The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Although in this larger-than-average school the proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is average, the number of those with a statement of special educational need is above average. This is because within the school there is a resource base for pupils who have statements for their speech, language and communication difficulties. The majority of pupils are of White British origin. Children's attainment on entry is slightly below that typically expected. The school attained Healthy School status in 2007.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This school provides a satisfactory quality of education. The pupils' personal development is a strong aspect. Parents are pleased that their children are happy, safe and enjoy learning. Pupils themselves think school is fun and a good place to be; the many visits, visitors and good opportunities to learn a modern foreign language make the curriculum interesting. They speak enthusiastically about the wide variety of popular sports and music activities. Good opportunities to take on responsibility through the school council and the 'Star Helper' initiative helps pupils to develop good social skills, grow in self-assurance and realize the importance of working together in a community. Behaviour is good and pupils show good attitudes towards learning. They have a good understanding of leading a healthy lifestyle, commenting on how well the new lunch menus are encouraging them to eat healthy food. They feel safe and know how to keep safe, clearly aware of the dangers of smoking, alcohol and drugs.
These positive attitudes towards learning start in the Reception classes. Here, progress is satisfactory and by the time children enter Year 1 they are working within the goals expected for their age. Although the curriculum is satisfactory, there is not sufficient balance between adult-led and child-initiated activities, and children have insufficient opportunities to develop their understanding of all six areas of learning in the outdoor environment.
Progress continues to be satisfactory throughout the school and, by Year 6, pupils attain standards that are broadly average in English, mathematics and science. They are prepared satisfactorily for the next stage of their education. Although achievement is satisfactory, pupils do not consistently make the progress of which they are capable, mainly because assessment information is not used rigorously enough to ensure that activities meet the needs of all pupils, particularly the more able. Teachers do not expect enough of pupils and pupils themselves say they are capable of harder work. All teachers are trying hard to make sure that pupils are aware of what they are expected to learn in lessons, and questioning skills are improving. However, as yet, not all teachers ask questions that make pupils think hard, enabling them to extend their learning further. Teachers from the Resource Base and teaching assistants within the main school ensure that pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are included in the activities the school offers. This shows good improvement from the previous inspection.
The leadership of the school is clearly aware of the school's strengths. Importantly, it understands its areas for development, for example, in making more effective use of assessment information and involving pupils more in knowing how to improve their work. Actions have been agreed to improve these aspects but monitoring and evaluation procedures are not rigorous enough to check that agreed action has been implemented by all staff. Consequently, the effect of new ideas has not been as good as it should be. Even so, the improvements that have been made from the previous inspection show that the school has satisfactory capacity to improve further.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Children make satisfactory progress in the Reception classes because of mainly satisfactory teaching and learning. Although by the end of Reception year, children are working at levels typically expected for their age in the majority of areas of learning, their knowledge of the names of letters and sounds and their writing skills are weak. A strength however, is the attention given to children's personal, social and emotional development, which results in children who are happy, enjoy their work and are eager to learn. Staff plan activities for all six areas of learning but these are often overly directed by adults. This limits the development of children's independent learning skills. Also the outdoor classroom is underdeveloped and used mainly to promote children's physical development. Overall, children's preparation for Key Stage 1 is satisfactory.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise teachers' expectations of what pupils are able to do and develop effective questioning skills.
- Ensure assessment information is used to plan learning activities that meet the needs of all pupils, particularly the more able.
- Sharpen checking procedures to ensure all staff implement agreed action.
- Extend opportunities for Reception children to initiate their own learning and ensure the outdoor environment promotes development in all six areas of learning.
A small proportion of 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
By the end of Year 6, standards in English, mathematics and science are broadly average. This represents satisfactory achievement from when children first start at school in Reception. However, progress is uneven because the use of assessment information is not sufficiently rigorous to ensure that all pupils, especially the more able, make enough progress. This is starting to improve as a result of more focused support for those pupils identified as not achieving as well as they should. The progress of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, including those from the Resource Base, is satisfactory. They receive satisfactory support from appropriately deployed teachers and teaching assistants when working in the Resource Base or in mainstream classes.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils enjoy school and behaviour is good. They like the opportunity to work together and particularly enjoy using computers to help them learn. Their attendance is average. Pupils are polite and helpful, opening doors for visitors, showing kindness and understanding towards each other. They know how to keep themselves safe, for example, knowing how important it is to be careful on the roads and not to speak to strangers. They feel safe and secure, untroubled by bullying because if it does occur, they say it is resolved quickly. Pupils have adopted healthy lifestyles readily, being especially keen on sport and residential outdoor activities. One pupil said, 'Exercise is good, it gets more oxygen to your brain and arms!' They like finding out about faiths and cultures different to their own, notably enjoying 'Black History Month'. The school council and 'Star Helpers' effectively foster pupils' understanding of community responsibility. Pupils are proud of the improvements they have made to playtimes through providing more play equipment.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Relationships between adults and pupils are good and this means that pupils are enthusiastic learners trying hard to do their best. In lessons, pupils focus well on their activities and work steadily, even when learning does not challenge them enough. Sharing the intended learning of the lesson is done well; pupils are clear about what is expected of them. However, they are not as sure about how to achieve this learning. In addition, activities do not consistently challenge pupils and pupils themselves say, 'We could do harder work.' Too often questions that require a simple answer are asked rather than asking those questions that make pupils think hard and extend their thinking further. In some classes, 'talking partners' are used well so that pupils have the opportunity to discuss ideas and learn from their peers. Teaching assistants and teachers from the Resource Base are deployed carefully to ensure that pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are able to access all activities.
Curriculum and other activities
Although links between subjects make the curriculum more interesting, planning does not consistently ensure that the curriculum meets the needs of all pupils, particularly those of the more able. Music is a strength, with many opportunities for pupils to sing in the choir or learn an instrument. As one parent wrote, 'My daughter particularly enjoys music and singing with the school choir. She has had the opportunity to sing at the National Indoor Arena and the Symphony Hall. What an amazing experience!' Good use is made of visits and visitors to enrich the curriculum and to develop pupils' interest and enjoyment. French is also taught throughout the school. Pupils learn to stay healthy and safe through a good personal, social and health education programme and effective links with the School Sports Partnership.
Care, guidance and support
Arrangements for safeguarding pupils are good. Child protection and health and safety arrangements are secure. Pupils feel safe and, as one pupil typically commented, 'It's a happy school, where we all get on well together.' Expectations of pupils' behaviour are clearly established and this supports well their personal development. Pupils know who to go to if there are problems. As well as adults, this includes the Year 6 'Star Helpers' who are trained to follow up any instances where pupils are upset or lonely at break times. Good links are in place with outside support agencies. The parents of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are involved well in their children's annual reviews and the drawing up of their individual plans of work.
A useful tracking and target-setting system has been recently established but, as yet, the information about the points pupils have reached in their learning is not used well enough. Although improving, the next steps in learning are not clear enough to both teachers and pupils.
Leadership and management
The headteacher and senior management team provide clear direction for the school's work. There is a strong sense of teamwork and they are clear about the strengths and the areas in need of development. Self-evaluation is accurate. However, checking that agreed actions to improve provision are implemented consistently by all staff is not rigorous enough to be effective. Governors are well informed and provide a good level of support and challenge. They are actively involved in setting the school's targets for end-of-Year 6 National Curriculum tests, insisting that these targets are sufficiently challenging.
Communication and relationships with parents and carers are good. The school tries hard to consult parents, for example, through questionnaires, workshops and surveys. Even so, a small number of parents feel they are not always sufficiently involved in the school's decision-making processes. Links with external agencies and other local schools are good and used effectively to extend pupils' learning experiences.