A Newcastle school in the process of rebuilding has been praised by Ofsted for preparing its students to be ‘confident, lifelong learners’ who benefit from the highly ambitious aspirations of its team. St John Vianney Catholic Primary School, West Denton, has been awarded a ‘good’ rating across the board by Ofsted in its first inspection by the monitoring body.

The school, part of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust, is currently undergoing a transformation following the discovery of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC). The main building was forced to temporarily close in June of last year, and the site is now in a two-phase replacement programme.

Despite the challenges, the school ensures pupils develop a love of learning from the start and it supports children to be ‘resilient, capable and self-assured learners,’ the report notes.

I am privileged to work with such dedicated staff who are committed to enhancing and broadening the pupils’ love of learning at every opportunity. It is wonderful that Ofsted recognised how good our provision is for our pupils, including our exceptionally high ambition for all of our pupils, especially those with special educational needs and/or disability (SEND),” said Headteacher Allyson Thorpe.

Our staff and pupils have been amazing in the face of adversity, including both Covid-19 and, more recently, with the challenges of RAAC. Our whole school community has pulled together and supported one another during the closure and re-opening with scaffolding throughout the school,” she added.

The report highlights the behaviour expectations of the school using the ‘ready, respectful, safe’ mantra. Adults use the same script when speaking to pupils who have not made the right choice.

Each half term pupils focus on displaying a character trait. For example, at the time of the inspection it was to be respectful to others. Pupils confidently demonstrate this trait by holding doors open and being kind to each other,” says the report.

Leadership opportunities are on offer to pupils by way of school councillors, eco-warriors and subject ambassadors.

The school’s curriculum has undergone necessary changes since 2021. The school ensures each subject is well planned and sequenced. The school has considered the essential knowledge and skills that pupils need to know,” the inspector noted.

Ambition for SEND pupils is also highlighted with a focused mentoring system that enables leaders to continually review provision for groups and individuals. The demographic of the school has changed, and leaders accurately identify those needing extra support. The school’s programme to develop pupils’ character and citizenship links closely to their Catholic ethos and values.

Staff sensitively nurture and reassure pupils to boost their self-esteem and confidence,” says the report.

The school’s last Ofsted was in 2008 and it had been exempt until more recently. It had received an ‘Outstanding’ award from the Catholic Schools Inspectorate last year.

Sent on behalf of Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust and Barking Dog Media. For more information contact david@barkingdogmedia.co.uk or call 07754 271086.

Images reproduced with the kind permission of Kate Buckingham.