An improved Ofsted report and a sum of money from the will of a local resident have given primary school staff reason to smile.
St James’ CE School, in Coldwaltham, has been rated ‘good’ following an inspection in March, two years after being told to improve.
Headteacher Jon Gilbert was less than six months into his post at the time – but his work to tackle weaknesses has been praised by inspector Louise Adams, who said he had brought about improvements across the school.
Mr Gilbert predicted “exciting times” ahead for St James’, adding: “The staff team are delighted that their hard work to improve standards at the school has been recognised.
“The staff team and governing body is almost entirely different from the team who were inspected in March 2015. This new team has gelled very quickly and are entirely focussed on school improvement and delivering first class learning opportunities.”
In her report, Ms Adams said teaching had improved and was now good, the children were polite and well-mannered and the school as a whole provided a good standard of education.
The governors were seen to be providing "effective support and challenge" to school leaders, while standards at the school had "risen rapidly" over the past 12 months.
When it came to the need for further improvement, she gave advice to make the early years provision as effective as the rest of the school. Mr Gilbert said the necessary training was already in place for early years staff, while a £12,000 grant from Tesco was being used to improve the outdoor learning area.
Despite having good cause to celebrate, Mr Gilbert recognised there was no room for complacency.
He said: “Although delighted with the outcome, staff and governors recognise that there is still plenty to do and will be striving for ‘outstanding’ at their next inspection. The school has also recently received a substantial legacy which will serve to enhance the learning of the children who attend Coldwaltham School.
“Exciting times lay ahead for the school.”
Mary Wratten and Ann Hewitt, the co-chairs of the governing body, added: "We are very proud to be part of this process. In the short length of time Jon Gilbert has been headteacher, he and his new team of teachers, teaching assistants and office staff have been able to bring this beautiful village school set in the South Downs National Park to the judgement by Ofsted as ‘good’.
"We look forward to helping the team continue to shape the learning environment with its wide range of facilities and clubs for an exciting future."
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