Holly Lodge’s hard work bears fruit

A West Derby school, described as “one of the best-kept secrets in Liverpool” has been praised by inspectors for its recent improvements and has achieved an overall “good” rating.

Holly Lodge Girls’ College, on Mill Lane, was rated as “requires improvement” by Ofsted at its last inspection in May 2017, but now inspectors have rated the school “good” in all areas.

The improved and developed curriculum, which allows pupils to build on previous knowledge as well as revisiting their prior learning, was singled out for praise, as was the improved attainment in exams along with high attendance levels and punctuality.

The report notes: “Pupils enjoy coming to Holly Lodge. They feel safe and well cared for. Pupils value the support they receive from their teachers.” The report continues: “Teachers have high expectations of pupils. They help pupils to aim high by using examples of successful women in history.”

Holly Lodge, which is non-selective on academic and religious grounds, also encourages pupils to get involved in activities outside of the classroom, with personal development high on the agenda. There’s an emphasis on activities that foster the students’ ambitions, including networking and mentoring with professional women and strong careers advice. The school has also successfully secured public-school bursaries for students to board in sixth form.

The school is led by head teacher Andy Keen who was deputy head at Holly Lodge for 12 years before becoming head in September 2016.

Head teacher Andy Keen said: “This is great news for Holly Lodge and I’m very pleased for the teachers, pupils and parents who have made this achievement possible. It’s important to remember, though, that the improvements we have made were not made for Ofsted; we did it for the girls.

“We’re confident the changes we have made have been done properly so that they’re sustainable and we will keep reaping their benefits. We have ensured that the students are supported and we have also made sure that we’ve developed and valued our excellent, hardworking staff.

“I’m very happy that Ofsted picked up that the pupils enjoy coming to school. I’m also pleased that they recognised how important pride and ambition are at Holly Lodge and how we do our very best to instil in the girls that they should feel pride and ambition for themselves.

“Holly Lodge is one of the best-kept secrets in Liverpool and our next big challenge is getting people to understand how good we are.”

Cabinet member for education, employment and skills Cllr Barbara Murray said: “I am delighted that the hard work of teachers and pupils at Holly Lodge has been recognised by Ofsted.

“Inspectors fully acknowledged that Andrew and his team grasped the previous inspection as an opportunity to begin a programme of improvements that is already having a noted effect across the school. Pupils have risen to the challenges that the school is now setting them.

“Holly Lodge has already travelled a long way on this journey and I am very confident that it will continue.”