Financial problems have prevented teachers from recognising “the poor quality of education” at a Runcorn secondary school.
In 2016, the then-head teacher of St Chad’s in Grangeway said the school was on course to become a “beacon”.
But barely three years later it has been placed in special measures after receiving its second inadequate Ofsted rating in five years.
In a damning report, the education watchdog said leaders and governors “do not fully recognise how poor the quality of education is for pupils” and had been “too slow to act” on the school’s weaknesses.
The inspectors wrote: “For too long pupils have been let down by the poor quality of education provided at this school.”
Among the problems identified at the school was a persistent budget deficit since the last inspection in 2016, during which time the school has lost around £400,000.
“Consequently, leaders have not recognised the severity of the problems that pupils face in their education. Leaders’ recent actions to improve the quality of education have failed.”
Other problems identified by inspectors included a high level of truancy, “low-level disruption” in classrooms and a curriculum branded “not fit for purpose”.
Students doing their GCSEs and A-Levels spent too much time catching up on material they should have learned in earlier years, the inspectors said, recommending the school be placed in special measures.
St Chad’s, which has around 730 pupils, has already had a spell in special measures after being rated inadequate in 2014. A period of improvement followed, resulting in a new rating of “requires improvement” in 2017.
Since then, however, the school has declined, with inspectors saying truancy among disadvantaged children had deteriorated despite previous inspectors saying it needed to improve.
In 2018, the school suspended admissions to its sixth form and currently has only 17 pupils in Year 13.
A spokesperson for Halton Council said: “The local authority, the Diocese of Shrewsbury and the Diocese of Chester are committed to continuing to support the school in addressing the issues raised in the report in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for pupils.”