All good at St Agnes after Ofsted visit

A TINY church school in Lees, celebrating its 150th anniversary later this year, continues to impress Ofsted inspectors.St Agnes C of E Primary has been judged as “good” after its first inspection since June 2015.

It promises to be a memorable 12 months for the Knolls Lane school currently attended by 100 pupils and four teachers.

There are big plans to mark its landmark birthday in June while Sarah Butterworth, the current head of school and a teacher at St Agnes since 2007, will start a new role as head teacher in September.

“It was a positive experience,” said Sarah, 34, of the Ofsted visit. “They were very thorough but very fair and they listened.”

Executive head Caroline Ireland, also head teacher at St Thomas’ Leesfield C of E, added: “From our own self-evaluation we were expecting good and we got very good.

“We are like one big family which is why parents choose for their children to come here. It is small and nurtured.”

The report stated: “Pupils are happy and excited to be part of his school.

“They are friendly and polite to adults and each other alike. Pupils love learning.

“Teachers make learning fun and interesting for them. They have high expectations of pupils’ behaviour and conduct. Pupils are safe in school.”

Pupils attend St Agnes – part of the Dovestone Learning Partnership – from Lees, Grotton, Tameside while 30 per cent of the intake are drawn from the Holts estate.

Inspectors noted: “Pupils understand the importance of being kind, respectful and tolerant of difference.

The vast majority of pupils attend school regularly because school is so enjoyable for them.”

The report praises school leaders for devising strong, long-term plans for most subjects across the school, including English and mathematics.

It added: “Teachers demonstrate good subject knowledge and apply this knowledge well to make learning engaging and exciting for pupils.”

Safeguarding arrangements are described as “effective” with the school providing well for “pupils’ mental health. School is considered a safe place by pupils, parents and staff.”

• Sunday School at Knolls Lane began at a cottage at High Knolls in 1868, but a permanent base was needed and the foundation stone for a Sunday School and day school was laid down by Miss Agnes Whittaker on May 21, 1869.

The day school opened on June 20, 1870, beginning with just 22 children, in the nave of the present church.

For four pence (old money) per week children could receive an education in reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography and history.

By 1880 another building, which is now the school hall, was built for the school, and a chancel built onto the first building to make it into a church.

The completed church was opened and dedicated to St Agnes for public worship by the second Bishop of Manchester on November 27, 1880.