Dear Parent / Guardian

As you will be aware, Aquinas underwent a General Inspection by the ETI which began on Monday 9 March. The official report of the Inspection has been published on the ETI website on Friday 1 May. I would urge you to take the time to read the full report available from the link below. In the meantime, I would like to summarise the main findings of the inspectorate for you.

First of all, there are three areas of school life which are inspected and reported on by the inspection team. They are: quality of achievements and standards; quality of provision and quality of leadership and management. Each of these is allocated a performance level which range from Outstanding, Very Good, Good, Satisfactory, Inadequate to Unsatisfactory.

The findings of the Aquinas report are as follows:

Quality of achievements and standards: Outstanding
Quality of provision: Very good
Leadership and Management: Very good

ETI (the inspectors) deemed our examination results to be “outstanding”, commenting that, “Most GCSE subjects at grades A*-B are above the corresponding three-year NI averages” and that “attainments at A level are a particular strength” with ALL subjects being above the Northern Ireland Grammar School three year average. They also remarked on the fact that, for the last two years, pupils have been the top performing pupils in Northern Ireland in seven GCSE subjects and three A’ Level subjects.

Standards of literacy and numeracy always receive special attention from ETI and they firstly noted how the quality of literacy “is consistently high as a consequence of the effective promotion of literacy through English and across the curriculum”. Then in numeracy, the inspectors noted how pupils received “well-planned opportunities … to develop their skills in using mathematics through cross-curricular tasks”. Both the English and Mathematics Departments received special praise as the main drivers of literacy and numeracy in school and also on their own excellent standards at GCSE and A’ Level.

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As part of the provision laid on for pupils, Aquinas has, “…outstanding pastoral care … characterised by excellent working relationships at all levels”. What was also gratifying was the recognition given to our senior pupils who “…enhance (the pastoral) support in their role as pastoral and academic mentors to pupils in the junior school”. The inspectors also noted a unique aspect of Pastoral Care in Aquinas namely, the school Chaplain who has developed the Chaplaincy as a resource for both pupils and staff. ETI said, “A notable strength is the chaplaincy system which contributes significantly to the individualised support and care afforded to the pupils”

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The provision given to pupils with additional educational needs was also considered to be “highly effective” with praise given to the learning support team ably led by the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator. ETI also noted the “high quality” Careers Education, Information Advice, and Guidance (CEIAG) that pupils can avail of, stating that Aquinas, “…makes excellent use of its links with parents, past pupils, business and industry to provide the pupils with relevant, up-to-date learning”.

Inspection Note to Parents

In the final category of Leadership and Management, ETI complimented the school on its planning saying that, “priorities are appropriate, are clearly focused on raising further the standards attained by the pupils”. The Principal was also praised on his very effective leadership along with the Central Leadership Team saying how together they, “nurtured a whole-school culture of self-evaluation leading to improvement”.

Further reassurance was given to all Aquinas stakeholders with the comment, “…parents, staff and (the) school community can have a high level of confidence in the aspects of governance evaluated”.

Overall, Aquinas was deemed by ETI to be providing for its pupils a very good quality of education, “…effectively (meeting) the educational and pastoral needs of the learners”.

I wish to pass on my thanks to all staff for their hard work; the support offered by parents and governors, who also formed part of the evaluation, and last but not least to the pupils themselves who showed real loyalty to their school. This was a fact noted by ETI who said, “(Pupils) articulate their views with confidence, listen respectfully to the views of others, engage maturely in discussions and make very good progress in their learning”.

To see the full report, click here.

Download a printable copy of this page here.