IT was a trip down memory lane for the leader of South Tyneside Council when he returned to his old school to witness its recent “remarkable” progress at first hand.
Coun Iain Malcolm was a pupil at Laygate Community School in the mid to late 1970s.
Over the succeeding decades, the school has become the most culturally diverse in the borough.
With a roll of 240 children aged between three and 11, there are now 36 different languages spoken at the school.
But despite the challenges of dealing with such diversity, it was lauded for “remarkable” progress in an Ofsted report late last year.
The school was rated “good” overall, with the achievement of pupils and leadership and management ranked as “outstanding”.
Lead Ofsted inspector, Gordon Potter, singled out the standard of teaching in Year 6 for special praise, saying it helped pupils make “extremely rapid progress in that year group”. It was against that backdrop that Coun Malcolm, accompanied by Coun Tom Pigott, the school’s chairman of governors, paid his fact-finding visit.
He said: “I jumped at the opportunity to go back to my old school and witness at first hand the excellent progress that is being made there.
“English is not the first language for many of the pupils, and I was extremely impressed at the dedication of the staff and the headteacher to deliver improvements at Laygate.”
Coun Malcolm retains many happy memories of his time at Laygate, and remains in contact with a few of his teachers to this day.
He added: “It wasn’t as culturally diverse then. I think the mosque had not long opened.
“It was around the time of Muhammed Ali’s visit to Shields and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
“I always enjoyed school, and particularly the drama club at Laygate and being in the school plays and the choir.
“It was great to go back.”