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3 March 2011, 16:32 | Updated: 9 March 2011, 17:09
St. Thomas More Catholic Upper School has been graded as ‘Outstanding’ in overall effectiveness by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted).
This result is a major improvement on the last Ofsted report, back in 2007, when the school was graded as ‘good’.
Inspectors found its teaching structure to be highly effective because ‘lessons are well-planned and assessment is used, often very successfully, to check that students have understood the work and further explanation is provided if they have not’. The care, guidance and support that students receive was also noted as being ‘exceptionally strong’.
More than twice as many students at St.Thomas More are from minority ethnic groups and speak English as an additional language than is the case nationally.
Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said:
“All the staff and students at St Thomas More deserve a tremendous amount of credit for this excellent achievement. The OFSTED report was full of praise for the work happening across the school and I know this result was only possible thanks to a huge amount of hard work and excellent leadership and shows how a diverse range of students can work harmoniously to create an ‘outstanding’ school.
“I hope this result can be used to help drive up standards throughout the Catholic federation and for all students across Bedford Borough.”
The school’s specialist subject area is the humanities. It has received a number of awards including the Most Improved School Award from the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, the Community Cohesion Gold Award, the Investors in People Award and Leadership Award, the International Award, and Healthy Schools status.
The Head teacher, Joe Richardson, who at the time of the inspection had been in post for four weeks, commented: “We are absolutely delighted to have achieved the ‘outstanding’ judgement. It has been the result of years of hard work on the part of students, parents, and staff at the school.”
Taking all students’ best eight subjects, including english and mathematics, their attainment is above average. Based on all their subjects, it is exceptionally high. Current data provided by the school, based upon GCSE modular tests that are set and marked externally, shows that progress is improving further. This includes mathematics, in which students are exceeding challenging targets.
In addition, no group is underachieving in comparison to others. Students with special educational needs and/or disabilities, including those who have statements, make outstanding progress and are exceeding their targets.
Cllr David Sawyer, portfolio holder for Children’s Services, Bedford Borough Council, said:
“This is an excellent performance and I congratulate everyone at St. Thomas More in achieving the highest possible Ofsted grade. This demonstrates how the school's outstanding leadership and governance is delivering a high standard of education across the whole of its diverse community."