An infant school is celebrating being top class after it was marked ‘outstanding’ by education watchdogs.
In doing so, Hebburn’s St Aloysius RC Voluntary Aided has matched the same exceptional academic standards as its thriving sister junior school.
In a new report, Ofsted said the 245-pupil infant school was outstanding in all areas, including effectiveness of leadership and management, and outcomes for pupils.
It also rated the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, personal development, behaviour and welfare, and early years provision, as being at the highest level.
Nick Conway, headteacher of both the Argyle Street schools since September 2013, hailed what he described as a “unique” achievement.
He said: “The inspectors were exceptionally impressed with our whole school community and our fantastic learning environment.
“They were also very impressed by our exceptional children and the very high standard of work and also the outstanding quality of teaching they receive.
“We are proud of our unique achievement and are grateful for the support we have received.
“We could not have achieved our transformation to outstanding without the loyal and generous support over the past few years from pupils, parents, staff, governors and our wider community.
“I would like to thank former staff, pupils and parents who have supported our journey. We are grateful to all and very proud to serve the community of Hebburn.
“It is lovely to be able to celebrate the brilliant things which take place on a daily basis at St Aloysius, the staff, pupils and wider community have much to celebrate. Our staff and pupils deserve great praise.”
Lead inspector Malcolm Kirtley, who visited the school over two days in January, said Mr Conwy and his senior team inspired a “culture of high expectation” that infused all aspects of the school’s work.
He identified that teachers and teaching assistants had sustained high standards of care and academic progress, and pupils displayed “strong and purposeful” attitudes to learning.
Mr Kirtley also found governors were passionate in their commitment to the school, and that high-quality teaching was complemented by customised interventions for pupils.
And he noted teachers provided “highly effective” support for youngsters with special educational needs, and that a broad and rich curriculum was delivered across the school.
In January, the junior school was ranked second in the North East and 57th nationally, out of 14,500 schools, based on the Real Schools Guide criteria.
Mr Conway also praised Kathryn Fenwick, one of the joint school’s two deputy heads, for her input, and South Tyneside Council and the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.