Senior High results well below NI average

Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan Campus. INLM39-221.
Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan Campus. INLM39-221.

Arrangements for safeguarding children at Craigavon Senior High School are ‘unsatisfactory’, inspectors have said.

In an inspection report issued last week the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) also highlighted a wide range of health and safety issues in relation to both the Lurgan and Portadown campuses of the school.

They also pointed to falling attendance rates and exam results well below the NI average.

Inspectors added: “Over the past four years, the enrolment has decreased. Over the same period, the proportion of pupils who require additional support with aspects of their learning and those pupils entitled to free school meals have both increased.”

Attendance rates, they said, for pupils are low and have declined over the past three years while before May 2017, there was a sustained period of discontinuity in leadership, when some key posts were not filled.

Due to industrial action by teaching unions the teaching staff refused to cooperate with the inspectors meaning they could not complete certain aspects of their report.

They did find, however, “Over the past three years, the outcomes at KS 4 have declined significantly and require urgent improvement. The performance of most of the individual subjects is below the corresponding Northern Ireland (NI) average.

Over this period, the proportion of pupils attaining five or more GCSEs or equivalent at grades A* to C has been consistently well below the NI average for similar schools.

They said: “It is a concern that, for two of the past three years, the outcomes were more than 15 percentage points below the NI average. The performance of boys is consistently below that of girls and this performance gap has increased significantly over the past three years, from just over 12 percentage points to more than 26 percentage points.

They also pointed out: “Over the past three years, only one-third of the pupils attained five or more GCSEs or equivalent at grades A* to C, including English and mathematics. This proportion has been consistently well below the NI average for similar schools. The proportion of pupils entitled to free school meals who attain at this level has decreased significantly and is almost twenty percentage points below the corresponding NI average.”

They also found: “The current curriculum offer does not meet the entitlement framework and there is no collaboration with other post-primary schools in the Craigavon area.”

The school has conducted curriculum audits and begun to broaden the range of and combination subjects.

However, the senior leaders need to ensure the pace of this curricular development is increased and there are robust processes in place to monitor its impact on the outcomes attained by the pupils, the inspectors said.

The report concluded: “Owing to the impact of the action short of strike being taken by the teachers, the ETI is unable to assure parents/carers, the wider school community and stakeholders of the quality of education being provided for the children.

“The school is a high priority for future inspection with no further notice. This will be reflected in future inspection activity.

“The school may require external support to address the areas for improvement outlined in the key findings.

“The ETI will return to the school within six working weeks to monitor progress in addressing the unsatisfactory arrangements for safeguarding.”