Quality of education at St Peter’s School is ‘transformed’

Rachel Hutchinson

Posted on: 5 November 2015

An Exeter secondary school has been ‘transformed’ in just two years and is now a good school with many outstanding qualities, according to independent education inspectors.

And St Peter’s Church of England School is set to get even better, they say.

Just two years ago, inspectors from the schools’ standards agency, Ofsted, said St Peter’s required improvement.

Now they say the overall effectiveness of the school, the quality of teaching and learning, the  leadership and management and the personal development, behaviour, welfare and outcomes for pupils are all good.

The school also has many outstanding qualities, including the behaviour of students.

St Peter’s is one of the first schools nationally to have been inspected under Ofsted’s rigorous new framework.

The head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said it was a very different inspection model which required even higher quality and greater consistency.

The Ofsted report comes two months after students at the school recorded their best ever GCSE results.

This summer 78 per cent of students achieved five or more A* – C grade GCSEs including English and maths – up nine per cent from 2014. That compares with 56.1 per cent nationally for all State-funded schools in 2015.

The results place St Peter’s in the top three of Devon’s 37 State secondary schools with students’ progress in English and maths from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4 at 17 per cent better than the national average.

The turnaround follows the appointment of Rachel Hutchinson as head of St Peter’s 18 months ago.

She said today: “This has been a real team effort.

“It really does reflect the care and commitment of all our staff who work closely in partnership with our students, parents and governors and the local authority .”

Ofsted lead inspector Simon Rowe concludes:

“The headteacher, in a very short time, has transformed the quality of education at the school. She is relentless in her pursuit of excellence.

“Senior leaders have focused relentlessly on improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment.

“Teachers create classrooms where students want to learn. Each student is well cared for and taught well.

“Leaders feel inspired and empowered by the head. They share her passion and dedication to provide a high quality standard of education at the school.

“(They) have worked determinedly to successfully improve the quality of teaching and to raise students’ outcomes. The school continues to improve.”

Five inspectors spent two days at the 1,240-student school earlier this term and their report has just been published.

Mr Rowe says: “Working relationships between teachers and students are excellent. Students speak fondly of their teachers’ enthusiasm and support.

“The curriculum provides students with a broad and balanced range of subjects and extensive opportunities to participate in activities outside lesson time.

“(Their) behaviour in lessons and around the school site is outstanding. They speak passionately about their school and are, rightly, proud of it.”

The inspectors say that pastoral care is of a high quality and students can access a range of extra help to support their social and emotional well-being, if they need it.

The vast majority of parents who responded to an Ofsted survey felt their child was happy and safe at school. Mr Rowe says the inspectors agree with this view.

He says the school governors operate effectively and provide the staff with an appropriate level of challenge and support.

They have an accurate view of the school’s strengths and where further improvement is needed.

He says Devon County Council provided extensive support to the school following the previous inspection but allowed senior managers more freedom to work independently once they had proved their capability.

Mr Rowe says St Peter’s is continuing the significant improvement it has already made and to become outstanding it should focus on strengthening performance and ensuring students are always clear on how to improve their learning.

Mrs Hutchinson said she fully supported the Ofsted findings and was keen to continue to focus on ways to communicate effectively with all parents so they knew how to support their child’s learning.

She said: “I am really proud that we are able to support students of all abilities in providing strong foundations for their futures.

“This report gives us an excellent platform on which to build further opportunities so that each student receives an outstanding education which will prepare them for the rest of their lives.”

Chair of governors, Heather Morgan, thanked the head, staff and students for all their hard work and congratulated them on the Ofsted judgement.

Posted in: Education