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Oldham school looking for an ‘outstanding’ rating after glowing Ofsted report

A primary school in Oldham has been praised for its ‘respectful, responsible and resilient’ pupils and ‘ambitious and committed’ staff by Ofsted.

Willowpark Primary Academy is the latest school in St James to maintain its ‘good’ rating from the school inspectors, who visited in May. 

This rating means all schools in St James have maintained a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ rating for more than a decade. 

Principal Louise Hayes told the LDRS she was ‘delighted’ by the result and had found the inspection process a ‘positive experience’. 

Hayes said: “The report gives us many reasons to be extremely proud of our Academy, our staff and our pupils. It highlights pupils’ behaviour within our school as a strength and outlines how our effective curriculum, strong shared values and commitment to pupils’ personal development, supports them to become self – assured learners, who are well prepared for the next stages of their education and life.

“We’d like to thank all our staff, pupils, their families and the whole school community for helping to make Willowpark an amazing place for children to start their educational journey.”   

Hayes added that the school is now setting its sights on an ‘outstanding’ rating after the glowing report by Ofsted.

In this review, inspector Sue Eastwood was impressed with pupils’ consideration and compassion for each other at Willowpark. She noted that “pupils’ behaviour is a strength” and older kids are quick to help younger ones. 

The caring relationship across years extends to reading practice, where older ‘reading ambassadors’ “proudly listen to younger pupils reading”, the Ofsted report read. 

While almost every school has struggled with attendance issues since the pandemic, Eastwood found that Willowpark was dealing with the issue well.  

Eastwood wrote: “The school is mindful of the difficulties and barriers that families face to get pupils into school. However, the school’s tenacious approach to getting pupils to attend school regularly has resulted in positive reductions in persistent absence.” 

She also praised the school’s approach to SEND provisions, which build ‘confidence and self-esteem’ in kids with special educational needs or disabilities. 

Willowpark is one of six ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ primary schools in the area. Though there are little to no secondary schools and colleges in the neighbourhood, meaning youngsters have to travel further afield for Key stage 3 and beyond. 

Local councillor Josh Charters said: “It’s delightful to see that all primary schools in St James ward are good or Outstanding, as all our children deserve to have the best education and opportunities in life.” 

The provision of good schools at any level is particularly crucial in St James, as a survey carried out by the council in 2018 found kids from the area were less likely to achieve a passing grade in English and Maths GCSE than other Oldham wards.

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