THE WOMAN who led a transformation in the fortunes of a struggling secondary school has been rewarded with the permanent headship.

In 2013, St. Antony's Catholic College, Urmston was deemed inadequate by Ofsted inspectors, who reported that "this is a school that has serious weaknesses".

Fiona Wright, formerly deputy head at Altrincham Catholic Grammar School, was drafted in to undertake a 'root and branch reform' of the school.

Now it is considered one of Greater Manchester's most improved schools.

Mrs Wright, who lives a stone's throw from the Catholic school in Urmston, said she is “honoured” to have been permanently appointed as the new Headteacher.

She is confident that the school is now on the right track after suffering from years of underperformance.

She said: “This year I can confidently predict, based on our own historically accurate evaluation, our best ever results in English and Mathematics.

“It is more difficult to predict results for other subjects because they will be new exams this year, but across the subjects where a benchmark has already been set, we know this will be a record year.

"I would have no hesitation in sending my own children here now."

The school has struggled in recent years and was one of the lowest performing secondary schools in the borough.

In the latest Ofsted report, inspectors said the school still 'required improvement' but Mrs Wright is confident that the 'serious weaknesses' cited in their report have since been rectified.

Since her arrival as acting head, the school has transformed its approach to behaviour, lesson content and pupil progress. She said this has been achieved by "developing the college's culture and monitoring systems to deliver significant year on year progress".

Mrs Wright said: “When I arrived the staff were demoralised. They had been trying hard and putting on a brave face, but the school was a long way from where it needed to be.

"We started to implement change in two key areas. First, and most importantly, our goal was to improve behaviour, because poor behaviour in class, in the corridors and outside of school, was denying all the pupils their opportunity to learn.

“Before working at Loreto I had been the assistant head at Chorlton High School, so I took a team there, to see how a school with a similar catchment area, handled behavioural issues and we modified their systems for St. Antony's.

“Then we had to look to improve the quality of teaching and being able to provide lessons that engaged and enthused all ability levels using much of what I had learned at Loreto to empower the staff to be confident, charismatic classroom practitioners.”

Fiona, who was born and raised in Liverpool, attended the Catholic comprehensive Sacred Heart in Crosby, before taking a business degree at Staffordshire University.

She said much of St. Antony's success can be attributed to its heartfelt Catholic values.

She said: “This is a diverse and inclusive school where over half of our intake are non-Catholics, but gospel values are implicit in everything we do.

“I very much believe in the principle of servant leadership. Jesus was our servant and regarding yourself as the servant of those for whom you are responsible is at the heart of my and St. Antony's approach.”

Married with two teenage daughters and her niece, who became part of the family after Fiona's sister died four years ago, Fiona has little time for anything outside her job and her family.

She added: “I have a husband and three children to love and care for, as well as a dog and an all consuming job that I am passionate about.

"There really isn't time for anything more and I wouldn't want it any other way."

Talented young artists at St. Antony’s have recently finished putting the finishing touches to a major public artwork to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service.

The bespoke Urmston Mural was unveiled in the town centre on Thursday, July 5 by Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston.