A SMALL hill-top community can now boast two top-performing primary schools.

Despite its tiny population, the village of Esh, near Langley Park, County Durham, has both Roman Catholic and Anglican voluntary-aided primary schools.

They draw children not just from Esh, but also from nearby Langley Park, Quebec and Cornsay Colliery, between the Browney and Deerness river valleys, west of Durham.

Esh Laude St Michael's RC School, was last year rated in the top ten state primary schools in the North-East.

Now, neighbouring Esh Church of England School has received its own educational accolade, in the form of a glowing Ofsted report.

It meant the 76 pupils, aged four to 11, went into the fortnight festive break on a high note this week.

An end-of-term carol service was staged to round off the successful year at the school, on the village Front Street.

In keeping with its motto, everyone was smiling, after Government inspectors sang their praises in the recent report, highlighting, "the high quality of work and the excellent progress being made throughout the school".

Lead inspector, Maggi Shepherd, said: "This is an outstanding school. Achievement is outstanding.

"By the time children leave the school, their standards are significantly higher than average."

She said it was, "like one big happy family", with excellent behaviour in lessons, around the school and in the playground.

Ms Shepherd said the staff's "vision and drive" was a major factor in the continued improvement.

Headteacher Mike Urwin said: "All schools work hard, but it's good to get a real genuine pat on the back for all your efforts.

"It's nice for everyone, the children, staff, parents and governors.

"Because of the small size of the school, we have three classes, of mixed age and mixed stages.

"But we have four teaching staff who are dedicated to the cause."