Small rural school makes a big impression with Ofsted

Students at Netherton Northside First School celebrate the recent Ofsted report.
Students at Netherton Northside First School celebrate the recent Ofsted report.

Staff and pupils at one of Northumberland’s smallest schools are celebrating after chalking up an impressive Ofsted report.

Netherton Northside First School, which has just seven pupils, impressed inspectors to receive a good rating.

It comes on the back of the last inspection in 2011, when the school, on the fringes of the Northumberland National Park, achieved the same grading.

Inspector Michael Reeves has praised the school for being caring, safe and inclusive and describes it as being an environment where children can grow in confidence and develop good learning behaviours.

Headteacher Sarah Smith, who also teaches and is one of four members of staff at the school, said she was very pleased with the report.

She told the Gazette: “We are delighted. We are a really tiny school, so for us to be rated as good – especially in a climate where many schools are going into ‘requires improvement’ – is quite phenomenal and really is a feather in our cap.

“One of the most pleasing aspects of the report is that it says that we are a caring school and the praise it gives us for how much support we give to the children.”

The pupils at the school range between the age of three and nine.

In the report, Mr Reeves says that the students ‘receive good teaching in a nurturing learning environment, which enables them to flourish personally and academically’ and ‘their behaviour during the inspection was exemplary’.

He continues: ‘The staff and governors aspire to help all pupils achieve the very best outcomes.

‘For example, you have taken steps to improve provision in the early years as you identified the need to improve children’s outcomes further.

‘You have also put in place arrangements to provide some teaching at Harbottle First School to widen the opportunities for pupils to work alongside an increased number of pupils.’ Mr Reeves says that the school has developed opportunities for independent learning, the staff work hard to ‘raise attainment and accelerate pupils’ progress’ and parents ‘expressed high levels of satisfaction’.

Mrs Smith said that there are places available at the school for more children, so interested parents should get in touch.