Inspectors applaud star performers

Ofsted declares that one in six of the schools it visited last year were 'outstanding', reports Helen Ward

Celebrations will be held in the 457 schools which Ofsted announced this week had been judged outstanding last year.

On average one in six schools inspected in 200405 was judged to be outstanding. This proportion shoots up for nurseries and sixth form colleges. More than half of nursery schools inspected were outstanding and almost two-thirds of the 32 sixth-form colleges inspected made the top grade.

Clervaux nursery school in Jarrow, was named as outstanding for the third time. Inspectors described three and four-year-olds sitting quietly on chairs "like young business people waiting to collect their own children from school".

At Bognor Regis nursery, also outstanding for the third time, inspectors noted that the children "have opportunities each day to scramble up nets, slide down poles, crawl along horizontal ladders and planks, and slide down chutes".

The list of outstanding schools and colleges includes 24 which have been identified as outstanding for the third time and 78 which are on the list for the second time.

There are also six schools which were causing concern, either underachieving, having serious weaknesses or in special measures, which have made it on to the outstanding list (see box opposite).

This is the last list to be compiled under the old inspection regime, which is itself only two years old. A new era of self-evaluation began in September and David Bell, the chief inspector, has warned that it will mean tougher times as he raises the bar.

The list of outstanding schools and colleges includes:

* 11 FE colleges out of 62 inspected (18 per cent)

* 38 nursery schools out of 68 (59 per cent)

* 269 primary schools out of 1,998 (13 per cent)

* nine pupil-referral units out of 48 (19 per cent)

* 63 secondaries out of 485 (13 per cent)

* 20 sixth-form colleges out of 32 (62 per cent)

* 42 special schools out of 152 (28 per cent) The Cleveland college of art and design and the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford were also deemed outstanding as was the further education offered by the University of Hertfordshire, Manchester Metropolitan university and Wimbledon school of art.

The list of outstanding schools includes Macmillan academy, in Middlesbrough, which was inspected when it was still Macmillan college.

The proportion of outstanding faith schools mirrors their overall numbers.

Faith schools make up 29 per cent of the outstanding schools and account for 28 per cent of all schools.

Mr Bell said: "I have never subscribed to the idea that you can walk into a school and tell after five minutes what it is like. But after a little bit of time, half a day or a day, spent looking at data, seeing the teaching, talking to students, a picture starts to come together.

"One of the characteristics of outstanding schools is that they are able to maintain standards across all dimensions of work. It is the classically well-rounded schools that are successful."

The schools on the list may be outstanding, but often in their own special way, he said. "There are the obvious common factors: high-quality management, high-quality teaching, students who are engaged, but the best schools have a very distinct ethos. These schools would be mortified if you suggested they were just like any other successful school."

One of the listed schools is the Mulberry Bush, a non-maintained special school, in Witney, Oxfordshire, which caters for children with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Its patrons include the new Conservative party leader David Cameron, who is the local MP. He said: "I am a tremendous fan of the Mulberry Bush school and all the work that it does. Sitting in classes and talking to children and staff is extremely thought-provoking."

Andy Lole, headteacher of Mulberry Bush school, said: "We are all absolutely delighted to have been recognised by Ofsted."

Allan Lund, headteacher of another praised school, Anfield junior, Liverpool, said: "It has been a very successful school for more than 100 years and we are delighted that this has been officially recognised by Ofsted."

Six schools which were causing concern but are now outstanding

Woodberry Down community primary, Hackney.

Woodhouse Close junior, Bishop Auckland, Durham.

Kimberley primary, Nottinghamshire.

Bletchingdon parochial C of E primary, Oxfordshire.

Broadwater C of E first and middle, Worthing.

Mossley primary, Walsall.

24 schools which have been recognised as outstanding for the third time

The Camden school for girls, Camden, London

Sudbourne primary, Lambeth, London

St Joseph's RC primary, Westminster, London

Queen Elizabeth's school, Barnet, London

Ravens Wood school, Bromley, London

King Edward VI Handsworth school, Birmingham

Arden school, Solihull

Higher Bebington junior, Wirral

Lister Lane school, Bradford

Sir James Knott Memorial nursery, Tynemouth, North Shields

St Thomas More RC high school, North Shields

Clervaux nursery, Jarrow, South Tyneside

Comberton Village college, Cambridgeshire

Marshfields school, Dogsthorpe, Peterborough

Hartford Manor community primary, Northwich, Cheshire

Westcliff high school for boys, Southend-on-sea

Presdales school, Ware, Hertfordshire

Dartford grammar, Kent

Woodlands special school, Blackpool

Oatlands infant school, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Roecliffe C of E primary, York

New Hartley first school, Whitley Bay, Northumberland

Bognor Regis nursery, West Sussex

Sheldon school, Chippenham, Wiltshire

FE Focus 3, leadership 29

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