Staff at a Hartlepool primary school are celebrating after getting the thumbs up by inspectors.
St Joseph’s RC Primary School in Musgrave Street has had its first visit from Ofsted since March 2014 and has again been rated as good.
The report by inspector Diane Buckle singles out head Rachel Williams, who took over at St Jospeh’s in September 2015, for praise for her handling of what it calls ‘a very difficult period in the school’s history’.
“Very early into your headship, you found yourself managing significant levels of staff absence at deputy headteacher and senior teacher level,” it says.
“Despite two rounds of recruitment, you remain without a substantive senior leadership team. Such is your drive and professionalism that you are undeterred.
“Instead, you managed a very difficult period in the school’s history with great sensitivity, professionalism and stoicism. You have single handily improved the work of the school and established your very high expectations to all aspects of school life.
The staff have been very supportive and we all work together as a team.Rachel Williams
“At the same time, you have created a cohesive team of staff who are supportive of one another and who share your resilience and ambition.”
The report identities improvements to staff training and development and a new approach to maths teaching that has seen year-on-year improvement at both Key Stages 1 and 2.
“Pupils in all years know that they are cared for and that there is always someone to look after them. Their personal development is given high priority and manifests itself in the exemplary behaviours seen in and around school,” it says.
“Pupils are welcoming to visitors, demonstrate good manners and are very keen to share their work and talk about their learning. These highly positive attitudes are testimony to the dedication of staff and conducive to the good outcomes evident.”
The report identifies some areas where improvement is still required, including teaching of phonics in Year 1, writing and literacy, but acknowledges progress has been made.
A delighted Ms Williams paid tribute to the efforts of both staff and pupils in maintaining the schools ‘good’ rating through a difficult period.
“The staff have been very supportive and we all work together as a team,” she said.
“Everybody has taken extra responsibilty and made a big effort.
“The children are absolutely fantastic, their behaviour is really good, and we are a small school, so we have a really close relationship with our parents.
“All the children are known individually by the staff so they are really well cared for.”