Primary that's 'like being part of a family' celebrates Ofsted success after glowing inspection

Bowesfield Primary School, in Stockton, which is celebrating being ranked 'good' following an Ofsted inspection
Bowesfield Primary School, in Stockton, which is celebrating being ranked 'good' following an Ofsted inspection -Credit:Bowesfield Primary School

A primary school once told it 'requires improvement' is celebrating after being praised by Ofsted.

Inspectors have rated Bowesfield Primary School, in Stockton, as 'good' across the board - and 'outstanding' in terms of early years provision - following a visit on February 27. The "welcoming" Northcote Street school received a glowing report, where "happy and proud" pupils said the school was "like being part of a family."

At the school's last inspection in October 2021, the education watchdog raised concerns over curriculum plans, rating the site 'requires improvement'. However, at the recent inspection, Ofsted praised the "ambitious" curriculum and described how pupils "value the support that they receive to help them to learn" across most subjects.

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Many pupils joined midway through the school year and are unable to speak English - but the school helps them to settle in quickly. Children "get off to a flying start in early years" with staff encouraging them to "recognise and praise" achievements, meaning children can "quickly gain confidence." Pupils are "polite" towards staff and visitors and concentrate well during lessons - with staff being on hand to help everyone get along.

The school supports pupils "effectively" to become part of the community quickly. Staff with "expert knowledge" ensure pupils develop their language well and check pupils' vocabulary understanding, helping them gain confidence in using new words.

The curriculum reflects the diverse cultures and languages spoken in the school, with many pupils speaking English as an additional language (EAL).

In maths, teachers address gaps in knowledge "frequently" and make sure that those who speak EAL understand the tasks they are given. Pupils start each lesson by revisiting prior learning - meaning they retain important knowledge and "achieve well."

In terms of the early years, staff quickly get to know children and identify gaps in knowledge and skills "exceptionally well." Activities are also adapted "extremely well" to ensure readiness for Year 1. Kids have "exemplary" drawing and painting in early years.

The school - which looks after 326 pupils - has also strengthened its approach to supporting the teaching of reading following low results in the Year 6 statutory test in 2023. The school "acts quickly to identify and close gaps in pupils’ knowledge."

Some of the "happy and proud" pupils at Bowesfield Primary School, in Stockton
Some of the "happy and proud" pupils at Bowesfield Primary School, in Stockton -Credit:Bowesfield Primary School

Those new to phonics receive extra support to help them learn to read and write, with books being well matched to pupils’ phonics knowledge. Pupils practice reading often and regular training ensures "staff have expertise to teach pupils the phonics knowledge."

Teachers model the reading of stories in an exciting way, encouraging them to choose these books to read at home. Pupils "read with increasing success" as they progress through school.

Pupils with special educational needs also achieve well, as their needs are "identified and understood" by staff with "regular training and guidance from leaders." The school also ensures that pupils understand the importance of regular attendance and takes effective action to improve it if needed.

The school supports pupils’ personal development well, with inspectors specifically praising safeguarding. Governors were also viewed as a strength, with staff feeling "supported to do their job well" in continuing to make important improvements.

The only point of improvement mentioned in the report was that in a small number of foundation subjects, gaps in knowledge were not identified well. The report stated that learning does "not consistently build on pupils’ starting points or address misconceptions." Some pupils are therefore "not as well prepared as they should be for the next steps in learning."

'We aim for the stars and beyond'

The early years team is incredibly proud of the inspection, saying: "We are delighted that Inspectors recognised our dedication to creating a purposeful learning environment where 'children get off to a flying start!"

Bowesfield Primary School in Stockton
Bowesfield Primary School in Stockton -Credit:Google

Head girl and Year 6 student Ridhima, 11, said: "At Bowesfield, we aim for the stars and beyond” and the staff always go that extra mile to get us there. My favourite thing about Bowesfield is the amazing learning we get to do in our classrooms, which our teachers always make fun and interesting. I also love our incredible outdoor learning space as we have a huge field and so many things to do, including a trim trail.”

Meanwhile, head boy Adam, 11, said he is "proud of so many aspects of Bowesfield school including the fantastic after-school clubs, sports coaches and the range of different opportunities we have that help us to learn, stay organised, and be ready for secondary school.’ He said: “At Bowesfield, if you can dream it, you can achieve it!”

Janet Marriott, chair of governors, said: "Thanks [to] everyone involved in the tremendous work undertaken by the whole school community as we strived to ensure that Bowesfield’s strengths as a good school were recognised by Ofsted."