Ofsted has praised a headteacher’s “thoughtful and wise” leadership and the good quality of education at his school.
St Wilfrid’s Catholic School, in Southgate, underwent a short inspection in January, its first since being rated ‘good’ in 2012.
In her report, which was published on February 1, inspector Clare Gillies told headteacher Michael Ferry: “Under your thoughtful and wise leadership, the school’s popularity has continued to increase. Close to 100 per cent of parents and carers would recommend it, describing it as ‘exemplary’, ‘amazing’ or ‘second to none’.
“One described a child ‘waking up in the morning and bursting into song at the thought of going to school’.”
Mr Ferry said the comments were “quite humbling”, adding: “Probably the most pleasing thing was that they recognised the strong sense of community that we have here; one built on strong values; one which is diverse but inclusive, one where both staff and students are proud to attend
and work at.”
Ms Gillies recognised the work that had been done since the last inspection to generate higher exam grades and more outstanding teaching. She said: “Leaders responded well and teaching is now more flexible, imaginative and challenging.
“We saw pupils helping each other to tackle work, responding thoughtfully to tricky questions and knowing what they needed to do to improve their work.”
Looking at the next steps for the school, Ms Gillies said leaders should continue to work to improve pupils’ reading comprehension and the support arranged for disadvantaged pupils.
Mr Ferry said work had already started in these areas.
He added: "To have it acknowledged that there is a strong focus on the development of the whole child, not just in terms of their academic progress, was a complete validation for what we are trying to achieve here.
"Don’t get me wrong, we are not perfect by any means, we know we need to do better and I believe we can. The inspectors were clear in that they believed that what we were doing was certainly taking us in the right direction and as such had allowed us to improve significantly since the last inspection in 2012.
"We had already started to work on the areas they identified for improvement, most notably on developing strategies to improve the reading comprehension of students as well as ensuring that we seek to maximise the progress of all of our students and especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"Personally, I was extremely pleased to read the report as well as being extremely proud of the students and staff who, with the support of parents, have worked tirelessly over the last five years to ensure that every effort is made so that students can maximise their progress, not just academically but also morally and spiritually as well."
Ofsted’s inspection followed hot on the heels of a denominational inspection by the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, which rated St Wilfrid’s ‘outstanding’.
Mr Ferry said: “Personally, I was extremely pleased to read the report as well as being extremely proud of the students and staff who, with the support of parents, have worked tirelessly over the last five years to ensure that every effort is made so that students can maximise their progress, not just academically but also morally and spiritually as well.
“I certainly feel proud and extremely privileged to be the headteacher of St Wilfrid’s – but then I was before the inspection anyway.”