Leaders of Eastern High School have committed to improvement after the publication of a highly critical report from the education watchdog Estyn.
Based on their visit to the school in December last year, the Estyn Report concludes that all aspects of the school were unsatisfactory — the lowest rating available.
The report published on Friday found that more than two-thirds of the teaching at the school was “not good enough” and its safeguarding arrangements gave “serious cause for concern.”
It is also critical of the planning of the school after it was formed from the merger of Rumney and Llanrumney High Schools.
The report states: “The initial planning for Eastern High School did not take enough account of the performance data and information available from Llanrumney High School and Rumney High School.
“As a result, the vision for the school is too general and not focused clearly enough on the very specific needs of the pupils or the community.
This has contributed to the school failing to create a positive ethos and a productive learning environment.”
The school also highlights concerns over bullying at the school, the report says: “The school is not an inclusive environment for all pupils to feel safe and learn. “Incidents of bullying and inappropriate behaviour are frequent and not dealt with consistently.”
Since the Estyn inspection the school has been led by acting Head teacher Armando Di-Finizio who replaced Head teacher, Karen Gittins. Ms Gittins who had been appointed in May 2013 left the school after the inspection in December.
Addressing the issues raised by Estyn, Acting Head teacher Armando Di-Finizio said: “This report represents the school as it was at the beginning of December and much has been done since to ensure our pupils are safe when in our care and are receiving a good education.
“We accept the findings of the report and that is why, immediately after the inspection, we took steps to firstly address matters of urgency and secondly to develop a well thought out plan to improve the school.
“Although it is early days and there is a lot of hard work still to be done, since the beginning of this term both staff and students have commented that the school ‘feels different’.
There is a definite improvement in behaviour both in and out of the classroom and levels of attendance are beginning to improve.” Cardiff Council had begun statutory intervention in the school before the inspection took place and says there has been a rapid programme of improvement since December.
Prior to the inspection the school had also been closed over reports of legionella bacteria.
Speaking in response to the report, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Cllr Julia Magill said: “I fully accept Estyn’s findings which confirm a wide range of issues that had already led the local authority to intervene in the running of the school in the Autumn of 2014. I am encouraged by the progress that the school has already made since the inspection.
Everyone involved is clear that there remains much to be done. Estyn will carry out regular monitoring visits to ensure that rapid progress continues to be made.”
She continued: “We will continue the hard work to implement significant and lasting improvements that will provide the standard of education the children and young people of Eastern High school deserve in order for them to reach their potential.
“It is time to put the past behind us now. The school has faced some significant challenges, but the steps that have already been taken mean that pupils and parents can be confident that there has already been change for the better and that we are all determined to make sure that there is further rapid improvement, including securing better results for young people sitting their GCSE’s this year.”
“We will continue to work with parents and pupils to make sure that they feel engaged in the improvement programme through further parent meetings and regular communications from the school.”