'Transformed' primary praised for 'remarkable shift in culture' as Ofsted rating boosted to 'good'

Flying high…pupils and staff celebrate the ‘good’ rating from Ofsted
Flying high…pupils and staff celebrate the ‘good’ rating from Ofsted -Credit:Chris Barron/Barron Media

Inspectors have praised a Middlesbrough primary school for its “remarkable shift in culture” following an Ofsted visit.

Ormesby Primary School, in Middlesbrough, has been ranked as 'good' across the board following an inspection on April 10. The education watchdog said the behavior at the site, part of Ironstone Academy Trust, has been “transformed” - with pupils saying that bullying is "not a problem anymore."

This marks a huge step up from the site's previous 'inadequate' rating in 2022, when some students reporting feeling "unsafe" in the building and described the school as "chaotic." Carl Faulkner, the trust's chief executive, praised the staff for their "hard work and determination" that has made a "real difference to the lives of the children who attend the school."

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Pupils at the Henry Taylor Court school now understand and follow three rules - "be safe, be respectful, and be a learner" - and rise to the expectations set by staff. Older pupils and staff have also described the school as "a different place."

Leaders have "instilled pride and self-belief" into the school community, with pupils enjoying celebrating their successes and being proud of the positions they hold, from monitors to librarians.

'A place where everyone is included'

Inspectors note how students cooperate and play together, with students being encouraged to discuss and resolve disagreements. They also have a strong understanding of tolerance and equality.

Leaders are "ambitious" for the school's education, with the site prioritising the curriculum since the last inspection. They have made "clear decisions" about what pupils will learn and have organised content logically so pupils can build on what they know.

The school also "recognises the importance of reading for pupils’ life chances" with phonics being taught effectively. Pupils learn to read well, and those who struggle are "well supported."

Senior staff celebrate the ‘good’ rating with head girl and head boy Georgia Flearmoy and Tyler Robinson; and deputy head girl and boy, Hallie Fishpool and Mason Smith
Senior staff celebrate the ‘good’ rating with head girl and head boy Georgia Flearmoy and Tyler Robinson; and deputy head girl and boy, Hallie Fishpool and Mason Smith -Credit:Chris Barron/Barron Media

However, older pupils have gaps in their learning from the "previously weak" curriculum. Leaders have "thought carefully about how to identify and close these gaps." Some of these gaps are still reflected in the outcomes that pupils achieved in national tests and assessments at the end of key stage 2 in 2023. That said, the stronger outcomes of younger pupils show the positive impact since.

Teachers introduce new information clearly and check how much pupils remember using retrieval activities. Teachers use knowledge checkers at the end of topics - meaning gaps in knowledge for older students can be identified quickly.

The school has recently increased the focus on pupils with special educational needsand/or disabilities (SEND), with staff now having the information and training they need to support pupils. SEND students are "well-catered for" in classrooms and in early years, children with SEND are "skillfully supported" by adults.

Behaviour at Ormesby has been "transformed" according to inspectors, with pupils understanding the "high expectations" of staff. Pupils who find meeting these expectations more difficult are "supported to help them make the right choices."

Most pupils attend well, however, there are still several pupils that do not attend as often as they should, including disadvantaged pupils. This has a negative impact on how they achieve - but leaders have "robust systems" in place to promote regular attendance.

The positive changes in pupils’ behaviour have been underpinned by a "strong focus on pupils’ personal development" - with leaders having a "clear vision" of preparing pupils to contribute positively to society. The report states: "The school ensures that pupils learn about risks they might face in their community."

One point of improvement described how teaching was not being "sufficiently adapted to ensure that all pupils can make progress from their starting points." This means that some pupils "could be moving through the curriculum more quickly than they are."

That said, governors were praised for being an "effective source of challenge and support for school leaders", with staff also talking positively about leaders' support. "Proud" staff feel that their workload is considered and that leaders value their opinions, and are optimistic about improvements to the site.

'Immensely proud'

Headteacher Amy Blackburn said: “I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the children, parents and families whose support and dedication have been instrumental in our journey. I am immensely proud of our staff whose efforts, professionalism, and passion for improving our school have made this achievement possible.”

Carl Faulkner, Chief Executive of the Ironstone Academy Trust, praised Mrs Blackburn, Deputy Headteacher, Andrew Drage, and the staff. He said: “They have shown through their hard work and determination the ability to make a real difference to the lives of the children who attend the school.

“They have worked well with the other successful schools in Ironstone Academy Trust to address all of the issues that were previously identified. Our trustees are delighted with this collaboration and recognise this as a strength of our trust. We hope the pupils all enjoy a special day in school celebrating this achievement.”