We’re on the right track

Andrew Whitaker, new headteacher at Todmorden High School.
Andrew Whitaker, new headteacher at Todmorden High School.
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The acting headteacher at Todmorden High believes he can make it a “good” school within two years after criticism from Ofsted.

Andrew Whitaker, who took up the position in January, says the school is on the right track to continue the progress made in recent months and address the areas of concern raised by the education watchdog.

When they visited the school last month, inspectors ruled that it required improvement.

Their report said: “Teaching is not yet consistently good enough to secure good achievement for all.”

It also said: “Some students do not engage with their learning as well as they could and choose to adopt a passive approach.”

But there was praise for the efforts of the senior leadership team.

“New leadership arrangements are resulting in a clear focus on what the school’s priorities are and what needs to be done to make rapid improvements,” the report said.

“As a result, some improvements can already be seen in the quality of teaching and through the emergence of more positive assessment information about the performance of students currently attending the school.

“Students have a very positive view of their school, recognising recent improvements in behaviour.

“They have a clear understanding of their role in continuing this improvement.”

Mr Whitaker felt the report’s findings were accurate.

“We knew what the problems were,” he said.

“We have spent time in lessons, and meeting with staff and governors.

“We put in place a seven-point action plan and we were able to share that with Ofsted.

“I’m pleased that the inspection team recognised the great pupils that we have at Todmorden High and they recognised that the schol has made some significant improvements since January.

“The whole staff team have greater confidence in their own ability. Everybody has stepped up.

“Most importantly, the inspectors found that these improvements would continue.

“I’m confident that it will be a good school within two years.”

Mr Whitaker said it has been a whole school effort to implement the new action plan, which has focused particularly on teaching and learning, and leadership and management.

“We also looked at the facilities of the school,” he said.

“My feeling is that the pupils and the community of Todmorden deserve more investment in its high school because my experience is that a well equipped school with good facilities promotes aspiration and achievement for all pupils.

“It’s something that they can feel proud about.”

Staff have commented on a significant improvement in morale and a much more positive atmosphere around the school recently.

Right from the start I had a great welcome,” Mr Whitaker said.

“They are my type of pupils. What you see is what you get.

“They have a desire to learn.

“I would love it to be an outstanding school.

“We need to be here so they can realise their dreams and ambitions.”