The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Begbrook is a large primary school with 40 children attending its two Nursery classes. The proportion of pupils from ethnic minority groups is around 40%, closely reflecting the local community. In recognition of its work, the school has received an Artsmark Award.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Begbrook Primary is a good and improving school. It has energetically tackled the issues raised in the last inspection report and many of them are considerably improved – for example, the curriculum and standards in science. The improvement is due to the outstanding drive and vision of the headteacher, well supported by his senior team. Together, they provide the staff with the guidance and support that enables them to work to the best of their capability. Leadership and management are good. The overwhelming majority of parents think highly of the school. One typical comment was 'Begbrook is a terrific school, with really dedicated, enthusiastic staff.' Although a minority felt that their child was not getting sufficient individual support, they were far outnumbered by those who wrote to explain how the school had 'gone the extra mile' for their child.
Children start school with skills that are broadly in line with those nationally, although their literacy skills are below those expected nationally. The school sensibly concentrates on these and by the end of the Reception Year they are in line with national expectations. In Years 1 and 2, pupils make satisfactory progress to achieve average standards by the end of Year 2. Progress is steady through Years 3 to 6 so that by the end of Year 6 standards are above average, although writing is not as good as it could be. Overall, pupils' achievement is good and standards are above average.
Pupils' personal development and well-being are good. The pupils enjoy school. Many comment that lessons are fun, and the teachers are 'fair' and explain things so they can understand them. They behave well in lessons and around the school. Pupils have a good understanding of how to lead safe and healthy lifestyles although some admit that they eat too much 'junk' food. Many take up responsibilities in school and contribute well to the wider community. They develop skills that will benefit them in later life. As well as literacy, numeracy and information and communication technology, they also learn leadership and team skills, and develop enterprise awareness by raising money for various projects. The pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good, based on the care and respect with which they treat each other, and the role models of adults in the school. They develop the knowledge and understanding of the cultures of others which prepares them well for life in multicultural Britain.
Teaching and learning overall are good, although lessons vary from satisfactory to outstanding. Pupils are fully engaged, and are keen to contribute in lessons, except sometimes when they are writing on topics that do not particularly interest them. Teachers provide tasks and activities that effectively meet the needs of all the pupils. The curriculum is good. It is broad and varied and considerably improved, with a good emphasis on cross-curriculum links. The school provides a rich Foundation Stage curriculum that covers all the six areas of leaning, and interesting and enjoyable activities make learning meaningful. Care, guidance and welfare are good. Child protection and safeguarding arrangements are meticulous. The school uses external agencies well to support vulnerable children. Pupils are given clear guidance on how they can improve their learning.
The school is well organised and finances well managed. The school gives good value for money.
What the school should do to improve further
- Improve standards of writing, by ensuring that subjects are of greater relevance and interest to the pupils.
- Improve the quality of teaching so that it is uniformly and consistently good.
Achievement and standards
Overall, the achievement of pupils is good and standards are above average.
Children join the Foundation Stage with average skills and knowledge, except in communication, language and literacy, particularly writing, and linking sounds and letters. Children make good progress but by the time they start Year 1, some weaknesses in reading and writing remain, although standards are generally in line with expectations. By the end of Year 2, standards in reading, writing and mathematics are average. Test results in 2006 for Year 2 were average.
During the course of Key Stage 2, standards rise steadily, although pupils do not achieve as well as they should in writing. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities achieve well because of the well-organised and focused support they receive. By the end of Year 6, standards are above average. Pupils are set challenging targets and most achieve them.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' personal development and well-being, including their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, are good. They have the capacity to be reflective and thoughtful, and are polite and courteous. They have a good understanding of moral issues and develop a good degree of understanding and tolerance of others whose background is different from theirs. Behaviour in lessons and around the school is good. In the Foundation Stage, children settle quickly into school routines and learn to work collaboratively.
Attendance is average and improving. Pupils respond enthusiastically to the warm, caring school atmosphere which increases their enjoyment of learning. They feel safe and are confident they can approach staff to express concerns or seek help. Relationships between pupils and teachers are very positive. The pupils respond well to the school's guidance on healthy lifestyles, although a minority still prefer to eat what they know to be unhealthy food. There are few incidents of bullying and racism which are promptly and appropriately dealt with. As they progress through the school, pupils develop confidence, leadership and teamworking skills, for example, by taking responsibility for planning a weekly 'celebration assembly'. They develop useful enterprise skills by selling goods and services to raise money.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning are good, although lessons vary from satisfactory to outstanding. The pupils learn well because they enjoy lessons, and often find them fun. There is a good learning atmosphere in classrooms, where routines are well understood, and pupils flourish when being taught directly by the teacher or when working independently in pairs or groups. The teachers plan lessons well, ensuring a good variety of activities to keep the pupils' attention, and setting tasks of varying levels of difficulty to meet the different needs of pupils. Teachers focus well on groups of pupils who need particular support during the lesson, although this can sometimes result in others not receiving as much attention as they need. Although pupils have plenty of opportunities to improve their writing, they are sometimes not sufficiently engaged by the topic about which they are writing to achieve the standards of which they are capable. Teaching assistants play an effective role in learning, both in the class and when they withdraw pupils from lessons for special support.
Curriculum and other activities
The school provides a good curriculum that is much improved since the last inspection. There are good links between different areas of the curriculum, but the school recognises that it needs to be developed to achieve a greater degree of relevance and coherence for the pupils. There is good provision for those pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, and those learning English as an additional language. Education for health and safety is good, ensuring that pupils know the benefits of exercise and the need for a balanced diet. The curriculum supports pupils' personal development well. Curriculum resources are good, and are well used. The Foundation Stage provision is good, and staff make effective use of assessments to help children to make progress in their work. The many varied clubs effectively contribute to the pupils' enjoyment of the curriculum, and are well attended, for example, the 'Peaceful Piggies' club to teach pupils how to be calm, which is led by a parent.
Care, guidance and support
Care, guidance and support are good. Safeguarding arrangements to keep pupils safe and protected are good. Procedures for checking staff backgrounds and assessing risks are well established and comply with statutory guidelines. Teaching and support staff treat all the pupils as individuals and know their needs and concerns. The pupils have a great deal of confidence that they will be looked after and cared for in school. Vulnerable children and those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are well supported, both within school and through close links with external agencies. All pupils are given good quality advice on how they can improve their work, although they need more guidance on how to improve their writing. Pupils' achievements are celebrated, developing their self-confidence. There are effective systems to prepare pupils for transition each year to the next class and to smooth their move to secondary school.
Leadership and management
Leadership and management are good, with some outstanding features. The vision and drive of the headteacher and senior managers are outstanding, and the main reason why the school is improving. They provide clear guidance and support to staff, which has resulted in a strong team throughout the school, sharing the vision and focused on the welfare of the pupils and on raising standards. Subject leaders have developed their roles well since the previous inspection and many of them have a positive impact on the consistency and quality with which their subject is being taught. Staff have good capacity to improve because of the excellence of the staff development programme. Governors play an active role in the leadership of the school through their support and monitoring activities. The performance of the pupils is tracked meticulously so that those at risk of underachievement can be supported, and the way the school monitors and evaluates all its activities, and plans for improvement where appropriate, is exemplary. The school is committed to all pupils and to promoting understanding and harmony in all groups both within the school and the wider community. The school is well organised and finances are well managed. Given the improvements seen across the school, particularly in the curriculum and standards, it has a good capacity to improve further.