A BANBURY primary school has become the first in the county to be given the ‘requires improvement’ rating by education inspectors Ofsted.

Up until the end of the last academic year, schools could be judged outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate.

Now satisfactory has been thrown out and replaced by ‘requires improvement’, meaning schools so judged will have another full inspection within two years and given a list of things to be done to improve further.

St Mary’s Primary School, Southam Road, Banbury, is the first Oxfordshire school to receive the judgment.

Headteacher Kathryn Crawford said: “It wasn’t a surprise to be in that category. I joined the school a year ago after a period of uncertainty for the school because of changes in leadership over the last few years and we now have a very stable leadership team with a clear capacity to improve.

“When I arrived, one of the first things we did was to identify what the needs of the school were and what the strengths were, and also identify the areas where we need to improve.

“So we were already working on and addressing many of the issues which had been identified.”

The school was told pupils did not make consistently good progress and teaching was not good enough.

Writing, maths and marking were also highlighted as areas for improvement.

But inspector James Henry said Miss Crawford and other senior leaders had brought stability and drive to the school.

He said: “They understand what the school does well and what needs to improve.

“Changes are being made to move the school forward.”

Miss Crawford described the report as a positive thing and pointed out there was now no inadequate teaching.

Shortcomings in the foundation stage had also been addressed, with the school investing £25,000 to revamp the indoor and outdoor facilities for the youngest pupils.

Behaviour and safety of pupils was given a good rating. Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs results were also at a four-year high.

When the school was last inspected, it was satisfactory.

Miss Crawford said: “I’m not saying that at this point everything is wonderful and everything is perfect, otherwise we would have had a good or outstanding judgment, but the school is moving in the right direction and making improvements continuously.”

Cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley welcomed the new Ofsted rating.

Ms Tilley said: “This new category places the emphasis on schools moving forward and improving rather than staying the same.”