Primary school which was ravaged by a fire receives top accolade

The Mayor of Wigan Coun Steve Dawber and consort Oliver Waite with head teacher Amy Burkes and pupils
The Mayor of Wigan Coun Steve Dawber and consort Oliver Waite with head teacher Amy Burkes and pupils

A borough primary school which was ravaged by a fire just over a year ago has been named as one of the top schools in the country.

Westleigh Methodist Primary School is one of just a handful of schools from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be shortlisted for Primary School of the Year for the Pearson National Teaching Awards.

In March 2018 around half of the school’s buildings were completely destroyed by a blaze which broke out in the main hall.

The same summer, pupils went on to achieve their best recorded results, putting them in the top three per cent of schools in the country.

Julie-ann Hewitt, CEO of the Acorn Trust which Westleigh is part of, said: “Just over a year ago we were devasted.

“We had lost about 50 per cent of the school to a fire and many of our children didn’t have a classroom to learn in.

“With the help of our community we pulled together and our children rose to the challenges that we were faced with.

“As a result, our SATs result were amongst the best in the country and our school came together in a way that will have a lasting legacy for children for years to come.”

The primary school is one of just 68 silver award winners across the country to received a prestigious Pearson Silver Award, which it was presented with by the Mayor of Wigan on Wednesday.

The school will join fellow Silver Award winners at a ceremony in October which will be broadcast on BBC2’s “Britain’s Classroom Heroes” as a showcase of excellence in education.

Previous award presenters include former Prime Ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair, actors Jenny Agutter, Alison Steadman and Sheila Hancock, as well as TV personalities including Shirley Ballas, Helen Glover, Brendan Cole and Nadiya Hussain.

Rod Bristow, president of Pearson UK, said: “We mustn’t forget that these pupils may well be the next generation of teachers, and that’s all thanks to the commitment of those currently in the profession.

“Recognising and celebrating teachers for the lasting impact they have on young people’s lives is crucial, and that’s why Pearson is delighted to support these awards every year.”