One of Cardiff’s largest secondary schools has received a positive report from Estyn inspectors who praised the high priority it places on pupils’ well-being.
Eastern High, which moved to an innovative new £26m site in Rumney in January 2018, had been rated ‘unsatisfactory’ in its last Estyn report in 2014 and placed in special measures for two years in 2015.
But the latest report emphasises the good work of the school in providing pupils with “high levels of care, support and guidance”.
It added: “Teachers know their pupils well, and many plan their lessons carefully to capture pupils’ imaginations and ensure they make good progress in their subject knowledge and understanding.
“Staff are calm and foster positive working relationships with pupils. As a result, many respond positively to the opportunities offered to them and behave well in lessons and around the school.”
Eastern High, which has 1,162 pupils, with almost a fifth (19.4%) identified as having additional learning needs (ALN) – against a national average of 17.8% – was particularly praised for its work in this area. “ALN provision is particularly well co-ordinated and effective,” said inspectors, and pupils, and their parents or carers, have high-quality support.
“Pupils with ALN respond well to the carefully tailored provision offered to them and many make strong progress against their targets,” it added.
There was praise, too, for pupils’ creative work, performing and physical skills and, overall, they are making suitable progress in their ability to communicate in Welsh.
In the classroom, many pupils listen attentively to their teacher, said the report. “They respond to differing points of view in discussions and communicate their thoughts and ideas clearly… A majority have a wide subject-specific and general vocabulary. A few are very articulate, speak with confidence and use sophisticated language to express their ideas.”
But, it added, “A few pupils are reluctant to answer questions and offer only short, underdeveloped verbal responses… A few are passive in lessons, and too easily distracted.”
Attendance, too, is a concern. “The numbers of pupils who are persistently absent from school is particularly high and impacts upon the progress that these pupils can make.”
The headteacher, Jonathan Angell, was appointed in September 2021. The report said he has “provided calm and assured leadership, managing change effectively and sensitively. He has a clear vision for every pupil to ‘flourish in life through learning’ and achieve their personal best’.
Commenting on the report, Mr Angell, said: “It is a very positive report and particularly highlights the priority we place on pupils’ well-being and the high levels of care, support and guidance we provide.
“The inspectors recognise the strong progress that students make in their time in the school due to the well-planned lessons that are delivered. They also recognised the improvements that have been made in the school since the last full inspection in 2014.
“As usual there are recommendations for the school to focus on, and we will be taking those into account as we continue to improve.”
Cardiff Council’s Cabinet member for education, Cllr Sarah Merry, said: “There are many positives in this report and it is particularly pleasing to see how much progress has been made since the last Estyn inspection and since the school came out of special measures in November 2017.
“Jonathan Angell has made great strides, especially with ALN provision, and while there are still improvements to be made and areas of concern we will be supporting Eastern High as it continues to flourish.”