North East school SHINEs with new Ofsted grade

21st July 2022

As the school year comes to an end, North East Schools are speaking up with pride about their new Ofsted ratings. Springfield Academy, part of The Education Village Academy Trust in Darlington recently achieved a higher grade of ‘good’ following their previous ratings of ‘requires improvement’ in both 2018 and 2016. All schools within The Education Village trust are now on a rating of ‘good’.

Harmonious school environment

Ofsted praised the school environment created by Springfield staff and applauded the attitude and behaviour of their students. They noted that bullying is rare for the school and that pupils are respectful and polite and see everyone as equal.

Ofsted stated:

‘Leaders are conscious that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on pupils’ well-being. They have rightly prioritised developing pupils’ understanding of how to look after their own mental health and well-being. There are additional opportunities to support those pupils who need more help. For example, some pupils are invited to the ‘chillaxing’ club to support their emotional well-being’

The school’s staff have worked tirelessly to ensure a positive learning space where everyone feels valued. As well as looking after student wellbeing, staff wellbeing is also prioritised. At a time where recruitment and retention cause many issues for schools, Springfield works hard to effectively train staff and support them with managing their workload. Ofsted commented ‘Staff are united behind leaders and are proud to work at the school’.

SHINE: Successful, Happy, Informed, Nurtured and who Embrace the community

Richard Gartland, Principal at Springfield, together with the staff, worked ‘tirelessly’ to regain their former ‘good’ and, after three monitoring inspections, they finally received their ‘good’ judgement from Ofsted this term.  Richard stated there were multiple factors contributing to the improvement including:

‘Placing the school firmly at the centre of the community and building extremely positive relationships with parents and carers. We are extremely proud of our Parent-View responses and how Springfield is perceived locally.’

Additionally, Richard noted a ‘full curriculum redesign with unerring focus upon phonics and early reading’, working together with governors, trustees and the trust CEO and building a strong foundation with a hardworking teaching team were all key to the success of Springfield.

‘The team’s determination and relentless focus on improving outcomes, in every sense of the word, for our children is second to none, I would argue. Creating a school where all children are Successful, Happy, Informed, Nurtured and who Embrace the community that they are in has been the driver behind everything that we have done. Our children SHINE and are very proud of the school that they come to.’

Ofsted also mentioned the ‘SHINE’ assemblies within their report. Richard shows true passion for the school and its staff and this is obvious from his pride in their new result. Mike Butler, Chief Executive at The Education Village Academy Trust, added:

‘Springfield Academy has been an object lesson in how high-quality, impactful school leadership can bring about embedded and sustainable improvement.  The Principal has worked tirelessly to build an excellent staff team and to create a ‘can-do’ culture where everyone is valued and motivated to succeed, with an unerringly sharp focus on the key strategic priorities. This Ofsted judgement is a fitting tribute to all the leadership, the staff, the pupils and their families.  Together with similar success at Haughton Academy just a few months ago, it means that all the schools at The Education Village are now ‘good’, and our Trust is in a strong position for future growth and development.’

Haughton Academy was similarly upgraded from their 2018 rating of ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ in March 2022, after three monitoring visits during the pandemic.

The story of Springfield shows the importance of strong leadership and determination. Chris Zarraga, Director of Schools North East commented:

‘Springfield Academy is a shining example of the power of strong leadership and determination that exists in so many North East schools, serving very disadvantaged communities. Their story shows what can be accomplished when value is placed on building a strong team of school staff and looking after staff wellbeing. We all know there have been many issues with recruitment and retention this year amidst the cost of living crisis and the effects of the pandemic. A massive congratulations to Mike, Richard and everyone at Springfield for this achievement. I hope they all have a well deserved summer break’.

To read the Ofsted report for Springfield Academy:

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