The inspection was carried out by one Additional Inspector.
The inspector evaluated the overall effectiveness of the school and investigated the following issues: pupils' achievement, particularly in English and mathematics, teachers' use of assessment in setting challenging tasks well matched to pupils' different learning needs, and the extent to which leaders check the work of the school to remove barriers to pupils' learning and make further improvements in standards. Evidence was gathered from observation of lessons, pupils' work, discussions with staff, governors and pupils, and a scrutiny of school documents and questionnaires. Other aspects of the school's work were not investigated in detail, but the inspector found no evidence to suggest that the school's own assessments, as given in its self-evaluation, were not justified, and these have been included where appropriate in this report.
Description of the school
The school is average in size. The proportion of pupils entitled to free school meals is well above average, indicating the high degree of social disadvantage within the local community. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is above average and particularly high in some year groups. Although the majority of pupils are of White British heritage, an increasing number are of Asian, African, Chinese or mixed backgrounds. The proportion of these pupils with English as an additional language is close to the national average, although most of them are beyond the early stage of learning English. The number of families moving into and out of the area is much higher than normal. In 2007, over one third of the pupils leaving Year 6 began their education in other schools or had emigrated from another country. The school has a high proportion of children in care.
Overall effectiveness of the school
All Saints is a good and successful school that provides good value for money. The good level of care, support and guidance provided is the bedrock of the school's effectiveness. All pupils, particularly the most vulnerable ones, are safeguarded, valued and fully included. This enables them to grow in confidence and achieve well. This is why the school is highly appreciated by parents. 'My children love school and are keen to learn', is typical of parents' comments.
Pupils' achievement is good and children in the Foundation Stage achieve equally well. Infant pupils make good progress in relation to their starting points, even though standards are still below average by the end of Year 2. Standards in Year 6 have risen well in response to the challenging targets set and reached national averages in 2006. Results dipped to well below average levels in 2007 but only because half of the pupils in Year 6 had learning difficulties and a third of them had only joined the school in Year 5. School assessments show that, although these pupils made good progress, many of them were unable to reach the levels expected. The current Year 6 group is more typical and standards are broadly average in English and science, although below average in mathematics. In the past, standards in mathematics and science have always been higher than in English but this is no longer the case. Pupils achieve particularly well in science, not least because the school pays great attention to developing their skills of investigation. Their good achievement in reading reflects the strong focus on word building and comprehension skills. Pupils' achievement in writing is good and has significantly improved over the previous two years due to teachers setting clear targets for pupils to aim for. The heavy concentration of time and energy spent on English has paid dividends but has overshadowed developments in mathematics. Pupils' achievement in mathematics, although satisfactory, is not as good as in other core subjects because of weakness in their calculation and problem-solving skills. The good curriculum provided caters well for pupils' diverse needs, interests and talents. This is why the achievements of boys, girls, more able pupils, pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and pupils with English as an additional language are very similar and equally good overall.
Pupils' personal development is good. Some aspects are outstanding such as their mature sense of social responsibility and enjoyment of school. This is evident in the improving levels of attendance, which are now close to the national average. Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is also outstanding. They have an excellent awareness of other cultures and a pronounced disapproval of any form of bullying or racism. Behaviour is good. An effective personal, social and health education programme ensures that pupils appreciate the importance of leading safe and healthy lifestyles. They are being adequately prepared for the future, although their numeracy skills are not as secure as their skills in literacy.
Teaching is good across the school. The management of pupils in lessons is exemplary. Lessons are calm, purposeful and interesting, and pupils give of their best. Teachers make sure that pupils know what is expected of them and keep them well informed of how well they are learning and what they need to do to improve. This is evident in the constructive marking of their work and the clarity with which pupils understand and explain their targets. Excellent support provided by very competent teaching assistants enables pupils with learning, language and emotional difficulties to overcome many of these barriers and learn successfully. Pupils' learning is regularly and thoroughly assessed. In most lessons the information is used effectively to provide tasks that closely match pupils' different learning needs. Learning is exceptionally good when teachers listen intently to what pupils say and raise the challenge the instant pupils grasp a new idea. Very occasionally, when similar tasks are given to all pupils, irrespective of their different needs, the pace of learning is not as quick.
The school benefits from good leadership and management. The headteacher's clear vision and high expectations are reflected in the very caring atmosphere, the strong focus on achievement and the stunning displays of pupils' work. The work of the school is checked rigorously by senior staff and subject leaders. Lessons are observed, pupils' books are examined and assessments are very carefully analysed. This has led to accurate self-evaluation, a good level of consistency in teaching and has ensured that areas requiring attention are quickly identified. The information is shared with governors, which helps them to provide good support in holding the school to account. Pupils' progress is studied meticulously. At the first sign of any faltering achievement, swift action is taken to provide additional support. This has helped the school to raise standards in reading and writing: a major achievement, given pupils' initial difficulties with spoken language. There has been a marked improvement in teaching, standards and attendance since the previous inspection. A tradition of well focused whole-school planning has fuelled the school's good capacity for improvement. The determination to maintain and build upon the improvements in English is very evident in the current school improvement plan, although the steps required to raise achievement in mathematics are not mapped out to the same degree.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
The vast majority of children enter the Nursery with knowledge and skills well below those expected for their age and particularly low in aspects of language and mathematics. By the end of Reception, two thirds of the children are working within the goals expected. Despite the good progress made, a third of the children are still not ready to begin working within the National Curriculum, which is why further opportunities are provided for them to explore and learn in Year 1. Provision in the Foundation Unit is good and it is well led and managed. Children settle into routines quickly, gain independence and work and play together happily. Their excitement in learning is mirrored in their faces, for example, as they eagerly anticipate eating the bread they are about to bake. As children explore their surroundings, adults are quick to engage them in conversation, increasing their vocabulary and improving their communication skills. Their responses are carefully assessed so that future activities can be tailored accordingly. Children participate in valuable reading activities, although on a few occasions, teaching time can be lost when it takes a long time to bring them together.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise achievement and standards in mathematics.
- Ensure that the school improvement plan illustrates precisely how this will be achieved.