Scores of schools and nurseries in north Essex have been named the best in the county.

Education watchdog Ofsted has rated 17 schools or nurseries in Colchester outstanding this year, the highest for any area in Essex.

Colchester Royal Grammar School, St John’s Primary School, Holmwood House School and its nursery and Montgomery Infant and Nursery were all rated outstanding for a second year running.

Fordham All Saints, Feering Primary School, Thorpe le Soken Pre-school were also praised as was St Thomas More’s Primary, Hamilton Primary School and Colchester Sixth Form College.

The list means Colchester has the highest number of childcare providers named as outstanding. A quarter of all schools or nurseries on the list hailed from the town.

Its nearest rival was Brentwood and Chelmsford with seven outstanding institutions each.

The findings have fuelled feelings about Lord Hanningfield’s comments about the town falling behind.

Christine Rudland, head teacher of Montgomery Infant and Nursery, said: “I’m sick of people saying Colchester is a failing town.

“We are so concerned now with league tables and GCSE results we are forgetting about good behaviour, good attitude, citizenship and cultural input of our children and it’s fine if they won’t set the world alight academically.

“There is a lot to be celebrated about Colchester schools.”

Ken Jenkinson, head teacher at Colchester Royal Grammar School, also named the top grammar school in the country by the Financial Times this week, said: “The students and staff deserve this recognition for all their hard work.

“There is much to celebrate in education in Colchester and north-east Essex.”