Not good enough

ST Bernadette’s Primary in North Motherwell is bracing itself for a third follow-up visit after inspectors remain unsatisfied.

It received a scathing report in 2009 and after two follow-up visits HMIe is still not entirely happy with its findings at the Vickers Street school.

The inspectors latest report does accept some improvements have been made.

Inspector Elizabeth Cole said: “Children continue to benefit from well-planned activities which link their learning across the curriculum.

“Children now experience two hours of quality physical education with a clear focus on skills development. Good progress has been made in developing children’s literacy skills across all aspects of their learning.

“Recently, there has been a more focused approach to developing children’s skills in numeracy and health and wellbeing.

“Staff continue to respond well to children’s emotional needs and this remains a strength of the school. Tasks and activities are now more appropriate to meeting the learning needs of children.”

However, Ms Cole still sees plenty of room for things to get better.

She said: “Overall, there has not been sufficient progress in developing the curriculum. There are too many gaps in children’s learning in sciences, technologies, ICT, music and drama.

“The curriculum does not build well enough on what children have already learned.

“The pace of lessons in English language and mathematics has improved. There is still a need to improve the pace of learning across all areas of the curriculum.

“Too many lessons lack the right amount of challenge for all learners.”

Acting headteacher Sheelagh McKinney was praised for her role in turning the school around.

Ms Cole said: “The recently appointed acting headteacher is making a very positive difference to the way children learn.

“Her leadership is developing staff confidence and morale is improving. She has a clear vision for the school and is managing the pace of change very well.”

But, Motherwell West councillor Paul Kelly believes it is time for the school to receive permanent leadership, having been without an official headteacher for some months since Janice Sheridan retired.

He said: “I am aware there have been issues at the school, but I’ve certainly never heard of a school receiving four visits in connection with one HMIe report.

“Things are getting better and by all accounts Mrs McKinney has done a good job, but now it is time for a new permanent headteacher to be appointed to be able to take the school forward under their vision and leadership.”

North Lanarkshire Council’s learning and leisure department have told the Motherwell Times new staff will be in place shortly.

A spokesman said: “We continue to work closely with HMIe and are pleased to note that they have found that progress is being made across the school.

“Over the coming weeks there are further changes planned, including the appointment of new staff and we are confident that this will continue to support the ongoing improvements that the inspectors acknowledged in their report and bring further improvements to the curriculum.”