STUDENTS and teachers have been hailed outstanding after coming under the scrutiny of diocesan inspectors.

St John’s School and Sixth Form College, Bishop Auckland, has been given grade 1s across the board in an outstanding report by inspectors from the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.

Last inspected for the Bishop in 2015 when it was judged to be outstanding, the academy produced top results in the last GCSE and A level exams in Religious Education and the latest report further strengthens its reputation as one of the best Catholic schools in the region.

Inspectors reviewed all aspects of life in the school, from the warm, welcoming atmosphere of its reception to the high standards and expectations in lessons. The charitable work of students and staff was recognised as one of the school’s many strengths, forging positive working relationships with primaries, parishes and the wider community.

The inspectors assessed the extent to which students contributed to school life, how well leaders performed and the academy’s overall effectiveness. All categories were graded 1 leading to an overall judgement of outstanding.

The inspection team highlighted the strengths of St John’s as:

  • The strong Catholic ethos
  • The warm, genuine welcome offered to visitors as being typical of the nurturing atmosphere for students
  • Outstanding levels of teaching
  • Students being encouraged to develop their leadership skills
  • A host of charitable and community activities at local and international level including helping food banks and the Great North Air Ambulance
  • Students fully embracing the wide-ranging opportunities given to them
  • High levels of inclusivity, help and support
  • A high level of engagement in lessons
  • A passionate and dedicated teaching staff
  • Great satisfaction among parents and carers about the way students are being nurtured.

The report stated: “St John’s is an all-embracing community. Support for each other is tangible. Staff are superb role models for students. The school promotes the Bishop’s vision for education through policy, practice and initiatives.”

Headteacher Lisa Byron added: “We are thrilled and delighted that the inspectors have recognised how special our learning community is. It is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our students, the expertise and dedication of our staff and the continuous support of our parents and carers that have helped us to create a learning environment in which everyone can flourish.

“Praise and recognition are always most welcome and inspire us all in our relentless pursuit of providing the very best education we can for all of our students.”