Staff, children and parents of St Martin’s Academy in Chester are celebrating the announcement that their school has been rated as outstanding by Ofsted!
This remarkable achievement comes just two years after the school opened its doors in Hoole Road to the first class of 25 children and one year after welcoming its second class in September 2014.
The report, published on Tuesday ,June 16, highlighted the strong leadership of head of school Wenda Smith, describing her as having ‘a clear vision of high quality education built around British values of care, tolerance and respect’.
The staff team at St Martin’s were also in line for praise. The report stated: “Without exception, everyone involved in running the academy is passionate about establishing a learning community where pupils’ self-esteem and self-confidence can flourish.”
The impact of St Martin’s promise of ‘Excellence, Inspiration and Care’ could be seen throughout the report, as could the school’s commitment to an extended school day of 9-4pm.
It said: “Pupils exude confidence and excitement for learning. Respect for and tolerance of one another are cornerstones of each pupil’s personal development.
“The extended school day allows the academy to provide a broad range of curriculum enhancement activities which add significantly to the development of pupils’ core skills.”
Pupils’ progress in subjects such as art, music and French was described as ‘often on a par with their excellent progress in the core skills of English and mathematics’.
The individual progress made by all the children was described as ‘rapid’. The report stated: “Progress in the early years is rapid because everything that is exceptional about the academy is also encapsulated in this aspect of its provision.
“Pupils are exceptionally well prepared for the next stage in their education. Many pupils in both the Reception class and Year 1 are already working at levels well above those expected for their age.”
St Martin’s is one of two free schools to open in the Chester area and faced a number of obstacles with planning permission and highways issues to open on time in September 2013.
The first Reception class opened in the original part of the school building, while the new state-of-the-art facilities were built.
The school’s commitment to IT in the classroom was highlighted in the report. It said: ‘High quality technology can be seen throughout the school. Computers and tablets are used as tools for learning rather than tools for teaching.”
Head of school Wenda Smith said: “It has been through the hard work and dedication of our whole school community that we have reached this milestone attaining the very highest grading Ofsted can award, a significant achievement in just two years of operation as a free school.
“I would personally like to thank everyone involved in the process in getting us to this point, from the trustees and governors who have given their time and expertise willingly and have offered support and challenge in equal measure to achieve the very best outcomes for all children, to the teaching team here at school both past and present who have worked above and beyond to get the very best every day.
“A huge thank you must also be expressed to our families who chose this unique opportunity for their children. But most of all, I would like to thank the children who attend St Martin’s every day, who work hard both at home and school to achieve their very best and approach every day in school with the same wide-eyed wonder as they did when they first started.”
Steve Docking, of North West Academies Trust, said: “Three years ago we were given permission to open St Martin’s Academy in Chester. This was not only a huge honour for us all but also delivered a weight of expectation from many quarters.
“The free school programme will always divide opinion but for us our sole intention was to create a school that had a genuine buzz around it and offered excellence for all those who attend now and in the future.”