'Quality of teaching is not good enough' at Northampton secondary school despite improvements, says watchdog

Thomas Becket Catholic School has been unable to climb out of its 'requires improvement' score.
Thomas Becket Catholic School has been unable to climb out of its 'requires improvement' score.

A Northampton secondary school has failed to boost its rating with Ofsted in its first inspection since converting to an academy.

'Lagging progress' and a lack of 'quality' teaching has led inspectors to give Thomas Becket Catholic School a 'Requires Improvement' score in every area.

It is the first rating for the school off Kettering Road North since it converted to an academy in March 2016.

Although some improvement was noted across the past two years, the school has failed to score any higher than in its last inspection in 2015, when it left behind its 'special measures' status and shook off its 'inadequate' rating.

The watchdog's report following the inspection in February reads: "The quality of the teaching is not good enough.

"Pupils do not make consistently strong progress... The attainment and progress of disadvantaged pupils lag behind that of other pupils.

"Too many students are persistently absent... Some pupils are uncooperative and disrupt learning."

Although the school's grade with Ofsted did not improve, the report complemented newly-appointed headteacher Mark McLaughlin and noted: "After a period of decline, the school is beginning to improve.

"Improvement plans are focused on the right areas. The actions taken in the last 18 months are beginning to show improvements."

However, the report broadly stated that pupils' behaviour required improvement, and that some students lacked self-discipline and disturbed the learning of others.

Of note was a lack of opportunities in the school to learn 'fundamental British values' and did not fully prepare the teenagers for life in Modern Britain.

Ofsted has instructed the school to improve by finding funding to improve the experience for disadvantaged and SEND children, and also challenge their students more in the classroom.

Headteacher Mark McLaughlin said: "We are incredibly proud of the improvements that we have made at our school over the last two years for the children whom we serve. We are particularly pleased that, during their visit the inspectors noted that we have established a positive ethos across the school and we have a clear vision for the future. This foundation will enable us to continue to build an extraordinary school for our community.

"Whilst we recognise there are areas for further development, we are confident that our school is on a positive trajectory and that, with time, the improvements that we have made will be further embedded. With the support of our dedicated staff, the Trust and our governing body, we already have detailed plans in place to respond to Ofsted's recommendations, so that we can continue on our journey to being recognised as an Outstanding school in the near future."