Lowest band town school fights back from the brink


Thomas Morton

A WREXHAM school rated in the bottom ‘band five’ has turned its performance around.

Rhosnesni High School has seen a rise of 24 per cent in students receiving five A* to C grades this year.

The 67 per cent benchmark figure has smashed their 56 per cent target for improvement by 11 per cent.

Acting headteacher Nick Harrison presented figures showing a rise across the board to Wrexham Council’s education, safeguarding and wellbeing scrutiny committee yesterday.

He said Rhosnesni had got back into the top 50 per cent of schools and was heading towards the top 25.

“No student has left without a recognised qualification of some sort,” he said.

The school was rated band five – the bottom grade in the Welsh Government’s new banding system – in December along with Ysgol Clywedog, Wrexham and Bryn Alyn in Gwersyllt. The band system measures a range of factors, not just exam performance.

“We needed to provide more of a challenge to the students,” he said.

Mr Harrison presented a long list of “interventions” carried out by the school. They included closer contact with parents, out-of-class sessions, encouraging students to take “ownership” of their learning and recruitment of “intervention” staff.

But he said the key factor was closer tracking of students and target setting.

“We know where our pupils are now and we know where we want them to be. All that information is to hand,” he said.

“Every member of staff has been committed to maintaining improvement. They’ve seen the fruits of that improvement this year.”

Chairman of governors Martin Jones said since the school came into being its results had steadily increased.

But last year saw a dip, he said, which might have been affected by the fall out from a round of redundancies two years previously.

Members of the scrutiny committee praised and congratulated the school.
However, there were some concerns.

Minera Cllr David Kelly said he recognised the tremendous amount of work that had gone into the “interventions”.

“Are staff working well beyond contracted hours to deliver this? Is it sustainable in the long term?” he asked.

Mr Harrison said the improvements aimed to “put in a structure that is part of day-to-day practice”.

“It’s got to be part of what we do every day, every week, and we’re working towards that.”

He said the health and wellbeing of staff was important and recognised.

Co-opted member Brent Evans said as a result of the band five classification, the school would have attracted Welsh Government money (£18,000) and again asked if the “interventions” were sustainable.

Mr Harrison said: “Yes there were things we were able to do because of that.”

But he said they had a “Plan B” financial forecast if they were moved up a band.

Mr Jones said the school would remain band five until December, “but we are not a band five school as you can see,” he said.

“I don’t know where we will be in December, but we expect to be moving up, but it all depends on what other schools have done nationally.”

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