The inspection was carried out by two Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
The school is of average size and is situated near Walsall. Most children join the Nursery with levels of attainment well below those expected for their age. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities is above average. The percentage of pupils whose first language is not English is above average and a few are at an early stage of learning English.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school, with some outstanding features, in which pupils flourish and achieve well. This success comes from good leadership and management, good teaching and learning and the excellent care, guidance and support given to all pupils. One parental comment sums up the views of many, 'the school is very welcoming and supportive of pupils and parents and provides a stimulating learning environment'.
Pupils' achievement is good. A particular strength of the school is the outstanding provision for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities. As a result of the extremely well targeted support and close liaison with outside agencies, their achievement is excellent. Pupils whose first language is not English, including those at an early stage of learning English, make good progress and achieve well because of the carefully planned support tailored to their particular language needs. Children in the Foundation Stage also make good progress as a result of the good provision made, so that they enter Year 1 achieving the expected level for most areas of learning. However, standards in communication, language and literacy are below expected levels because children's awareness of letter sounds is not developing at a fast enough pace. Pupils' achievement continues to be good through the rest of the school and, by the time they leave Year 2, pupils reach broadly average standards in reading, writing, mathematics and science.
Pupils' personal development is good. Throughout the school pupils are well behaved, happy to take on responsibilities and treat each other with respect. They enjoy coming to school because the good curriculum provides them with a variety of stimulating activities throughout the school. It is planned effectively so that there is a good balance between provision for pupils' academic work and their creative development. Teachers and learning support practitioners work well together to provide a variety of interesting activities for pupils. Pupils respond well to this and demonstrate positive attitudes to learning.
Relationships between staff and pupils are very good and this leads to a friendly working atmosphere in all classrooms. All staff are committed to ensuring pupils' health, safety and well-being. Very strong links with a variety of support services, who often work with individual pupils, enhance this aspect of the school's work. The school is working hard to promote good attendance but, despite the school's best efforts, a small group of pupils do not come to school regularly enough.
Leadership and management have created a good team ethos, and all staff have a clear view as to how the school can improve further. There has been good improvement since the last inspection in many aspects of the school's performance, such as teaching and learning, pupils' achievement and personal development. The school's track record in recent years shows it has good capacity for improvement.
What the school should do to improve further
- Improve strategies for teaching letter sounds so that children in the Foundation Stage develop their knowledge at a much faster pace.
Achievement and standards
Most children enter the school with low levels of attainment but, as a result of their good achievement, pupils leave at the end of Year 2 with broadly average standards. The stimulating, carefully planned activities in the Foundation Stage enable children to make good progress in most areas of learning. However, progress in children's writing and phonic skills is slower as their understanding of letter sounds is not developing quickly enough. In Years 1 and 2, progress continues to be good because of the good quality teaching and learning, including the strong emphasis across the curriculum on pupils developing their basic skills in English by writing at length. The achievement of pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities is outstanding.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' spiritual, moral and social development is good. Pupils are tolerant of others and have a thorough understanding of what is right and wrong. They work and play well together in pairs and small groups and treat each other with respect. Cultural development is relatively weaker as pupils do not have a clear understanding of the different cultures, traditions and beliefs that are found in Britain. Pupils are enthusiastic and have good self-esteem. A small minority of pupils do not attend school as regularly as they should and this inhibits them from making good progress. Pupils are confident in taking on responsibilities, such as being part of the school council. They know how to stay safe, and show this by being careful when playing in the playground. They have an exceptionally strong understanding of how to lead a healthy lifestyle. As one pupil commented, 'I like the school because it is a healthy one'. Many pupils participate in sporting activities and can talk knowledgeably about a healthy diet. They play an active role in the community. For example, they raise funds for local charities and confidently develop the skills that will help them in their future lives by working collaboratively with each other.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teachers in the Foundation Stage provide carefully structured and interesting activities that captivate children, enabling them to achieve well. Progress is relatively slower in relation to language and literacy skills because children's basic knowledge of letter sounds is not developed quickly enough. In Years 1 and 2, teachers plan their lessons carefully so that work builds effectively upon what pupils already know. Pupils enjoy lessons because teachers plan interesting activities. This was evident in a history lesson in Year 2, when pupils were challenged to record their visit to the Black Country Museum in a creative way by using a variety of art resources. Relationships with teachers are very good, enabling children to become confident learners. Learning support practitioners make a significant contribution in lessons by effectively supporting pupils, particularly those with learning difficulties and disabilities. Work for these pupils is targeted extremely well to meet their individual learning needs and their achievement is outstanding as a result.
Curriculum and other activities
In the Foundation Stage, the curriculum provides a good balance between teacher directed activities and those which children choose for themselves. As a result, children grow in confidence and effectively develop their skills in becoming independent learners. In Years 1 and 2, the curriculum builds well on pupils' own experiences and is focused effectively on developing their ability to take responsibility and show initiative in their activities. The school provides a broad range of after-school activities and educational visits, including a residential stay for pupils in Year 2 in Bewdley. These opportunities effectively promote pupils' academic, creative and personal skills. There is good liaison with other professionals, such as artists, theatre groups, sports coaches and health workers, to extend pupils' experiences. There is also an outstanding programme to promote pupils' personal development, which has enabled the school to gain the national Healthy School Award. Consequently, pupils show an excellent understanding of how to live a healthy lifestyle. The provision for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities is outstanding, with individual needs being accurately identified and very effective procedures put into place to help them make excellent progress.
Care, guidance and support
Parents are overwhelmingly appreciative of the way the school looks after their children. For example, one wrote, 'The staff are a dedicated and very caring group of people'. All who work in the school treat each pupil as special and are committed to ensuring their health and safety. The high quality of the school's care is reflected in the way pupils say they feel safe and secure in school and know they can talk to an adult if they have any worries or concerns. Procedures for child protection are excellent, with all staff thoroughly aware of the action to take if they have any concerns about a pupil. Risk assessments are carried out very rigorously in and around the school and for off-site visits. Liaison with outside agencies to provide extra support for pupils who need it is very strong. The specific needs of pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities are met in an outstanding way because of these links. The arrangements for checking pupils' academic progress are comprehensive and used very effectively to set challenging targets for them to improve their work. Marking is used well to suggest to pupils how they might improve their work and the school is developing effectively the pupils' involvement in evaluating how well they are doing.
Leadership and management
The strong leadership of the headteacher has played a central role in the good improvement made since the last inspection. She has an understanding of the needs of the school and a clear vision of how further improvements can be made. All staff share this vision and there is a very strong team ethos. The school's self-evaluation is good and has accurately identified and prioritised areas for development. The recent restructuring of the senior leadership team has effectively involved a wider range of staff in monitoring the performance of the school. Members of this team have quickly gained a thorough understanding of their individual roles, although they do not always relate their own priorities for development sufficiently clearly to the overall priorities for the school. There is a clear focus on scrutinising and analysing data to bring about improvement. As a result, the school has a much better understanding of its own performance and this has led to improvements in many aspects of the school's provision. Governance is good with governors being very supportive of the school and also willing to ask questions about proposals made by the senior leadership team.