The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This is a larger than average Junior school serving an area of high social and economic deprivation. The vast majority of pupils are from minority ethnic communities, mainly Indian. Three quarters have a first language other than English. Pupils speak 14 community languages, the most common being Gujerati. The proportion of pupils entitled to a free school meal is above the national average, as is the proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. The proportion of pupils with a statement of special educational need is well above the national average.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school that gives good value for money. Some aspects of its provision are outstanding. Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is excellent. Pupils are very reflective, and their spiritual development, enhanced by excellent links with the local faith communities, is very strong. The various minority ethnic groups mix easily together, having respect for different races, cultures and faiths, whilst remaining proud of their own culture and identity. Pupils love coming to school, although their overall attendance is adversely affected by a minority of parents taking their children on extended visits abroad and/or taking more than the permissible number of days for religious festivals during school time, and persistent non-attendees. Preparation for their future economic well-being is satisfactory. When at school, pupils enjoy exercising responsibility through the many opportunities that exist to show leadership and dependability. The school council is highly regarded and has been very effective in helping improve outdoor play facilities. Pupils talk knowledgably about healthy eating and keeping safe and know the importance of exercise and keeping fit.
Pupils join the school with standards that fluctuate from year to year but are generally well below the national average overall; speaking and listening skills are also well below average. Currently, pupils are progressing well and achieving standards that, whilst below the national average, indicate good achievement given their starting points. Progress is accelerating because of the recent improvements in teaching and learning and the good quality curriculum. The vast majority of lessons seen during the inspection were good and none was less than satisfactory. Teachers plan lessons with activities that interest and extend pupils. Relationships are positive so that pupils are well motivated to learn. Marking is regular and encouraging but pupils need more support in recognising their own next steps for learning. Pupils’ excellent attitudes to learning underpin the good progress they make.
The senior leadership team is relatively new but is already having an impact on rising standards and accelerated progress. The headteacher provides strong leadership, setting a clear agenda for improvement through effective systems of monitoring and evaluation of the school’s work. Subject leaders are beginning to have an impact on raising standards but most are new and are just beginning to exercise their roles to full effect. Governors have a clear awareness of areas of school strengths and what needs to be improved and are determined to make a difference. As yet, they do not, as a group, take an active enough role in supporting the school’s efforts to improve attendance.
The overwhelming majority of parents support the school, as evidenced by the comments received through the Ofsted questionnaire, and appreciate the standard of education their children receive. ‘Several of my children attend this school and I am very pleased with the standard of education and the care they have received in school’ was typical of several. This confidence is not misplaced because the school takes excellent care of its pupils. Links with outside agencies to support pupils’ learning, both for pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and pupils at an early stage of learning English, are outstanding. Safeguarding procedures fully comply with recent legislation. The school has made good improvements since the previous inspection and has a good capacity to succeed in the future.
What the school should do to improve further
- Support pupils in recognising their own next steps for learning.
- Promote the effective involvement of parents and governors to improve pupils’ attendance.
- Further develop the role of subject leaders in order to have a greater impact on pupils’ learning.
Achievement and standards
Pupils join the school with standards that fluctuate greatly but which are generally well below the national average. In the national tests at the end of Year 6 in 2007, results were significantly below average, especially in English. Girls performed significantly better than boys. Results were below average in mathematics and broadly average in science. These results represented satisfactory achievement for this cohort of pupils. Based on evidence from lesson observations, the work in pupils’ books and the school’s robust tracking data, current standards, whilst below average overall, are rising and pupils’ progress is now good. Most pupils have a first language other than English, and improving pupils’ basic English skills, especially those of boys, has been a school priority. As the result of a range of strategies and interventions, pupils’ basic English skills are improving, though at a faster rate in reading than in writing. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and those at the early stage of learning English make good progress.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils’ personal development is good. Their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding. Despite their cultural differences, pupils play and work together in harmony, both in and out of lessons. Residential visits help develop tolerance and understanding of others. Pupils gain a better understanding of White British culture through productive links with schools in other parts of the region. On the yard they use the good range of outdoor play equipment enthusiastically but sensibly. This includes the tyre park, which was provided at pupils’ own initiative. Pupils say there is no bullying and they know who to talk to if worried or upset. They find playground leaders, the ‘worry boxes’ and the daily ‘drop in’ centre manned by learning mentors, reassuring. Attitudes to learning are positive and behaviour is good. Pupils throw themselves wholeheartedly into the wide range of opportunities that exist for exercising responsibility, for example, as house captains or monitors of various kinds. They are knowledgeable about healthy eating and taking exercise and attendance at after-school sport is good. Average basic skills, good social skills, and annual Enterprise weeks provide a satisfactory preparation for the next stage of learning. Attendance has declined from last year’s level and is now below average, mainly because of holidays and extended leave for religious festivals taken in school time. The school is doing all it can to promote regular and prompt attendance and has rigorous systems to monitor and follow-up on absentees.
Quality of provision
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching is good, ensuring that pupils learn well. Relationships between adults and pupils are warm and positive. As a result, pupils are enthusiastic about their work. Planning takes account of pupils’ different levels of ability, including those who find learning difficult and those who need the challenge of harder work. Occasionally, higher attaining pupils could be challenged more. Most lessons are well paced, stimulating and interest pupils in their learning. Occasionally, when pupils have to listen too long, lessons lose pace and pupils become restless. Teachers ensure that pupils know what is expected of them by discussing what is to be learned. Teachers manage behaviour well, and pupils listen well in lessons. Good questioning strategies often challenge thinking. Work is generally well marked, with praise where it is deserved and helpful comments about how to improve. However, this practice is not yet consistent across the school. Teaching assistants are well trained and many are multi-lingual. They contribute effectively to lessons.
Curriculum and other activities
The good curriculum is responsive to local needs, for example, providing effective support to pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities or for whom English is an additional language. This enables both groups of pupils to make good progress. A more creative approach in enabling staff to make meaningful links between subjects is being developed but has not had time yet to have an impact on higher standards. The school has the Basic Skills Agency Quality Mark and there is good provision for developing basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics. This is enabling pupils to become more confident speakers and listeners. Curriculum enrichment is strong and the school makes every effort to provide a wide range of exciting activities, for example, through a visit to the National Football Museum to learn about a local football hero killed in the First World War, and links with Preston North End and Lancashire College. Visitors such as poets, community faith leaders and theatre groups complement the curriculum well. The curriculum is further enhanced by a wide range of after school activities, including a gardening and eco-club, but particularly in sport, as a consequence of the school’s Activemark Gold award. These activities are well attended, despite the majority of pupils attending Mosque later in the evening. Although there is an information and communication technology (ICT) club, pupils say they would like more access to computers at lunch-times and after school.
Care, guidance and support
The care, guidance and support provided for pupils are outstanding. Excellent support is provided to ensure the inclusion of pupils from the broad range of backgrounds and ethnicities represented. National requirements for the safeguarding of pupils are met. Arrangements are thorough and robust. Child protection arrangements are similarly thorough. Risk assessments are carried out as necessary and governors conduct regular reviews of health and safety arrangements. Staff are committed to the welfare and well-being of all pupils. Beyond this, a thorough support network monitors and mentors school life. The emotional well-being, and academic progress of the potentially more vulnerable pupils, including those who find learning more difficult, is efficiently managed. Excellent work with a range of outside agencies supports pupils’ well-being, for example, the school is one of only three in the local authority which provides on-site optician support. Academic progress is well monitored, with good use of assessment information to set and achieve targets.
Leadership and management
Leadership and management are good. The headteacher provides strong and effective leadership, setting a clear direction for improvement. Together with the deputy and other senior managers, they make an effective team, providing the impetus for rising standards and faster progress. Excellent links have been established with other local schools. These have had a positive impact on common approaches to attendance issues and curriculum initiatives, for example in history. Tracking systems are robust and identify underachievement at an early stage, enabling intervention and support to be provided as appropriate. Monitoring and evaluation systems are secure and are leading to improvement, for example, in teaching and learning. Relatively new subject leaders are developing their roles with the effective support of senior leaders and outside consultants but are not yet as fully effective as they want to be. The school has met its challenging targets in national tests at the end of Year 6 in each of the previous two years. Governors provide good support and increasing challenge but need to be more pro-active in tackling attendance. They recognise the problem and have made some effective personal interventions with parents. The majority of parents are very supportive of the school. They appreciate the parental workshops, for example, ‘Keeping up with the pupils’, that take place during the day and in the evenings.