Ashurst Primary School
phone: 01744 678150
headteacher: Mr Brian Banks
210 pupils capacity: 120% full
155 boys 62%
95 girls 38%
Last updated: June 18, 2014
Primary — Community School
- Education phase
- Establishment type
- Community School
- Establishment #
- OSGB coordinates
- Easting: 353022, Northing: 396802
- GPS coordinates
- Latitude: 53.466, Longitude: -2.7091
- Accepting pupils
- 3—11 years old
- Census date
- Jan. 16, 2014
- Ofsted last inspection
- July 11, 2013
- Region › Const. › Ward
- North West › St. Helens North › Blackbrook
- Urban > 10k - less sparse
- Investor in People
- Committed IiP Status
- Free school meals %
- 0.2 miles Blackbrook St Mary's Catholic Primary School WA119QY (399 pupils)
- 0.2 miles Blackbrook RC Infant School WA119QY
- 0.2 miles Blackbrook RC Junior School WA119QY
- 0.2 miles St. Catherine's Secure Centre WA119RJ
- 0.4 miles Orrell School WA119RF
- 0.5 miles St Augustine of Canterbury Catholic High School WA119BB (639 pupils)
- 0.6 miles Richard Evans Community Primary School WA110AH
- 0.6 miles Richard Evans Community Junior School WA110AH
- 0.7 miles Merton Bank Primary School WA91EJ (208 pupils)
- 0.7 miles St Peter and St Paul Catholic Primary School WA119AT (207 pupils)
- 0.7 miles Merton Bank Junior School WA91EJ
- 0.7 miles Merton Bank Infant School WA91EJ
- 0.8 miles Richard Evans Community Infant School WA110BH
- 0.9 miles Carr Mill Junior School WA117PQ
- 1 mile Carr Mill Infant and Nursery School WA117PT
- 1 mile Legh Vale Primary School WA110ER (576 pupils)
- 1 mile Carr Mill Primary School WA117PQ (251 pupils)
- 1.1 mile Pace WA92LH
- 1.1 mile Parish CofE Primary School WA101LW (202 pupils)
- 1.1 mile Ashtons Green School WA92LH
- 1.1 mile Lansbury Bridge School WA91TB (206 pupils)
- 1.2 mile Allanson Street Primary School WA91PL (451 pupils)
- 1.2 mile Parr Flat Community Junior School WA92JF
- 1.2 mile Holy Cross Catholic Primary School WA101LN (213 pupils)
Ashurst Primary School
New Glade Hill, Blackbrook, St Helens, WA11 9QJ
|Inspection dates||6–7 May 2015|
|Overall effectiveness||This inspection:||Good||2|
|Previous inspection:||Requires improvement||3|
|Leadership and management||Good||2|
|Behaviour and safety of pupils||Good||2|
|Quality of teaching||Good||2|
|Achievement of pupils||Good||2|
|Early years provision||Good||2|
Summary of key findings for parents and pupils
This is a good school.
It is not yet an outstanding school because
| Highly skilled, committed leadership has inspired |
As a result of effective provision, children get a
In all key stages, all groups of pupils achieve well,
Improvements in attainment and progress mean
Pupils are taught well. Teachers make learning
and invigorated staff to make the school the best
it can be for every pupil. Consequently,
attainment has risen and the proportion of
outstanding teaching is increasing. There is good
capacity to sustain and further extend these
good start to their learning in the early years.
including those who are disabled, those with
special educational needs and those who are
that by Year 6 pupils’ attainment is above average
in reading, writing and mathematics.
enjoyable and encourage their pupils to think
hard, reason and explain their answers. Pupils
know how well they are doing and say comments
in teachers’ marking are helpful.
| Pupils enjoy school and behave well, are keen to |
Well-promoted spiritual, moral, social and cultural
Pupils and their families benefit from excellent
Pupils say they feel safe and secure. This is one
Parents who responded to the online questionnaire
learn and work hard. They become helpful, polite
and responsible individuals who understand and
respect different religions and cultures, well
prepared for life in a multicultural society.
development, based on the ‘Ashurst Values’, instils
traditional British values including fairness and
consideration for other views.
pastoral care, especially those whose circumstances
make them vulnerable, and this helps them learn
reason why their attendance is above average.
or spoke to inspectors all said their children are
kept safe, and expressed very positive views about
all aspects of the school.
| The quality of teaching is improving securely but |
does not yet result in outstanding achievement.
Occasionally, expectations of what pupils can
achieve are not always high enough to ensure
that the most able pupils are always fully
| Pupils sometimes repeat careless spelling errors in |
their written work across the curriculum subjects.
Information about this inspection
- The inspection team observed a range of lessons, including one observed jointly with the executive
headteacher and one with the deputy headteacher. They also visited small-group teaching sessions.
- Inspectors talked with a number of parents and held meetings with pupils, staff, the local authority
representative and members of the governing body. A telephone discussion was held with the Chair of the
- The inspection team looked at pupils’ books, observed pupils outside at break and lunchtimes and listened
to readers from Years 1, 2 and 6.
- Inspectors examined systems used by the school to gather an accurate picture of pupil performance,
scrutinised current achievement data and looked at how the quality of teaching is checked and monitored.
- The school’s arrangements for safeguarding pupils were inspected.
- Inspectors looked at the 46 responses recorded online in Ofsted’s Parent View, outcomes of the school’s
recent parent survey and the 21 questionnaires completed by members of staff.
|Kathleen McArthur, Lead inspector||Additional Inspector|
|Carol Machell||Additional Inspector|
|Sheila Mawer||Additional Inspector|
Information about this school
- Ashurst is an average-sized primary school.
- Almost all the pupils are of White British heritage.
- The proportion of disadvantaged pupils supported by pupil premium funding is above the national
average. The pupil premium is additional government funding to support those pupils who are known to
be eligible for free school meals and those children that are looked after by the local authority
- The proportion of disabled pupils and those with special educational needs is close to the national
- Early years provision is part-time for children in the Nursery and full-time for children in the Reception
- The school meets the government’s current floor standards, which are the minimum expectations for
pupils’ attainment and progress.
- Since the time of the previous inspection, there have been a considerable number of staffing changes at
all levels, and new governors have been appointed, including the Chair of the Governing Body. The
executive headteacher has led the school since September 2014.
- The school provides before- and after-school clubs every day.
What does the school need to do to improve further?
- Improve the quality of teaching and learning further to outstanding so that achievement becomes
– ensuring staff always expect their pupils to achieve their very best and provide even more challenging
activities that will inspire them to aim even higher and progress all the more rapidly, especially the most
– building on and extending the current system of sharing high quality teaching practice and skills
between staff so that pupils always receive the best learning experiences in every subject
– embedding the recently introduced system for spelling to raise the quality of pupils’ writing further so
they confidently, accurately and consistently use and apply their spelling skills in their work across the
|The leadership and management||are good|
- The inspiring senior leadership team swiftly evaluated what needed to be done to rapidly raise
achievement. They have strengthened the effectiveness of governors and staff in the drive for
improvement. Morale is high, achievement is rising rapidly, attendance has risen and teaching is
increasingly outstanding. Leaders are not complacent and know that staff expectations for their pupils
could be even higher, especially for the most able.
- Providing equal opportunities are high priority. There is no discrimination and good relationships between
all pupils and with adults are very evident throughout the school. Additional support and provision for
those who are vulnerable or who may find learning difficult enables them to participate fully in all the
school offers, such as breakfast at the nurture group or the homework club. Consequently, all groups of
pupils in all key stages achieve well.
- Regular checks on the quality of teaching by leaders include lesson observations, planning and book
scrutiny, and analysis of progress information. Teachers are required to act on any recommendations and
are held to account for their pupils’ progress. Outcomes of these checks lead to high quality professional
development, which staff report has been extremely valuable in extending their skills and knowledge. The
system for staff to observe each other and share good practice has yet to be fully utilised.
- Senior leaders are good roles models, both in delivering high quality teaching and in their management
roles. Middle leaders check the quality of teaching, learning and progress in their areas of responsibility,
and contribute well to school improvement planning.
- Good leadership in the early years ensures children make a secure, happy start in school and progress
- Well-targeted pupil premium funds provide small-group interventions and brief one-to-one school
teaching sessions. This enables disadvantaged pupils to progress as well and often faster than their
classmates. School data show any remaining gaps are rapidly closing.
- The primary school sports and physical education funding has been used to good effect to provide extra
facilities, for example sports coaching or transport to competitive events. More pupils are now
participating in physical activities, giving them the basis of a healthy lifestyle.
- Good promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development has created a very happy,
harmonious school. Voting for the school council showed pupils how democracy works and the garden
club teaches them to grow their own food, both valuable skills for later life. Pupils study other religions
and cultures, for example Chinese New Year. They grow into mature, responsible individuals who respect
different religions, lifestyles and cultures and are well prepared for life in modern Britain.
- The rich, well-planned curriculum is carefully adapted to ensure each pupil makes good progress in all
subjects, and gains the numeracy and literacy skills needed for the future. They use these skills across
the school’s ‘challenge curriculum’, for example calculating the distance and time differences between
Britain and countries visited by Charles Darwin, measuring materials for a model Viking longboat or
reporting on endangered animals. Careless spelling errors sometimes lower the quality of this work.
- Clubs are varied, well attended, and there is something for every age group.
- Parents are valued as partners in their children’s learning. They are kept well informed and receive
information via newsletters, reports and the website, and at regular parents’ evenings.
- Arrangements for safeguarding pupils meet all statutory requirements and are effective. Training in child
protection is up to date and staff and parents know whom to approach if they have concerns or need
- The local authority has provided good support to staff and governors. The executive headteacher has
made full use of this support to enhance provision, develop staff skills, and establish good working links
with local schools.
- The governance of the school:
Governance has strengthened and is now effective. Many governors have been appointed since the
time of the previous inspection, including the Chair of the Governing Body. They bring valuable skills,
and extensive training has increased their understanding and knowledge, for example their
responsibilities in staff appointments. They know the school well, challenge and question leaders
rigorously and offer well-informed support. They contribute effectively to school self-evaluation and are
not afraid to make difficult decisions.
Using data and information from different sources, including school and national data, governors
question leaders about how well pupils are doing and compare the school’s performance with others
both locally and nationally. They know that, although the attainment of those covered by pupil
premium funds has lagged behind their classmates, effective use of the funding is rapidly closing this
Governors ensure the primary school physical education and sport funding has provided staff training
and initiatives that have broadened the range of activities on offer and increased participation. They
are confident that this will have long-term benefits to pupils’ health.
The finance committee carefully directs funds to support school improvement. Governors ensure
professional development is used to improve the quality of teaching and develop staff as future
leaders. Any pay rewards for good teaching are linked to outcomes of staff performance reviews.
|The behaviour and safety of pupils||are good|
- The behaviour of pupils is good. Inspection evidence and school records show this is typical over time,
and pupils and their parents agree. Records show no discriminatory actions or behaviour, and exclusions
are extremely rare. Based on the ‘Ashurst Values’, the newly implemented behaviour management
system has resulted in fewer recorded behaviour incidents because pupils know rules are to keep them
safe and they say these are fair.
- Pupils comment that the school is ‘a good place to make friends’, and they work and play happily in the
calm, harmonious environment. During the inspection, very wet weather kept pupils indoors all day but
they acted sensibly and behaved well throughout.
- Very strong, supportive relationships between pupils and adults ensure learning proceeds smoothly.
Pupils cooperate willingly in class, in groups and with other adults such as sports coaches. Their positive
approach to every task contributes strongly to their good progress.
- High quality pastoral care is a strength. Pupils and families who may be vulnerable receive pastoral
support, and the school provides strong links with external support agencies. Consequently, these pupils
participate fully and progress as well as their classmates.
- Attendance is above average and has improved over time. The school sends a clear message to pupils
and families that education is highly valued and important.
- The school’s work to keep pupils safe and secure is good.
- 'All the teachers are helpful and protect us.’ This was a typical comment showing that pupils feel safe,
secure and cared for. They say staff will always listen to any worries and quickly sort them out. Pupils say
bullying is not an issue, just some occasional ‘falling out’. Anti-bullying and internet safety weeks help
pupils understand that bullying may take different forms, such as cyber-bullying, and they know they
must always tell if they experience any.
- The safeguarding policy has been thoroughly overhauled and all records are carefully maintained. The
pastoral manager and the behaviour and safeguarding team ensure that staff are fully aware of any child
protection issues. They receive regular safeguarding training, so they know school procedures and fulfil
their responsibilities effectively.
- The nurture group gives those who attend a good start to their school day in a caring atmosphere.
- The school is clean, well maintained and the site is secure. Staff supervise outdoor areas vigilantly and
the pupil monitors are always on hand to ensure others move around safely, for example, patrolling the
steps or manning the doors.
|The quality of teaching||is good|
- High quality, focused training has increased staff skills and knowledge, for example in the teaching of
mathematics. Consistent systems for teaching reading, writing and mathematics and for planning,
marking and assessment have successfully raised the overall quality of teaching. Inspection evidence and
leaders’ monitoring records show that more teaching is outstanding.
- Carefully phrased, open questions encourage pupils to think, reason and explain their answers. This was
seen in a challenging activity when older pupils were tasked with teaching inverse and corresponding
angles to their partner, a task that deepened their understanding most effectively.
- Well-organised classrooms with good quality displays help pupils with punctuation, vocabulary and
mathematical strategies. Staff use resources such as interactive white boards to help pupils learn well,
seen when pupils calculated travel times across continents and time zones.
- Many pupils told inspectors that teachers make learning fun. Tasks build on prior learning so pupils are
really keen to learn. For example, studying
The Railway Children
stimulated pupils to consider and think
deeply about issues such as poverty and made them want to find out more.
- Reading and writing are taught well, shown in the rate of acceleration in pupil progress. Mathematics
teaching had been less effective than reading or writing. However, staff training and input from external
consultants has made a big impact, seen in rapidly rising attainment in mathematics. Pupils report that
the mathematics ‘tool kits’ are really useful.
- Skilled learning assistants make a strong contribution to pupils’ good progress. They are deployed well
and provide valuable support, often for pupils who may find learning difficult and pupils whose
circumstances make them vulnerable. This ensures they progress as well as their classmates.
- Staff use assessment rigorously to check how well their pupils are doing. This information is used to build
on learning and plan work that matches pupils’ varying needs, to stretch those who find learning easy
and direct extra help where needed. Very occasionally, the most-able pupils are not fully challenged.
- Work is thoroughly marked. Pupils are expected to respond and they say teachers’ comments are helpful.
Homework is set regularly and there is a homework club if pupils choose to receive extra support.
|The achievement of pupils||is good|
- All groups of pupils make good progress in all key stages and the majority now exceed the progress
expected of them. They are well prepared for further learning.
- Attainment has varied over time. In previous years, when pupils left the school at the end of Year 6,
attainment typically matched national averages and not enough pupils reached the higher levels. Leaders’
rigorous actions, based on their determination to raise attainment, have resulted in an improving picture
of achievement in both key stages, with rapid and sustainable gains in pupils’ outcomes and progress.
- At the end of Key Stage 1, school assessment records and pupils’ books show that those currently in Year
2 are well on course to exceed the expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. This represents a
significant increase in the proportion expected to reach the higher levels.
- Inspection evidence, school data and the work in pupils’ books show that pupils currently in Year 6 are
working at above average levels. They are well on course for better outcomes in all subjects and more
are expected to reach the higher Level 5.
- Staff training has seen considerable improvements in the way mathematics is taught, which benefited all
pupils, and outcomes have risen rapidly across the school. When compared to national measures, just
over half the pupils currently in Year 6 have exceeded their expected progress in mathematics and are on
course to reach the higher level, with a small proportion expected to attain the higher Level 6.
- Pupils write confidently and at length in English and on a variety of topics across the curriculum, for
example in history. However, careless spelling errors, such as ‘cheese’ spelt ‘chese’, sometimes lessen the
quality of their work. The new system for teaching and learning spellings is at an early stage of
implementation and has yet to become fully effective in improving pupils’ spelling skills
- Pupils achieve well in reading. In 2014, the proportion of pupils who met the expected standard in the
national sounds and letters (phonics) screening check was below the national figure. Rapid actions by
leaders and staff included changing how daily sessions were delivered so that pupils learn in small groups
closely matched to their ability. Consequently, pupils now progress rapidly in learning to sound out and
blend letters into words. Year 1 pupils are securely on track to match or exceed the national standard in
- Pupils say they really enjoy using the new library and school councillors represented their views on what
books were purchased. Consequently, pupils select from an extensive choice of quality books. Older
pupils read with great enjoyment and Michael Morpurgo is a favourite author. They demonstrate good
understanding of the text. ‘I read whenever I get a chance’ was a typical comment from pupils.
- Disadvantaged pupils achieve well, make good progress and often progress more rapidly than their
classmates. In 2014, their attainment in reading and mathematics was just over a term behind other
pupils nationally but about a term ahead of their classmates. In writing, their attainment was about two
terms behind others in the school and one term behind others nationally. Careful analysis of the impact
made by pupil premium funding, such as support in small groups, shows that any remaining gaps are
very rapidly closing.
- Provision for disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs is well managed and they
receive thoughtfully planned extra help with learning. As a result, they progress as well as their
- Although sometimes the most able pupils are not fully stretched to reach their full potential, when they
are given additional challenges in lessons these deepen their knowledge and understanding. Overall they
do well, for example in mathematics when investigating corresponding and alternate angles. Those who
show a particular talent, such as in art or gymnastics, may be signposted to a specialist club or entered
for external competitions. ‘Change for Life’ training is offered to pupils who show leadership skills and
pupils carry out duties as school councillors or monitors very responsibly.
|The early years provision||is good|
- Most children enter the Nursery class with skills below those typical for their age, particularly in
mathematics. They make good progress and move into the Reception class with skills closer to those
expected for their age. By the end of Reception class, most children, including those who are
disadvantaged, have acquired the skills expected for their age. A significant proportion has exceeded
them and has reached a good level of development. They are well prepared for Year 1.
- High quality care means children feel very safe and secure, seen in the confident way they choose and
tackle their tasks, behave well and respond to adults. Children from the Nursery and Reception classes
work and play happily together, organise their equipment, take turns and are willing to share. The
transition between classes is smooth with very little interruption to children’s learning
- Good teaching provides a wide range of imaginative, fun activities that tempt children to investigate. The
Gruffalo Café in the mud kitchen thrilled them. Staff take every opportunity to develop language and
mathematical skills, encouraging the children to order imaginary foods such as snake soup or owl
burgers, or to count plates and customers.
- Daily stories and sessions focusing on letters and the sounds they make prepare children well for reading
and writing. Reception children quickly spotted their new letter, ‘k’ and had great fun scribing it in the air,
saying, ‘We go down the kangaroo’s back, then his leg and his tail.’
- The outdoor area is much improved and resourced since the previous inspection, with activities in all
areas of learning. Children are keen to work outside and, despite heavy rain, they happily got into their
waterproofs and remained actively learning, building crates to form another café, counting plates and
discussing the menu.
- Children’s progress in all areas is rigorously assessed, monitored and moderated to ensure accuracy. This
information is used well to plan activities that reinforce and extend children’s skills, and to ensure none
- Good leadership is based on extensive knowledge of all requirements and a passion to improve outcomes
for every child. The work of learning assistants is a strength and their skills contribute effectively to
children’s good start in school.
What inspection judgements mean
|Grade 1||Outstanding||An outstanding school is highly effective in delivering outcomes that |
provide exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs. This ensures that pupils
are very well equipped for the next stage of their education, training or
|Grade 2||Good||A good school is effective in delivering outcomes that provide well for all |
its pupils’ needs. Pupils are well prepared for the next stage of their
education, training or employment.
|Grade 3||Requires |
|A school that requires improvement is not yet a good school, but it is not |
inadequate. This school will receive a full inspection within 24 months
from the date of this inspection.
|Grade 4||Inadequate||A school that requires special measures is one where the school is failing |
to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the school’s
leaders, managers or governors have not demonstrated that they have
the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school. This
school will receive regular monitoring by Ofsted inspectors.
A school that has serious weaknesses is inadequate overall and requires
significant improvement but leadership and management are judged to
be Grade 3 or better. This school will receive regular monitoring by
|Unique reference number||104771|
|Local authority||St Helens|
This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.
|Type of school||Primary|
|Age range of pupils||3–11|
|Gender of pupils||Mixed|
|Number of pupils on the school roll||256|
|Appropriate authority||The governing body|
|Chair||Councillor S Murphy|
|Date of previous school inspection||11 July 2013|
|Telephone number||01744 678150|
|Fax number||01744 678151|