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Positive changes made at Dover school, but "much more to be done"

By Graham Tutthill
Head teacher Adam Mirams
Head teacher Adam Mirams

The governing body of a Dover Catholic school that was placed in special measures in January has been replaced with an Interim Executive Board, and the school’s leadership is to be transferred to a Catholic school in Greenwich this summer.

Ofsted inspectors who visited the St Edmund’s Catholic School in April to carry out a special measures monitoring inspection said the interim principal, Kim Stoner, supported by other senior staff from another school - collectively known as Team 26 - were providing “very positive and energetic leadership”.

They had expertly assessed what needed to be gone, and had begun to put in place structures and systems which, say the inspectors, work for the school.

“They communicate with staff candidly and sympathetically,” said inspector Robin Hammerton. “This has galvanised the commitment of most staff very quickly. Staff know much more clearly what is expected of them and how they are supported.

“Expectations of what the students can achieve have risen, as shown in the school’s demanding but realistic targets. Morale has improved and the school has made remarkable progress in a short time.”

Mr Hammerton said the school was already better than it was in January in several key areas.

“Senior staff have observed all teachers teaching and have clear evidence that the quality of lessons is showing improvement. Teachers ensure more consistently that students know what they are expected to learn in each lesson, for example.

“There are now much better systems for assessing how well students are doing, but there is more work to do to ensure these assessments are fully reliable.”

Training and coaching for staff is said to be carefully focused, computer provision for students is much better and “sensible improvements” in the curriculum have started.

“The school buildings and grounds have been brightened up very considerably and made increasingly fit for purpose, although the buildings are still shabby in many places,” said Mr Hammerton.

“The rate of exclusion has fallen notably, with better use of internal and external support for vulnerable students. Students have noticed the improvements and are very hopeful of a better future.”

Mr Hammerton said all the positive changes were at an early stage, but there remained much more to do.

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke, who has visited St Edmund’s, has welcomed the positive inspection report and says “remarkable progress” has been made by the school.

“I was impressed how hard the students work and how ambitious they are for the future. Education is about the highest possible standards and life chances for our young people. It is a crucial step that Ofsted is saying St Edmund’s has made remarkable progress."

Interim head Kim Stoner said: “It has been a pleasure for Team 26 to work at St Edmund’s Catholic School.

“We are passionate and determined to secure better outcomes for all the students and have placed children at the heart of our core business. St Thomas More will continue this process and I wish all at St Edmund’s every success in the future.”

The new management team from St Thomas More taking over this summer consists of executive headteacher Markus Ryan, headteacher Catrina Hamilton and head of school Mike Wilson.

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