Catholic school which survived blaze wins major award

From left to right: Joene, Head Boy, Mrs Titus, Headmistress, Harriette, Kacper, Jennifer, Head Girl and Ms Kirby, Deputy Head.

From left to right: Joene, Head Boy, Mrs Titus, Headmistress, Harriette, Kacper, Jennifer, Head Girl and Ms Kirby, Deputy Head.

A Catholic school which was based in temporary accommodation for three years after being badly damaged in a fire, has been been voted the second best state primary school in the country.

St Joseph's Roman Catholic Primary School in Willesden, northwest London, was given the ranking this week in the Sunday Times School Guide 2019.

A statement from the school said: "We are delighted for the whole school community who have continued to aspire to excellence despite the circumstances of the last three years when we have been recovering from the school fire of September 2015. More than 500 nursery and primary pupils aged 3 to 11 years old were evacuated into the playground of St Joseph's alongside 65 staff as flames began to tear through the roof and upper floors around 3pm on September 22, 2015.

"Following the fire, the children and staff relocated for eight weeks at a local secondary school before moving into temporary classrooms on our school site for the next three years. We moved back into our school building in September 2018. In that period, the children continued to access a full curriculum and continued to excel year on year as demonstrated in the Sunday Times School guide data.

"It is the children that we are most proud of; their resilience and love for learning is an example to us all at St Joseph's and to their peers nationally.

"We will continue to ensure that the children's expectations are not formed by the circumstances around them, but that they will form their future through high expectations and a desire to fulfil their potential, whatever their circumstances."

Headteacher Mrs Dawn Titus said: "The three years in temporary classrooms was challenging with restrictions on space for storage and meetings as we wanted to ensure priority was given to the learning areas for the children. The support of the parents, the children, and the wider community brought strength and determination for continuous focus on the learning so the children's education would not be affected. We are of course delighted to be back 'home' in the school building now."

This is not the first time school has been praised. In March 2013, Ofsted inspectors St Joseph's an "outstanding" rating.

Visit St Joseph's Primary School website:

Read reports of the fire:

Tags: School, St Joseph's, Harlesden, Dawn Titus, Fire

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