St Monica's High School

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St Monica's R.C. High School
St Monica's RC High School Main Enterance.jpg
Motto "Prayer & Service"
Established 1987 (1987)
Type Voluntary aided school
Religion Roman Catholic
Headteacher Mrs A. Letcher R.I.P[1]
Deputy Headteacher Mrs C. Watson & Mrs AM. Hainsworth[1]
Location Bury Old Road
Greater Manchester
M25 1JH
53°33′18″N 2°25′24″W / 53.5550°N 2.4232°W / 53.5550; -2.4232Coordinates: 53°33′18″N 2°25′24″W / 53.5550°N 2.4232°W / 53.5550; -2.4232
Local authority Bury
DfE number 351/4606
DfE URN 105366 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18

St Monica's R.C. High School Specialist Language & Applied Learning College, is located on Bury Old Road in Prestwich, Greater Manchester, opposite to Heaton Park.

The school is a Roman Catholic Secondary School provided by the Diocese of Salford and is maintained by the Bury Local Education Authority as a Voluntary Aided School. It serves pupils mainly from the areas of Prestwich, Whitefield, Kersal and Radcliffe and all those in the parish communities of its associated primary schools.


Sign at the front of St Monica's RC High School, next to Bury Old Road.

St Monica's RC High School was formed when two schools; St Joseph's RC High School, Whitefield and St Peter's RC High School, Prestwich, amalgamated and settled on the former St Peter's site on Bury Old Road. The school opened on 1 September 1987.[2]

During Pope John Paul II's visit to the United Kingdom in 1982 the school (St Peter's RC High School at the time) was used as the base for local authorities and members of the Pope's entourage.[3] The Pope made his appearance in nearby Heaton Park making the school an ideal place to run the operations from. [4]

The school achieved Beacon status in 2001,[5] gained its specialist status as a language college in 2003,[6] and became an applied learning college in 2010.[7]


Grounds and disabled ramp at the front of St Monica's RC High School leading to the top playground.

In 2010 a new building at the south end of the school was constructed, comprising 6 new classrooms for the purposes of teaching English. After a £6.6 million grant,[8] a 6th form applied learning college was completed in September 2011. The building contains a library, computer suite, theatre performance area and sports facilities.[7]

Ofsted Inspections[edit]

An inspection of the high school and sixth form for section 48 of the education act was last carried out on 4 April 2014, in which the school was given 'outstanding' status in overall effectiveness. The inspection judgements included quality of catholic leadership, word of God community, welcome community, welfare, worship and witness, all of which were also given 'outstanding' status.[9]

A full school inspection was last carried out on 21-22 February 2013, in which the school was given 'outstanding' status in overall effectiveness. The inspection judgements included achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management, all of which were also given 'outstanding' status.

An inspection of the school's involvement with parents and carers was last carried out on November 9th 2009, in which the school was given 'outstanding' status in overall effectiveness. The inspection judgements included parental involvement on outcomes, impact of the involvement of parents on the quality of provision and inclusion and impact of leadership and management on the involvement of parents, in which impact of involvement in inclusion was given 'good' status and the rest were given 'outstanding' status.[10]


Discipline accusations (1998)[edit]

In 1998, the school came under attack by the media claiming discipline problems within the establishment. Accusations came after a pupil was forced to move schools after being bullied with violence and verbal abuse whilst the school was cited as failing to deal with the situation properly. Headteacher at the time, Mr. Austin Campbell denied these claims against the school, claiming "the situation was dealt with properly and professionally throughout".[11]

Book banning (1999)[edit]

In 1999, along with two other Bury Catholic high schools, St Monica's chose to ban an informational book for young people about sex and contraception. The school was accused of '"burying their heads in the sand"' by local youth workers.[12]

Gang attacks (2006)[edit]

In 2006, A St Monica's pupil; Carl Neill, was subject to a brutal attack by a gang of up to 40 youths from Prestwich Community High School (now Prestwich Arts College) from which the pupil sustained multiple fractures to the face. The attack took place outside St Monica's[13] and was believed to be an unprovoked assault as a result of a feud between the two schools.[14] Due to the risk of revenge attacks, headteacher Frank McCarron was forced to hold assembilies urging students to refrain from retaliation.[15] Two Prestwich Community High School students were arrested and later found guilty of the attack. The 17- and 15-year-old boys were each sentenced to six months in a young offenders institute.[13]

Cervical cancer vaccination banned (2008)[edit]

In September 2008, the school came to the attention of the national media after it banned female pupils from receiving the cervical cancer HPV vaccination on school premises.[16] The school's governors believed that the school was the wrong place for the treatment to be administered and feared side effects. A school governor stated "We do not believe that school is the right place for the three injections to be administered". A spokesman for the Diocese of Salford said "the diocese and Catholic schools board do not have a moral objection, but it is up to individual schools to decide whether to allow the vaccinations to be carried out in school".[17]

Child sex allegations (2011)[edit]

In 2011, Arnold Solomon was arrested following allegations he suggested a child have sex with him. The 55-year-old electronics teacher was alleged to have suggested that the under-16-year-old girl should "go all the way" with him. Solomon, who denied the offense, was suspended from the school and released on bail pending further inquiries.[18]

Teacher poisoning (2012)[edit]

In 2012 a police investigation was launched in the school against a pupil after a suspected poisoning of a teacher with a cleaning chemical.[19] The 30 year male old teacher was taken to hospital with throat pain and breathing difficulties after sipping the drink that was on his desk. Detectives confirmed that there were traces of a whiteboard cleaning chemical in his drink and investigated weather it was contaminated by a pupil or by accident.[20] Headteacher, at the time, Frank McCarron stated: “We are aware of an incident which took place on Wednesday and it is currently being investigated.” The teacher was released from hospital after having his stomach pumped and no formal charges were brought against the pupil.[21]

Child grooming and sex conviction (2013)[edit]

In 2013; Mark Harrison, a former maths teacher, was accused and convicted of six child sex offenses involving a 14-year-old schoolgirl. Harrison admitted traveling to meet the girl on at least two occasions between 1 March and 20 May this year, with the intention of committing a sexual offense.[22] These included five counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of child grooming.[23] Harrison stood before Bolton Crown Court on 25 October 2013 and plead guilty to four counts of sexual activity however denied the fifth. On 6 December 2013 the 49-year-old was jailed for 30 months for his offenses.[24]

Unfairly high salary allegations (2015)[edit]

In November 2015, a Freedom of Information Act request to the Taxpayers' Alliance revealed that a member of staff was receiving somewhere between £100,000 and £149,999 in remuneration. Allegations were launched against the school regarding unfairly high pay of individual members of staff, leading to accusations of inappropriately dispensing public money not in line with financial regulations. Despite these accusations, the school claimed that this information was false, claiming "No one at St Monica's was paid a salary over £100,000 in the 2013/14 tax year and this remains the case."[25] However, a spokesman from the Taxpayers' Alliance insisted the data was correct, and they had correctly responded to the Freedom of Information Act request.[25]

Ban on boys gathering in groups (2016)[edit]

In 2016, reports from a parent claimed that male pupils were being punished for gathering in groups of three or more within the school premises. The post claimed that while boys were not allowed to gather, the same rules did not apply to girls and criticised the headteacher's policy on the matter. Headteacher Andrea Letcher denied these claims however, stating that such a thing was not school policy.[26]


  • 1987–1998; Mr. Austin Campbell[27]
  • 1998–2012; Mr. Frank McCarron[28]
  • 2012–        ; Mrs. Andrea Letcher[29]



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  16. ^ Bunyan, Nigel (24 September 2008). "Catholic school bans girls from having cervical cancer jabs". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  17. ^ "School refuses 'cancer vaccine'". BBC Online. 24 September 2006.  Retrieved on 24 September 2008.
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  19. ^ "Police investigate Prestwich teacher's 'poisoned' drink". BBC News. 4 July 2012. 
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  21. ^ "Teacher, 30, rushed to hospital after drinking water 'poisoned with chemical cleaner' in classroom". Daily Mail. London. 
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