The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors.
Description of the school
The school is larger than most primary schools. It serves a ward with areas that suffer from a high rate of social and economic deprivation. The school draws its pupils from a diverse range of cultural heritages. The largest ethnic groups are Black Caribbean and White British, with equally smaller groups of pupils of African, Bangladeshi, White European, Indian, Portuguese and Vietnamese heritages. Of the pupils, 36.9% are eligible for free school meals, which is above the national average. At 45%, the proportion of pupils speaking a language other than English is well above average, and 29% are at the early or intermediate stage of learning English. The proportion of pupils with a special need or a disability is above average. The school has a small Nursery with 26 children. A Children's Centre opened in June 2006 with the aim of raising achievement in Early Years. The centre is a focal point of the extended school provision. The school achieved a wide range of awards in 2006, notably, the Bronze Eco Award, Basic Skills Quality Mark, Healthy School's Award and Active Mark. A new extension is being built and will open in the spring term, 2008.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is an outstanding school. Parents rightly see the school as a progressive place. They rightly believe that the school enables their children to achieve so well because of the very strong foundation in basic skills, which prepares them for the future. The school enjoys an excellent relationship with parents and a few related personal stories of their children's achievements because of the specialist support available and personalised work programme.
The attention given to pupils' care, guidance and support is exemplary. There is no complacency among the senior leaders, teachers and governors. They set challenging targets and there is commitment to monitoring and evaluating pupils' achievement on an individual basis, by groups and as a whole school. Assessment data is very well managed and interpreted so that all groups have equal opportunities to achieve well. Teachers involve pupils in marking and evaluating their progress from the Foundation Stage onwards so they can understand how well they are doing and how to improve their work.
Although most children join the Nursery with very modest skills, below those expected of three-year-olds, they make good progress in beginning to learn basic literacy and numeracy. Pupils' achievement accelerates as they progress through the school because of the outstanding teaching, curriculum and the use of assessment information to track progress and provide appropriate support. By the time they begin Year 1; most children exceed the goals expected of them particularly in personal, creative and physical development. By the end of Year 2, standards are broadly average and progress is good. The school recognises that literacy and numeracy skills could be higher by the end of Year 2 because pupils are still not fully secure in applying basic skills. By the end of Year 6, pupils' increased mastery in literacy and mathematics lead to them reaching above average standards in English and mathematics and high standards in science in the national tests. Overall, this represents good progress with some outstanding features.
Pupils' enjoyment of learning is given a high priority and is linked to the outstanding teaching and curriculum. Teachers have high expectations and are relentless in their efforts to make sure that no pupil underachieves. The most effective teaching strategies are identified and the benefits of good practice are spread widely. For instance, practical and interactive activities are used in science and are now extended to other subjects to improve standards further.
Pupils' personal development and well-being are outstanding. Enjoyment is evident in the pride they display when talking about the school. They behave very well, enjoy taking on responsibility and most attend regularly. Pupils seize opportunities to promote their independence and appreciate all that the school offers them.
The school's success in achieving its aim of providing the 'highest quality of education through effective teaching and learning regardless of pupils' ethnicity, faith, gender or ability' is linked to the outstanding leadership and management of the headteacher, senior leaders and governors. The headteacher has been very effective in sustaining an established senior team and stable staff who work very well together. Regardless of the senior team's long years of service, they welcome new initiatives and training and use research findings to improve provision. One of the school's outstanding strengths lies in the teamwork of all staff who work together for the benefit of the pupils. For example, they monitor each other's work and make a significant contribution to new members settling themselves in the school. Planning for future improvement is far-reaching and changes are evaluated and carefully recorded. The rigour and effectiveness of improvement since the last inspection, current planning and self-evaluation show that the capacity to make further improvement is outstanding.
What the school should do to improve further
- The school improvement plan accurately identifies the need to raise standards further in Key Stage 1.
Achievement and standards
When the low starting point of pupils is taken in to consideration, achievement is good with outstanding progress in science. In Year 6, standards have been significantly better than the national and local authority average for the last four years. The school sets and meets challenging targets which are often exceeded in science where standards are consistently high. Pupils achieve well irrespective of their ethnicity, ability or gender. In particular, those with special need achieve exceptionally well. Overall, pupils make rapid progress and grow in confidence as they progress through the school. Although an increasing number of children enter the school with little or no English, intensive specialist support and outstanding teaching help them to make good and often better progress. Children in the Foundation Stage make good progress based on the good quality provision. By the end of Year 2, standards are broadly average because literacy skills are still being consolidated. The school recognises the areas of weaknesses and is already using a wide range of strategies to improve pupils' basic literacy and numeracy skills particularly in the Foundation Stage and in Years 1 and 2.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' attitudes and behaviour are exemplary as is their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Throughout their time at the school, pupils develop a very good range of personal skills and consideration for others. They enjoy school, have a very positive approach to their learning and make positive contributions to the school and the wider community. For example, they take responsibility for others as playground friends and use the school council to initiate changes such as successfully arguing for new state of the art toilets. Additionally, their thoughtfulness is extended to a local hospice. They thrive well in a community that values their cultural heritages and opinions. Pupils, like their parents, appreciate the way in which the school prepares them well for the future and Year 6 pupils value their records of achievement.
Pupils have a good grasp of eating healthily, know how to keep themselves safe and insist that they can turn to an adult and use the message or worry box if they have a concern. Pupils confidently explained that if any bullying occurs, it is dealt with immediately. Attendance is good and has improved since the last inspection. However, a small minority of parents continue to take their children on holiday in term time, which affects the overall attendance rate.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The exemplary work of the teachers is central to the good and often rapid progress that pupils make. Teachers set high expectations and pupils rise to the challenges. Throughout the school, there is a very clear understanding of how pupils learn. Teachers therefore use information and communication technology (ICT), practical activities, and draw on pupils' experiences to place learning in context and give them a 'hands on' approach. As a result, pupils learn very well and they are encouraged to become independent learners. For example, in a Year 1 literacy booster lesson, basic skills were reviewed and consolidated very effectively because the teacher used demonstration, a puppet as a mouthpiece and a themed song with actions. The pupils were able to write sentences accurately with some using complex vocabulary.
There is high quality specialist support to meet the different needs of pupils. For instance, pupils with a special need, those at risk of underachieving or those learning English are very well supported by teaching assistants. The specialist support leads to them becoming more confident and minimises any future difficulties. There is tangible evidence from parents who speak about their children coming on 'in leaps and bounds' because of this kind of support. Discussions with pupils and lesson observations indicate that they appreciate the 'practical and fun activities', the opportunities to give 'their opinions' and good quality marking which ,they say, 'helps them to understand how they are doing and how they can improve'.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is outstanding because it responds well to individual needs and stimulates pupils' enthusiasm for learning. Subject managers review the curriculum regularly and keep abreast of changes very well. For example, they are in the process of trialling new schemes of work in preparation for the planned changes nationally. Creativity is at the heart of the curriculum and contributes well to pupils developing good basic skills. For example, close monitoring of results and work led to the introduction of the special writing project to improve composition skills and vocabulary. This is carefully tailored to pupils' needs, particularly boys, and is leading to pupils developing a flair for creative writing. The curriculum is planned to recognise other cultures and makes an excellent contribution to pupils knowing about different legacies and people. After-school clubs offer additional enrichment such as Spanish lessons, which is taught in Year 3.
Care, guidance and support
Care, guidance and support are outstanding and contribute very well to pupils' progress, enjoyment and well-being. One of the school's main strengths is its detailed and systematic use of assessment information to track pupils' progress by gender, ability, ethnicity and free school meals. Termly and annual assessments are used to identify progress and underachievement. The careful attention to detail ensures that action is taken swiftly to support pupils. Procedures to ensure pupils' health and safety are very effective and meet legal requirements. Very good internal systems, such as the learning mentor, and strong links with external agencies ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable pupils are fully met.
Leadership and management
Leadership and management are outstanding because of the excellent guidance and dedication of the headteacher. A committed deputy and senior leaders support him. The strong team work inspires loyalty from all staff, governors and parents to support the school. The senior leaders' evaluation of the school's progress is perceptive. The school improvement plan is well conceived and tailored to match the Every Child Matters agenda to ensure that the momentum for change is not slackened. Consistent and analytical monitoring and evaluation findings are used to inspire and challenge staff to work towards achieving the challenging annual targets. The school's success in sustaining performance and keeping provision under review have been key factors in moving it forward and developing middle and senior managers. Governors have a range of expertise; they are vigorous in their support and have no reservations about challenging the school's targets and performance.