A controversial Ofsted report which found that St Benedict’s Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds ‘requires improvement’ has been revised and officially made public
The amended report has been published on the education watchdog’s website with the school noting some ‘significant changes’.
However, the overall ‘requires improvment’ judgement remains the same as the first report which was withdrawn last month by Ofsted under the ‘flawed inspection report’ protocol.
Inspectors revisited St Benedict’s to re-examine the evidence which led to the judgement.
References to weaknesses in preparing students for ‘life in modern Britain’ including radicalism and extremism have been removed.
The grading of the sixth form has been raised from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ and the reason for the inspection in September has now been given as a change of age range last year when the school first admitted Year 7 students.
The reason originally given to St Benedict’s headteacher Hugh O’Neill for the inspection was a lack of information on its website about the new National Curriculum and the school’s citizenship programme.
In the ‘requires improvement’ report, inspectors noted that ‘disabled students, those with special educational needs and students with low prior attainment do not make as much progress as others’.
The performance of students ‘fluctuates between different years and subjects’ and students’ progress in Key Stage 3 is ‘not good enough’.
Meanwhile, the ‘high quality of teaching in the sixth form is not adapted skilfully enough for use with younger students’.
However, they noted the school’s GCSE results ‘improved markedly’ this year. The school recorded a 100 per cent pass rate and 71 per cent of students achieving A*-C grades which was an 18 point rise on last year.
In a statement, head Hugh O’Neill said: “We know that we do a lot of things well at St Benedict’s, and this report certainly refers to our excellent GCSE and A-level results.
“There are things which we did less well last year, and the Ofsted criteria are very strict when it comes to gaps in what schools achieve.
“I suspect we are one of the best-performing ‘requires improvement” schools in the country. We are absolutely determined to do everything we can to win back a rating that matches our performance and our reputation.
“In the meantime, we are pleased that some of the anomalies of the previous report have been corrected.
“The rating of the Sixth Form as outstanding should surely have always been the case.”
Speaking to the Bury Free Press yesterday on improvements to be made, Mr O’Neill said: “We’re working on improving assessment, we’re working on some of the advice about teaching more effectively and looking at the performance of important groups (pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and with special educational needs or disabilities) who were identified in the original report to make sure they make the same progress as other pupils.”
He added that St Benedict’s sixth form was recently praised by the A-level Performance System (ALPS), which awarded the school a Grade One– placing it in the top one per cent of schools nationally for A-level.
The school has also been graded green in Suffolk County Council’s risk assessments which means it is of low risk.