Ilford school plots journey from special measures to good Ofsted rating in 18 months

A headteacher has said that it is time for “celebration” after a school came out of special measures and was rated good in the space of 18 months.

Woodlands Junior School, Loxford Lane, Ilford was placed into special measure in February last year but was upgraded to good after an Ofsted inspection.

The amount of children achieving the benchmark standard in maths and English rocketed from 49 per cent in 2011 to 73 per cent in 2012, according to figures released today by the Department for Education.

Joan McGrath, executive headteacher, said: “It’s a celebration now. We may be the only school in the country that went from special measures to good, usually you go to satisfactory first.”

She said the staff played a major role in the turnaround of the school’s performance and a new ethos had helped lift standards.

“We had to change the mindset to the school being for children and we are doing the best for the children,” Mrs McGrath said. “It was passion and commitment and believing in giving children the life they deserve. “I’m employed to serve children and schools needs to be child led as opposed to adult led. “

Before joining the school in September last year Mrs McGrath was the headteacher of St Bede’s Catholic Primary School in Canon Avenue, Chadwell Heath for 17 years.

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She left to work with schools in difficulty.

“It has not been an easy journey, but our focus has always been on having a positive impact on the teaching and learning of every child,” she said.

“This would not have been possible without the total commitment and relentless passion of the staff of the school.”

When Mrs McGrath joined the school she said she focused on staff development and improving teaching standards by encouraging teachers to learn from each other.

She said: “We changed people’s mindset for them to realise what their job description is and show what good teaching looks like. They learn from people who are doing it well and we built a team.”

Her next ambition is to get the school up to the top Ofsted level of excellent.

The school’s inspection was in November.