Hebburn Lakes School makes a splash with inspectors

Pupils at Hebburn Lakes Primary celebrate their 'good' Ofsted and, inset, Head Teacher Tony Watson
Pupils at Hebburn Lakes Primary celebrate their 'good' Ofsted and, inset, Head Teacher Tony Watson

The headteacher of a £6.5m school he helped design has told of his satisfaction at its latest Ofsted report.

Tony Watson said Hebburn Lakes Primary has quickly and successfully gelled the community to its vision of education since it opened in 2012.

He was part of the architect’s team that planned the school from scratch to replace outdated and now demolished Lukes Lane and Bedewell primaries.

The school, which has retained its ‘good’ Ofsted grading, has 430 pupils and will grow to 450 in September.

Learner numbers put it in the top five largest in South Tyneside and it is oversubscribed for places in all but Year 6.

Mr Watson admitted closing two schools and bringing success to their replacement had been a learning curve for all involved.

Despite satisfaction at its Ofsted outcome, he insisted the government was placing too much emphasis on a curriculum of maths, English and SATS assessments at the expense of personal development.

He said: “It’s not just about academic results, I want children here to be well-adjusted and resilient.

“Many issues around this, including mental health, are passed out of sight because of the emphasis on numeracy, literacy and results.

“We can lose children in this, and we need to claw this back.

“They receive their core development in primary school – they need to know these are the best days of their lives.”

He added: “Everyone who visits this school talks about how wonderful it feels. The inspector liked the fact that we are inclusive.”

In a one-day short check, inspector Diane Buckle found the school’s mantra, that ‘pupils learn best when they are happy’, was reflected in all it does and that pupils “thrive”.

In her report, she said the leadership’s strong vision of bringing two schools successfully together was testimony to its “commitment and dedication” to pupils and their community.

She added: “You have created a haven for pupils which is calm and inclusive.

“The learning environment is vibrantly displayed, reflecting pupils’ achievements and the many first-rate experiences you organise for them.

“The very recent addition of the well-resourced and inviting school library reinforces your continued drive to create the very best educational provision for all pupils.

“Senior leaders share the same passion for the pupils in the school. Together, you make a strong team with complementary skills that ensure that all aspects of school life continue to improve.”

The inspector also found that staff morale was high and absence low, and pupils’ well-being was a high priority.

To improve, she said leaders should sharply focus on the gains in pupils’ achievement and that milestones for improvement should be clearly identified.

Teachers should also plan activities that are sufficiently demanding to enable more pupils to reach the higher standards, particularly the most able and disadvantaged most able pupils.