Source: NW Evening Mail, 5 April 2010
ULVERSTON Victoria High School has achieved outstanding status just three-and-a-half years after inspectors placed it under special measures.
Ofsted lavished praise on the school for the turnaround and head inspector Patrick Geraghty said: “All the inspectors would send their children to this school and be proud to do so.”
Inspectors ruled UVHS inadequate in October 2007, but the Springfield Road secondary and sixth form came out of special measures in March 2009 following continued progress under a newly appointed headteacher, Denis Fay.
Now, in a report released following an inspection last month, Ofsted has praised the school in practically every area.
The report said: “Outstanding and inspirational leadership from the headteacher has driven a culture of high attainment and aspirations.
“Very capable senior leaders are highly focused on a well-defined improvement agenda.”
UVHS recorded its best ever GCSE and A-Level results last summer and Ofsted said attainment at Key stage four was “well above the national average and continues to improve”.
It said the sixth form was outstanding and its students “excel in their attainment, progress and aspirations”.
The sixth formers were described as “excellent role models” for the younger pupils.
The school’s specialist subjects of maths and computing were said to be implemented excellently across the curriculum.
Parents are “actively engaged in the school”, and the governing body was said to be “developing its capacity to challenge the school and hold it rigorously to account”.
The school was also described as having “exceptional links with the community”.
Regarding the pupils, the report said: “Students behave very well and make an exemplary contribution to the establishment of a harmonious and caring school community.”
Headteacher Mr Fay said: “Outstanding is a very broad church and we are not complacent.
“We know there is more work to do and we are far from perfect.
“There are still many things we wish to make better, many exciting initiatives we want to create.
“There is still a long way to go for this school, which has the potential to be the best of its type in the country.”
Assistant head Roger Cahalin said: “It’s a phenomenal performance from everybody in the school – staff, support staff, students, governors, and the local authority.
“Everybody has contributed to this performance and we’re now back where we should be, but we certainly don’t intend to take our foot off the pedal.
“We really feel the school can take off now and achieve even more.”
Mr Cahalin said UVHS should be particularly proud of making such improvements with very limited funding, particularly to its ageing school buildings.
Julie Wilkinson, chair of UVHS governors, said: “This has been a fantastic team effort masterminded by an outstanding headteacher.
“It’s been a long, hard slog, but we’ve always kept the faith because we knew it was a good school and this has proved it.”