Good report heralds new school era

A CATHOLIC primary school in Gorleston has been taken off special measures after education watchdog Ofsted said pupils' progress showed a “marked improvement”.

A CATHOLIC primary school in Gorleston has been taken off special measures after education watchdog Ofsted said pupils' progress showed a “marked improvement”.

St Mary's Primary School was put on special measures last year after inspectors found standards of education at the East Anglian Way school were poor.

However, new staffing arrangements have led to an improvement in the quality of teaching and learning with a clear concerted drive to raise standards, Ofsted said in the school's latest report.

Leadership and management, personal development and care, guidance and support offered by the 188-pupil school were judged as good. Teaching was judged to be satisfactory overall with some good features. Ofsted said teachers were setting tasks matched to pupils' abilities although there were still inconsistencies with classes.

Ofsted described the school as having a “happy team ethos” by which pupils were keen to learn in a “calm and well ordered environment”. A significant improvement has been made in the presentation of work meaning pupils take pride in their work.

Inspectors praised pupils and said children at the school “shared and shouldered responsibilities” which boosted their self-confidence.

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Over the last year pupils have been making faster progress than in previous years with Year 2 pupils getting better results in reading. Year 6 pupils did “considerably better” in 2008 than last year with scores in mathematics well above the national average.

Results in science were close to the national average with English scores slightly under.

The school was placed in special measures in May 2007 and Norfolk County Council and the Roman Catholic Diocese have worked closely with the school to help bring about the necessary improvements. In April last year the schools headteacher of eight-years, Peter Cleary, resigned.

Acting headteacher Paul George said: “The inspectors have recognised the determination of all of our staff to raise attainment and support each and every pupil to succeed. It is splendid that we have been removed from special measures in the run up to Christmas as this gives us double cause for celebration at what is such a special time of year for the school.

“Since I took on the headship at the school it has been clear that staff, pupils and governors want the school to be a success. I'm sure that over the coming years and months the school can continue to build on these improvements further.”

Peter Glanville, who took on the role of chair of governors when the school went into special measures, said: “We vowed we would act on all of Ofsted's recommendations for improvement and that the school would be out of special measures within 18 months. I am thrilled we have been able to fulfil this promise - it is a virtue of the hard work of everyone involved with the school.”

To improve further, the school should raise standards in writing, provide more challenges for higher attaining pupils, and carry out more detailed analysis of data to identify areas where progress can be made.