Woodhey High School turns its report around

WOODHEY High School is making good progress after being ordered to improve last autumn, Government inspectors have said.

The school was labelled inadequate' by education watchdog Ofsted last November and was issued an urgent notice to improve despite pupils achieving above average grades. It was a huge surprise at a school that had been rated very good' in its previous inspection in 2004. Inadequate' is the lowest of four grades that Ofsted can award.

Six months on, inspectors have made their first progress check and have released an interim monitoring report finding that progress is already being made. The report states: "The school is making good progress in addressing the issues for improvement and in raising pupils' achievement.

"Standards are consistently above, sometimes well above average at both key stages. However pupils' average point score has been below and well below average since 2005, representing inadequate achievement. The school has recognised this problem and is tackling the issue with vigour. Targets are being set at a more challenging level."

It adds: "Led by the clear vision of the headteacher and the determination of the governing body, there is a commitment amongst all staff to invest in whole-school improvement."

Headteacher Martin Braidley was highly critical of Ofsted's initial report, arguing that too much emphasis was placed on schools' value added scores'. Schools are awarded points based on the progress pupils make against their predicted grades. Mr Braidley said Woodhey had gained fewer value added points because many pupils were already high achievers at primary school and had high predicted grades from the start.

He said of the new monitoring report: "This is a considerable endorsement of the way we have quickly addressed the issues raised in the last report. I believe it's quite rare for schools to get a good' grading on the interim report. It's really pleasing for colleagues, parents and pupils.

"From our point of view, most of the recommendations made in the last report were for things that were already happening - it was just the overall assessment of inadequate' that we thought unfair. The report has just sped up the pace of change. We've made 12 months' progress in six months."

A new electronic monitoring system has been introduced to track pupils' grades against their targets and the school has introduced a wider range of courses, including more vocational options such as BTEC courses and a diploma in engineering. It has also introduced a religious education GCSE and heads of departments have been given management training.

The school will be subject to another full Ofsted inspection some time between November and February, when inspectors will decide whether its notice to improve can be removed.

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