HMI follow up report for St Ambrose High

St Ambrose High School

HMIE Inspection

Progress Report for Parents and Carers

January 2009

1. The Inspection

HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) published a report on the inspection of St Ambrose High School in March 2007. The report acknowledged the high performance, strong record of improvement and the very effective leadership of the school. Working with the school, the authority prepared an action plan indicating how they would address the main points for action identified in the original HMIE inspection report.

The authority visited the school in December 2008 to assess the extent to which the school was continuing to improve the quality of its work, and to evaluate progress made in responding to the main points for action in the initial report.

2. Continuous improvement

The headteacher, senior managers and staff had worked hard on the action points in the inspection report. The school continued to place a strong emphasis on pupil attainment and the promotion of pupils' wider achievements and offer an extensive range of extra-curricular activities. The school had maintained the high performance of attainment in national examinations. The school continued to develop pupil achievements in music, drama and musical performance and notably the school choir had won the Supercounty Choral Connections Rosebowl award in June 2008.

In October 2007, the school had achieved the gold award for Health Promoting Schools, and in January 2008 achieved re-accreditation for Charter Mark. From January 2009, the school plans to transfer to the new Customer Service Excellence standard. Commendably the school continued to develop partnership links with Bangalore organising two more exchange visits, participating in Indian culture events and through the curriculum involving pupils at all stages.

3. Progress towards meeting the main points for action

The initial inspection report published in March 2007 identified four main points for action. This section evaluates the progress made with each of the action points and the resulting improvements for pupils and other stakeholders.

3.1.1 Continue to develop the co-ordination and delivery of support for pupils' learning

The school had made very good progress towards meeting this main point for action.

The school had reviewed and adjusted senior management remits and improved its self-evaluation process to more effectively impact on the needs of individual pupils. One depute headteacher now had the remit for both Support for Learning and Pastoral Care which allowed a more integrated, collaborative approach to meeting pupils' needs. The extended pastoral support system now reflected a fully integrated approach, including strategies to ensure greater consistency, which provided support for individual pupils at classroom level across the school. This integrated team approach had a positive impact on pupils' learning and meeting learning needs, and had become a key strength of the school.

3.1.2 Improve aspects of the accommodation and facilities until the new school is built

Overall, there has been no significant progress towards meeting this main point for action.

North Lanarkshire Council is committed to the building of a new school and the timeline for this remained on schedule. The authority and the school have endeavoured to address the most pressing maintenance requirements to ensure the health and safety of pupils and staff, including the hygiene of the pupils' toilets. In the time since the initial inspection the authority had carried out a number of essential works, concentrating on gym changing areas, health and safety, security, specific hazards, water penetration, heating and exterior areas. The school met regularly with staff representatives, Learning and Leisure Services officers and Design Services staff to progress issues relating to accommodation and facilities.

However, the school buildings were still in need of significant maintenance work to improve key aspects of accommodation and facilities until the new school is built. Issues remained with regard to temperature control, water penetration and the interior fabric of the building. The use of ICT remained restricted in parts of the school due to the poor quality fabric of the building. Access and facilities for those with restricted mobility, for physical education and for dining were still poor.

3.1.3 Improve attainment in S1/S2

The school had made good progress towards meeting this main point for action.

As at the time of the original report, most pupils in S1 and S2 were making good progress in their coursework. The school's arrangements for transition from primary school had improved by extending transitional planning to P6 and through joint planning in developing Assessment is for Learning. Attainment in mathematics was very good with the majority of pupils achieving appropriate national levels or better. The school had plans in place to test up to 50% of S2 at Level F mathematics. Through departmental meetings the school had focused on strategies to improve attainment overall and specifically in English language. At December 2008, attainment statistics in writing indicated a significant improvement on the previous session. The school had begun to test pupils using Cognitive Ability Testing and were currently analysing results to improve standards in subjects across the school. The school should continue to develop individual pupil learning targets to ensure greater consistency across the school.

3.1.4 Continue to develop self-evaluation across the school and to share best practice

The school had made very good progress towards meeting this main point for action.

The school had developed a customised toolkit for self-evaluation which included extensive and rigorous classroom observation visits by SMT and principal teachers. This was further extended to include peer observation at departmental level. Classroom observations were formally recorded and evaluated, and summary details were shared with teaching staff. This facilitated the formal sharing of good practice and promoted meaningful discussion of learning and teaching. The very effective departmental reviews provided significant support and challenge to curriculum leaders in relation to key aspects of learning and teaching and attainment. The use of STACs and other attainment measurement data through the departmental meeting focus was highly effective in targeting the improvement of aspects of learning and teaching and attainment.

4. Conclusion

The school had demonstrated clearly that it had the capacity to improve. The headteacher and staff had worked very effectively to take forward the main points for action. As a result of the progress made, the authority will take no further action in connection with the report of March 2007.