New Wolverhampton school building gets top class rating
It has been two years in the making - and a new school building complete with a sports hall, activity studio and dining hall has been unveiled.
St Matthias School, formerly known as Deansfield Community School, in Deans Road, has been part of the £270 million Building Schools for the Future Programme (BSF), which has taken more than two years to complete at the site.
The school now boasts modern facilities and classrooms fitted with the latest technology.
The BSF has been a long-term programme, working closely with Wolverhampton city council, aiming to provide investment and change in the city.
Developments at both St Matthias and Heath Park High School on Prestwood Road, have been hailed as a 'significant milestone' by council chiefs.
Dean Coombes, who has been Head Teacher at St Matthias for seven years, said: "I'm thrilled to be in the new building, as are all of our pupils.
"I feel it's very significant that so much investment has gone into Wolverhampton, especially in this area. The new facilities will maximise learning for kids and we now aim to do things in a different, more up-to-date way.
"We can now incorporate modernisation of the school building, facilities and ICT to support the development and high standard of teaching we have here at St Matthias.
"The building has actually turned out better than I thought. It's something we've been working towards since I've been at the school and the facilities available to students are top of the range.
"With the new building has come a new sense of confidence for both staff and pupils and this has been reflected also in opinions of parents. We recently held an open evening and the feedback was unanimously very positive."
Cabinet member for education, Claire Darke believes the new school investment has given everybody 'a lift' at St Matthias and will help to build self esteem, with the 'fantastic facilities further progressing both the teaching and learning the pupils will receive and take in."
The £270 million transformation of all 25 secondary schools in Wolverhampton has aimed to give students a high-tech environment to 'engage and inspire young people, their families and the wider community'.
The milestone is the final phase and effectively represents the end to the BSF programme and the multi million transformation of they city's secondary schools.
Pupils spoke of 'more comfortable classrooms' and 'better learning environments' when asked about the building, which has only been open a month for the new 2015/2016 academic year.
The school was rated fifth best school in the city last year in terms of exam results, with 72 per cent of pupils gaining the benchmark of five or more A* to C grades including English and maths.
However following a visit from Ofsted inspectors in June the school was given the bottom rating of inadequate, with the quality of teaching and school leadership coming in for criticism.
The school slumped to 12th place in the city's secondary school league tables, with exam success rates plummeting by more than a quarter.
The school was told in May it is back on the right track after a monitoring visit from inspectors in March.
In her report, Her Majesty's Inspector Gwendoline Coates wrote that more students were making the level of progress expected of them.
She said: "Standards in reading, writing and mathematics are beginning to improve as a result of a stronger focus on literacy and numeracy across the curriculum."
The quality of teaching was also said to be improving, particularly in maths, while lesson planning from teachers had also increased in quality.
The marking of students work was said to have 'significantly improved', which had in turn led to an improvement in the quality of students' written work.
Senior leaders at the school were also praised for 'raising expectations and driving improvement' and Headteacher Dean Coombes was also prasied for developing links with other schools 'in order to learn from their good practice.'
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