A CAERPHILLY secondary school has been told by inspectors that it needs “significant improvement”, which is one inspection category above special measures.

The 1,037-pupil St Martin’s School in Caerphilly was deemed “adequate” by inspectors when they visited in April and must now draw up an action plan to address shortcomings in the inspectors’ report.

The school, whose budget is in the bottom five in the county, was praised for its standards at GCSE level and the performance of more able students being above expected levels.

But performance was deemed “adequate” — compared to other categories of “excellent”, “good” or “unsatisfactory” — because inspectors found many pupils do not make sufficient progress; overall performance at GCSE has declined in the last two years, particularly in English and science; the performance of girls last year does not compare well with the national average; in around half of lessons expectations are not high enough and pupils make less progress than they should; and attendance is unsatisfactory and the level of persistent absenteeism is “far higher” than nationally.

Prospects for improvement were deemed “adequate” because, although senior leaders communicate a clear expectation of the need for school improvement, responsibilities are not well balanced and inspectors discovered a lack of strategic direction, oversight and overall co-ordination.

Head teacher Kerry Davies said: “The school leadership notes the content of the Estyn report and will take time to fully consider and reflect on its recommendations.

I would like to assure pupils, parents and governors that this school is committed to providing all our pupils with the best learning opportunities possible in a high-quality teaching environment.

“We recognise that there are shortcomings highlighted in the Estyn report and we will now focus on these issues.”

Inspectors have tasked the school with raising standards at GCSE, particularly among girls; improving attendance and the consistency of teaching and assessment; improving the rigour and consistency of line management; and refining the roles and responsibilities of senior leaders to focus on raising standards and improving teaching