Jubilant staff and pupils at a Lancashire school are starting the New Year on a high note.
Willows Catholic Primary is celebrating after being declared “outstanding” by government watchdog Ofsted.
Inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education have given the Kirkham school the highest rating in all five assessed areas – making it one of the first primaries in the country to receive the coveted gold mark under tough new criteria.
The accolade comes hard on the heels of The Willows being ranked the eighth best state primary in the recent Sunday Times league table.
Ofsted said the well-mannered, polite and friendly pupils were at the heart of a school with outstanding leadership.
They described the curriculum as “exciting” saying it “meets pupils’ interests.”
“Well chosen trips develop pupils’ knowledge but also other outcomes such as independence, perseverance,courage and life skills,” inspectors added.
The high quality of teaching and learning was applauded and in their report inspectors stated: “Pupils enjoy school and their learning.
“Almost every pupil who answered Ofsted’s survey agreed teachers make sure everyone understands their work, listen to what they say and help them to do their best.
“Teachers ooze with enthusiasm.
“Pupils respond to this and the atmosphere in most lessons is lively, exciting and fun.”
Governance is said to be outstanding and headteacher Sharon Barnett was singled out for praise.
Described as “inspirational” by inspectors, she took over the reins four years ago and the school achieved the Good rating at its last Ofsted inspection.
The previous headteacher was jailed after admitting child sex porn offences.
Sharon Barnett said: “The pupils are at the heart of everything we do at The Willows and we are delighted this has been recognised by the Ofsted team.
“Our whole ethos is about putting the children first so they can achieve the best they can. We are a team and we are extremely proud of this achievement.
“This report is a tribute to the children, parents, staff and governors, as well as the wider community who work so hard to make this school such a special place.
“I want to thank everyone for their hard work, support and dedication, particularly our chair of governors, Mrs Gerrie Byrne who has been an inspiration to us all and led the school magnificently.
“It is a privilege to be part of such an amazing community and we all look forward to working with parents and children to build on this superb achievement.”