'˜Outstanding' Blackpool school is '˜extremely warm, caring, and welcoming', Ofsted said in a glowing report

The new headteacher at a school in Blackpool has 'rapidly gained a clear understanding of the quality of education and the next steps to take,' Ofsted said.

Tuesday, 6th November 2018, 2:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th November 2018, 3:08 pm
Highfurlong School in Blackpool

Neill Oldham replaced Rosie Sycamore at Highfurlong School, in Blackpool Old Road, in September, and was found by the education watchdog to “lead an extremely warm, caring, and welcoming school community which holds its pupils at the heart of all it does”.

The school, which has pupils and students aged from four to 19, continues to be ranked as ‘outstanding’, the best rating possible.

Mr Oldham, who is on a year-long secondment, said: “We are absolutely thrilled our work has been recognised as being so special. The staff go above and beyond for all the children.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Neill Oldham jointly won the Unsung Hero Award at The Gazette Education Awards in 2015, when he was still at Aspire Academy

In a letter to Mr Oldham, Ofsted inspector Martin Hanbury said: “Your staff team and governors are deeply committed to ensuring pupils receive high-quality education, and this commitment permeates everything you do.

“Pupils love coming to school. They say members of staff are ‘amazing’, ‘friendly’, and ‘kind’. Pupils feel respected and included in decisions that are made. Equally, pupils themselves are high respectful of one another.”

Mr Hanbury said youngsters are “enthusiastic” about lessons, including after-school classes like samba dancing and cookery, while parents were “very supportive” and felt teachers “would do anything for their children.”

He said Mr Oldham was “leading the school through a period of change”, with a surge in pupil numbers over the past two years.

Historically high absence rates continued to drop, Mr Hanbury added, the curriculum “inspires pupils to learn”, with children “generally making outstanding progress”.

He said: “Leaders and governors have worked well together to settle pupils into the new school building, to increase pupil numbers, and to secure the financial viability of the school.”

The school, for people with special educational needs, shares an entrance with Aspire Academy, where pupils moved into the £14m building in November 2015.

Mr Oldham was previously assistant headteacher at Aspire, and took over from Ms Sycamore when she retired.

Responsible for special educational needs at Aspire, he began working with Ms Sycamore in January before taking up his post officially in September.