St Matthew’s RC High School in Moston has been labelled inadequate
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A north Manchester high school where racist, homophobic and misogynistic bullying is 'rife’ has been urged to make urgent improvements after school inspectors found that an 'unsafe and unruly' environment was 'failing' pupils.
Ofsted inspectors highlighted a number of concerns after visiting St Matthew's RC High School on Nuthurst Road in Moston in November last year. The inspection report highlighted how ‘pupils are not happy’ at the school and ‘do not feel safe’ due to the behaviour of other pupils.
Inspectors also found that pupils were often exposed to fights and aggressive behaviour, whilst reporting that many pupils engaged in 'name calling’ and bullying, which was described as being ‘commonplace’ at the school, which has been run by the Emmaus Catholic Academy Trust since 2021.
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St Matthew's said it was 'disappointed' with the review, which gave an 'inadequate' rating, and the school has already begun to address a number of concerns raised during the inspection.
In the report, inspectors found that school officials had failed to properly address concerns raised by pupils and staff. The concerns of LGBTQ+ pupils and those deemed vulnerable were not 'always taken seriously' by the school, which inspectors said 'increased the welfare risks' they faced.
Inspectors said staff also expressed that they often did not feel supported by leaders to ‘keep themselves, or pupils, safe from harm’.
“Many pupils are not happy at this school,” the report outlined. “They told inspectors that they do not feel safe due to the behaviour and attitudes of other pupils. Inspectors found that sometimes staff do not feel that they have the support from senior leaders to keep themselves, or pupils, safe from harm.
“Leaders do not have high enough expectations of pupils’ behaviour. Some pupils said that leaders do not take their concerns seriously. Pupils are regularly exposed to fights and aggressive behaviour. Swearing and the use of derogatory language by pupils are commonplace.”
The report added: “Bullying is rife. Many pupils engage in racist, homophobic and misogynistic name calling. During the inspection, inspectors observed a significant number of pupils who displayed no respect or tolerance for the differences between themselves and other people.”
The inspection also highlighted poor and ‘unruly’ behaviour from pupils, which often prevented others from learning. Inspectors also described the school curriculum as ‘ineffective’ as general achievement was said to be poor across many subjects.
“Leaders have done too little to tackle the wide-reaching weaknesses at the school,” it added. “Many pupils engage in disorderly behaviour. Other pupils do not understand boundaries and they engage in harmful sexual behaviour. Supply teachers and newer staff find it challenging to manage pupils’ disruptive behaviour.”
Inspectors, who visited the school on November 16 and 17, 2022, also found a number of pupils had high truancy rates and a poor attendance rate with two thirds of disadvantaged pupils ‘regularly absent’ from the school. The report said school leaders had so far been unsuccessful in addressing these issues.
The report said that school lessons were often ‘jumbled and disconnected’, with teachers ‘unclear’ on what they should be teaching. The inspection said: “This haphazard approach to delivering the curriculum means that pupils are missing the essential foundations that they need to learn well.”
The inspection also found that many pupils couldn’t read well enough to access the curriculum, while a number of pupils also had ‘missing phonics knowledge’. It said that many pupils who leave the school ‘do not have the knowledge’ needed to move on to post-16 courses.
“Leaders, governors and trustees have not demonstrated the capacity to improve the quality of education for pupils,” the report stated. “Leaders, including governors, were aware of the concerns that pupils had for their safety. However, they have not acted to resolve them. Pupils are being failed by leaders at this school.”
School leaders were also advised that their approach to safeguarding had been ‘lax’ and needed improvement. The report said leaders and governors were ‘overwhelmed by their caseloads and safeguarding concerns’ that they did not have the capacity to follow up or resolve issues.
“Pupils and staff are not safe in this school,” the report added. “Regular antisocial and dangerous behaviour puts pupils at considerable risk. Leaders do not protect pupils from harm. Many pupils do not follow instructions from staff, which creates a chaotic learning environment.”
The Ofsted report said leaders and governors ‘must act immediately’ in order to build a culture of safeguarding where people felt safe to raise concerns alongside a need to improve measures to support staff, to apply ‘consistent’ behaviour policies and to ‘tackle all aspects’ of poor behaviour from pupils.
The need to improve attendance rates and to implement a ‘coherent’ curriculum and reading programme were also highlighted in the report.
In a letter addressed to parents and carers, which was sent on Friday (January 20), the school’s local governing body said that they are already taking steps to address the areas for improvement.
The school also said all students and staff are safe and, following the inspection in November, improvements to ‘day to day procedures’ around safeguarding were immediately made.
“Our staff work hard each day to make sure that students are adequately supervised at all times from the moment they arrive in the morning to the moment they leave at the end of the day,” the school said in the letter. “We pride ourselves on the care that we give to all members of our community and this has not changed.”
The school added: “All elements of our school will be reviewed as part of our ongoing drive to improve, but there will be a particular focus on improving the climate for learning at St Matthew’s. Students will be aware of this already as this began in early December and will continue for the foreseeable future.
“Assemblies, form time activities, PSHE content and staff training will be altered to allow us to work with students to help them better understand the positive impact they can have on our school community.”
In a statement, the school said it was 'very disappointed' with the report but had since implemented a number of measures to address the concerns raised in the inspection.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Salford said: “The Trust and the staff are clearly very disappointed with the outcome of the recent Ofsted inspection. We are implementing a robust action plan that will rapidly address the concerns raised in the report.
"The school joined the Emmaus Trust in June 2021, we are a growing Trust with a leadership track record for improving standards and outcomes. We are confident that with the support and leadership the trust brings we will continue to see improvements for the pupils at St. Matthews.”
St Matthew’s RC High School in Moston has been labelled inadequate