The two Surrey schools Ofsted judged as 'flawless' where pupils learn 'beyond expectations for their age'

Student in classroom
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


Two schools in Surrey have received glowing reports from Ofsted, earning top marks across all areas of inspection. Reigate Priory Junior School and St Andrew's Catholic School in Leatherhead both achieved 'outstanding' ratings, with inspectors praising the schools for their ambitious curricula and high-quality education that pushes students to learn beyond what's typically expected for their age.

Despite facing unique challenges, including debates over relocation for one school, both institutions have maintained their commitment to academic excellence and student development, impressing Ofsted with their ability to foster environments where pupils thrive and excel.

Reigate Priory Junior School

First up, Ofsted has graded Reigate Priory Junior School ‘outstanding’ in all areas following an inspection over two days last month.
The school had not been inspected since 2012, when it was also rated outstanding - the highest grade - overall. It is still housed inside historic Reigate Priory, in Priory Park, a building Surrey County Council announced four years ago was “not fit” for such a purpose.

The council’s plan to move the 554-pupil school to a purpose-built home in the grounds of its own headquarters in Cockshot Hill triggered a sustained campaign from parents who believe it can remain in its Grade I listed home, and has, so far, not progressed.
The schooling Reigate Priory provides has not been impaired, the glowing Ofsted report shows.

Teachers are “highly skilled” and children’s learning “goes beyond what would typically be expected for their age”.
Pupils in Year 5, for example, explore the theme of deception in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and write to pen-pals in
France.

They are “polite and respectful” and are “full of enthusiasm” as they dash through the school gates in the morning, knowing the school is “ambitious for them to achieve their best, both academically and in a more rounded sense”, the report says.
The school’s headteacher, who is in favour of the relocation, has spoken of the many and costly issues he faces in running a large, modern state school in a centuries-old building.

The report does not comment on these issues and it also does not highlight anything on which the school needs to improve. The concluding sentence of inspectors’ short, two-page assessment reads: “Despite the challenges the school faces, leaders and governors maintain a clear focus on delivering high-quality education for every pupil.”

A safeguarding issue over a public footpath which crosses the current school site has been cited by the council and school leaders as one of the reasons for the school to move. The report does not mention this, saying “the arrangements for safeguarding are effective”.
The school told parents of its “immense pride” when announcing the grading on Friday (June 28).

It said: “This latest recognition means the school has maintained its outstanding grade over four inspections, a remarkable achievement with few schools attaining such a longstanding standard. Congratulations and well done to our entire whole school community.”

Rachael Wardell, Executive Director of Children, Families and Lifelong Learning at Surrey County Council said: “We’re delighted that Reigate Priory Junior School (RPJS) has received another ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted grading and we would like to extend our congratulations to the school community, particularly those who have gone above and beyond to retain this grading.

“Rightly, the school’s many strengths have been highlighted in this report and I also want to recognise how challenging it has been for RPJS leaders to maintain these education standards in a Grade I listed building that isn’t fit for purpose. They have put in place robust and resource intensive mitigations to ensure the quality of education isn’t impacted, but we recognise that this isn’t sustainable, and we must therefore continue our search for a new setting to ensure this quality of education can continue.

“As an Education Authority, we have a duty to ensure that children have access to education that is safe, accessible, and fit for the future. The heritage designations of the Priory building pose many more challenges and risks than most Education settings, particularly with health and safety, safeguarding, security, sustainability, inclusion and accessibility in mind, and some children with additional needs and disabilities are therefore unable to apply to join the school. Our ambition is to provide RPJS with an equally outstanding and fully inclusive learning environment – Surrey County Council and the Department of Education remain clear that the existing building isn’t fit for purpose.”

St Andrew’s Catholic School

St Andrew’s Catholic School in Leatherhead received a flawless report, rated outstanding overall and in all five separate areas of inspection. It means the school, in Grange Road, retains the full score of top marks it received last time the watchdog sent inspectors to look round, which was 12 years ago.
Five inspectors visited over two days in May. Their report, published last Tuesday, does not highlight a single area in which the school needs to improve. It says there is a “relentless drive for continuous improvement” and a curriculum which “prepares pupils extremely well for examinations but also inspires them to see their learning in a wider context.

“Pupils are extremely proud of their school,” the report states. “Its values of kindness and respect are evident in the exceptionally positive relationships pupils have with each other and with staff, and their excellent behaviour in lessons and social time. Sixth-form students are impressive embodiments of these values for younger pupils.

“The school is ambitious and inclusive. Staff share the strong belief that all pupils can succeed and flourish, including pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). The school has successfully established a culture and systems which support everyone to make this belief a reality.”

Also inspected this term were Therfield School in Leatherhead, which has 1,043 pupils, and 1,495-pupil The Ashcombe School in Dorking, both part of the South East Surrey Schools Education Trust. Both were last inspected in 2019, and both have retained the ‘good’ rating they achieved then.

Please note this story has been updated to include a statement from Surrey County Council about Reigate Priory Junior School.

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