Ashurst Primary School
New Glade Hill
Off Chain Lane
Headteacher: Mr Brian Banks
246 pupils, Mixed
|Unique Reference Number||104771|
|Local Authority||St. Helens|
|Inspection dates||20–21 October 2009|
|Reporting inspector||Stephen Rowland|
|Type of school||Primary|
|Age range of pupils||3–11|
|Gender of pupils||Mixed|
|Number of pupils on the school roll||271|
|Appropriate authority||The governing body|
|Chair||Mr Ian Bowling|
|Headteacher||Mr Brian Banks|
|Date of previous school inspection||31 January 2007|
|School address||New Glade Hill|
|Off Chain Lane, Blackbrook|
|St Helens, Merseyside WA11 9QJ|
|Telephone number||01744 678150|
|Fax number||01744 678151|
|Inspection dates||20–21 October 2009|
© Crown copyright 2009
This inspection was carried out by three additional inspectors. The inspectors visited 19 lessons and held meetings with governors, staff, groups of pupils and parents. They observed the school's work and looked at the school's development plan, records of meetings, the school's monitoring records and analyses of pupils' attainment and progress. Inspectors analysed 111 questionnaires returned by parents, 89 questionnaires returned by pupils and 13 questionnaires returned by staff.
This is an average sized primary school serving the areas of Laffak and Blackbrook in St Helens. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is above the national average. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities is close to the national average. Nearly all pupils are of White British heritage.
Not all children who attend the part-time Nursery transfer into the Reception class and some of those who enter the Reception class have not attended the Nursery.
The school has the Basic Skills Award. It also has Investors in People status, the Active Mark Gold Award and the Healthy Schools Award.
The school provides an out of school club both before and after school from Monday to Friday and a play scheme during the school holiday.
|Inspection grades: 1 is outstanding, 2 is good, 3 is satisfactory, and 4 is inadequate|
|Please turn to the glossary for a description of the grades and inspection terms|
Overall effectiveness: how good is the school?
The school's capacity for sustained improvement
This is a satisfactory school which has a number of strengths. The headteacher and school leaders have a shared determination to challenge complacency and to improve standards. Following a period of staffing changes and a reorganisation of the school's staffing structure, there are clear signs of improvement. For example, standards in writing have improved throughout the school as a result of the school's 'big write' project. In mathematics, standards overall have improved but the more able pupils are not making the progress expected. The school is aware of this and has plans to address the deficiencies.
Teaching is satisfactory and the school's own monitoring records show a steady improvement over recent years. There are examples of good or outstanding practice and the school has much it can build upon. Some teaching is still not good enough though, particularly in mathematics.
Partnerships with parents are good and parents are overwhelmingly supportive of the school. One stated, 'A very happy and approachable school.' Pupils have a sense of loyalty and belonging at Ashurst and are very pleased to show visitors around and talk about their experiences in the, 'Family of Ashurst. Behaviour in and around the school is good. Pupils are invariably polite and considerate of others. Only at times when they are insufficiently challenged in their lessons does this high standard slip. Many pupils have roles of responsibility within the school, for example, as playground leaders. The work of the school council has contributed to decisions about various aspects of school life and pupils feel they are listened to and their views are respected. The school develops pupils' spiritual, moral and social understanding effectively and they demonstrate this through their actions as responsible and considerate citizens and by the involvement in their learning. However, the awareness that pupils develop of other cultures is not supported by direct engagement with these groups.
Self-evaluation is clear and focused and this is now having a demonstrable impact on standards. This impact is not yet consistent but there are sufficient positive signs to show that the school has a satisfactory capacity to improve further.
Outcomes for individuals and groups of pupils
Pupils' behaviour is good and in the best lessons they are fully engaged and make good progress. They respond well to challenging teaching and work together with enthusiasm to develop their understanding and skills. In some lessons, where teaching was not as well planned and lacked pace, pupils lacked confidence and did not make adequate progress.
Children enter the Early Years Foundation Stage with skills which are below age related expectations and make good progress because of the stimulating experiences offered to them. Pupils make satisfactory progress throughout the rest of the school, reaching standards which are near to the national average by the end of Year 6. Standards improved in 2009 following a dip in 2008. This was particularly so in writing where the school's 'Big Write' project had a clear and positive impact. Standards in mathematics lag behind and the more able pupils do not do as well as other pupils. Evidence from lesson observations and pupils' work during the inspection show an improving picture. Most pupils are now making satisfactory and, frequently, good progress.
Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities receive good support and, as a consequence, make progress which is at least in line with their peers.
Pupils are keen to say how much they enjoy school. One typical comment was, 'It is a very, very good school to go to. I love it!' Attendance is improving and was close to the national average last year. Pupils say they feel very safe and value the good work of the school council. Healthy lifestyles are promoted successfully through high levels of participation in sporting and other fitness activities.
Pupils are confident users of information and communication technology. Through the activities, such as the careers enrichment days, they develop skills which will enable them to be effective adults. They demonstrate effective literacy skills but mathematical skills are not as well developed.
Pupils have a strong sense of right and wrong and are fully aware of their responsibilities as members of the school and the wider community. They are aware of other ethnic, cultural and religious groups within the United Kingdom but have few opportunities to meet these groups face to face and to share activities with them.
These are the grades for pupils' outcomes
|Pupils' achievement and the extent to which they enjoy their learning|
Taking into account:
The quality of pupils' learning and their progress
The quality of learning for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities and their progress
|The extent to which pupils feel safe||2|
|The extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles||2|
|The extent to which pupils contribute to the school and wider community||2|
|The extent to which pupils develop workplace and other skills that will contribute to their future economic well-being|
Taking into account:
|The extent of pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development||3|
1 The grades for attainment and attendance are: 1 is high; 2 is above average; 3 is broadly average; and 4 is low
Teaching is satisfactory overall and there are examples of good and outstanding practice. A small proportion of the teaching observed was inadequate. In the best lessons, pupils make good progress because they are engaged fully in their learning. Planning is effective and teachers ask searching questions which enables all pupils, including the most able, to understand increasingly more difficult concepts. There is a brisk and businesslike pace, so there is no chance for pupils to lose interest. In less effective lessons, the pace is slower and pupils become disinterested. At times too long is spent on material which the pupils already understand and on activities which are not challenging or interesting enough. As a consequence, progress is only satisfactory.
An effective system for tracking pupils' academic progress is in place. This rigorous system enables pupils and teachers to see what has been learnt, understand the next steps of learning and where they need to intervene to provide more support.
The school curriculum offers much that is interesting and engaging. Work in information and communication technology is developed well and is evident throughout the school. Pupils have the opportunity to learn a modern foreign language and they enjoy the opportunity to practise their skills. Music is a particular strength. Some pupils recently attended a workshop with musicians from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. A wide range of extra-curricular activities help to enhance the pupils' experiences. Provision to develop mathematical skills is not as successful.
Pupils are cared for very well and arrangements to look after the most vulnerable are good. Safeguarding is managed effectively. The before and after school club, managed by the governing body offers excellent provision.
These are the grades for the quality of provision
|The quality of teaching|
Taking into account:
The use of assessment to support learning
|The extent to which the curriculum meets pupils' needs, including, where relevant, through partnerships||3|
|The effectiveness of care, guidance and support||2|
The headteacher and other senior leaders challenge complacency and ensure that there is a shared determination to raise standards. The recent improvement in attainment in all subjects shows that actions taken are effective. Although this is not a consistent picture, the headteacher and other leaders are aware of what needs to be done and express a clear will to succeed. In this, they are supported fully by an experienced and committed governing body.
The areas from the previous inspection have been addressed successfully. In most areas there is a greater consistency in the quality of teaching, although there is still work to be done to improve the teaching of mathematics. Assessment is now widely used to help plan for learning and to help pupils see what they have to do to reach the next step. Equality of opportunity is promoted successfully and there is no discrimination. However, the more able pupils are not yet achieving their full potential in mathematics.
Partnerships with parents are strong. Parents say they feel included and are part of the school community. A variety of outside bodies and groups help the school effectively in its work with the more vulnerable pupils. Child protection procedures and safeguarding requirements are good. Community cohesion is satisfactory. A full audit of the school's work in this area has been undertaken but the impact on pupils has not been evaluated fully.
These are the grades for leadership and management
|The effectiveness of leadership and management in embedding ambition and driving improvement|
Taking into account:
The leadership and management of teaching and learning
|The effectiveness of the governing body in challenging and supporting the|
school so that weaknesses are tackled decisively and statutory responsibilities met
|The effectiveness of the school's engagement with parents and carers||2|
|The effectiveness of partnerships in promoting learning and well-being||2|
|The effectiveness with which the school promotes equality of opportunity and tackles discrimination||3|
|The effectiveness of safeguarding procedures||2|
|The effectiveness with which the school promotes community cohesion||3|
|The effectiveness with which the school deploys resources to achieve value for money||3|
Children enter the Early Years Foundation Stage with skill levels which are below expectations for their age. They make good progress especially in their personal development and are well prepared for their transition to Year 1. Relationships with others and with adults are good. Children are eager to learn and enjoy a broad range of activities both child-initiated and adult led. They know how to keep themselves safe and chat readily about themselves to their key worker.
The environment is stimulating and equipped well although there are limited opportunities for 'free flow' access to the outdoor area, resulting in children not always being able to choose where they prefer to learn. Activities are well planned and are based on accurate observations and assessments. Partnerships with parents are good with regular formal and informal meetings with parents and carers. Parents confirm that they feel involved with their child's learning. Leadership and management are good. Policies and procedures are good. Staff are suitably qualified and trained. Improvements in provision are based upon a robust process of self-evaluation in which the views of all groups are taken into account.
These are the grades for the Early Years Foundation Stage
|Overall effectiveness of the Early Years Foundation Stage|
Taking into account:
Outcomes for children in the Early Years Foundation Stage
The quality of provision in the Early Years Foundation Stage
The effectiveness of leadership and management of the Early Years Foundation
Parents are largely positive about the school. There were many complimentary comments during the inspection both orally and in writing which praised the school's many positive features. Many of these described how open and welcoming the school is and how most feel that it is like a family. Parents consider their children are kept safe and are offered a good variety of opportunities.
A very small minority of parents raised concerns over behaviour. Inspectors observed generally good behaviour around the school but did note some lack of attention and concentration in lessons when the pace of learning flagged. The school's behaviour policy seeks to address some of these issues.
A very small minority of parents also raised concern over the lack of progress and information on progress. Inspectors felt that in most lessons pupils made at least satisfactory or better progress. In a minority of lessons, particularly for the more able pupils in mathematics, progress was not good enough.
The school evaluates its work effectively and has the capacity to respond successfully to concerns.
Ofsted invited all the registered parents and carers of pupils registered at Ashurst Primary School to complete a questionnaire about their views of the school.
In the questionnaire, parents and carers were asked to record how strongly they agreed with 13 statements about the school.
The inspection team received 111 completed questionnaires by the end of the on-site inspection. In total, there are 271 pupils registered at the school.
|My child enjoys school||70||63||53||48||3||3||0||0|
|The school keeps my child safe||79||71||44||40||1||1||2||2|
|My school informs me about my child's progress||56||50||56||50||11||10||1||1|
|My child is making enough progress at this school||57||51||54||49||9||8||2||2|
|The teaching is good at this school||55||50||68||61||2||2||0||0|
|The school helps me to support my child's learning||50||45||65||59||9||8||0||0|
|The school helps my child to have a healthy lifestyle||71||64||54||49||1||1||0||0|
|The school makes sure that my child is well prepared for the future (for example changing year group, changing school, and for children who are finishing school, entering further or higher education, or entering employment)||55||50||58||52||5||5||0||0|
|The school meets my child's particular needs||56||50||63||57||6||5||1||1|
|The school deals effectively with unacceptable behaviour||49||44||53||48||15||14||4||4|
|The school takes account of my suggestions and concerns||45||41||61||55||11||10||3||3|
|The school is led and managed effectively||50||45||62||56||8||7||4||4|
|Overall, I am happy with my child's experience at this school||61||55||58||52||6||5||1||1|
The table above summarises the responses that parents and carers made to each statement. The percentages indicate the proportion of parents and carers giving that response out of the total number of completed questionnaires. Where one or more parents and carers chose not to answer a particular question, the percentages will not add up to 100%.
|Grade 1||Outstanding||These features are highly effective. An oustanding school provides exceptionally well for all its pupils' needs.|
|Grade 2||Good||These are very positive features of a school. A school that is good is serving its pupils well.|
|Grade 3||Satisfactory||These features are of reasonable quality. A satisfactory school is providing adequately for its pupils.|
|Grade 4||Inadequate||These features are not of an acceptable standard. An inadequate school needs to make significant improvement in order to meet the needs of its pupils. Ofsted inspectors will make further visits until it improves.|
|Overall effectiveness judgement (percentage of schools)|
|Type of school||Outstanding||Good||Satisfactory||Inadequate|
|Pupil referral |
the progress and success of a pupil in their learning, development or training.
the standard of the pupils' work shown by test and examination results and in lessons.
|Capacity to improve:|
the proven ability of the school to continue improving. Inspectors base this judgement on what the school has accomplished so far and on the quality of its systems to maintain improvement.
|Leadership and management:|
the contribution of all the staff with responsibilities, not just the headteacher, to identifying priorities, directing and motivating staff and running the school.
how well pupils acquire knowledge, develop their understanding, learn and practise skills and are developing their competence as learners.
inspectors form a judgement on a school's overall effectiveness based on the findings from their inspection of the school. The following judgements, in particular, influence what the overall effectiveness judgement will be.
the rate at which pupils are learning in lessons and over longer periods of time. It is often measured by comparing the pupils' attainment at the end of a key stage with their attainment when they started.
22 October 2009
Inspection of Ashurst Primary School, St Helens WA11 9QJ
Thank you for making me and my colleagues so welcome during our recent visit to your school. I am particularly grateful to those pupils who agreed to meet us during your lunchtime. We enjoyed a lot of what we saw at Ashurst and was very impressed by the cross-training you do with staff from St Helens Rugby League Club and by the very high standards you reach in music.
Ashurst is a satisfactory school. There are many good things and you are rightly proud of Ashurst. The vast majority of responses we received in the pupil questionnaires were very positive. Your behaviour is mostly mature and sensible. You take part in a great variety of extra-curricular clubs and activities. Your school council works hard to represent your views.
We want the school to do three things so that it continues to improve:
You are very loyal to your school and I believe that you will continue to work hard to make it even better. This is how you can support your teachers and help them to make Ashurst a really great place.
Thank you once again for your help. My best wishes.
Mr Stephen Rowland
|Any complaints about the inspection or the report should be made following the procedures set out in the guidance 'Complaining about inspections', which is available from Ofsted's website: ofsted.gov.uk. If you would like Ofsted to send you a copy of the guidance, please telephone 08456 404045, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.|