Ambler Primary School gets ‘outstanding’ Ofsted

Ambler Primary School, led by headteacher Juliet Benis, celebrate its 'outstanding' Ofsted score tod

Ambler Primary School, led by headteacher Juliet Benis, celebrate its 'outstanding' Ofsted score today. Picture: Catherine Davison - Credit: Archant

Ambler Primary is officially one of Islington’s best schools – and its staff are already planning how to make it even better.

The school, in Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park, was today given an “outstanding” Ofsted score – the highest possible mark.

The report came after a two-day inspection last month, and praised Ambler’s “outstanding” teachers, “ambitious” head and “highly engaged” pupils. Inspector Sara Morgan was delighted at one Year 5 pupil’s use of the phrase “pouring scorn” in their study of Shakespeare classic Macbeth.

It was especially satisfying for headteacher Juliet Benis, who has worked at the school for 23 years and has been headteacher for nine of those.

“We’ve worked for a long time to get to this point,” she said after the report was published this morning. “When I took over nine years ago, this school wasn’t great.

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“The standards were low. Fifty-six per cent of the children weren’t achieving what they should be achieving – which is terrible. And the attendance was 92pc, meaning there were so many pupils missing out on their education.”

Ms Benis said her mission was to challenge Ambler’s culture of underachievement: “Our leadership has focused on setting standards. I would never employ a teacher who is below ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ level. I’d rather take the risk of not employing anyone at all and have one of our senior leaders fill in, rather than have a teacher who is not up to standard.”

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Ambler’s previous inspection, in 2012, was “good” – second on the scale behind “outstanding”.

And Ms Benis said the upturn was down to those specially selected teachers: “I’m really proud of the staff because they have an attitude that we can make the school better still. They are asking: ‘What can we do next?’

“What also helps is that we have an amazing set of parents who do all sorts of fundraising for extra-curricular activities. It shows this school has so much to offer.”

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