The inspection was carried out by an Additional Inspector.
The Inspector evaluated the overall effectiveness of the school and investigated the following issues: progress in Key Stage 1, the extent to which skills in literacy and numeracy are extended by use in other subjects, and the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to support and extend the curriculum. Evidence was gathered from the observation of lessons, discussions with staff, pupils and governors, looking at pupils’ work, school assessment data and documentation. Other aspects of the school’s work were not investigated in detail, but inspectors found no evidence to suggest that the school’s own assessments, as given in its self-evaluation, were not justified, and these have been included where appropriate in the report.
Description of the school
This is an average sized school close to the centre of Clitheroe. The proportion of pupils who are eligible for free school meals is below average. Most pupils are of White British origin. A small number of pupils learn English as an additional language. The school has recently achieved the National Healthy Schools Standard.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is an outstanding school which gives excellent value for money. The headteacher provides exemplary leadership and has an exceptionally clear vision for raising standards and improving provision. This is shared by staff and governors and is significant in promoting the pupils’ high achievement and excellent personal development. Most parents have very positive views of the school. A parent commented that, ‘Brookside was absolutely the right place to choose for our child. The atmosphere is fantastic.’
Achievement is excellent and standards are consistently high. When children enter the Foundation Stage, although standards vary considerably from year to year, standards are generally in line with what would be expected for children of this age. Most children make rapid progress in the Foundation Stage so that by the time they reach Year1 most exceed the goals expected for their age. This excellent progress continues in Key Stage 1. The results of the 2007 assessments show that pupils were performing at levels significantly above average. School data and inspection evidence show that pupils in the current Year 2 are on track to reach marginally above average standards. This represents excellent achievement because there is a high proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities in this group and they started school with a lower than usual starting point. In Key Stage 2, the excellent achievement continues which is reflected in the results of the national tests. In 2006, these were significantly above average as they had been for the previous four years. The results of the tests in 2007 show that standards improved even further on the previous year and were very high. Inspection evidence and school data show that these high standards are maintained and pupils in the current Year 6 are on track to reach very high standards.
Pupils’ personal development, including their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, is excellent. Pupils have very positive attitudes to their learning and this is an important factor in their high standards. Attendance is above average and pupils really enjoy coming to school because relationships are excellent and work is interesting and challenging. Pupils have an excellent understanding of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle because there are many opportunities to eat healthily and take exercise. Behaviour is excellent and, because they help to formulate their own class rules, pupils have a very good understanding of the differences between right and wrong. Pupils are very well prepared for the next stage in their education and have a very good understanding of how to develop enterprise skills. They work with representatives from business and industry, and budget and organise fund raising activities for charity. Pupils say that they feel safe and well cared for and they are generally very polite and considerate. The school council plays an important role in helping to improve facilities for their peers. Pupils are very keen and eager to take on responsibilities around school. For example, older pupils act as trained play leaders and pupils help with the smooth running of the school and in such activities as recycling. They have many opportunities to take part in community events such as the Sheep Festival and Torchlight Procession.
The quality of teaching and learning is excellent and this is why pupils make excellent progress. Teachers make extremely good use of assessment in order to ensure that pupils are appropriately challenged. Typically, lessons are lively and interesting so that pupils want to learn. For example, very good use of humour was made in a Year 6 lesson to extend understanding of active and passive sentences. Teaching assistants work very closely with teachers and this is important in the very good support all pupils receive. This is particularly effective in the support of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and for pupils who learn English as an additional language, so that they make the same progress as their peers. Pupils are challenged to extend their skills because teachers have very good subject knowledge and make excellent use of questions. Relationships are excellent and this encourages pupils to engage in discussions with teachers and their peers so that they become confident learners. Teachers share learning objectives with pupils who are asked to reflect on how well these have been achieved. As a result, pupils have a very clear understanding of their own learning.
The curriculum is excellent. It is rich and stimulating and helps to make learning irresistible and to extend pupils’ horizons. There is a wide range of extra-curricular activities and lots of visits and visitors so that pupils get plenty of ‘hands-on’ experience and see a relevance and purpose to their learning. There is a very good focus on developing skills of literacy and numeracy. This is enhanced by the many opportunities for pupils to extend their skills in other subjects. The extensive facilities for ICT are used very well in all subjects so that pupils’ skills and understanding in many subjects are reinforced and extended. Resources are very good. For example, a kiln and a lathe provide additional opportunities for pupils’ learning. An excellent programme of personal, social and health education helps pupils to understand how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Very good links with local secondary schools ensure that the transfer to the next stage of education is usually an extremely smooth one.
Excellent care, guidance and support help to underline the high standards and excellent personal development. This is a very caring school with a clear determination to leave no stone unturned in the drive to provide the best for each pupil. All pupils, including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and those who learn English as an additional language, are very well supported academically and personally. There are very strong links between home and school. A parent commented that, ‘A strong relationship between teachers and parents is a major strength of Brookside School.’ Child protection arrangements, risk assessments and procedures for safeguarding children are in place. There are very effective systems for assessing and tracking progress. These lead to the provision of additional support where needed and to clear targets for improvement which are well known by pupils and teachers.
Leadership and management are excellent. The headteacher’s vision and commitment create a very positive approach to learning which is shared by staff and governors. This is significant in pupils’ high achievement and excellent personal development. Staff throughout the school work very closely with each other. They share their expertise and, as a result, meet and often exceed the challenging targets they set for themselves and the pupils. The school’s evaluation of its performance is excellent and this leads to very clear strategic planning in which staff and governors are closely involved. Pupils’ progress is very carefully analysed in order to identify any areas of weakness and this contributes to the setting of challenging targets for their improvement. For example, writing was identified as an area for improvement and this led to strategies which raised standards.
Governance is excellent. Governors know the school very well and are involved in training in order to extend their skills. They are in very close contact with the school and know staff and pupils very well. They are very supportive and very conscientious in helping to hold the school to account for its performance. The school manages its budget very astutely in order to help to raise standards and improve provision. For example, substantial improvements have been made to the accommodation and the ICT provision which have led to improved standards. Issues from the previous inspection have been successfully addressed. Excellent leadership and evaluation of performance and a shared determination to raise standards and improve provision give the school an excellent capacity to improve in future.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Provision in the Foundation Stage is excellent. Relationships are excellent and children settle in very quickly and rapidly develop confidence and independence. Children are eager to come to school and want to learn because lessons are stimulating and exciting. This results in children making excellent progress and provides a very secure basis for future learning. Teaching in the Foundation Stage is excellent. Staff keep very careful records of children’s progress and this helps them ensure that they are challenged at the appropriate levels of difficulty. As a result, lessons are very well planned with a good balance between teacher direction and pupil choice. The Foundation Stage is very well led and, because there are close links with Key Stage 1, children are very well prepared for the next stage in their education.
What the school should do to improve further
- There are no significant areas for improvement.