A HEADTEACHER has started the new academic year with a vow to restore her school’s reputation after education inspectors told staff they ‘must try harder’.

Castleside Primary School, near Consett, was visited by the education watchdog, Ofsted, in June, and concluded it ‘requires improvement’.

The last inspection, in October 2014, found the school to be ‘good’.

The report, by Fiona Manuel, found the school had not ‘secured consistently good teaching, learning or assessment across key stages or subjects’.

Pupils’ progress in reading, writing and mathematics is ‘too variable’ and ‘leaders’ assessment information of pupils’ achievements over time lacks accuracy’.

Ms Manuel said: “Leaders and teachers do not plan precisely enough to meet pupils’ needs. Senior and subject leaders’ improvement plans lack detail and are not focused sufficiently on the correct priorities.”

In July, the school’s SAT results showed 82.4 per cent of students, were achieving national targets in reading, above the national average of 75 per cent, and were up from 47 per cent the year before.

In grammar, punctuation and spelling the school scored 88 per cent, ten per cent above the national average and, up from 53 per cent last year.

Work needs to be done to improve mathematics after only 59 per cent achieved national targets, 17 per cent under the national average, down from 60 per cent a year earlier.

Headteacher Alison Spence, who has taught at the school since 1991 and took over from previous head, Liz Charlton, in 2016, said the school was still ‘playing catch up’ to adapt to a new curriculum introduced in 2014.

She said: “The Ofsted inspection in June 2018 followed significant staff changes at Castleside Primary School and inevitably it has taken some time for the new leadership team to become established.

“Staff and governors are working with Durham County Council to address the issues raised within the report and our latest SAT results in July demonstrate the improvements we have already made.”

Mrs Spence is being supported in her aim to restore the ‘good’ rating at the next inspection by the board of governors, and hopes to raise aspects of the school to ‘outstanding’ in future years.

Governor Julie Tyers said: “We want Alison to know she is 100 per cent supported by us and that we on the governing board are there as critical friends.”

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