School celebrates keeping its place at the top of the class

Morpeth's Stobhillgate School has achieved an outstanding Ofsted report and pupils are seen celebrating with Headteacher Neil Richmond.
Morpeth's Stobhillgate School has achieved an outstanding Ofsted report and pupils are seen celebrating with Headteacher Neil Richmond.

A MORPETH school is celebrating as it has retained its place among the cream of the crop.

Despite tougher standards imposed by Ofsted, Stobhillgate First School again achieved an Outstanding rating by its inspectors.

The officials, who gave staff just two days’ notice before arriving, were impressed with all aspects – with achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management all getting the top grade.

The reports says: “From starting points that are generally below age-related expectations on entry to the nursery, pupils make outstanding progress and leave Stobhillgate in Year 4 with attainment that is typically above the national average. Teaching is outstanding. Along with an exciting curriculum that enthuses pupils, it helps them to make rapid progress.

“Pupils say they feel extremely safe in school and are very active in promoting safety. They enjoy it immensely and pupils say that misbehaviour is uncommon and any that occurs is dealt with very effectively by the school.

“The staff are very committed and ambitious for the pupils.

“Both the curriculum and the promotion of the pupils’ spiritual, moral social and cultural development are outstanding. This creates a very happy, vibrant and purposeful learning environment.”

The inspectors’ tasks included observing lessons, holding meetings with the chairman of governors, school leaders and pupils, analysing some work done in class such as its project based around the Frozen Planet television documentaries and examining questionnaires completed by parents and carers, pupils and staff.

Stobhillgate Headteacher Neil Richmond said: “To our knowledge we’re the first school in Northumberland to retain our Outstanding rating since Ofsted made the inspection criteria much harder, which is a fantastic achievement.

“Our children speak for themselves and the inspectors were very impressed with what they were able to do in class and their behaviour throughout the school day. At the end of the day, the teaching and learning is the most important part of the school and our tremendous team of teachers put on excellent and interesting lessons. They also use the children’s ideas to come up with things that will fire up their imagination – for example our current Frozen Planet project.

“We’re also delighted that virtually all parents in their questionnaire responses agreed with what we’re doing and fully support the school.”

He added that Stobhillgate is already working on the area identified for improvement – sharing with pupils clear criteria for success so they can tell how well they are doing – through implementing a staff coaching scheme.