The failing high school that’s gone from ‘rock bottom’ to outstanding

CREDIT: This story was first seen in The Manchester Evening News

The new head says the culture needed to change – and it involved ‘tough decisions’, The Manchester Evening News reports.

A failing high school has been pulled from ‘rock bottom’ to outstanding with six years of hard graft.

St Damian’s RC Science College was one of the worst performing secondaries in Tameside at the beginning of the decade and was placed in special measures by Ofsted.

When Sheldon Logue took over as head of the Ashton secondary in 2012, the school was on its knees but the new head set about turning the school around.

Five years later it has been rated as ‘outstanding’ in all areas, with inspectors hailing it a ‘beacon of success’.

Mr Logue said his first task when took up the role as head was to lead a ‘complete change in culture’ at the school.

“Children were well looked after in terms of pastoral care but academically the school was very bad,” Mr Logan says.

“It was the culture that needed to change. My task was to install that self-belief in staff.

“They needed to realise the education of the children was not good enough. They had to accept that and tough decisions had to be made.”

Mr Logue said the culture shift did mean letting teachers go who were not on board with the new vision for St Damian’s.

“Many of the staff were devastated when they were put into special measures in 2012,” he said.

“Once the staff were on board they went from being good to outstanding.

“It was about installing that self-belief in teachers and the children.

“We had to change the mindset of the school – that everyone can achieve and they have to be ambitious for themselves.”

By focusing on improving teaching and getting parents on board, things started to change.

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St Damian’s gradually progressed to ‘good’ before being inspected again in November 2017.

And a new Ofsted report, published this week, gives Mr Logue and his team top marks for the school’s transformation.

The glowing report: “The headteacher is dedicated in his pursuit of excellence and has inspired others, resulting in outstanding leadership across the school.

“Standards are exemplary and the school is a beacon of success.”

It adds: “Disadvantaged pupils make exemplary progress across the school because leaders use additional pupil premium funding effectively.”

Proud head Mr Logan added: “We’ve gone from rock bottom to right at the top within six years.”

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