STAFF and pupils at a village school are celebrating after inspectors gave it a good rating and particularly praised the rapid progress of many of the oldest children.

New headteacher Jo Lewis thanked former acting head Penny Lander, who had been in charge during the lead-up to the Ofsted inspection, for her hard work and said she was delighted to have taken over such a good school.

Inspector Alexander Baxter echoed the tribute to Mrs Lander, who remains at St Nicholas as class six teacher, and in his report said she had used her good knowledge of the school to build on secure foundations. The report said: "The leadership team has maintained the good quality of education in the school since the last inspection.

"The staff’s thoughtful promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and physical well-being continues to be a strength of the school.

"Pupils told me how much they enjoy coming to school and appreciate the supportive relationships they share with adults and with each other that help them to learn."

He said that parents also spoke about their children being happy and well looked after at school. One parent reflected the views of most when writing: "There is a real sense of community here and we love that we feel part of it. A wonderful school, where everybody cares for one another, both pupils and teachers."

Mr Baxter also commented on areas where the school had improved since the previous inspection. The report said: "At the end of both key stages a lower than average proportion of pupils achieved the highest standards in writing. This academic year, your work more specifically to extend pupils’ grammar, spelling and punctuation skills has swiftly borne fruit. As a result, an increasing number of pupils are now using these skills effectively and rapidly improving their writing.

"The second aspect identified for development was to extend pupils’ ability to solve mathematical problems. Over the past year, you have tackled this issue effectively by updating the planned curriculum and increasingly raising teachers’ expectations. You recognise that this focus needs to be sustained to raise pupils’ achievements."

The school has been told it can continue to improve by ensuring that the most able pupils are pushed in maths and for teachers to give more emphasis on developing pupils' handwriting skills.

Mrs Lewis joined St Nicholas after Easter from St Thomas a Becket Primary in Tilshead where she had been for six years. Before that she taught at Walwayne Court in Trowbridge and St John's in Tisbury.