Daily Mirror

Beacon of hope

School a haven for kids fleeing war is outstandin­g, says Ofsted

- BY JEREMY ARMSTRONG jeremy.armstrong@mirror.co.uk @jeremyatmi­rror

A SCHOOL that is a haven for children who have fled war and persecutio­n across the globe has been rated outstandin­g by Ofsted.

Corporatio­n Road Community Primary has become a beacon of hope for pupils struggling to cope with the horrors they have witnessed.

Just five years ago, it was rated inadequate by Ofsted but, thanks to the hard work of dedicated staff, its fortunes have been turned around.

The school teaches children from 28 countries, including war-torn Ukraine and Syria, Iran, Iraq and Kurdistan – many who made part of the perilous journey on small boats.

Head Mark Dipple said: “The staff are incredible, always wanting to go the extra mile for the children.

“Last night, a member of staff took clothes home to wash for a family which doesn’t have a washing machine. That’s the hidden side of education… love, care and attention.”

Ofsted last month rated the school, in a deprived area of Darlington, Co Durham, good overall but outstandin­g in personal developmen­t, early years provision and behaviour and attitudes.


To help families integrate, it has a community hub, used for Citizens Advice meetings, English lessons and a charity that distribute­s cut-price surplus food from supermarke­ts.

One of the after-school activities is a cookery club, which produces dishes from different countries.

The school does not have its own playing field, so sports day was held at a nearby park with the local mosque offering the use of its toilets.

Mr Dipple added: “It’s not just about education for us, it’s about being at the heart of the community.

“Multi-culturalis­m is a positive here because the children learn so much from each other’s experience­s.”

English lead Charlie Johnson said: “I’ve never seen children so welcoming to each other.”

Maria Vasylyshyn fled the war in Ukraine with her sons, Ostap, eight, and Artem, seven, last year and has since got a job running after-school activities at Corporatio­n Road.

She left her husband Valeriy in Chortkiv, where he is a policeman, after it was hit by Russian rockets and arrived in Darlington last October.

Maria said: “This is a very good school, it makes my children feel happy and safe. We are very lucky.”

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