Schools in Stevenage and North Herts follow impressive county-wide trend towards excellence

PUBLISHED: 12:56 01 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:56 01 October 2017

Staff at Round Diamond School celebrating their success. Picture: Round Diamond Primary School.

Staff at Round Diamond School celebrating their success. Picture: Round Diamond Primary School.

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Schools in Stevenage and North Hertfordshire are following a pattern of improvement that is evident across Hertfordshire.

Staff at Round Diamond School celebrating their recent 'Outstanding' Ofsted grade. Picture: Round Diamond Primary SchoolStaff at Round Diamond School celebrating their recent 'Outstanding' Ofsted grade. Picture: Round Diamond Primary School

Five schools in Stevenage and North Herts have improved their Ofsted inspection grades since July 2016.

This fits in with a county-wide trend with 90 per cent of schools in Hertfordshire now graded ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by government inspectors.

Schools which have improved their ratings since July 2016 include Round Diamond Primary School in Stevenage which went from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ after its recent inspection, Oughton Primary and Nursery School in Hitchin which went from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘good’, and Hitchin’s Wilshere-Dacre Junior Academy which went from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ – the same progress made by Stevenage schools Marriotts and Lodge Farm.

Of the 529 maintained schools in Hertfordshire which have been inspected by Ofsted up to August 2017 – 82 secondary, 400 primary, 14 nursery, 25 special schools and eight Education Support Centres – 91.7 per cent are now rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

The school achieved 'Outstanding' for the first time in its history. Picture: Round Diamond SchoolThe school achieved 'Outstanding' for the first time in its history. Picture: Round Diamond School

It means the county’s schools rank higher than the national average of 89.2 per cent and considerably higher than comparable local authorities.

Councillor Terry Douris, Hertfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for education, has congratulated the schools across the county for their efforts.

He said: “Hertfordshire has some of the best education facilities in the UK, so this figure is an excellent testament to the hard work of school leaders, teachers and governing bodies.

“We will continue to work with the county’s schools to maintain and improve on these fantastic results.”

Terry DourisTerry Douris

He also highlighted the role played by Herts for Learning Ltd, a not-for-profit education company owned by Hertfordshire schools and Hertfordshire County Council which is dedicated to raising standards and improving teaching and learning.

He said: “Ensuring that young people throughout the county get the best possible start in life is of paramount importance to the council. The school improvement support available from Herts for Learning, the UK’s largest schools’ company, is second to none.”

The most successful of the improved schools in North Herts has been Stevenage’s Round Diamond Primary School.

Here, staff and pupils were rewarded for their efforts by seeing the school jump from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’.

The school in Great Ashby Way received the best rating possible in all key areas after the inspection in June.

The inspection report, which the school received on September 4, is packed with superlatives.

Among its key findings, it states: “A combination of consistently high expectations and relentless ambition from senior leaders and governors has ensured that Round Diamond Primary is an outstanding school.

“The headteacher and deputy headteacher provide excellent leadership, and are well supported by other very able leaders. As a result, all pupils, including those who are most vulnerable, thrive in an exceptionally positive, caring and supportive environment.

“Governors have an excellent understanding of the school’s performance. They hold leaders to account and ensure that resources are used appropriately so that pupils achieve the best they can.

“Staff receive highly effective training and support and continually reflect on their practice and ways they can further improve. This has developed their knowledge and skills to rapidly improve pupils’ outcomes.

“Learning time is used to the full. Teaching continually engages, challenges and motivates pupils and pupils make rapid progress across a wide range of subjects.”

Headteacher Zoe Phillips, who has been in post seven years, said in response to the grade: “I am very proud of the journey our school has been on for the past six years.

“Staff, governors and parents have worked together to ensure that our children meet their potential and have opportunities to enhance their spiritual, mental, social and cultural understanding.”

“All staff have shown relentless ambition, have consistently high expectations and work as an effective team to drive improvements in standards.

“Our report shows that the children’s behaviour is exemplary. They accept challenge in a climate of mutual respect, they embrace school, are active participants in all lessons, and make outstanding progress to achieve their full potential.”

Ofsted reports for all schools can be read online at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted

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