THE fortunes of a previously failing school have been turned around less than a year after it was placed in special measures.

Phoenix Primary School, in Leinster Road, Laindon, now has an Ofsted rating of “good”.

Inspectors who visited the school last month found it had outstanding leadership and management.

Tracy Ahern, born and bred in Basildon, took over as headteacher two years ago when the school was under notice to improve. She made “hard decisions” on changes, including bringing in new staff.

She said: “I’m ecstatic, but it’s very much a team effort. We have 60 staff, cleaners through to teachers, and everyone has contributed.

“We’ve very much risen from the ashes – we were seen as failing even before we went into special measures.

"Now we’re in a position where we can say ‘yes, we’ve done it’ and we’re going to push for ‘outstanding’ in everything. We can also turn to other schools and say ‘we can help you’ – if we can do it, you can do it.”

The watchdogs found Phoenix standards were “rising rapidly” and teaching was “good and an increasing proportion outstanding”.

Pupils’ behaviour was good and attendance levels had also improved significantly.

Lead inspector David Jones said: “The headteacher expects high standards from pupils and teachers and has significantly improved the school in less than a year. The leadership team has driven forward every aspect of school life with vision, relentless energy and shared values.”

Mrs Ahern said her team had been working closely with parents and the school regularly held English, maths and IT sessions for them.

She added: “We have been trying to change the attitudes of parents towards learning, which changes the kids’ outlook. We’re making learning fun, as well as doing other things we need to do as well.”

Ofsted said the school had not quite reached the “outstanding’’ category because:

- Pupils did not achieve consistently well in reading, writing and mathematics across all year groups.

- Teaching was not yet outstanding.

- Links with a limited number of pre-schools had not ensured a consistent approach in the way early literacy and numeracy skills were taught.