School targets top rating after Ofsted praise

Headteacher, Simon Eccles shares St Mary's pleasing OFSTED report with (from left to right) Adam Al-Sharifi,Head Boy; Kumiko Goddard, Head Girl; Madison Ruocco, Deputy Head Girl;  and Jacob McPhilimy -Lovelock, Deputy Head Boy."
Headteacher, Simon Eccles shares St Mary's pleasing OFSTED report with (from left to right) Adam Al-Sharifi,Head Boy; Kumiko Goddard, Head Girl; Madison Ruocco, Deputy Head Girl; and Jacob McPhilimy -Lovelock, Deputy Head Boy."
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Blackpool’s best performing secondary school is setting its sights on top billing after yet again being praised by education watchdogs.

St Mary’s Catholic Academy was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in a recent inspection – a benchmark it has held for more than a decade.

Now, proud headtacher Simon Eccles says the school is well placed to go one better next time and secure an ‘outstanding’ rating.

He said: “Our journey is very much one of continuing to develop into an outstanding school.

“Inspectors were very impressed with the work we do across the Academy.

“We need to continue to work hard to make the small steps needed in each area to attain an outstanding grade.”

In its report, Ofsted, which visited in March, said there was a caring ethos in the school, pupils had pride in their school, quality of learning for pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities was a key strength and weaknesses in maths had been tackled successfully.

Inspectors said assessments of the progress pupils make had been enhanced and the quality of teaching and learning was a strength.

It said absenteeism was declining and parents had a positive view of the school and teachers.

To improve further, it said the school needed to review how it teaches the most able students so they can reach their potential and try to reduce pupil absence further.

Mr Eccles, said: “I’d like to thank the students, parents and staff for helping St. Mary’s achieve such a wonderful report.

“Speaking with the lead inspector, showing her the high quality challenging work of staff and students, it was really pleasing to see her stating that our students have ‘ample opportunity to select an appropriate range of qualifications at both GCSE and in our Sixth Form.

“This is one of the reasons many of our students continue to go on to some of the most prestigious universities in the country and gain access to high quality apprenticeships.

“After a very pleasing report it is important that we continue to develop, we’re not sitting back but will be further improving by focusing on the recommended next steps from the inspectors including continuing to develop our curriculum particularly to stretch the most able.”

Barry Leyland, chairman of the directors of the Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi Academy Trust, which St Mary’s is part of, said: “The directors of BEBCMAT are delighted that Ofsted found that St Mary’s continues to be a good school.

“We are confident that they will continue to make excellent progress.”

St Mary’s was last inspected in November 2011.

The Trust’s CEO, former headteacher Stephen Tierney, said. “This is a real endorsement of the exceptional work being done by staff and students at the school.

“Everyone realises how difficult it is to secure a “good” from Ofsted, particularly in a town with high levels of deprivation like Blackpool.

“It makes the achievement even more noteworthy. St. Mary’s is fortunate to build on the great work done in our family of Catholic primary schools, and other primary schools in the town, and has taken full advantage of this close relationship by revising its curriculum in line with recent changes at Key Stage 2.

“It will continue to focus its efforts on providing an education in which all can thrive and flourish.”