Ofsted turnaround for school in St Albans after “two year journey”

Margaret Wix Primary School in St Albans is pleased with its latest Ofsted report

Margaret Wix Primary School in St Albans is pleased with its latest Ofsted report - Credit: Photo supplied

Supportive governors, ‘highly effective’ teaching assistants and a stimulating environment during their early years have won a St Albans primary school a good Ofsted rating.

The successful report from inspectors, who recently visited Margaret Wix Primary School in High Oaks, marks a major step forward for the institution, which in March 2014 had been warned it needed improvement.

Chair of the governing body, Shaun McLean, hailed the latest rating as “fantastic news after a two-year journey”.

In September 2014, Margaret Wix was told in a monitoring inspection report that it was tackling areas requiring improvement but needed to take further action.

Fast forward two years, and the school - located in New Greens - has raised the bar by receiving a ‘good’ rating across the board, including quality of teaching, the leadership’s effectiveness and outcomes for pupils. The inspectors, who visited the school over two days in March, said new headteacher Damien Johnston, a former teacher who took over the role in September 2015, had built on Margaret Wix’s existing strengths.

He, in turn, has attributed the “successful inspection to the high expectations the staff have of all the children and the willingness of the children and families to respond to the expectations set.”

The early years teaching was praised, and in 2015 an above national average number of Key Stage 2 pupils reached the expected level of attainment in reading, writing and maths. Pupils with special educational needs or a disability, and pupils with English as an additional language also ‘thrive’ under the extra one-to-one teaching and small group work they receive at Margaret Wix, according to Ofsted.

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School governors and staff were praised for sharpening up the controls on pupils who were falling behind, meaning they were swiftly identified and “provided with the support they need to quickly catch up”, the inspectors said.

* Some local parents - particularly from Fleetville - have contacted the Herts Advertiser after their children were not allocated their preferred choice of school. Nearly 40 were allocated Margaret Wix, despite it not being in their preferred four.

In response, Herts county council has said: “We understand that this is a difficult time for parents and appreciate that some may be disappointed with the school their child has been allocated.

“We would encourage parents who have been allocated a place at Margaret Wix to visit the school, which has just been rated good by Ofsted, and speak to the headteacher before dismissing the offered place.

“All parents have been supplied with information about what to do next including what to do if they are not happy with the place that they have been offered.

Applicants who have unmet preferences will automatically be placed on the continuing interest list for any schools named higher on their application form than the school offered.”

Full details about what to do next are available at www.hertsdirect.org/admissions