THE head of a Monmouthshire school criticised for its performance by Estyn hopes it will soon be out of the monitoring process.
Chepstow Comprehensive School’s performance, as well as prospects for improvement, were described as “adequate” by inspectors in January 2012, and the body recommended seven areas for improvement.
If at least one of the overall judgements for a school is “adequate,” but it does not need significant improvement or special measures, it will receive an Estyn monitoring visit.
That has now taken place, said head teacher Claire Price and the results are expected at the end of this week.
The Free Press reported how the 950-pupil school was deemed to need “particular” intervention by the regional schools body the Education Achievement Service (EAS) last year. The EAS monitors all schools in Gwent alongside Estyn’s annual inspection regime.
“Nearly two years ago, I started here as head teacher and two weeks later, we were inspected,” said Ms Price, who then set about redecorating and improving the school environment. “It would be fair to say there were no surprises in the report because we weren’t necessarily doing as well as we should have been.”
Now Ms Price and her leadership team, which includes deputy head Tony Price and assistant head Emma Mellen, are on a mission to put students and teaching back at the heart of the school.
This summer, 61 per cent students achieved five or more GCSEs including English and maths, five per cent up on last year. Top grades also increased and 80 per cent of students got five or more A*-C grades.
“It has been a huge turn-around for us,” said Ms Price.
The school, which has recently changed from year groups into a house system, not only has a virtual artist in residence who corresponds and teaches over the internet but also a virtual composer and a popular children’s author.
Last year the equivalent of the school council, called Student Voices, voted to change the layout of the canteen, so the school did so, while popular demand for an engineering firm to come and speak to pupils also came about.
A spokeswoman for the EAS said: “Chepstow has made consistent progress over the last year and this has been identified through regular monitoring by the EAS. It is also reflected in the key provisional public examination results at Key Stage 4 and in the teacher assessments at Key Stage 3 in the summer of 2013."
The categorisation of school performance depends upon the publication of verified results by Welsh Government and the school’s position in the national school banding framework. Publication of results is not expected until the end of term.