A RURAL school has gone to the top of the class after receiving a glowing inspection report.

Woodland Primary School, in Teesdale, was judged outstanding when Ofsted inspector Moira Fitzpatrick observed lessons on January 31.

She heaped praise on head Judy Unsworth, highlighting her “ambitious vision and inspirational leadership.”

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In her report, Mrs Fitzpatrick stated: “Children get off to a flying start in the reception class because their learning is so well organised.

“They quickly become confident, independent learners who work hard to find things out for themselves.”

Mrs Fitzpatrick said all teachers and teaching assistants work at a very high level to meet the needs of every child, and pupils are particular skilled in reading and writing.

“The creative curriculum abounds in exciting, memorable opportunities for learning,” added Mrs Fitzpatrick.

“Pupils' interests and enthusiasm for learning are at the heart of teachers' planning. Pupils are constantly reinforcing and improving their basic skills and developing a real passion for learning.”

She concluded: “This small school offers an enormous range of opportunities for all pupils to develop personally, socially and academically.”

Woodland Primary has 49 pupils aged 4-11 on its roll. As well as Woodland, pupils come from nearby villages, such as Copley and Butterknowle, and farming families.

The previous Ofsted inspection, in September 2007, rated the school as good, and Mrs Unsworth said the improvement was down to “fantastic teamwork and positive thinking” by all 11 members of staff.

“We are delighted with what the inspectors found and very proud of what is being achieved.

“I had every confidence in what we are doing here – I even thanked the inspector for coming.”

Mrs Unsworth added: “The children get a really fantastic offer up here.”

In the four years since Mrs Unsworth took over as head, the school roll has increased from 35 to its present 49 and there are plans to introduce a pre-school three-plus group in September.

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