The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This large primary school draws its pupils from an extensive housing development in north east Swindon. The number of pupils has increased significantly since the school opened in 2000 and two more classes are to be added to the existing twelve by September 2011. The majority of pupils are of White British heritage. Those from minority ethnic groups have a variety of first languages and most speak English fluently. Children's attainment on entry is in line with national expectations. There have been significant changes in teaching staff in the last two years. The headteacher joined the school in January 2007.
Overall effectiveness of the school
The school provides a good standard of education with some outstanding features. It is an improving school, having come through a period of considerable changes of staff, including at senior management level. The new headteacher has already had considerable impact on the school, providing outstanding leadership that is inspiring staff at all levels. By following her example and sharing her vision, staff have developed a very effective sense of teamwork. This has resulted in leadership and management as a whole being outstanding. The impact of recent initiatives shows that the school has an excellent capacity for further improvement. The school knows itself well and its self-evaluation judgements are accurate, although it is modest in judging how good some aspects of its provision are. The common sense of purpose and strong leadership from the top are resulting in pupils' achievement improving and their standards rising. The past uneven progress of pupils and fluctuations in performance in national tests and assessments have been eliminated. Where pupils were not previously achieving well enough the measures introduced have brought about immediate improvement. This is evident, for example, in the way that boys in Years 1 and 2 have been helped to improve their writing. Consistently good progress is now evident from the moment children start in the Foundation Stage. Good provision and excellent leadership are helping a significant number of the children attain above expected levels in all areas of learning by the end of the Reception year. Pupils in Years 1 to 6 are now attaining standards above those expected nationally in literacy, numeracy and science in all year groups. While all pupils achieve well, some are making exceptional progress. These include pupils with English as an additional language, who benefit from excellent support from teachers and teaching assistants. The good work of the teaching assistants is also a significant factor in the good progress of the pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities with whom they work. Excellent links with a range of agencies and other schools enhance the support of individual pupils and extend learning opportunities for all. Staff work well together in year group teams to plan work and to check the accuracy of each other's assessments of the standard of pupils' work. However, there is limited opportunity for teachers to observe each others' lessons and share the most effective practice. While teaching is good overall and there are no specific weaknesses, the factors that make some lessons outstanding are not being spread across the school to raise the overall quality. The outstanding curriculum includes exciting opportunities for the whole school to work on common themes, such as healthy living or multicultural awareness. Outstanding care, guidance and support have a major influence on pupils' enjoyment of school and their excellent personal development. Pupils' enjoyment of all that they do and learn at school is very obvious. A Year 2 pupil told an inspector 'Life and learning are fun at this school.' This enjoyment of school pleases parents and carers as much as the good progress their children are making. Parents also appreciate how the school develops pupils' personal and social skills from the moment children start in the Foundation Stage. Pupils' special qualities are their excellent behaviour and relationships with one another. At work and play, they are cooperative and enthusiastic, willing to take on responsibility and contribute to the smooth running of the school. Pupils' welldeveloped social skills and good academic achievement mean they are very well prepared for future stages in their education and eventual economic well-being.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
The good provision for the Foundation Stage helps the children make good progress in all areas of learning. They enjoy their time at school and work and play well together. Teaching and learning are good, and assessment is used effectively to plan activities. The curriculum meets children's needs very well. There are good arrangements to encourage their involvement in the community. There are very good links with parents to keep them well informed of their children's progress. Very good arrangements exist to ensure the children's health and safety. School leaders have a very good understanding of the strengths and areas for improvement. They have rightly identified the need for a sharper focus on promoting children's skills in writing, and linking sounds and letters.
What the school should do to improve further
Achievement and standards
Children achieve well in the Foundation Stage making good gains in learning. By the time they enter Year 1, most attain the expected levels for their age, with a significant minority exceeding these. This is now being successfully built on in Years 1 and 2. After a period of declining standards at the end of Year 2, there was an improvement in all subjects in 2007 that brought standards back to levels above national averages. This is being maintained in the current Year 2. In Years 3 to 6, the school has rectified the unevenness in progress that was occurring in the past, notably in Years 3 and 4 in mathematics. One effect of this uneven progress was the fall in Year 6 national test results that occurred in 2007. This group also had an influx of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities during Years 5 and 6, which adversely affected the results. Pupils are now making consistently good progress in all subjects. The progress made by the current Year 6 since starting school is outstanding. The school sets challenging targets for each year group. The targets for Year 6 in the 2008 national tests are very high but the pupils are on track to achieve them. Their standards in English, mathematics and science are much higher than those expected of pupils at this age.
Personal development and well-being
The school is successful in promoting excellent attitudes and behaviour in all year groups. Attendance is above average and punctuality is good. Pupils learn how to value themselves and demonstrate a very good awareness of the 'golden rules' as they learn right from wrong. Through activities such as theme weeks they develop a very good understanding of their own cultures and those of countries such as France, West Africa, China, India and Japan. Younger pupils benefit from having an older 'buddy' and work and play well together. Pupils have excellent understanding of the importance of healthy eating and regular exercise. They are keen to contribute to the school community, for example by looking after the school gardens and grounds. An active school council makes a very good contribution to school life and has helped to improve the outdoor play environment. Pupils are proud of their fund raising efforts for others. They make a positive contribution to their neighbourhood by involvement in local events and activities. They develop a good awareness of the world of work and are able to explain the choices they make about spending and saving money.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
There are variations in the quality of teaching and learning across the school, with lessons ranging from outstanding to satisfactory. Weaknesses are generally specific to individual teachers and effective monitoring and guidance by senior staff are gradually increasing the effectiveness of teaching. Lesson planning in the Foundation Stage is impressively thorough, with clear identification of all the learning objectives of each activity. Planning is not as detailed in other year groups and teachers do not always make pupils aware of how they can apply what they have already learned across a range of subjects. Teachers make good use of resources such as interactive whiteboards to explain ideas clearly and imaginatively. They usually match work well to pupils' abilities. In most lessons there is skilful use of questioning by teachers to ensure that pupils are developing their understanding. Pupils enjoy their work and make good progress when working individually or in groups. Teachers mark pupils' written work regularly and usually provide constructive comments to show how the work could be improved. They set targets, assess pupils' work regularly and keep detailed records. Most teachers encourage pupils to evaluate their work and identify successes as well as weaknesses. Teaching assistants and learning mentors support pupils' learning well.
Curriculum and other activities
The Foundation Stage curriculum meets the needs of children well and this is reflected in their good progress. In Years 1 to 6 there is a well-planned curriculum with stimulating learning experiences across a range of subjects. New national literacy guidelines are implemented successfully and are having good impact on pupils' writing. Plans are in hand to give equal emphasis to developing numeracy skills in other subjects. The curriculum is enhanced by an excellent range of visits and special events. There is a very good range of clubs at lunchtimes and after school. A strong focus on developing pupils' personal skills helps their understanding of healthy lifestyles and safe practices in and out of school. The school makes excellent provision for pupils requiring additional support. This includes a very good 'Life Skills' programme for older pupils that helps them to manage their behaviour and aids their transition to secondary school. Support for pupils with English as an additional language is excellent. Even when their spoken and written English is good, they still get extra support to help them extend their understanding of vocabulary in subjects such as science.
Care, guidance and support
Procedures to ensure pupils' protection and safety are exemplary. Pupils say they feel completely safe at school and that they know that they can talk to staff if they have any worries. All adults in the school know the pupils and their needs well. The school works hard at maintaining a collaborative school–home partnership. The school works well with external agencies to provide support for pupils. Children settle quickly into the Foundation Stage and Year 6 pupils are prepared well for their next stage of education. Pupils receive very helpful support and guidance for their academic development. They know their targets well and work hard to achieve them. They like to monitor their own progress and are involved in deciding with their teachers what the next target in their learning should be.
Leadership and management
The headteacher has very successfully created a teamwork approach so that all staff work towards common aims. All members of the senior leadership team are having a very positive impact on school effectiveness and driving achievement and standards upwards. This is being achieved chiefly through the constructive and thorough systems introduced for monitoring and evaluating pupils' achievement. Subject leaders carry out responsibilities successfully and the more experienced are excellent role models of subject leadership for colleagues new to such responsibility. All leaders' action plans are linked to the priorities in the school improvement plan and this is very good practice. Leaders have detailed knowledge of standards in literacy and numeracy across the school. Their analyses of strengths and weaknesses in pupils' work are used to guide staff on ways of improving both progress and standards. Higher standards of writing and improved progress in numeracy in Years 3 to 6 are evidence of the success of this guidance. The governing body, with astute leadership from a new chairperson, supports the school effectively and contributes well to all aspects of school life. A key contribution is governors' full involvement with staff in the annual process of school improvement planning.