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Mixed inspection report for local secondary school – praise for caring community but several areas ‘need improvement’

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Wednesday, Mar 20th, 2019.

A Wrexham secondary school has been judged as adequate and in need of improvement across several areas – however it has also received praise for its ‘caring learning community’.

An inspection carried out by Estyn, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales, at Darland High School in Rossett earlier this year found that four out of five inspection areas were adequate.

These include the school’s standards, wellbeing and attitudes to learning, teaching and learning experiences and leadership and management.

The inspection report notes that teachers “create a supportive working environment and an atmosphere of trust” – but adds that a “common shortcoming is in teachers’ questioning skills”.

It continues onto that “most teachers build positive relationships with their pupils” and that “many teachers have a comprehensive knowledge of their subject.”

Care, support and guidance at the school was found to be good – with inspectors drawing particular attention to the ‘caring learning community that promotes inclusivity and wellbeing successfully’.

The report continues onto add: “The school provides a highly-structured nurturing environment for those pupils that need additional support in their learning.

“There is comprehensive and well-designed provision for pupils with additional learning needs. Helpful individual education plans assist staff to meet the needs of these pupils suitably.

“Worthwhile use is made of ‘person centred’ approach to plan specific support for students with a range of additional learning needs.”

Inspectors continue onto say: “Senior leaders at Darland High School have been successful in establishing an ethos of care and respect and there is a shared sense of purpose across the school.

“Many pupils enjoy school, staff collaborate well towards common goals, and there are positive working relationships between staff and pupils.

“The school provides an inclusive environment. Pupils with additional learning needs are supported particularly well. Nearly all pupils with statements of special educational need are integrated well into mainstream classes and play a full part in the life of the school.

“Where teaching is effective, pupils make strong progress. However, pupils’ achievement and progress are too variable across key performance indicators and subjects.

“Leaders have had a positive impact in a few areas of the school’s work, such as improving standards in mathematics, the provision for pupils with additional learning needs, and managing the school’s budget efficiently.

“However, leaders have not had sufficient impact on developing teaching, raising standards overall, and improving pupils’ attendance.

As a result of the inspection four recommendations for further progress have also been put forward by the inspectorate, including:

– Raise standards, particularly at key stage 4, including those of the more able
– Improve attendance
– Strengthen the quality of teaching to improve the progress that pupils make in lessons
– Improve the quality and impact of self-evaluation and improvement planning

As a result of the inspection the school will now draw up an action plan to show how it is going to address the recommendations. Estyn will review the school’s progress

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