Good Ofsted report completes double for school
A NEWTON Abbot primary school is beginning the new year with a double celebration after education inspectors judged every aspect of school life was good or better.
In 2009, St Joseph's Catholic Primary was judged satisfactory by education inspectors and now they've been back and upgraded the rating at the 120-pupil school.
The school is also celebrating a new partnership with St John the Baptist Catholic Primary in Dartmouth.
The two schools have joined in a federation under executive headteacher Liz Hamilton, the first federation of two Roman Catholic schools in Devon.
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The two schools have been working closely under Mrs Hamilton for the past 18 months, but the federation will formalise the arrangement under one governing body.
Ofsted inspector John Carnaghan concluded in his report: "The school's close partnership with St John's has enabled the sharing of good practice and joint staff training."
Mr Carnaghan spent two days at St Joseph's last year and his report for the school standards agency has just been published.
He said Mrs Hamilton was appointed head two years ago and has firmly tackled issues which were holding the school back.
"The school has made good progress since the previous inspection," he said. "Pupils' attainment and progress have both risen as the school has improved. Pupils' achievement is good.
"Well-planned teaching which focuses on the needs of all pupils provides enjoyable lessons and promotes good learning.
"Pupils enjoy school life and behave well. The school is a welcoming, caring place and provides well for pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development."
Mr Carnaghan says pupils often start school with abilities and skills below those expected for their age, but they get off to a flying start in the early years foundation stage where the teaching is often outstanding.
There is a rising trend of attainment and progress across the school and pupils are now achieving above average standards.
Mr Carnaghan says to get even better the school should raise the quality of teaching from good to outstanding, maintain 'brisk learning throughout all lessons' and ensure governors undertake independent and systematic checks on all aspects of the school.
In response to the report, Mrs Hamilton said: "Many thanks to Jan Tickell, our head of teaching and learning, and all our talented team who have all worked so hard to achieve this outcome.
"Our children and families deserve an outstanding provision and we are well on our way to achieving this."
She said the governors of both schools had ratified the federation and would now merge into one governing body. Caroline Roberts will be head of teaching and learning at St John's and Jan Tickell will hold the same post at St Joseph's.
"Each school will retain its individual identity and ethos," said Mrs Hamilton. But she added the schools would also remain part of their local learning communities and have other, wider partnerships including working closely with the Diocese of Plymouth.