CHILDREN, staff and parents at an East Oxford school are celebrating after the school was removed from special measures.

And after just over a year in the warning zone, inspectors felt so confident SS Mary and John Primary School, Meadow Lane, had improved, it jumped two categories from inadequate to good.

Petronella Spivey, the chairman of governors, said: “At the time we were devastated. Though inspectors acknowledged the school had many strengths, they were seriously critical of some areas.

“Our headteacher, Pip Murray, had just retired and we seemed to have a mountain to climb.”

In November 2010, the school, which has 406 pupils, was criticised for the fact Pakistani children – 16 per cent of pupils – fared significantly worse than their peers.

Quality of teaching was variable and inspectors said leaders at the highest level lacked strong ambition, drive and aspiration necessary to make improvements.

But following an inspection in February, inspector Daniel Towl said the school had improved rapidly, with Pakistani pupils now making good progress.

According to Ofsted, of 384 schools removed from either notice to improve or special measures categories in 2010-2011, only 90 made “exceptional progress” to be judged good or outstanding rather than satisfactory.

Headteacher Liz Burton was seconded to the school in January 2011 from St Ebbe’s Primary School in Whitehouse Road, where she had been for 12 years, and took the post permanently in September.

She said: “We have worked very, very hard as a team and really focused on improving teaching and learning and embedding high expectations for every single child.

“It has been a challenging journey and it has been difficult – but it’s been well worth it.

“I am definitely here for the long haul because I love it, it’s a fantastic multicultural city school.”

Twenty-four different languages are spoken at the school and pupils come from 14 different ethnic groups.

Zena Forster has a daughter, Millie, eight, at the school, and two sons who previously attended.

She said: “I have seen changes but I always believed in the school.

“To us it is our outstanding local community school.”

Susanna Grimson has two daughters, Ruth, 10, and Isabel, nine, who currently attend.

She said: “This is really well-deserved, everyone has been working so hard. There is a feeling the school has become more ambitious academically with a more focused atmosphere.

“We have always been happy with the school but talking to other parents, they feel their children are now getting a better deal.”

Oxfordshire County Council schools cabinet member Melinda Tilley congratulated the school.

She said: “It’s very rare to go from inadequate to good.

“They have done really well to accomplish it, especially as Ofsted has raised the bar quite a bit.”