Ofsted has praised an Essex school following its first inspection since it became an academy, despite protests against the move.

Waltham Holy Cross Primary Academy was initially embroiled in conflict when the Department for Education decided in 2018 it should become an academy, after Ofsted put it in special measures.

The move was met with strong opposition from staff and parent communities, leading to striking and various protest actions.

Despite this, the school was officially enrolled in the NET Academies Trust in late 2019.

Ofsted has now carried out its first inspection of the the Essex based institution, ranking it as 'good' with particular regard for its "outstanding pupil behaviour and attitudes" and "outstanding leadership and management".

Sarah Clarke, head of school at Waltham Holy Cross Primary Academy, expressed her delight in the assessment. 

She said: "We are all delighted with the Ofsted report.

"This has been several years of hard work and I want to pay tribute to the incredibly talented staff team here at the school and the support we have had from NET Academies Trust."

Incredibly, one of the original opponents of the move, Jayshree Tailor, is now a parent governor at the school, having led the anti-academy campaign.

Ms Taylor said: "NET Academies have fulfilled every promise they made when they sponsored Waltham Holy Cross.

"The school is now a happy, thriving learning environment."

Highlights from the Ofsted report painted a positive picture, including praise for the "pupils [who] proudly and happily attend this school," and that "all staff have high expectations for pupils."

It particularly noted pupils "behave exceptionally well" and are producing "high-quality work".

The report also commends the "well-considered and ambitious curriculum" developed by the school and applauded the "well-trained and knowledgeable" teachers, hardworking pupils, and the "swift and effective" school improvement.

Jo Coton, the chief executive officer of NET Academies Trust, said: "The scale of the opposition in 2018 and 2019 made it a very difficult time for us.

"There were marches and protests, and strikes by staff, and it took its toll.

"It would have been easier to withdraw and just focus on the great schools already in our trust.

"But we had been asked to take the school on by the Government and we knew we could improve it."

"When the school eventually joined NET, we spent a huge amount of time talking to parents, showing them we wanted the same as them and putting in place the good practice that we knew would have a positive impact."