A SCHOOL that teaches blind and partially sighted youngsters alongside sighted pupils has won praise from inspectors.

An OFSTED team des-cribed Belmont Church of England Junior School in Durham as 'very effective' and praised the way it helped all pupils achieve their full potential.

They said the 185-pupil school gives the visually impaired children "every opportunity to be fully involved in all lessons - and they take full advantage of this.''

Standards in National Curriculum tests were above average or well above average in English and maths, and average in science.

Attitudes, behaviour and personal development were praised by the inspectors along with provision for pupils with special educational needs.

The inspectors said: "This is a very effective school where the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses.

"It is led by a talented head teacher who gives staff a clear direction.

"Standards have been above average for the past few years and although the current Year Six are only attaining in line with national expectations this is not generally the case among other year groups.

"There is every indication that all pupils, including those with a visual impairment, achieve to their full potential.

"The teaching is often good, with a significant amount of very good teaching. No unsatisfactory teaching was observed during the inspection.''

They added that areas identified as weaknesses on an inspection in 1996 had been turned into strengths.

Head Alison Keddie, who took over shortly after the last inspection in 1996, said: "We were absolutely delighted. It was an excellent report and it highlighted all the hard work that has gone on in the school recently.

"We were very pleased that the resource base for our visually impaired pupils got such a good report.

"We currently have nine blind or partially sighted pupils who are fully integrated and work alongside other children.

"They get support but they have the same opportunities as the other children.''