A Tyneside secondary school has retained its ‘Good’ Ofsted rating, with inspectors praising its ‘warmth and friendliness’, ambitious curriculum and high standard of pastoral support. St Thomas More Catholic High School, a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust, was awarded ‘Good’ across all areas in the report, which stated: “There is warmth and friendliness at St Thomas More Catholic High School.

Although the school is large, pupils are treated as individuals and staff know them well,” it added. “Pupils conduct themselves well. They are friendly and polite.

Headteacher David Watson said: “During the two days, every one of the inspectors talked about how welcome they felt, especially from our students, who went out of their way to speak to inspectors. Across both days, our students were a credit to themselves, their families and their school. I am very pleased that the report reflects the quality of our staff team, in their many and varied roles. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff for their continued commitment and effort to provide the best opportunities for the children here at St Thomas More.

The school’s sixth formers were singled out for praise, with the inspectors noting: “Pupils appreciate the broad range of subjects they can study in school and in sixth form. Students who attend the sixth form are very positive about their decision to study there. One student commented that ‘it is like a family’, illustrating the kind and inclusive atmosphere that is present.

The sixth form is very successful,” the report continued. “Students achieve well in a broad range of subjects and are well prepared for their next steps. Students appreciate the quality of support provided by teaching and pastoral staff.

St Thomas More, which has 1,613 students aged from 11 to 18, was also commended for its curriculum which was described as “ambitious for all pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)”.

Leaders have invested in curriculum development in recent years,” reported the inspectors, who conducted ‘deep dives’ into English, maths, geography, science and modern foreign languages during their visit to the school. “They have supported subject leaders to construct their curriculums exactly around what pupils need to know. Leaders at all levels have a strong, shared vision to ensure that all pupils access a high-quality education regardless of background.

Teaching staff were described as “enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their curriculum subjects”, while reading was seen to be “prioritised across the school” with leaders promoting “literacy across the curriculum”.

The “well thought out” personal, social and health education programme (PSHE) at St Thomas More was rated highly by the visitors, as was the school’s provision of extra-curricular activities.

The programme is extensive and encourages pupils to become responsible individuals who have an active part in society,” read the report. “A strength here is how well pupils are taught about inclusivity and tolerance. Pupils can access clubs and activities, including music clubs, sporting activities, chess, dance, and trips and visits overseas.

Safeguarding was additionally identified as a strength at the school.

St Thomas More Catholic High School, North Shields

Article prepared on behalf of Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust by Barking Dog Media. For more information email: david@barkingdogmedia.co.uk or call 07754 271086.