A FLAGSHIP school has been regraded from outstanding to failing, by inspectors.

Ofsted has placed St Monica's RC High School in special measures after it found the school was inadequate with pupils' progress in maths being among the worst in the country.

Now the school is at risk of becoming a Government flagship academy school, a state-funded independent school, to raise standards.

The Prestwich high school — which has traditionally been one of the borough's top schools — was visited by school inspectors without notice last month. The visit followed a number of complaints made to Ofsted - which 'raised serious concerns' about pupils' personal development, behaviour and welfare and effectiveness of the leadership and management.

The report was published this week.

Inspectors said the school's leaders were blind to the school's failings.

They reported: "Leaders, including governors, have an inaccurate view of the quality of education that the school provides. Leaders believe that the school is highly effective and provides pupils with a top-quality education."

Inspectors added: "From higher-than-average starting points, the majority of pupils underachieve in mathematics. Pupils’ progress is some of the worst progress in the country."

St Monica's RC High School has been outstanding since 2006, with pupils across Bury attending it.

Ofsted reported: "The governing body has overseen a decline in the standard of education since the previous inspection. Governors have not robustly held leaders to account for the quality of education that the school provides."

Boys, disadvantaged pupils and children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, underachieve 'considerably ' - but found the school uses the pupil premium — for disadvantaged youngsters — to support the staffing budget.

The school is said to have lost sight of what is effective teaching — with too many pupils underachieving in relation to their higher-than-average starting points.

Shockingly, inspectors found that since the previous inspection "leaders and governors have illegally excluded pupils, including pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, from school."

The report stated: "Leaders placed pupils in the local library on enforced study leave, excluding them from their lessons."

But inspectors said this 'practice' has now ceased.

Inspectors said that the new headteacher, Anne-Marie Hainsworth, recognises the issues facing the school — and pupils feel safe.

The report concludes: "The overwhelming majority of pupils progress to employment, education or training. However, pupils are not fully prepared for life in modern Britain because many do not reach their potential."

In a statement the school said: "Mrs Hainsworth stated that governors had fed back to Ofsted that they consider the inadequate judgement unduly harsh but we acknowledge that there are significant areas for improvement. 

"The Senior Leadership began work on the day after the inspection on an Action Plan for working on these priorities and meetings have been held with representatives of the Diocese Education Office and Bury Council to put in place additional support and staff training to help ensure that standards are raised across the board."

It added that results  are above the national average.

School releases statement responding to Ofsted report

The statement added: "Governors have been advised that there may be grounds for a complaint to be made about some aspects of the inspection and report but that this is unlikely to result in any changes to the key judgements made by Ofsted."

But the school stressed the priority was to 'remedy the weaknesses in teaching and learning' and 'rebuilding confidence in St Monica's'.