STAFF and pupils at a South Tyneside special school are celebrating after it was judged as outstanding by Ofsted inspectors.
Epinay Business and Enterprise School in Clervaux Terrace, Jarrow, retains the rating it was given in 2010, despite stricter criteria.
The school was inspected last month, just after launching a £1.6m fundraising mission to revamp its premises.
Headteacher Hilary Harrison said: “To say we are delighted would be an understatement.
“I am thrilled with this news and it could not have come a greater time, as we have just launched the BIG ‘B’ campaign to raise £1.6m to refurbish and extend the school buildings.”
The Ofsted team observed teaching and learning and spoke to pupils and parents/carers. The report said: “Students make outstanding progress particularly in vocational skills, as well as English and mathematics.
“Teachers plan creative and engaging activities, which ensure that students make outstanding progress.
“Students feel very safe, secure, respected and well cared for.”
Lisa McConnachie, whose son Lewis, 11, attends the school, said: “We had a great choice of schools, but there was only one for us.
“We chose Epinay because Lewis immediately felt at home as we went from class to class and it was the best choice we could have made as he is so happy – and you can’t get better than outstanding!”
The inspection framework has changed significantly since the school’s last inspection, making it increasingly difficult for schools across the UK to achieve this high standard status.
Peter Cutts, head of education, learning and skills at South Tyneside Council said: “I am delighted with the school’s report.
“Epinay provides excellent, imaginative, opportunities for its pupils and they grow so much in confidence during their time at the school.
“The new inspection framework is very demanding, rightly so, but it’s a real challenge to all schools to step up to the new mark, yet Epinay has once again excelled.”
Mrs Harrison added: “We are delighted with this achievement, which acknowledges the teamwork of teachers, parents, pupils, governors and local community who support us.
“This valuable support enables us to consistently deliver the highest educational provision.”
The school caters for children aged five to 16 with special educational and complex needs.