Irish teacher turns failing school into School of the Year

Irish teacher turns failing school into School of the Year
Secondary School of the Year Photo

An Irish teacher has led his south London school to a prestigious national title following a remarkable turnaround since he was appointed as its headmaster.

Eamon Connolly, who works at St Thomas the Apostle College, Nunhead, was proud to see it named ‘Secondary School of the Year’ at the 2017 TES Schools Awards.

It marks an incredible change of fortunes considering that, five years ago, the college was at risk of being put into special measures. In 2012, just 42 per cent of students were achieving five A*-C grades including English and Maths. But by the summer of 2016, this figure had jumped to 82 per cent and the school placed 11th in the entire country for Progress 8 – the national secondary school accountability system – with a score of 0.91.

Mr Connolly said: “We are incredibly proud to receive this award which represents the achievements of the entire school community.

“Excellent academic outcomes are never taken for granted and are supported by the commitment and hard work of all involved.”

St Thomas the Apostle had sat bottom of the Southwark secondary school league table when Mr Connolly was hired.

However, when Ofsted made an assessment two years later in 2014, it already noted the improvements and subsequently rated it as outstanding in all categories.

This award, which was given in recognition of the outstanding contributions made by all inside and outside of the classroom, represents the cherry on top for the school.

The judging panel observed that “this outstanding school manages to nurture the unique talents of its students alongside rigorous teaching and high expectations, which resulted in the school achieving its best ever results in 2016”.

It added: “The school’s commitment – not just to improving outcomes, but also to acting inclusively and reaching out to the community – sets it apart from the rest.”

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