A Billingham school is celebrating after maintaining its ‘Good’ rating from Ofsted, but is “far from complacent”.
The inspectors’ findings follow a two-day visit to Northfield School and Sports College, on Thames Road, last month.
Among the key strengths picked out in the report is the school’s “renewed sense of purpose” inspired by new headteacher, Richard Henderson, supported by “unified and motivated” governors and staff.
“Together, they are working tirelessly to bring about the changes needed to help current pupils achieve more,” says the report, adding that “staff morale is strong.”
The report goes on to say parents and carers are “very supportive of the school, especially when describing the care and support for pupils’ personal development.”
Inspectors also praised the way in which children are supported in the transition to ‘big school’ (Year 7 School).
Other key strengths, the report says, include the “new approach to behaviour that celebrates the positives,” which is seeing both a reduction in disruption and an improvement in attendance.
Pupils behave “maturely” and inspectors say that low-level disruption is “rare”. The report praises the school for having a “sizeable number” of specially trained staff and advisers available for pupils to speak to if they are worried or have any concerns.
But though teaching and learning is improving, inspectors say more needs to be done to boost pupils’ progress in a number of “important subjects” and suggested that leaders improve curriculum planning to “give pupils chance to recap and build on their learning.”
Among the areas for improvement is the need for the staff to receive further high quality training to help SEND pupils boost their achievement.
This will better help staff identify students’ additional needs and put in place appropriate lessons to help them reach their learning goals.
While behaviour and attendance across the school is generally positive, inspectors also highlighted the need for school to work more closely with pupils and their families who account for most absences and fixed period exclusions.
Welcoming the report, head teacher Richard Henderson said: “I am delighted that the overall judgement made by the inspection team was that Northfield continues to be a good school.
“The inspection team, quite rightly, expressed concern over some declining standards in terms of historical examination outcomes in some subject areas in the years following our last inspection in 2016, but were very positive about the here and now.
“I am pleased that inspectors feel that the school is on the right track in its journey of improvement. I agree fully with the areas identified in the report as needing further improvement; I was acutely aware of them when coming into post twelve months ago.
“I along with all staff will continue to work tirelessly to bring about the changes to help pupils achieve well at Northfield.”
Councillor Lisa Evans, Stockton Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, added: “On the whole this is a really positive report and I’d like to thank staff, governors, pupils, parents and carers as they have all played a huge part in recent improvements.
“We work closely with our schools and academies to ensure all of our children and young people are given every opportunity to fulfil their potential, and have a strong platform from which to realise their dreams, aspirations and ambitions.”