THE news about Northallerton School and Sixth Form College’s Ofsted report is simply tremendous.

The difficulties the school has faced in recent years are well documented and do not need to be dwelt upon here. But it is important to acknowledge just how far the staff – many of them new – the fresh governing body, pupils and supportive parents have come in the last three years – two of which have been blighted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Given the background, an Ofsted rating of “good” is a major achievement and fully reflects my impression of the school when I had the honour and privilege of opening the new campus last year.

READ MORE: 'Good' Ofsted rating for Northallerton School

In my previous visit to the school in May 2019, the transformation under new headteacher Vicki Rahn was well underway. Problems over safeguarding of pupils, discipline, attendance and educational attainment were being robustly addressed.

But it was very clear that the old Grammar School premises and the bits that had been added to the buildings over the years had created what was a far from ideal learning environment.

Which is why I was so supportive of the bid to secure £8.7m from the Department for Education to fund the relocation and rebuild of the school.

The new twin campus at the former Allertonshire site – rapidly completed in time for this academic year – is a world away from Grammar School Lane in more ways than one.

Leaving aside the obvious boost to morale the new school premises have provided, during my visit I was struck by some of the new approaches to learning and particularly the sharing of teaching expertise across the academy trust of which Northallerton School is now part.

Using video conferencing technology, a Year 12 applied science lesson in Northallerton was being viewed by pupils at Stokesley School and Sixth Form College which, along with Richmond School and Sixth Form College, is part of the Areté Learning Trust.

It is a way of ensuring the greatest choice of courses across the three schools and an example of the benefit the schools have from being in a multi-academy trust.

The turnaround has been warmly welcomed in our town, which I know takes great pride in its new school. Along with the local community, I will be doing everything I can to support it in the years ahead.

There was more good news this week from our local hospital trust. I have been in regular contact throughout the pandemic with the managers responsible for our Friarage Hospital and the James Cook University Hospital and I am pleased to say the situation continues to improve.

Although infection rates remain comparatively high, the numbers of patients with the virus requiring hospital care continues to fall.

A major factor in this is our doctors' pioneering use of new antibody and antiviral treatments for patients when they first test positive for coronavirus. More than 800 patients with a range of other conditions such as cancer and immune-deficiency disorders have used the service and the need for stays in hospital reduced.

This has helped enormously in keeping treatment of non-Covid conditions going. More than 3,300 operations, of which almost 2,500 were planned procedures, have taken place over the last five weeks. That’s very positive news.