Wetherby High School headteacher upbeat despite recent Ofsted inspection

Wetherby High School's executive headteacher Simon Flowers and acting headteacher Lucie Lakin.
Wetherby High School's executive headteacher Simon Flowers and acting headteacher Lucie Lakin.

Wetherby High School has described its most recent Ofsted inspection, which classed the school as requiring improvement, as a "healthy progress check".

Ofsted officials carried out a two day inspection of the school in September and finding it "requires improvement" in three out of five areas.

Outcome for pupils, 16 to 19 study programmes and quality of teaching were all found to be failing to meet expectations.

Inspectors criticised the "variable" quality of teaching between subjects and across year groups as well as students' inconsistent progress in a "wide range of subjects".

However, the school's leadership and management and the personal development, behaviour and welfare of its pupils were both praised by Ofsted as being 'Good'.

The report follows on from an inspection carried out by Ofsted in October 2014 which also rated the high school as 'Requires Improvement'.

This disappointing report prompted a new leadership team to take charge of both Wetherby High School and Carr Manor Community School, including the appointment of a new executive headteacher.

Wetherby High School headteacher, Lucie Lakin explained that Ofsted's latest findings were a result of them having to focus on "historical data" from before the new leadership team was appointed.

She said: "The Ofsted report was challenging as it represents where we were in 2014 and not where we are now.

"The school's results in 2014 showed 58 per cent of students getting five good GCSEs including Maths and English. Last year this was 67 per cent.

"We are very pleased that they acknowledge there is an ongoing transformation of the school. We have got the right structure in place and this is set to continue.

"We feel the Ofsted report has been a healthy progress check, letting us know we are doing the right things but that we need more to do it."

The report recommended that the school needed to further improve pupil's progress whilst addressing the "remaining inconsistencies" in the quality of teaching.

Whilst areas including pupils not making "consistently strong progress" in some subjects was highlighted, inspectors did find that there had been a "significant cultural change of high expectation" at the school.

Inspectors noted that weaker teaching had been "eliminated" and that more rigorous systems to enhance the curriculum and monitor pupils' progress had been introduced.

The school's coaching initiative was also praised as it enabled teachers to develop a deeper awareness of pupils needs and, Ms Lakin explained, allowed the school to achieve its key priority of "knowing its pupils well".

She said: "Children now feel proud of their school and we're confident we have changed the culture and the ethos.

"In terms of teaching, a significant number of new staff joined us as well as experienced staff and the team is now of a very high standard.

"The fact that the children are well behaved is good and that leadership is good is a clear endorsement of us being on the right track.

"Our next step is continuing to be passionate about the wellbeing of our children, their outcomes and how they develop into young adults."

Despite the "Requires Improvement" rating, Leeds City Council's shadow cabinet member for Children’s Services and Education was quick to praise the positive work done at Wetherby High School.

Coun Alan Lamb stressed that residents in Wetherby had "two great secondary schools" on their doorstep along with Boston Spa School.

He said: "This snapshot view of where the school was two years ago - by the report's own words - does not fully or accurately reflect where the school is today and where the school is rapidly heading.

"Indeed the report comments several times that the school is a vastly improved school to the one delivering the 2014 results.

"As someone who spends a great deal of time visiting schools across the city I can honestly say that we can be very proud to have two fantastic secondary schools in Wetherby High School and Boston Spa that in almost every area you might care to measure are outperforming their peers in Leeds and North Yorkshire."