Lancaster school taken out of special measures by Ofsted

Head Christine Mitchell with a pupil.
Head Christine Mitchell with a pupil.

Hard work has paid off at a specialist school in Lancaster after it was taken out of special measures by Ofsted.

While inspectors acknowledged Chadwick High School still needs further improvement, it no longer requires special measures due to the positive steps taken over the last two years.

Teacher Alf Benson with students.

Teacher Alf Benson with students.

Chadwick High is a secondary alternative provision school which provides full-time education and support for up to 90 students who are not accessing mainstream education.

The school, which is based on part of the former Skerton High School site in Owen Road, caters for children aged 11 to 16, most of whom have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools.

Others attend due to being given intervention places for behavioural or medical reasons and some are due to relocation while awaiting a place at a mainstream school.

The school currently has around 50 pupils, looked after by 31 full and part-time staff.

During the visit in July, Ofsted inspectors found strong leadership in place, with highly vigilant staff and a strengthened curriculum.

However, they said some lesson planning could be improved and management could also be further strengthened.

Christine Mitchell, who took over as headteacher two years ago – a week before the school was officially placed in special measures by Ofsted – was tasked with revamping the school curriculum as well as overseeing refurbishments within the school.

She praised the hard work put in by staff across the school.

“We have got a much better curriculum now,” she said. “As well as core subjects we use off-site provision such as Lancaster Training Services at Heysham, Preston Vocational Centre and Heysham High School.

“There are options for Year 10 to go on work experience and for Year 11s to have extended work placements.

“Results have improved significantly in the two years I have been here; almost 100 per cent of pupils have gone on to further education or training.

“Everyone has worked really hard; it’s been a tough couple of years for the staff.

“They are a really strong team, and this is a testament to everyone’s hard work.”

Last month’s GCSE results showed improvement on recent years, with 53 per cent of the 19 Year 11 pupils gaining five or more GCSEs and 79 per cent gaining additional qualifications.

Mrs Mitchell said the school now offers extra-curricular actvities such as football, boxing and badminton, as well as organising day trips and charity events for the pupils.

A prom night and awards ceremony has also been set up for the first time, and in March the school took part in the BBC School Report initiative.

“We are working hard to engage with parents,” Mrs Mitchell added. “We have had a lot of positive feedback from parents and also from the local community and mainstream schools.

“We have also had good support from the local authority, giving us advice on various areas.

“We know we have still got more work to do; we need to consolidate on what we have done and we are still looking at some areas of teaching and learning.

“For me it’s about the child and making sure that when they leave at Year 11 they are ready for the next step.”

The school will undergo a further monitoring visit next autumn, to make sure it is still on track.