Mary Immaculate High School – from strength to strength
Success continues at one of Cardiff’s top performing secondary schools. Mary Immaculate High School, located in Wenvoe on the Western side of Cardiff, has once again received the top accolade in the Welsh Government categorisation, making one of only 9 schools in Wales to achieve the top grading for the fourth year running.
Mary Immaculate High School is one of the very few secondary schools in Wales to have achieved the top grading of Green 1A every year since categorisation began. This is in a school where over 30% of pupils receive free school meals and two thirds come from the most deprived parts of Wales.
Headteacher Huw Powell said ‘We are exceptionally pleased to be awarded Green A again for the fourth year running and it is down to the dedication and determination of both staff and students alike; we are proud of being recognised for the work we do every year”
Pupil outcomes and wellbeing are at the heart of the school ethos. Shandes Kafle, Head Boy, said: “The teachers and other staff here are so supportive in our lessons, around the school and after hours. We have lots of interventions designed for us that make a real difference and the curriculum offers subjects not necessarily on offer to pupils in other school.”
Oreoluwa Egbetola , Head Girl, said: “It is an excellent place to learn and I am lucky to be studying here. The facilities are great and I have had so many opportunities that have inspired me to use my education as a way of getting the career I want.”
Mary Immaculate High School’s mission is to push their students to do their best and to believe that they can achieve through hard work and determination, and staff at the school work hard to ensure that their students have the same opportunities as their counterparts in every school in Wales. In order to achieve this, Mary Immaculate staff have focused on developing and implementing two key strategies; a ‘Raising Aspirations & Resilience’ programme and a bespoke support programme entitled the ‘Bridge’ which was awarded sector leading practice by ESTYN in the last inspection.
The Raising Aspiration & Resilience programme led by Assistant Headteacher Huw Richards, aims to remove barriers to attainment through using the highest attainment targets set for each pupil to encourage a positive work ethic and motivate learning. The resilience element specifically focuses on encouraging learners to be ambitious and determined in their learning. Pupils have had the opportunity to meet inspirational speakers such as Ryan Jones, former Rugby Captain of Wales. Pupils discussed the trials and tribulations which he faced in his life and the challenges he had to overcome in order to succeed. In addition to this each department is also set a budget to provide the students with opportunities that they may not otherwise receive, including taking part in enrichment activities such as theatre visits, helping pupils prepare for the world, working with the school’s Business Class partners or visiting Higher Education partners.
The Bridge facility is a step 3 support provision which is well-resourced and staffed and valued enormously by students, staff and parents. The provision is highly effective at supporting vulnerable students; by removing their barriers to learning through support it allows them to return full-time to mainstream schooling. Relationship-building between the pupils, their parents and staff is key to the success of the programme. Pupil behaviour tracking and information sharing is also an important part of the monitoring process.
Staff at the school work very hard to engage parents to support their children, and this continues to drive positive outcomes. The Bridge is the central point of contact for all external agencies working alongside the school such as the Police, Social Services, Youth Offending Service, Barnardo’s, and Specialist Behaviour Support. This results in higher attendance, lower exclusions, improved outcomes for pupils at Year 11 and fewer pupils needing formal support. The success of the Bridge was recognised in 2015 when it was identified by the ESTYN Inspection as sector leading practice.
Richard Shore, the Bridge Manager said “We are very proud of the work we do at the Bridge in supporting the excellent outcomes at Mary Immaculate High School. To watch how the students we work with develop both emotionally and socially during their time with us, gives us great satisfaction. To know that we have played a small part in their development and success makes us very proud.”