TRADITIONAL “bread and butter” teaching has helped a special school achieve the highest rating possible.

Inspectors judged St Christopher School, in Leigh, “outstanding” in all areas after a visit last month.

The report said children’s individual needs were met, enabling them to make progress “in leaps and bounds” and the quality of teaching was “going from strength to strength” so that it was always good and a lot of it outstanding.

In her report, lead inspector Debra McCarthy said: “This is an exceptional school. It is special in every sense of the word.”

The Ofsted team praised headteacher Jackie Mullan for her “uncompromising drive for improvement” and also recognised the skills and dedication of the staff.

But Mrs Mullan, who has helped the school make the difficult leap from “good” in 2010 to the top rating despite a tightening of Ofsed’s inspection regime, said the secret to success was simple.

She said: “There is no magic formula, it’s bread and butter teaching.

“It’s high-quality, determined work to do the best for the children and a partnership with parents.”

She also credited an on-site speech and language therapist and flexible, imaginative work from staff, including arranging visits from dance and theatre groups and Army cadets.

Mrs Mullan said: “A judgement of such overwhelming overall praise for all aspects of the school’s work only comes from a recognition of the quality of teamwork involved.

“I would especially like to thank the senior leadership team for their hard work and support and our parents for being so positive and for their partnership in working to help our pupils make as much progress as possible.”

James Courtenay, Southend councillor responsible for children and learning, said: “This is wonderful news.

“I am delighted for the children and their parents and would like to congratulate them for their continued support and encouragement for the school, which has helped to achieve this terrific result.

“I am also delighted for the headteacher and her fantastic team whose hard work, dedication and continued drive for improvements are clearly bringing results and being recognised by Ofsted.”