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'We will be the best school in Ipswich', says new headteacher of St Alban's Catholic High School

PUBLISHED: 13:15 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:10 05 March 2018

Matt Baker, the new headteacher at St Alban's Catholic High School in Ipswich, with students at the end of his first week. Picture: ST ALBANS CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL

Matt Baker, the new headteacher at St Alban's Catholic High School in Ipswich, with students at the end of his first week. Picture: ST ALBANS CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL

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The new headteacher of an under-performing secondary school in Ipswich has vowed to restore its reputation and make it the best school in the town.

Matt Baker, the new headteacher at St Alban's Catholic High School in Ipswich. Picture: ST ALBANS CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOLMatt Baker, the new headteacher at St Alban's Catholic High School in Ipswich. Picture: ST ALBANS CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL

Matt Baker, 38, has been appointed as headteacher of St Alban’s Catholic High School just three months after a disappointing Ofsted inspection raised concerns over results and leadership.

The school was previously rated ‘outstanding’ in 2007 and 2009 but has been downgraded twice since becoming an academy, to ‘requires improvement’ in September 2017.

Last summer, 68% of pupils achieved level 4 (the old C grade) in English and maths, beating the national average (64%) But for Progress 8, which tracks student progression, the school scored -0.38, meaning each pupil achieved close to half a grade less per subject on average than expected.

The report also highlighted problems with expectation levels, lesson plans, assessment, and performance management “precision”. But it praised pupils’ resilience and “outstanding” personal development.

Mr Baker, the former vice principal at St Benedict’s Catholic College, started last Monday. He said: “We are moving forward and have the capacity to be the best school in Ipswich. There has been a process of healing but we have a very clear and cohesive vision. This school will only go one way. We have phenomenal students and highly-experienced staff. Form is temporary but excellence is permanent. We are in good shape to get back to being outstanding.”

He said he was aware of the “massive commitment” students make travelling from across the town: “I understand the importance of restoring our position in the community and restoring the good name that the school has. It is very important that we get that right, for us and the Diocese of East Anglia. We need a flagship Catholic school in Ipswich. Our most powerful thing is a very strong Catholic ethos, which means we are an incredibly close and caring community.”

He pledged to put “learning first” and support staff so they can be “slick and robust”, with a “broad and fun” curriculum and extra-curricular activities.

“We want students to be proud of their results but also leave as individuals with strong moral principles and values,” he said. “But I think we can be the best. We have got all the raw materials and ingredients. When Ofsted come back they’ll see the massive impacts, I promise you that.”

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