A PRIMARY school has been told to improve after standards in English lagged at key stages.

Formerly a ‘good’ school, St John Southworth RC School, Nelson, has been rated as ‘requires improvement’ in its latest Ofsted inspection.

The school is said to be experiencing a big challenge with English with more than 60 per cent of pupils speaking it as an additional language.

Headteacher Chris Higgins said the school was becoming well prepared to handle an influx of non-English speakers.

The school has a majority of pupils of Pakistani heritage with an increasing number of pupils joining with Eastern European backgrounds.

Mr Higgins, who joined the school in September along with with a new deputy, said all staff had undergone training to teach English as a foreign language.

Inspectors noted that the leadership team was new and said the school was ‘steadily improving and well placed to continue to do so’.

Lead inspector David Byrne said: “Children make good progress in the Early Years Foundation Stage and achieve well from starting points that are typically below expectations for their age.

“The school is a safe, secure and welcoming community. Pupils from different backgrounds get on well together, playing and working alongside one another in harmony.

“A wide range of activities extends pupils’ knowledge of the world and promotes good spiritual, social, moral and cultural awareness.

“A legacy of underachievement remains, however. Standards are still, at best, average in reading, writing and mathematics; the most able pupils are not yet making consistently good progress, and standards in spelling, punctuation and grammar are below average at Key Stage 2.”

Mr Higgins added: “When children come with little English, we are now well placed to give the support they need.

“I was pleased that Ofsted noticed our accelerated progress and our children’s excellent behaviour and the way they take care of one another.

“The inspector mentioned to me that the school was like a haven.”