High expectations, a nurturing ethos and a highly-effective curriculum have led to an Outstanding award for a Newcastle school. St Mary’s Catholic School received the highest Ofsted judgement of ‘Outstanding’ for all five key areas with a glowing report praising students, leaders, the staff team and the wider school family.

Ofsted has significantly raised the bar in all judgement areas and, because of this, fewer schools across the country are now achieving the highest judgement of ‘Outstanding’.

Despite this, Outstanding was awarded at St Mary’s for all areas: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management and sixth-form provision.

The current Ofsted framework, the Education Inspection Framework (EIF) and introduced from September 2019, is an exceptionally challenging framework.

St Mary’s is an ambitious and nurturing school where pupils thrive. They are taught how to live out the school’s Christian values in everything they do. This includes a continual focus on the importance of positive relationships, gratitude and service of others. Pupils are happy and safe in this exceptionally supportive atmosphere, where leaders ensure that pupils benefit from a high-quality and expansive curriculum,” says the report.

Among other areas highlighted by the inspection team are the school’s exceptional academic outcomes for all pupils and the excellent behaviour climate and strong attendance and punctuality of students.

The school’s high expectations for pupils’ behaviour and attitudes are modelled by all staff in the school. As a result, the school is a nurturing and warm environment”.

A member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust, the school has 1,444 pupils aged from 11 to 18.

This is a tremendous achievement for everyone in our school community and is testament to our incredible students and our very dedicated teaching and support staff team. It is wonderful to see so much strong practice being recognised, in all areas of school life,” said headteacher Emma Patterson.

Most importantly, it was fantastic to see the inspection team clearly recognised the very warm and nurturing ethos in the school, with our Christian values at the heart of this ethos, and the ambition, care and support that we embed for every child in a happy and safe school community,” she added.

Teachers use a wide range of effective strategies and high-quality resources to help pupils to learn exceptionally well. They have excellent subject knowledge. they make sure pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities have extremely deep knowledge upon which to build their future learning,” says the report.

The inspection team also noted that the school ensures pupils are ready for their next steps, and is committed to a strong careers education. They also highlighted the inclusivity of the school, noting that, “the school ensures pupils engage with a variety of beliefs and ideas that are different from their own. Pupils are considerate when exploring these sensitive issues”.

Strong leadership at all levels, including governance, is underpinned by constant evaluation and self-reflection. Leaders are highly committed to continued and sustained improvement. St Mary’s acts as a beacon for the multi-academy trust, supporting and developing other schools.

The inspection also noted that pupils have many opportunities in the school’s wider curriculum, with an extensive range of clubs, trips and events, including the annual spiritual retreats.

Article prepared on behalf of Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust by Barking Dog Media. For more information email: david@barkingdogmedia.co.uk or call 07754 271086.