The Vice-Principal of Lisneal College has hailed staff and pupils for helping to transform educational provision at the school over the past five years.
Inspectors reported remarkable progress at Lisneal following a fresh visit in December, noting that the overall quality of education at Londonderry’s sole Controlled Post-Primary was ‘good.’
Vice Principal, Susan Wilson commented: “We have begun a journey where we will work tirelessly to provide the right education for every child so that they can fulfil their potential, become independent learners that can self direct and so they can experience the joy that learning can and should bring.
“A wide number of initiatives are in place to not only improve the standards of Teaching and Learning within the school, but to ensure that the pupil voice is heard, so that we can make sure the curriculum is motivating, modern and relevant for every pupil.
“We are delighted that the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) have recognised the achievement and progress to date and we now look to build on this. Our achievements have been a team effort and all staff and pupils are to be highly commended.”
It’s an impressive turnaround after a highly critical report concluded in 2010 that in the majority of areas inspected, the quality of education provided by Lisneal was inadequate.
It’s all the more impressive given the loss of 17 members of staff over recent years.
In a statement issued to this paper, the school’s management stated: “This is no mean feat after a period of time in Formal Intervention and given that the school has lost 17 members of staff in the last few years.
“The report cites that the proportion of pupils attaining five or more GCSEs at grade A* - C has increased significantly from 36 per cent - 68 per cent, which is 10 percentage points above the Northern Ireland average for similar non-selective schools.
“It also points out that pupils are exceeding predicted levels of achievement, in that there has been an increase in the percentage of pupils reaching their expected level.
“Forty-eight per cent of pupils were expected and predicted to achieve five A* - C, as predicted by accurate diagnostic assessment information and in reality Lisneal have increased this significantly with 68 per cent pupils achieving this at GCSE.
“Therefore 20 percent of pupils have overachieved and this clearly demonstrates the school is enhancing and developing the skills of a very wide number of pupils.
“The report also noted that the majority of pupils have made expected or better progress across Key Stages 3 and 4 and outlines that the majority of individual subjects at GCSE continue to demonstrate an improving trend.
“This includes core subjects such as Mathematics (58 per cent A*- C) which is 12 percentage points above the average for all non – selective schools and GCSE Science (97 per cent A* - C) which is deemed outstanding by ETI.
“The percentage of pupils attaining A* - C including English and Maths is six percent below the NI average for similar schools however the school have a Strategic Literacy Plan to address this shortfall.
“The changes which have affected the work of the school include major changes of staff at senior Level including a new VP and three new posts at middle management level.
“The school undertook major renegotiation of the role of the Form Tutor and the Head of Year posts plus the restructuring of seven other middle management posts.
“This alongside the development of a highly effective system of Data Tracking is now allowing the school to follow accurately the progress of each pupil and to put in intervention strategies when pupils are in danger of underachieving.
“ETI commended the school on the significant improvement in Strategic Leadership, which is now providing a clearer sense of purpose and direction and the new roles and responsibilities have helped to establish a more positive working environment for both staff and pupils.
“Rigorous self evaluation and the sharing of good practice across the school is allowing for the promotion of best practice throughout the whole school.
“All lessons seen by ETI were good or very good. The report also clearly commends the school on the development of a much broader and more appropriate range of qualifications at Key Stage 4 and post 16.
“The school has made significant progress in the last number of years and is committed to providing a curriculum tailored to the needs of every pupil.”