St Joseph’s Catholic Voluntary Academy has been graded Outstanding in every area by Catholic schools’ inspectors.

The school, in Mill Hill Lane, Derby, underwent its Catholic Schools Inspectorate inspection, which is the national framework for the inspection of Catholic schools, over two days in December 2023.

The overall quality of Catholic education provided by the school, Catholic life and mission, religious education and collective worship were all graded Outstanding.

Inspectors described Headteacher Tracey Churchill as an “inspirational leader” who, supported by staff and governors, motivates the school community to live out its mission statement.

They also said that the key principles of Catholic Social Teaching were evident in the ways in which the school welcomes everyone in a spirit of generous hospitality, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Pupil enjoyment of religious education is marked by a high level of interest, enthusiasm, and engagement and the chaplaincy provision has a significant and profound impact on the spiritual life of the school, inspectors said.

The report said: “Pupils fully embrace the distinctive Catholic identity of their school. They understand that it encourages them to follow the teachings of Jesus, and that their mission statement ‘helps us to work hand in hand with each other’. Pupils exude happiness and confidence and have a well-established sense of belonging to their community. Pupils’ behaviour is exemplary at all times.”

The school’s inclusive nature was highlighted in the report which said: “Staff members go above and beyond expectations in participating and contributing to the Catholic life and mission, helping to create a very strong sense of family, where all are welcome, particularly those who are most vulnerable.”

Pastoral care was described as outstanding, with a strong focus on adapting the school and its procedures to cater for a variety of concerns. Praise was also given to the religious education delivered by the school.

“Pupils are developing secure knowledge, understanding and skills within their religious education. Their progress is consistently good in knowing more and remembering more, with all groups, including those with particular needs, achieving the best possible outcomes from their starting points,” inspectors said.

Collective worship was another area that was highlighted and inspectors said: “Pupil participation and engagement in prayer and liturgy is marked by infectious enthusiasm, a deep sense of respect and a clear understanding of its importance in the school’s daily life.”

Mrs Churchill said: “It is an absolute pleasure to serve children and a community that have a clear respect for our faith. Our school team work so hard to enable our children to be true witnesses and I am delighted that they have received this outcome.”

Kevin Gritton, Chief Executive of the St Ralph Sherwin Trust, said: “This is fantastic news for St Joseph’s and is very well deserved. It is great to read about all of the wonderful work that is going on at the school in order to provide every child with an excellent Catholic education.”