Northampton secondary school still requires improvement, says Ofsted, but leaders are on the path to good rating

Inspectors raised concerns about the rise in temporary exclusions and lack of support to help pupils improve behaviour

By Megan Hillery
Friday, 8th July 2022, 8:02 am

A Northampton secondary school has been judged to still require improvement in a recent inspection carried out by Ofsted.

The education watchdog rated Thomas Becket Catholic School, in Kettering Road North, as ‘requires improvement’ in a full inspection in February 2019 and - in a recent monitoring inspection carried out on May 18 this year - said the grade remains the same.

Ofsted found, however, that leaders are taking “effective action” towards the school becoming good.

Thomas Becket Catholic School situated in Kettering Road North.

Headteacher Paul McCahill, who was appointed in January, said: “We are strongly reassured that Ofsted recognise the impact of the work we are doing to rapidly improve Thomas Becket Catholic School and I am delighted that we were able to showcase all the good work that is taking place.

“Ofsted spent the day meeting students, staff and observing lessons. They were impressed with the conduct and attitude of our students, and I was extremely proud they saw what I see every day at Thomas Becket Catholic School.”

One of Ofsted’s main concerns was the rise in temporary exclusions and student absences due to mental health issues. Inspectors said the school needs to take further action to provide pupils, who are excluded, with the support they need to improve their behaviour.

The report noted that the school has been through a “period of turbulence” since the school joined ‘Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Academies Trust’ in March 2019 before the trust’s improvements were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Inspectors found that pupils’ written work and the help they are provided with is “inconsistent” and pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are not currently supported to access the full curriculum.

Thomas Becket Catholic School have, however, started to address this by hiring three new assistant headteachers - one of whom is now responsible for SEND pupils - two new heads of year, a school counsellor and a second family support worker to provide help to pupils missing school due to ill mental health.

Although teachers are regularly trained to help to identify SEND pupils and support them and have recently been given up-to-date information, inspectors found that the information lacked detail about needs and suitable strategies. The school, in response to this, recently opened ‘The Bethel Centre’ to provide focussed support for SEND pupils.

The school additionally intends to increase the amount of time pupils spend studying English and religious education and fill all teaching posts with subject specialists by September.

Ofsted praised the school’s newly created inclusion team that provides a more consistent approach to pastoral support for pupils. The report also commended the ample opportunities for pupils to get involved with enrichment activities including the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, learning sign language and gardening. Sixth form students are also involved with the local community by volunteering in care homes and food banks.

Mr McCahill added: “We are looking ahead with great confidence, as we progress on our rapid journey of improvement to Good.

“We are rightly proud of our school, and excited to secure the best education and outcomes for the wonderful pupils in our care, whilst ensuring that our core values are integral to all that we do.”