 55 lessons, taught by 54
teachers, and held meetings with students, staff, members of the governing body,
and a representative of the local authority. Inspectors considered the school's work,

and looked at a range of documents including the school’s self-evaluation and

improvement planning, minutes of meetings, monitoring records, policies including
those relating to safeguarding, and examples of students’ work. They analysed 326
questionnaires completed by parents and carers, 148 from students and 55 from
The inspection team reviewed many aspects of the school's work. It looked in detail
at a number of key areas.

  • The improvement in the quality of teaching since the previous inspection, in all
    subjects and especially in mathematics.
  • The effectiveness of the school’s provision for students with special educational
    needs and/or disabilities.
  • The consistency of leaders at all levels in securing school improvement.

Information about the school

The school is under the trusteeship of Salesian of Don Bosco and is much larger than
the average-sized secondary school. Most students are of White British heritage,
although the proportion of students from minority ethnic groups is rising and is now
broadly average, as is the proportion that speaks English as an additional language.
The proportion of students identified as having special educational needs and/or
disabilities is lower than average, however, an average proportion have a statement
of special educational needs. The sixth form admits students from other Catholic high
schools and local secondary schools. The school was redesignated as a specialist
sports college in 2008 and holds several awards including Investor in People, Fair
Trade School, Cultural Diversity Award (gold), International Schools Award, Leading

Parent Partnerships Award and Healthy Schools status.

Inspect ion 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

Inspection judgements

Overall effectiveness: how good is the school? 2
The school's capacity for sustained improvement 2

Main findings

Thornleigh Salesian College is a good and improving school whose Catholic ethos
underpins its work as an inclusive and tolerant community in which all individuals are
respected, nurtured and challenged to do their best. Tenacious and dynamic
leadership from the headteacher has secured strong improvement in provision and
outcomes since the previous inspection. Students recognise and appreciate well-
considered changes to teaching and the curriculum, which are securing their good
progress and personal development. They are proud of their school, feel extremely
safe within it, behave well and enjoy the increasing range of opportunities they have

to shape its ways of working. Staffing has been strengthened and stabilised following

a period of turbulence and there is a palpable sense of ambition and energy
throughout the school community.
Attainment at GCSE level has risen and is above the national average. Students make
good progress from broadly average starting points. Their results in mathematics
have improved significantly and sustainably as a result of determined action to
improve the quality of teaching. Students achieve well in a range of subjects,

including those related to the school’s physical education specialism. Attendance has

risen and is above average.
The quality of teaching is good overall, with some that is satisfactory and an
increasing proportion that is outstanding. Relationships between staff and students
are excellent and most lessons are stimulating and enjoyable. On some occasions,
however, teachers talk too much and do not give sufficient opportunity for students
to apply their skills in active and varied ways. Teachers have good-quality
information relating to the abilities of the students they teach and many, but not all,

use this confidently to adapt their teaching to meet individuals’ needs. There is some

inconsistency in how well teachers adjust their lessons in response to students’
understanding. The use of homework to extend and consolidate students’ learning is
uneven across the school. Outstanding care, guidance and support, including that
provided through partnership with a wide variety of agencies, contribute greatly to

students’ self-esteem, inclusion, enjoyment and good progress.

Students in the sixth from make satisfactory progress overall and those who enter
with high attainment achieve particularly well. They display a strong commitment to
the school and benefit from a widening curriculum and improving teaching. A new
leader has been appointed who has begun to implement carefully considered
changes, but the full impact of these is not yet evident.
The headteacher, senior leaders and governing body have established and
articulated a strong vision that drives principled decision-making. They have taken
brave and difficult decisions to secure rapid improvement while maintaining the

school’s compassionate and caring ethos. Middle leaders have welcomed training and
coaching that has enabled them to take an active role in the school’s development.

There is some inconsistency in the effectiveness with which they share good practice
within their departments and develop the skills of their staff. The school’s self-
evaluation is accurate, objective and based on robust evidence. Leaders are clear

about the school’s priorities and how these are to be addressed. Their track record of

securing improvement is strong and this, combined with a staff whose morale is
high, supportive parents and carers, and clear management systems mean that there
is good capacity to sustain improvement.

What does the school need to do to improve further?

  • Increase the proportion of teaching that is good and outstanding throughout
    the school by:
    sharing the excellent practice that exists, within and across departments,
    to encourage students’ active learning
    ensuring that all teachers meet the differing needs of students within their
    classes consistently
    ensuring that homework is used to consolidate and enhance students’
  • Improve the leadership of teaching by enabling subject leaders to develop and
    evaluate the practice of other teachers.
  • Accelerate students’ progress and raise attainment in the sixth form through
    the consistent implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the school’s
    recently introduced policies.
Outcomes for individuals and groups of pupils 2

Students enjoy school life and achieve well in relation to their starting points. The
proportion of students gaining five or more good GCSE qualifications at A* to C
grades is significantly higher than that found nationally, as is the proportion gaining

two good science qualifications. Attainment in physical education, the school’s

specialism, is consistently high. Many more students attain good grades in GCSE
mathematics than at the time of the previous inspection and the proportion achieving
five good GCSE grades, including English and mathematics, has risen strongly to be
above average. Students report that they enjoy learning, especially when they are
challenged to work creatively and collaboratively. School data and lesson
observations confirm that most students make good progress in lessons and that
there is little variation in the rate of progress made by students with different levels
of prior attainment. Students with special educational needs and/or disabilities make
good progress, particularly when teachers adjust tasks to make them fully accessible.
Students behave well in lessons and around the school site. They are sociable,
courteous and keen to discuss their ideas. They report confidently that incidents of
bullying are rare and dealt with swiftly and effectively. Their understanding and

respect for the school’s approach to restorative justice is mature. Students feel

exceptionally safe in school due to their strong trust in all staff, the school’s approach
to promoting internet safety and the effectiveness with which the extensive site has
been made secure. During their time at Thornleigh, students develop attitudes and
skills that equip them well for the world of work or continuing education. Their
attendance levels are high and very few students are persistently absent. Virtually no
students leave school without a place in education, training or employment. Students
take on a variety of roles within their community, including as sports leaders and
prefects. The recently formed school council has taken decisions that influence the
running of the school.
Students have a strong understanding of their own faith and developing awareness
of other belief systems. Their understanding of cultural diversity is promoted through

the school’s international links and developed in arts subjects, religious studies and

humanities. Students engage readily in discussions about moral issues, showing

sensitivity to each other’s viewpoints.

These are the grades for pupils' outcomes

Pupils' achievement and the extent to which they enjoy their learning
Taking into account:
Pupils' attainment
The quality of pupils' learning and their progress 2
The quality of learning for pupils with special educational needs and/or
disabilities and their progress
The extent to which pupils feel safe 1
Pupils' behaviour 2
The extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles 2
The extent to which pupils contribute to the school and wider community 2
The extent to which pupils develop wor kplace and other skills that will
contribute to their future economic well-being
Taking into account:
Pupils' attendance
The extent of pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development 2

How effective is the provision?

The quality of teaching is good overall, with some that is satisfactory and an
increasing amount that is outstanding. Relationships between staff and students are
very positive. The best lessons are characterised by lively, engaging teaching which
challenges students to extend and apply their thinking. For example, in a highly
effective mathematics lesson, students worked collaboratively to explore and
categorise algebraic equations. Their understanding was enhanced significantly


The grades for attainment and attendance are: 1 is high; 2 is above average; 3 is broadly average;

and 4 is low

through peer discussion. In another outstanding mathematics lesson, Year 7
students extended their understanding of the properties of quadrilaterals in response
to varied, fast-paced activities that required them to work in teams, refine their ideas
and regularly evaluate their own progress. In an outstanding English lesson,

students’ oral skills were promoted successfully through clear modelling by the

teacher who then adjusted reading tasks for individual students depending on their
answers to her questions. Their progress was enhanced because of the teacher’s
clear recognition and response to their particular needs. However, in some lessons
teachers tend to talk too much and learning becomes passive, with limited
opportunities for students to discuss their ideas or learn in different ways. The
school’s approach to lesson planning has been strengthened, but there is some

inconsistency in how teachers adjust their plans depending on students’ responses.

There is good practice with regard to homework setting in design and technology,
but across the school, there is variability in the use of homework to extend students’
thinking and embed learning.
Most students know their targets and understand the next steps towards achieving
them. There is particularly effective practice in physical education and mathematics

with regard to assessment during lessons. Across the school, teachers’ marking is

generally regular, helpful and constructive, although students’ errors in basic spelling
and sentence construction sometimes persist unchecked. The curriculum is broad,
balanced and has some particularly strong features, including the creative curriculum
in Key Stage 3 and a broadening of ‘pathways’ at Key Stage 4 enabling students to

pursue an enhanced range of courses. The school’s extensive extra-curricular

programme is supported enthusiastically by teachers and students.
Excellent care, guidance and support are regarded as the entitlement of all students
and are valued greatly by them and their families. The pastoral system is highly
effective and enables students to be integrated swiftly into the school at whatever
point they join it. Prefects complement form tutors by providing support during
tutorial sessions for younger students. There is a consistent focus throughout the

school on equipping students with the skills to ‘be their best’ as community members

who care actively for each other. The school works hard to remove barriers to
learning at an individual level. Students whose circumstances make them potentially
vulnerable receive timely, multi-agency support to meet their needs, the impact of
which is seen in improved attendance and outcomes.

These are the grades for the quality of provision

The quality of teaching
Taking into account:
The use of assessment to support learning 2
The extent to which the curriculum meets pupils' needs, including, where
relevant, through partnerships
The effectiveness of care, guidance and support 1

How effective are leadership and management?

The headteacher communicates a clear vision for the school’s development and has

secured the support of the school community in striving for excellence. She and the
senior leaders form a strong, committed and ambitious team who regard no obstacle
as insurmountable. Since the previous inspection, leaders have taken brave and
difficult decisions in order to improve outcomes. Their self-evaluation is insightful and
based on wide-ranging evidence. They recognise the school’s strengths and areas for
development and involve partners, including the local authority and other schools, in
enhancing provision.
Departmental leaders have benefited from training to help them manage their areas
of responsibility. There is greater consistency than reported in the previous
inspection. Collaborative work across departments, including between mathematics
and English, has resulted in improved teaching and learning. School improvement
over the last three years has largely been directed by senior leaders and the
challenge now is for middle leaders to take a more direct role in evaluating the work
of their colleagues and helping them to develop their skills. The governing body
provides good support and rigorous challenge to the school. All statutory duties are
met and policies are reviewed regularly and systematically. The governing body is
increasingly outward-facing and evaluates its own effectiveness objectively. The

school’s safeguarding procedures are comprehensive and meet requirements. Its

arrangements for child protection are excellent. The security of the school site has
been enhanced through installing perimeter fencing.
The school has a good understanding of the context of its own community and
through a variety of activities has built harmonious and productive relationships
within the locality and internationally. Students maintain that equality of opportunity
is promoted at all levels and that harassment in any form is not tolerated. There is
no significant difference in the achievement of different groups of students. The
school has addressed the weaknesses identified at its previous inspection
successfully and demonstrates good capacity to sustain improvement.

These are the grades for the leadership and management

The effectiveness of leadership and management in embedding ambition and
driv ing improvement
Taking into account:
The leadership and management of teaching and learning 2
The effectiveness of the governing body in challenging and support ing the
school so that weaknesses are tackled decisively and statutory responsibilities
The effectiveness of the school's engagement with parents and carers 2
The effectiveness of partnerships in promoting learning and well-being 2
The effectiveness with which the school promotes equality of opportunity and
tackles discrimination
The effectiveness of safeguarding proce dures 2
The effectiveness with which the school promotes community cohesion 2
The effectiveness with which the school deploys resources to achieve value for

Sixth form

Students in the sixth form make broadly average progress from their starting points,
although progress is better for those entering with high attainment at GCSE level.
Students display positive attitudes to learning, both in their independent study and in
lessons. Their attendance is improving and the proportion of students completing the
courses on which they embark is rising. Teaching has improved since the previous
inspection and inspectors observed good practice in English, Latin, history and
psychology, where teachers’ questioning was targeted well to assess students’
understanding and to challenge them further. The sixth-form curriculum is improving,
with the introduction of new courses that meet the needs and interests of a broader
range of students better. The recently appointed sixth-form leader is committed and
enthusiastic. There is a renewed focus on improving students' outcomes, although
many systems are relatively newly established and their impact is not fully evident.

Systems for monitoring and evaluating outcomes and provision in the sixth form are

under-developed in comparison with the main school.

These are the grades for the sixth form

Overall effectiveness of the sixth Form
Taking into account:
Outcomes for students in the sixth form 3
The quality of provision in the sixth form 3
Leadership and management of the sixth form 3

Views of parents and carers

The proportion of parents and carers who completed questionnaires was higher than
average. The large majority of those who responded say that they are happy with

their children’s experience at school. They feel that the school is well led, keeps their

children safe and equips them well for their next stage in education. One commented

‘I really appreciate the care staff have taken in helping my child to gain confidence
and make progress.’ That view was echoed by other parents and carers. A very small

minority feels that the school does not take account of their concerns. Inspectors
took particular note of that view in considering the school’s systems for consulting
and communicating with parents and carers. They found that the headteacher had
developed a number of different channels of communication with parents and carers
and that there had been consultation over key issues, such as the adjustment of the
school day. A few parents and carers expressed concern about the quality and
frequency of homework their children receive. Inspectors discussed homework with
students and senior leaders. They concluded that there is variability in the amount of
homework received by different groups and in its effectiveness in consolidating and
extending learning.

Responses from parents and carers to Ofsted's


Ofsted invited all the registered parents and carers of pupils registered at Thornleigh Salesian College
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 326 completed questionnaires by the end of the on-site inspection. In
total, there are 1,625 pupils registered at the school.
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%.

Statements Strongly
Agree Disagree disagree
Total % Total % Total % Total %
My child enjoys school 139 43 171 52 9 3 3 1
The school keeps my child
165 51 148 45 10 3 1 0
The school informs me
about my child's progress
136 42 157 48 15 5 4 1
My child is making enough
progress at this school
116 36 166 51 23 7 7 2
The teaching is good at
this school
117 36 179 55 15 5 3 1
The school helps me to
support my child's learning
100 31 172 53 29 9 7 2
The school helps my child
to have a healthy lifestyle
91 28 191 59 28 9 1 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)
125 38 161 49 10 3 6 2
The school meets my
child's particular needs
108 33 184 56 14 4 5 2
The school deals effectively
with unacceptable
113 35 160 49 22 7 8 2
The school takes account
of my suggestions and
78 24 177 54 26 8 13 4
The school is led and
managed effectively
153 47 143 44 12 4 6 2
Overall, I am happy with
my child's experience at
this school
146 45 148 45 17 5 6 2


What inspection judgements mean

Grade Judgement Description
Grade 1 Outstanding These features are highly effective. An outstanding
school provides exceptionally well for all its pupils'
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
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

Overall effectiveness of schools

Overall effectiveness judgement (percentage of schools)
Type of
Outstanding Good Satisfactory Inadequate
Nursery schools 43 47 10 0
Primary schools 6 46 42 6
14 36 41 9
Sixth forms 15 42 41 3
Special schools 30 48 19 3
Pupil referral
14 50 31 5
All schools 10 44 39 6

New school inspection arrangements were introduced on 1 September 2009. This means that
inspectors now make some additional judgements that were not made previously.
The data in the table above is for the period 1 September 2010 to 08 April 2011 and are consistent
with the latest published official statistics about maintained school inspection outcomes (see
The sample of schools inspected during 2010/11 was not representative of all schools nationally, as
weaker schools are inspected more frequently than good or outstanding schools.

Percentages are rounded and do not always add exactly to 100. Sixth form figures reflect the

judgements made for the overall effectiveness of the sixth form in secondary schools, special schools
and pupil referral units.

Common terminology used by inspectors

Achievement: the progress and success of a pupil in their
learning, development or training.
Attainment: 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
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.
Learning: how well pupils acquire knowledge, develop their
understanding, learn and practise skills and are
developing their competence as learners.
Overall effectiveness: 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 school's capacity for sustained
Outcomes for individuals and groups of
The quality of teaching.
The extent to which the curriculum meets
The effectiveness of care, guidance and
pupils' needs, including, where relevant,
through partnerships.
Progress: 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.

22 September 2011
Dear Students

Inspection of Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton, BL1 6PQ

Thank you for the very warm and courteous welcome you gave to the inspection
team when we visited your school recently. Thank you to those of you who gave up
your time to speak to us and those who completed the questionnaire. We agree with
you that your school keeps you very safe, that the teaching you receive is good, and
that the school is well led and managed. Many of you willingly take on extra
responsibilities and make a valuable contribution, through your good behaviour and
responsible attitudes, to the positive way in which the school is regarded by the local
The inspection team considers Thornleigh Salesian College to be a good school. It
provides you with a good standard of education and most of you make good
progress and achieve well. Aspects of the school’s work are outstanding, including
the care, guidance and support staff provide for you.
During the inspection, we held discussions with leaders, teachers, governors and
yourselves about how the school can improve further. We have asked your teachers
to increase the amount of good and outstanding lessons. In some lessons, we saw
that you made outstanding progress in response to activities that challenged you to
work together, explore ideas and solve problems. On other occasions, you were
more passive and your progress slowed. Your teachers, already, work extremely
hard. You can help them make lessons even better by letting them know what helps
you to think and learn best. We have also asked the school to set good-quality
homework for you in a more consistent way.
Inspectors have asked the school to consider how standards achieved in the sixth

form can be raised further. We saw several examples of positive changes that have

been introduced recently in the sixth form and we have confidence that these will
support its future development.
Please continue to support your school as proudly as you do. On behalf of the
inspectors, I would like to wish you every success in the future.

Yours sincerely,
Shirley Gornall
Her Majesty's Inspector


print / save trees, print less