Jump of two grades in school’s latest report

Religious education co-ordinator Alison Hilton with pupils from St Mary's Church of England Middle School in Belford after the school's Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) rated it as outstanding.

Religious education co-ordinator Alison Hilton with pupils from St Mary's Church of England Middle School in Belford after the school's Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) rated it as outstanding.

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A north Northumberland middle school has been rated outstanding by church school inspectors in a new report.

It praised every aspect of the way religion is taught at the St Mary’s Church of England Middle School in Belford.

Chairman of governors Dr Sebastian Moss said: “Our governors, teachers and children can all take great pride in this. The children and staff here work together to achieve great things.”

Inspectors from the National Society, a body founded more than 150 years ago with the original aim of providing schools for the poor and promoting religious education, visited Belford in February.

The National Society promotes and resources nearly 4,700 schools in England and its Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) report arrived at the school last week.

For church schools, the SIAMS report is as important as the result of an Ofsted inspection. The inspectors examine how well a school meets the needs of all its pupils, the impact of collective worship, looks at how effective the religious education being taught is and rates the leadership and management of a school.

St Mary’s was rated outstanding in all four of the key categories.

Headteacher Tony Palmer said: “The inspectors found what we already knew, we’re top of the tree.

“This school has made great strides in the last five years and the report is testimony to the talent of the teaching staff and the hard work everyone here puts in.

“The last time the National Society inspected St Mary’s in 2010, they said we were a satisfactory school. Now we have jumped two grades to be as good as any school can be.

“It’s proof of the hard work being done and the talent we have at this little school.

“There is a lot of uncertainty about the future of education in this part of the world at the moment, but this report proves that St Mary’s at least is thriving in the existing three-tier education system.”

Alison Hilton, the religious education co-ordinator at St Mary’s, described herself as delighted, adding: “This would not have been possible without the strong support of both staff and pupils.”