Inspectors praise 'small school with a big heart' given Ofsted Good rating across the board

An all-age school is celebrating after being judged Good across the board by government inspectors.

Pupils in a maths class
Pupils in a maths class

St Martins 3-16 Learning Community, near Oswestry, was described as a "small school with a big heart" by the inspectors during a two-day visit earlier this year.

And there was special praise for Mr Wilko - not a teacher, but the school therapy dog, who inspectors said, lent a helping paw whenever he could.

Mr Wilko the school therapy dog on World Book Day

Head, Sue Lovecy, said that the outcome was the culmination of many years of hard work by the whole school team.

The learning community, which opened in 2012, the merger of the village's primary and secondary schools, was said to require improvement at its last inspection in 2019.

Mrs Lovecy said: "From September 2012 we have been on a huge journey, merging two very different schools, rebuilding reputations and trust, exploring our new identity."

In the Ofsted report, inspectors said senior leaders had high aspirations for every pupil with an ambitious curriculum offering a wide range of subjects.

Teachers had strong subject knowledge and used assessment well, with pupils who need help getting it quickly.

"Reading is front and centre of the curriculum," the report says.

"As leaders and staff know the children so well, they can swiftly intervene if any children start to fall behind in their reading."

Inspectors noted that pupils feel valued, happy and safe and that they behave extremely well.

Head Sue Lovecy celebrates the Good reating with pupils

However the report said that in some year groups some pupils have poor rates of attendance which was impacting on their learning.

Mrs Lovecy added: "Our Ofsted report really captures our school. The inspectors understood our purpose and recognised the very special relationships that exist here.

"It is clear that we have a major hurdle to climb in improving our attendance throughout the school but every member of staff is willing and determined to contribute to the improvement plan."

Pupils said their school was "great" with good teachers and that it was small enough to know everyone.

Ollie Stokes, 11, said: "I love the teachers here, they make lessons really interesting," while 12-year-old Sam Greene said teachers made lessons easy to understand.

Lily Hughes, 12, said: "If you need help there is always help available."

Chair of the school's governors, Jan Edmondson, said: "I know from experience that what the inspectors saw during their inspections was not a one-off experience. School does have a warm heart, we do have an ambitious curriculum, our staff team is talented and committed and our pupils are a reflection of everyone's hard work."

Parent Bryony Evans said: "The students and staff at St Martins School are amazing and I'm so glad that the report captures the real essence of our school, even Mr Wilko's helping paw. The quality of education offered here is fantastic from nursery through to Year 11."

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