Glowing Ofsted report for ‘vibrant and positive’ school

Jun 21, 2024

Children love going to St Cuthbert’s Catholic Primary School and arrive each morning with “wide smiles”, a sense of pride and “exemplary” behaviour.

The Seaham school, which is part of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust, received such a glowing report in its recent ungraded Ofsted inspection that the lead inspector said that there was enough evidence to rate it ‘Outstanding’ if it had been a graded section 5 inspection. However, as it was a section 8 ungraded inspection to ensure it had retained its ‘Good’ rating, it could not be graded higher than ‘Good’ at this inspection.

Ofsted lead inspector Richard Beadnall said in his report: “Pupils at St Cuthbert’s embody the school’s vision and ‘strive for excellence’. Older pupils act as excellent role models for others. Pupils are polite and well mannered. They are considerate of others. They enter school with wide smiles each morning. They enjoy coming to school.”

The Mill Road primary provides a safe and “positive learning environment that is evident across the school” and pupils enjoy “exciting and engaging” lessons.

“Early Years staff immerse children in stories and songs,” continues Mr Beadnall in his report.

“They encourage pupils to explore, question and develop their imagination. The staff encourage children to become resilient and independent learners. The learning environment in Early Years is vibrant and positive.”

Reading is a high priority at the school and well-trained staff teach the phonics curriculum “with fidelity”. Pupils quickly gain the phonics knowledge they need and accurate assessment means that any gaps in phonics knowledge are closed quickly. As a result, they become “confident and fluent readers”.

“Leaders have crafted a high-quality, bespoke curriculum that meets the needs of all pupils,” he says.

“This curriculum gives every pupil the opportunity to achieve and experience success. This includes pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Talented staff teach this curriculum with consistency and fidelity. This means that pupils achieve highly.

“Staff make careful adaptations to the curriculum so that all pupils access high quality teaching and learning.”

Pupils’ behaviour is highlighted in the report as being “exemplary” and lessons proceed without interruption.

The school provides opportunities for the pupils to broaden their development with opportunities for them to take responsibility, for example, the Year 6 pupils act as buddies for children in Reception, which they take great pride in.

“Leaders at all levels show the same ambition,” continues the report.

“This ambition is not to the detriment of staff workload or wellbeing. Staff feel very well supported in school. Parents feel part of the school community. The staff work hard to build strong relationships with their children and families to be able to work together.”

Headteacher Nicola Noble said: “We are incredibly proud of this report, which is a wonderful reflection of the hard work and support of our whole school community; staff, pupils, governors and families.

“The report highlights the many strengths of our school and shows that we truly are a school family with the children at the heart of everything we do.”

Ofsted carried out deep dives in reading, maths and PE and listened to pupils from Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 read to a familiar adult as part of the two-day inspection in May.

If parents are interested in a place for their child, some classes have places available.

Pupils of all faiths and no faith are welcome at St Cuthbert’s. Please contact the school for more details. You can email

For more information, please visit


Photo caption: Mrs Nicola Noble, left, with pupils and deputy headteacher Mrs Elaine Parlett, right.

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