Ask any student at St Damian’s RC College what they think of school and they’ll all hit you with the same answer; “Great!”
But Ofsted have gone one further, rating the Ashton school as ‘Outstanding’ following an inspection in November.
The school has undergone remarkable progress over the past six years, after being removed from special measures in March 2012. Now, the education regulatory body has rated the school as ‘Outstanding’ in all areas.
Headteacher Sheldon Logue, along with Mrs Elizabeth Jones, the chair of governors, says they always believed the school would reach outstanding levels and thanked everybody for playing their part.
“I was delighted,” said Mr Logue. “I thought that it would be a long journey to get to Outstanding. I always believed in the vision of the school, which is to be an Outstanding Catholic school. We always had belief that we could get outstanding because that is what the children at St Damian’s deserve”.
A very happy Chair of Governors, Mrs Jones said “It was the culmination of a lot of hard work over the last few years but the staff, pupils, governors and parents all rose to the occasion. The rating was justified and it is well deserved.”
One standout a piece of praise in a glowing report was around work St Damian’s does with disadvantaged
pupils. It read: “Disadvantaged pupils make strong progress across the school. In 2017, disadvantaged pupils achieved highly across the curriculum. Their attainment and progress, including for the most able disadvantaged, were well above those of other pupils nationally and locally.”
The improvement and outcomes are no lucky coincidence. Deputy Headteacher, Jane Henshaw, explained: “It requires a five-year plan, right from when they start at school, with regular review. We have to respond to the circumstances of the pupils; they are closely monitored. They are very well looked after pastorally and given the support and encouragement that they need to make the academic progress.
“The disadvantaged pupils are part of our Catholic mission and there is a real focus on them. The outcomes were phenomenal. We pride ourselves on being a catholic school, on providing high quality pastoral care and also we track progress very closely. We know our students extremely well.”
Staff are adamant that the hard work involved in reaching Outstanding isn’t about the stop, with the school determined to maintain high standards. What is clear is that morale among staff and students is high, as showcased in a video on St Damian’s social media channels of Mr Logue performing a celebratory jig in front of delighted Year 7 pupils, who quickly joined in.
The head teacher recalled the story, saying: “I was asked by a girl in Year 7, ‘If we get Outstanding, will you do a dance?’ I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll tell her I’ll do a dance’. I’d forgotten all about it until my PA, Mrs Biggs, said to me, ‘Sheldon, do you remember what you said?’ I remembered but I thought everyone had forgotten!
“There was a serious assembly before that about me saying how well the pupils had done and how proud we are of them. After that, it was all spontaneous and I was delighted to see the Year 7s running down in their droves to join in. I thought the video was fantastic because if you look at the children’s faces, they loved it. This school is about the pupils so to see their faces’, laughing at me doing an eejit dance, was fantastic!”
To read Ofsted’s latest report about St Damian’s, visit reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/106270.