School celebrates change of fortunes

A NEWCASTLE school which was once judged as having serious weaknesses was celebrating a remarkable change in fortunes yesterday after being given an “outstanding” rating by education inspectors for the first time.

Maggie Anderson, Sele First School

A NEWCASTLE school which was once judged as having serious weaknesses was celebrating a remarkable change in fortunes yesterday after being given an “outstanding” rating by education inspectors for the first time.

Canning Street Primary School in Benwell is one of 57 schools in Tyne and Wear, County Durham and Northumberland in Ofsted’s annual list of outstanding schools, along with a number of nurseries, childminders and playgroups.

The school was once judged as having serious weaknesses – Ofsted’s rating for a school that is failing its pupils. But yesterday headteacher Dame Mavis Grant said: “I’m absolutely thrilled. In 1998, before I was brought in as head, the school was reported to have weak overall standards with weak leadership and management.

“We turned it around in just 18 months after a lot of very hard work from everyone. Then in 2001, we were reassessed as a ‘good’ school and then we were declared an ‘outstanding’ school in every category, which was just amazing and even better than we expected. Last year we were one of a 100 top performing schools in the country. And we’ve done this mostly through teamwork, without many changes with staff.”

Sele First School in Hexham and the Biddick Hall Junior School in South Shields also joined the elite band after being named outstanding for a third time.

Sele headteacher Maggie Anderson said: “It’s an absolutely wonderful achievement for the school. It really emphasises that we’ve done a good job and it’s so nice to be told that for a third time. It recognises the hard work and energy and enthusiasm of the huge team involved. It shows consistent achievement over a decade.The key to our success is team work and about utilising the enthusiasm and the commitment of the staff and parents, who are the biggest stakeholders of our children.”

‘Outstanding’ schools are given a distinctive logo which they can use on documents and their website to communicate their achievement.

Biddick Hall County Junior School headteacher Ian Mills said: “We’ve all worked hard and it’s nice that the school can receive some recognition, especially when you consider reports that children are increasingly under pressure and getting depressed. But not at our school, we are all delighted and thrilled that we’ve been performing so well and to get the highest grading is very good news.”

For the first time, adult learners have also been included in the annual Ofsted report. David Ansell, deputy director of learning skills, visited the Chinese Centre in Waterloo Street, Newcastle, yesterday, to commend the provisions made for adult learners in the Chinese community.

Mr Ansell said: “The Chinese centre, has been recognised as an outstanding provider of adult education. The focus is to help the community develop its literacy and develop skills for employment gains. Since April this year, Ofsted has taken over responsibility of post-19 adult training and learning and this is positive as one single document will show all educational gains for all – from children aged three to adult learning which has no upper limit.”

To read Ofsted reports on schools in your area visit  

See a list of the North-East's outstanding schools on page 2

The North-East's outstanding schools

Tyne and Wear – 30 schools

Lord Lawson of Beamish Community, Birtley

St Alban’s Catholic Primary School, Pelaw, Gateshead

Dunston Hill Community Primary, Gateshead

Kibblesworth Primary School, Gateshead

Clover Hill Community Primary School, Whickham

St Agnes’ Catholic Primary School, Ryton

St Thomas More Catholic School, Blaydon

St Aidan’s Church of England Primary School, Gateshead

Larkspur Community Primary School, Beacon Lough, Gateshead

Ashfield Nursery School, Elswick, Newcastle

Sacred Heart RC Primary School, Fenham, Newcastle

West Jesmond Primary School, Newcastle

Canning Street Primary School, Benwell, Newcastle

Sir Charles Parsons School, Walker, Newcastle

Chillingham Road Primary School, Heaton, Newcastle

Holystone Primary School, North Tyneside

Goathland Primary School, Longbenton

Langley First School, Monkseaton, Whitley Bay

Southridge First School, Whitley Bay

The Lodge, North Shields

Marine Park First School, Whitley Bay

Waterville Primary School, North Shields

St Oswald’s CE Aided Primary School, Hebburn

Harton Technology College, South Shields

Biddick Hall Junior School, South Shields

Our Lady Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School, Washington

Fulwell Junior School, Sunderland

Hill View Infant School, Sunderland

Mill Hill Primary School, Sunderland

St Benet’s Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School, Sunderland

Northumberland – 13 schools

Ellington First School, Morpeth

Morpeth Collingwood School and Media Arts College, Morpeth

Felton Church of England First School, Felton

Bedlington West End First School, Bedlington

Highfield Middle School, Prudhoe

Queen Elizabeth Community High School, Hexham

The Sele First School, Hexham

Newbrough Church of England First School, Hexham

Allendale First School

Abbeyfields First School, Morpeth

Whalton Church of England Aided First School, Morpeth

Lowick Church of England Voluntary Controlled First School, Lowlick

Holy Island Church of England First School

Durham and Darlington – 14 schools

Heighington Church of England Primary School, Newton Aycliffe

Shincliffe Church of England Primary School, Durham

St Godric’s Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School, Durham

Coxhoe Primary School, Durham

St Bede’s Roman Catholic, Voluntary Aided Primary School, Durham

Brandon Junior School, County Durham

Sacriston Infant School, Durham

Staindrop Church of England (Controlled) Primary School, Darlington

Cestria Primary School, Chester-le-Street

Cassop Primary School, Durham

St Michael’s Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School, Esh Laude, Durham

Beechdale Nursery School, Consett

Horndale Infants’ School, Newton Aycliffe

Lord Lawson of Beamish, Chester le Street


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer