Two headteachers have been hailed by Ofsted as being “pivotal” to the success of their schools.
Sara Ensor and Zoe Wilby took the reins as co-heads of Durrington Infant and Juniors in September 2015, and both schools have since seen a “significant improvement”.
The schools, in Salvington Road, were inspected separately at the end of September and saw their ratings rise from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’.
In her report, inspector Liz Bowes, who visited the junior school, said: “In the last year, the new co-headteachers have been pivotal to the success of the school. Together with the governors they have been successful in driving forward rapid improvements both in the quality of teaching and in the amount of progress pupils make.”
She added: “Parents say that the school has gone from strength to strength since the previous inspection.”
Kevin Parfoot, who inspected the infant school, said: “They have shown determination to succeed and have generated a strong sense of purpose and direction. They have been well supported by senior and middle leaders and, as a result, staff morale is high.”
Mrs Ensor and Mrs Wilby heaped praise on their staff for the progress made.
In a joint statement, they said they were “incredibly proud” of Ofsted’s ratings and added: “The staff have worked extremely hard for a long time to achieve this judgment, and their efforts have played a huge part in the improvement of the schools.
“We are so pleased that everyone’s dedication has been recognised and rewarded.”
The progress and achievements of the children also played its part in impressing the inspectors.
At the junior school, progress was made in reading, writing and maths as well as science, sport, history and geography; while the infant school children demonstrated “strong improvement” in maths, reading and writing.
The behaviour of youngsters at both schools was described as “good”, with older pupils telling the inspectors staff now had much higher expectations of them.
Mr Parfoot said the younger children listened to their teacher and classmate in lessons “with respect”, with one child stating: “Our teachers give us hard work and that helps us learn better.”
The headteachers said: “Our remarkable children are the reason why our staff and governors are so driven to provide the very best education.
“We are therefore pleased that the children’s positive behaviour, efforts and attitude to learning were recognised by the inspectors as reflecting the five core values of our school – to love learning, have fun, never give up, care and respect and ultimately succeed.”
Children were seen to benefit from more than just academic guidance and education.
Ms Bowes said their welfare was “at the heart” of the junior school’s work, adding: “Pupils say that they feel able to talk about any problems that are worrying them.”
The same was true at the infant school, where pupils said they felt safe, knew about e-safety and ‘Stranger Danger’ and what to do about bullying – though the latter was described as “rare”.
When it came to the need for further improvements to help the schools achieve the top ‘outstanding’ rating, the inspectors made a few recommendations.
At the junior school they included improving the progress made by the most able childre in Years 5 and 6, and keeping the school’s website up to scratch.
At the infant school, the heads were told to maintain the improvements already made in teaching and progress while “enriching” the curriculum.
Work was also called for to ensure the early years outside learning area was planned, organised and resourced to fully meets the children’s needs.
The headteachers said: “It has been an incredible journey over the last year and we are all motivated to continue this success to be the very best we can be.
“We will be setting clear school targets in order to address the areas for development and will draw on external expertise where necessary.”
They added: “We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support of the children’s parents and carers and have been overwhelmed by the number of congratulatory messages.
“There is very much a sense of community at Durrington and together we will build on our successes.”
John Daughtrey, chair of governors, said: “The Ofsted results are a true reflection of the hard work everyone puts in every day to make sure every child can reach their full potential.
“It has been a tough journey for the schools and I am delighted and proud to have been involved in the journey and am looking forward to our continued success.”
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