Belfast Telegraph

Belfast school's funding review after exam results excluded from statistics

St Louise’s Comprehensive College on the Falls Road
St Louise’s Comprehensive College on the Falls Road
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

Funding for a Belfast school is to be reviewed after it was revealed that almost a quarter of sixth form exam results are being left out of performance tables.

St Louise's Comprehensive College on the Falls Road was subject to an inspection last November.

The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) report concluded that arrangements for admitting pupils to post-16 study and associated funding need to be reviewed.

It also said that statistics for exam results and accommodation matters need to be reviewed.

The proportion of pupils at the school achieving A* to C in at least three A-levels or equivalent has been "significantly above" average.

The number of pupils who progress to lower sixth is also above the average.

However, a high number of students have been "deemed ineligible" for inclusion in the school's headline performance statistics.

The report notes that permitted exclusions to the summary of annual examinations results are due to some results being posted in the next academic year, exams being hosted elsewhere or the pupil leaving the school system.

Almost a quarter (23%) of pupils who completed lower sixth did not progress to upper sixth and were excluded from exam statistics.

Results of over a quarter of pupils undertaking a bridging course and who left before completing level two studies (lower sixth) were also excluded.

The report also said that just over half of lower sixth pupils progressed to level three within the school.

Assessors were unable to fully evaluate the quality of education provision and overall outcomes for pupils who attend the school, which was recognised as a specialist college in 2006.

The designation came in response to the school's commitment to excellence and success in promoting achievement across all areas of school life.

However, the ETI report was unable to evaluate the quality of literacy and numeracy education.

It was also unable to evaluate the quality of welfare and support available or the school's capacity to effect and sustain improvement.

While the report did express confidence in the school's management and leadership, it was "unable to assure" parents and stakeholders of the quality of education being provided.

The report cited the impact of "action short of striking" as the reason.

A pay dispute last year resulted in four unions endorsing non-cooperation with the ETI.

However the report said: "Prior to the inspection the school informed the ETI that the senior leaders would be cooperating with the inspectors... therefore, the inspection proceeded and the following evaluations are based on the evidence as made available at the time of the inspection."

Despite the cooperation of senior staff at the school, the report concluded that inspectors were "unable to assure the quality of education" and its overall effectiveness.

Inspectors reviewed documentation and data and gave all parents and teachers the opportunity to complete a confidential questionnaire.

No performance level was available for categories including outcomes for learners and quality of provision.

"This will be reflected in future inspection activity," the report added.

Around 80 boys attend year 13 and 14, which has an overall enrolment of 1,556.

Year 8 enrolment has risen by almost 29% since 2015/16 but overall numbers of pupils attending the school has only increased by three (0.2%).

An approved development proposal for the school, which is currently deferred until September this year, will reduce the admission and enrolment numbers.

The ETI report flagged a shortage of toilet and changing facilities for male staff and students.

It said this isue needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

The Belfast Telegraph contacted the Department of Education and the principal of St Louise's Comprehensive College for comment but did not receive a response.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools said it would prefer to speak to the principal before commenting on the findings of the report.

However, it was unable to do so yesterday.

Belfast Telegraph


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