A HIGH school once deemed ‘inadequate’ when inspectors found there to be ‘a culture of mistrust’ among staff is now celebrating after receiving the highest Ofsted rating.

In a new report, Pleckgate High School in Blackburn attained an overall ‘outstanding’ score completing a remarkable turnaround.

Following an inspection in 2013, the school was placed in special measures and ordered to improve.

But over the last three years, Pleckgate has seen a rapid transformation under new headteacher, Mark Cocker.

Mr Cocker, 36, who competed in wrestling in the Commonwealth Games for England in 2010, took over as headteacher at Pleckgate in January 2016.

He said: “We are absolutely delighted and proud of everyone involved with our school.

“It’s down to the dedication of the staff, the pupils, their parents and guardians, the governors, the academy trust, the wider community and everyone connected with the school.”

A month after Mr Cocker joined Pleckgate, the school converted to an academy and became part of the Education Partnership Trust.

In its last Ofsted inspection in March 2015, it was deemed to ‘require improvement' – the second lowest rating possible, one up from its 2013 score.

But after winning an Educational Outcomes Award in 2017, meaning it was among the best performing secondary schools in the country, it was hailed as a ‘beacon of success’ by the Department of Education.

Mr Cocker said: “Since I arrived we have been on a journey to outstanding, with a relentless focus on improving the quality of teaching and learning. We have built something special over the last couple of years, and Ofsted agree.”

The school achieved the highest 'outstanding' rating in all four categories in the latest inspection – effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare and outcomes for pupils.

The report stated: “The community of Pleckgate has a local secondary school it can be proud of.

"It provides an excellent education for all its pupils.

“There is a great sense of industry and endeavour around the school. Pupils are evidently happy and feel valued.

“Outstanding leadership by the trust, governors and the new headteacher has transformed the culture of the school. Pupils and staff work as a team to a common goal: To excel.”

How pupils take part in ‘enriching activities’ such as the school council, and their work with local charities as well as their dedication to sport, featured highly in the inspection report.

And recent maths GCSE results have put Pleckgate’s pupils in the top one per cent in the country, with their RE department winning a gold level Quality Mark this year too.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive member for education, Councillor Maureen Bateson, said: “Every child deserves the very best and that’s clearly what Pleckgate School is offering.

“The leadership team and governing body have been very ambitious, making brave decisions. They deserve a lot of credit for raising the standards so high.

"They are a shining example to others. Congratulations to the whole school community.”

CEO of the Education Partnership Trust, Sharon Roscoe, said: “We are delighted with the outstanding Ofsted judgement for Pleckgate High School which is an accurate and well deserved reflection of the exceptional performance of the pupils and the school.”