The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
The school is larger than most primary schools. Most pupils are White British, with a small proportion from minority ethnic families. The majority of pupils are from service families, mostly in infantry regiments. The number of pupils who join or leave the school at other than the normal times is high. Of the current 81 pupils in Year 6, 44 started the school in Year 3. Pupils in the school have attended as many as nine primary schools since they started school. Attainment on entry is below average.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school. At the heart of the school's success are very effective leadership and management that have created a staff team that both understands and meets the complex needs of pupils from service families. As one parent wrote, 'The school deserves recognition for how well it copes with the high number of forces families they cater for. They have lots of children joining them at various stages of their education and do well to integrate them and bring them up to Clarendon's high standards of education and behaviour.' Good teaching and an effective curriculum have a positive impact in two key areas. First, they contribute to pupils' good achievement and to them reaching average standards at the end of Year 6. Second, they have a significant impact on pupils' exemplary behaviour and their enjoyment of learning. Pupils make good progress in lessons because they want to learn as the result of teaching which engages and motivates them. Teachers' planning is good and usually meets the differing learning needs of pupils in their own classes and in ability groups (sets). However, there are times when teachers, particularly in Years 5 and 6, do not deploy teaching assistants effectively at the start of lessons, especially in middle and higher groups. The impact of this is that more able pupils are not always fully challenged and extended in their learning. Good care, guidance and support underpin pupils' good personal development and well-being. Pupils enjoy school and they are good at quickly forming positive relationships with each other and with staff. They have an outstanding understanding of the need to stay safe. Pupils' knowledge and understanding of the need to keep fit and healthy are good. They particularly enjoy sport, including attending after school clubs. Pupils' preparation for their future economic well-being is good, with strengths in their social skills. Teachers and support staff know pupils well and most pupils feel confident that there is an adult to whom they can turn with worries or concerns. Pupils find teachers' marking helpful because it tells them how they can improve their work. The school is very effective in its own self-assessment, particularly in analysing the results of national tests. The actions taken have a positive impact on raising achievement and standards. Such actions show that the school has the good capacity to improve further. Currently, the school is using a new system for the ongoing assessment of pupils' progress and the identification of pupils who are in danger of falling behind. Whilst the information the school receives from these assessments is useful, they are not carried out frequently enough to ensure a more rapid identification of potential underachievement. The majority of parents are very supportive of the school. The inspection team agreed with pupils' and parents' concerns about the condition of the toilets, but the governors have this improvement as a key priority. Governors are very supportive of the school in many ways. For example, they are currently providing extra funding to improve the school library. This funding is a good example of how the school responds to analysing its own performance, particularly as it discovered girls were 'switched off' reading because of the poor quality and range of books in the library.
What the school should do to improve further
- Increase the frequency of assessment of pupils' learning.
- Ensure greater consistency in the deployment of teaching assistants at the start of lessons, particularly in middle and higher groups in Years 5 and 6 to maximise pupils' learning.
Achievement and standards
Achievement is good and pupils reach average standards by the end of Year 6. The school was rigorous in analysing the reasons for a decline in standards in the 2007 national tests and put in place effective strategies to improve achievement and standards. For example, the school discovered that girls struggled with key scientific vocabulary. As a result, in every classroom and for each science topic the key vocabulary appears in stimulating displays. Pupils say that such displays, together with an emphasis on practical work, help them to make good progress in lessons. They enjoy and are successful in using key literacy and numeracy skills in other subjects, for example in Year 4 where they write recounts of a visit to a Roman villa. Currently in Years 3 and 4, standards in spelling are not good enough, although teachers are aware of and addressing the issue. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities make good progress.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. A significant feature of the lessons observed was pupils' love of learning and their willingness to work hard for their teachers. Around the school, they are polite and well mannered. For example, many held doors open for inspectors. Their attendance is satisfactory. Pupils enjoy taking part in the wide range of extra-curricular activities provided. Year 6 pupils take their responsibilities seriously and carry them out effectively. The school council works well, although it does not have a budget as in some schools, nor is it chaired by pupils. Pupils sing to senior citizens in the local community. Whilst they are supportive of charities and fund raising, they do not choose their own causes to support.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Pupils really enjoy their lessons and this is a key factor in their good progress and achievement. Teachers make good use of interactive whiteboards at the start of lessons to capture pupils' interest. The purpose of the lesson is shared with pupils and they are told what they must do in order to be successful. Because pupils know exactly what is expected of them they work hard and concentrate well. Occasionally, at the start of lessons, teaching assistants are not deployed effectively to support and challenge pupils, especially in the middle and higher groups. During the main part of lessons, teaching assistants provide effective support for pupils, especially those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. At the end of lessons, pupils are successfully encouraged to share with their teachers and each other how well they have done through using 'two stars and a wish'. (Pupils are asked to say two things they like about a piece of work and to give one improvement point.)
Curriculum and other activities
Pupils find the curriculum interesting and enjoyable; this impacts positively on their achievement. They particularly enjoy practical subjects, such as design and technology and the chance to make links between subjects. Pupils in Year 6 spoke most excitedly about how much they learned during a recent 'Victorian Day'. They enjoy learning Spanish, French, German and Welsh. At times, the curriculum does not fully extend more able pupils in Years 5 and 6. The school provides a very good range of extra-curricular activities for which there is a high take up. Pupils enjoy taking part in sports tournaments and the residential visit in Year 6. Very effective use is made of links with partner schools, visits and visitors to enrich pupils' learning. The visit of a military band was particularly memorable. The social and emotional aspects of learning 'SEAL' programme makes a positive contribution to pupils' good personal development and well-being.
Care, guidance and support
The school complies fully with all requirements for child protection and safeguarding pupils. Those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities receive good support from teaching assistants to help them make good progress against the targets in their detailed individual education plans. The high quality of care given to pupils is a vital part of the successful way they settle into the day-to-day life of the school no matter when they join. The quality of academic guidance and support is good. Through marking and feedback, pupils know their own areas for improvement. Currently, pupils have a very good understanding of their literacy targets. They are less secure with targets in other subjects and say they would like them to be as clear as those for literacy. The good setting of targets in science in Year 3 is not currently embedded across the school.
Leadership and management
The headteacher, ably supported by the deputy headteacher and senior leaders of the school, has a detailed understanding of the needs of service children and their families. The school's self-evaluation of its own performance is especially strong in relation to pupils' achievement and standards and the targets set are challenging. In other aspects of its work, the school is too modest and undersells its many strengths. As a result of actions taken, pupils' achievement and standards are much improved this year. Whilst the school's new system for assessing pupils' progress is effective in providing the information the school requires, the results are not shared fully with the subject leaders in English, mathematics and science. This means they do not have a full overview of performance in their subjects, especially in Year 6. Governors are hard working and committed to school improvement. They have made good progress in the important area of challenging the school and holding it to account for the standards it achieves since the last inspection.