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'Outstanding' staff set example

Its people and its location have long been counted among St Ursula's blessings, according to headteacher Stephanie Fulton.

Now the Greenwich convent school in south-east London has earned the commendations of Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector. OFSTED found much to praise about the teaching skills of its staff and the use they make of their local environment.

The school - founded by the sisters of St Ursula, who still live and teach there - is tucked away on a hill looking down on the masts of the Cutty Sark. It looks like a private school, with its adapted old buildings and walled gardens.

But most of the girls at this small 556-pupil voluntary-aided comprehensive come from ordinary working families, with a quarter eligible for free meals and around a fifth from ethnic-minority groups.

Achievement levels are high compared to the girls' prior attainment, with a 51 per cent pass rate for five A to C grade GCSEs. There has not been an exclusion in 10 years, and unauthorised absence is negligible, at 0.1 per cent.

OFSTED rates it a "very good school", with its most significant strength being its concern for all aspects of pupils' development. Miss Fulton highlights the inspectors' praise of her staff - described as setting pupils an "outstanding example of courtesy, selflessness and hard work".

Teaching is at least satisfactory in almost all lessons, and good or better in two-thirds. Every department boasts excellent practitioners with sometimes outstanding skills in matching work to the diverse needs of pupils.

Miss Fulton says: "The greatest gift the school has is the people in it, and their loyalty to the school. Teachers and all the staff give loads of their time.

"We knew we were doing well, but we didn't think we were doing spectacularly well. We want the pupils to succeed and I don't think the aim of the school - to turn out Christian individuals who can take their place in society - will ever change.

Lesley Froude

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