School put in special measures after damning inspection report
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
A Wrexham secondary school has been placed in special measures following a recent inspection report.
Education watchdog Estyn has highlighted a lack of progress in improving pupils’ skills and the quality of teaching at Rhosnesni High School.
Inspectors initially placed the school based in the Rhosnesni area under monitoring in January 2019 after criticising poor attendance levels.
A follow-up visit was carried out by officials last month after which they judged the school had made insufficient progress against their recommendations.
Inspectors said the school had faced “significant challenges” during the Covid-19 pandemic, which had an impact on staff and pupil attendance rates.
Whilst they acknowledged the knock-on effect this had on education, in a report they said the standard of teaching was a cause for concern.
They said: “In lessons, around half of pupils are making suitable progress in their knowledge, understanding and skills.
“They demonstrate some basic recall of their prior learning, for example events in a novel or key subject vocabulary.
“However, a similar proportion of pupils are making only limited progress.
“Generally, this is the result of teaching that does not challenge them sufficiently, as well the lack of a co-ordinated, strategic approach to the progressive development of pupils’ skills.”
Rhosnesni High School was one of two so-called “super schools” created by Wrexham Council in 2005, along with Ysgol Clywedog.
The two new schools were created after three others – Bryn Offa, St David’s and the Groves – were merged together.
The inspectors said many pupils at Rhosnesni use a narrow vocabulary, which “limits their expression”.
They said this was often because teachers do not encourage them to develop their answers.
They said: “Around the school and in lessons, pupils behave well. They are polite, courteous and friendly.
“However, too often pupils are rendered passive by over-directed teaching, and they lack independence in learning as a result.
“They do not show resilience on the occasions they come across work they find difficult, relying on asking the teacher or simply not completing the task.
“This is often because teachers do not challenge them to find strategies to move forward.”
The inspectors pointed to a number of positive steps taken to improve attendance figures since their last visit.
However, whilst they described the school’s leadership team as “ambitious”, they said it lacked a clear vision.
After being placed in special measures, the school will now be required to develop an action plan to show how it will address Estyn’s recommendations.
Wrexham Council said the school had made some improvements since 2019, but pledged to assist it in delivering further changes.
A spokesperson for the local authority said: “There are lots of positives in the report and we’re pleased that Estyn has acknowledged the focus on the wellbeing of learners during the pandemic, and the improvements Rhosnesni has made in areas such as behaviour, attendance and pupil wellbeing.
“As a council, we’ll ensure the school is given the support it needs to address remaining areas for improvement, and will help staff, pupils and parents sustain and build on the important progress made so far.”
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