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School that sparked evolution row is judged outstanding

William Stewart Emmanuel college, the Gateshead school which triggered the controversy over teaching creationism, has been judged outstanding by inspectors for the third time in a row.

Its latest Ofsted report says: "Excellent standards achieved throughout the college are the result of focused teaching, determined attitudes and impressive support systems.

"These enable students to make progress at a rate that places the college among the most successful 5 per cent of schools in England."

Inspectors say the humility of the "outstanding" leaders at the school, who only judged themselves as good, had shone through. There is high praise too for excellent pupil behaviour and the Christian ethos at the city technology college which hit the headlines in 2002 when it emerged creationism was being taught alongside evolution.

Jonathan Winch, headteacher, and Nigel McQuoid, a former head and chair of governors, said they were particularly pleased inspectors had noted its good results in science.

"This shows our science is outstanding and our pupils have enquiring minds," said Mr McQuoid, director of schools for the Emmanuel Schools Foundation.

The report on Emmanuel is the second good Ofsted report the foundation has received this year. The foundation, which is funded by Sir Peter Vardy, a Christian fundamentalist car dealer, sponsors two academies as well as Emmanuel college. In January inspectors found that King's academy, Middlesbrough, one of the two academies, was a good school with many strengths.

Latest figures from Ofsted show that only 11 other secondary schools in England have matched Emmanuel college's achievement of three top-rated reports in a row.

Mr Winch said: "People spout on about us and maybe want to use us as a political football, but those who come to visit us find out the truth."

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