Top rating for  Nunhead school St Thomas the Apostle

Katherine Johnston (26 January, 2019) Education

The fantastic result comes five years after the school was told it ‘required improvement’

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St Thomas the Apostle School and sixth Form college in Nunhead has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

After an inspection in November last year, the education watchdog said the Roman Catholic boys school and mixed sixth form was outstanding in all areas.

The Ofsted report said it had ‘maintained exceptionally high standards’ of pupils’ progress since the last inspection in 2014, when the school was also rated ‘oustanding’. This is also true of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

The fantastic result comes five years after the school was told it ‘required improvement’.

Head teacher, Eamon Connolly, said: “From the moment the inspectors walked through the gate they were blown away by our students, their engagement, their determination to achieve, their high aspirations, how respectful and polite they are.

“I feel very honoured to work in a school with such incredible students, inspiring teachers and supportive parents.”

Inspectors noted staff ‘go the extra mile to make sure pupils achieve, feel cared for and thrive within a supportive and productive learning environment’.

A broad and challenging curriculum, range of clubs and extra-curricular activities, strong leadership and excellent academic outcomes were all praised.

One area highlighted by inspectors is the key role teachers make in helping kids stay safe outside school, and online.

The report, published in December, explained: “Pupils talk openly about the excellent work that the school does to keep them safe.

“They are confident in explaining how they stay safe online and how staff keep them safe when travelling home from school… Teaching and non-teaching staff have a strong understanding of the local risks posed to pupils.

“They are vigilant to signs of abuse, gang affiliation, extremism and radicalisation and know what to do should they become worried.

“Leaders work closely with families and external agencies, including the police, to ensure pupils’ safety.”

Highlights from the report

  • Students typically achieve one grade higher in their GCSEs than anticipated, due to the high quality of teaching and personal support offered.
  • Academic success puts it in top two per cent of schools for progress shown by pupils
  • Broad curriculum is supported by a wide-range of clubs and extra-curricular activities including a ‘flourishing gospel choir’
  • Regular fundraising, charity appeals and visits to elderly people in residential care by pupils
  • Pupils overwhelmingly praise teachers for the care and support they provide and display ‘unfailingly positive attitudes to commitment to learning’
  • Very little bullying in any year group, and pupils say when it rarely happens it is dealt with promptly.
  • Behaviour in lessons described as ‘never less than impeccable’
  • Exemplary attendance record is because ‘pupils love coming to school’
  • In top 5 per cent of schools nationally for progress made by disadvantaged kids

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