The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors.
Description of the school
Most pupils attending this small school come from the village of Chalford and the surrounding area, which is more socially and economically advantaged than average. Most children enter the school with skills that are at least at the level expected for their age. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is broadly average. The school has had a highly mobile population with pupils joining and leaving throughout both Key Stages 1 and 2.
Overall effectiveness of the school
The overall effectiveness of the school is satisfactory. Under the good leadership of the headteacher, substantive for just over a year, the school is improving quickly in a number of important areas. In particular, the leadership has made changes to the way pupils' progress is assessed and monitored and this is leading to more focused teaching and processes for setting precise targets. Pupils' performance in the national tests and assessments improved in 2007 following a period of underperformance. There are promising signs for further improvement in 2008.
The majority of pupils make satisfactory progress in their learning and achieve average standards. Standards are slightly higher at the end of Key Stage 1 than Key Stage 2. The proportion of pupils reaching the higher levels in 2007 at Key Stage 2 in English and mathematics was similar to all schools nationally. Pupils' progress has, however, been inconsistent in the past. Processes for setting school and individual targets are improving in their accuracy. Nevertheless, more challenge is required in the individual academic targets that are set to help pupils make consistently good progress during their time in the school. Lessons, too, although satisfactory, do not always sufficiently extend pupils to ensure that they attain the highest levels possible.
A significant number of the pupils have joined the school in the middle of either Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2, several of whom have either learning difficulties and/or disabilities or have had disrupted schooling elsewhere. The school is very successful in ensuring that these pupils settle well and are given good personal and academic support. This is just one illustration of how the school is an inclusive community.
There is a real sense of community at the school, of which pupils are proud to be a part. Activities such as the 'wake-and-shake' workout before school help to reinforce the importance of everyone joining in and working together. The personal development of pupils is good. They develop confidence and have very good attitudes to their learning and to school generally. Most pupils really enjoy their lessons and other activities the school offers. Attendance is satisfactory but it has been affected by the low attendance of one or two pupils, which the school has followed up appropriately. Pupils are developing healthy lifestyles through physical activity and a good understanding of balanced diets, although this is not always reflected in some choices in packed lunches.
The curriculum is good and provides well for the interests of the pupils. Their skills in information and communication technology (ICT), literacy and numeracy, together with their personal attributes, prepare them satisfactorily for the next stage of their education. Older pupils say that they are confident about moving to their next schools. Since the last inspection, the school has made improvements in the areas identified as requiring attention. Improvement planning is better now and subject leaders have increased their understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Based on the recent significant improvements, the school has a good capacity to develop further.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Children make a good start with their learning in the Foundation Stage. They are taught within the same class as Key Stage 1 pupils. Children make good progress reaching the learning goals expected by the time they enter Key Stage 1, with some children exceeding these goals. Good gains are made in particular in early literacy and numeracy. Children speak confidently, even contributing to whole-school assemblies. The curriculum is planned effectively and children are enabled to integrate well with the older pupils, especially during whole-class sessions. There is an appropriate balance between directed and child-initiated activities. Opportunities for outdoor activities as an intrinsic part of learning are limited. The school is fully aware of the need to develop this aspect of the provision.
What the school should do to improve further
- Ensure that the targets set for individual pupils challenge them and support them in making consistently good progress during their time in the school.
- Ensure that all lessons extend pupils to help them reach the highest levels possible.
A small proportion of the schools whose overall effectiveness is judged satisfactory but which have areas of underperformance will receive a monitoring visit by an Ofsted inspector before their next section 5 inspection.
Achievement and standards
Pupils' achievements are satisfactory. Overall standards are higher at Key Stage 1 than Key Stage 2 but both have been erratic in recent years. This is partly because of the low number of pupils in each year group and the influence of lower standards achieved by one or two pupils who had learning difficulties and/or disabilities. However, pupils' progress has not been not consistent in all age groups. Standards in mathematics have previously lagged behind English, an issue that the school is fully aware of and is taking steps to rectify.
In 2007, there were improvements in English in Key Stage 1 and in mathematics in both Key Stages 1 and 2. There are indications that the current Year 6 are likely to achieve, and possibly exceed, their individual targets. Their progress has improved because assessment procedures have been made more rigorous in identifying the next steps needed in learning. Pupils write effectively for a wide range of purposes in different areas of curriculum.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' behaviour is good and they get on well with each other. This reflects both parents' and pupils' views. They readily and naturally help each other in lessons and collaborate effectively when tasks require it. They develop into confident young people and have views of their own which they are happy to share. They are very aware of the need to get on with each other in a small-school community. Most pupils greatly enjoy school and the activities and tasks they are asked to do. They conduct themselves in a very orderly manner around the small premises. They have an appropriate awareness of other faiths and cultures. Pupils say they feel safe in school and are not concerned about bullying, knowing that there is always an adult with whom to talk. Pupils also know that they can deal successfully with some disputes themselves. Pupils contribute to the school community by undertaking duties such as school council membership, monitor roles, being part of the 'Golden Gang' who help at lunch time and breaks, and acting as buddies with younger pupils. The wider community is supported well with church visits, a party for the elderly and participation in village events.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning are satisfactory. All staff have excellent relationships with pupils. Most pupils find lessons interesting and teachers bring an appropriate sense of fun to learning while ensuring that routines and expectations are also clear. Pupils are encouraged to work independently. They are also are given good opportunities to work together and to contribute to lessons by answering questions and giving ideas. One group of older pupils, for example, sensibly discussed whether an electrical circuit was a complete circuit or not. Teachers plan activities for different groups of pupils but they are not always well thought through to provide a suitable challenge and pace for all abilities. As a result, pupils do not necessarily achieve as well as they might.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is good. All the required subjects are taught and provision is enriched well with a wide range of activities such as clubs, residential visits and performances. The curriculum plan has been reviewed recently to ensure that there is better continuity from year to year. This is helping to make sure that the coverage of subjects in one year builds securely on that completed in the previous year to support more consistent progress. Good links are made between the different subject areas so that English, mathematical and ICT skills are developed across the curriculum. This is particularly effective in developing pupils' writing skills. Pupils find the curriculum interesting with most areas identified by different pupils as being 'favourite subjects'. Considering the limitations of the premises, physical education has a high profile with additional activities afforded by taking pupils to off-site venues and participation in local sports tournaments.
Care, guidance and support
Care, guidance and support are good. The school meets all requirements for safeguarding and risk assessment well. Pupils' work is marked regularly. Pupils find teachers' comments helpful. However, the quality of comments is variable, an issue already identified by the school and due for review in the near future. Pupils are aware of their short-term targets in English and mathematics. Targets are not, however, sufficiently challenging yet to support all pupils in making consistently good progress in the longer term. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are successfully helped to improve their achievements and make the most of the activities provided. All pupils are fully included in all school activities. As a result of the good support they are given, some with very specific difficulties or with disrupted schooling in the past make good progress. Pupils learn about living healthily in science and personal, social and health education. The school recently received a Healthy School Award in recognition of its work in this area. Day-to-day supervision of pupils is good.
Leadership and management
The headteacher is providing the school with a clear direction for improvement. The areas identified in the school's self-evaluation are appropriate and focus effectively on raising standards and also ensuring that all staff, including those who have subject responsibility, are clear about their responsibilities to improve pupils' progress. New systems for monitoring pupils' progress are much more rigorous and are leading to the setting of more realistic targets. However, not all targets are challenging enough for individual pupils, particularly those that they are expected to reach by the end of Year 6. Procedures for checking the quality of teaching and learning are improving and the schools' own monitoring shows that teaching is getting better as a result. The new direction of the leadership shows very promising signs but it has not yet had time to embed and sustain higher standards over a longer period.
Best use is made of the premises and there is clear drive to make even better use of the available space. ICT resources are used very effectively to enhance learning from the youngest to the eldest pupils with laptop computers giving good versatility. The governors fulfil their duties satisfactorily but a number of parents would like greater contact and communication with them. Overall, parents are rightly very supportive of the school. The school works well with outside agencies, especially in support of those pupils who need more help with their learning. Links with the Church, the local cluster of schools and local community enrich the overall provision for pupils.