Welwyn Garden City school already improving after exam results among lowest in country

Our Lady Catholic Primary School. Picture: Danny Loo

Our Lady Catholic Primary School. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

A Welwyn Garden City school has been told it ‘requires improvement’ after posting exam results among the lowest in the country.

Our Lady Catholic Primary School received the grading following its latest Ofsted inspection, despite being judged ‘good’ in all but one area – outcomes for pupils.

“Results of the 2017 national tests were disappointing for the school,” the report reads. “Pupils’ progress in reading was well below the national average and, in writing and mathematics, some of the lowest in the country.

“This was a marked change from 2016, when progress in reading and writing was above the national average and in mathematics was similar to the national average.”

Inspectors said Our Lady has faced unprecedented staffing issues, “some of which are ongoing and of a serious nature”, but they praised the headteacher’s “extraordinary resilience” in managing the situation.

Teachers’ absences were all for a variety of valid reasons, inspectors added.

“As a result of very strong leadership, there has been no impact on pupils’ behaviour and their attitudes to learning,” the report continues.

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“The very high number of periods of planned leave, alongside challenges that could not have been foreseen, resulted in disruption in almost every year group.

“This led to variation in the quality of teaching and outcomes that require improvement.”

Inspectors said that the quality of teaching has now improved and is good overall, but outcomes are yet to catch up.

In almost every other area, the report lavished Our Lady with praise.

They noted that phonics is taught very well, children rightly feel safe, and the school promotes pupils’ “spiritual, moral, social and cultural development particularly well”.

“The headteacher has created a school that has a very caring and supportive ethos,” inspectors added. “All staff consistently show pupils how to behave towards others by modelling such behaviour themselves.

“Everyone is expected to treat other people with respect and courtesy. Being kind and considerate is very important at Our Lady.”

Headteacher Catherine Corr said that obviously the school was disappointed but it was important to maintain perspective – as all but one area was judged ‘good’.

She added: “We were aware of the one area which required improvement and the report acknowledges the progress already made in addressing the issue.

“This improvement process has continued since and the governors and staff are totally committed to ensuring that the children at Our Lady Catholic Primary School will have the best possible start to their education.”