EDWARD Feild School was rated outstanding, Ofsted’s highest rating, just a year before headteacher Cathryn Wilkes took charge.

Her predecessor, John Hawkins, had overseen the school’s improvement and climb up the rankings before he retired.

When inspectors visited in December 2008, they said: “Edward Feild is an outstanding school, because pupils make outstanding progress.

“A very strong ethos of respect and care is evident throughout the school and particularly in classrooms.”

They added: “Pupils work diligently in lessons, behave outstandingly and have great pride in their school.”

Mrs Wilkes said that arriving at the school in September 2009 was “a very big challenge”.

She added: “A real strength of the school is the outstanding teaching.

“There are excellent teachers, really committed and enthusiastic.

“They work really hard to make sure children are engaged and included.

“All the lessons I visit are lively and engaging, with lots of visits and lots of visitors.

“When Years Five and Six were studying the Second World War, one of the teachers’ mums, who was an evacuee, came in and told them all about it, and they spent a day having a lesson in wartime conditions.”

She added: “Everybody is open, willing to learn and flexible – the teachers are still learners themselves.”

But she said that despite the high praise from Ofsted, no school could ever stand still.

Since arriving from Bloxham Primary School, Mrs Wilkes has introduced her own changes.

The school is currently working on making its curriculum more creative, giving pupils more control over the topics they study.

And the school is also expanding its social and emotional aspects of learning (Seal) programme.

Mrs Wilkes said: “The teaching, learning and behaviour is outstanding, but we felt the social and emotional development of children was of equal importance, and we have really worked hard in that area.”

A newly created ‘nurture room’, called Eddie’s Room, has been opened up for Seal lessons with small groups and one-to-one tuition.

During break times, pupils can refer themselves to Eddie’s Room to chat to staff, allowing them to pick up issues from home that may be affecting their work or leaving them unhappy.

Also new to the school is a reward system of Caught Being Good (CBG) stamps, which can be given out by all members of staff to pupils for good behaviour or performance in lessons.

When they tot up 30 CBGs, pupils get a bronze badge, 60 for silver and 90 for gold.

When pupils get 150 CBGs, the governors present them with a book.

Mrs Wilkes said: “Parents have been really positive about the new behaviour policy and we have had lots of comments.

“Just the other day, I was stopped in a supermarket car park in Banbury by a parent saying how much they liked the CBGs.”