The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This very large primary school accepts pupils from the surrounding area and further afield. There is a broadly average proportion of pupils from minority ethnic groups, but, although increasing, the proportion of pupils speaking English as an additional language is below average. There is a high rate of pupil mobility, often from service families. Children's attainment on entry varies, often significantly in alternate years, as increased numbers of children enter with below average communication and numeracy skills. Current attainment on entry broadly matches the level expected of children for their age. Although the proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is broadly average, it is increasing and there is a high proportion of pupils with a statement of special educational need. Mobility issues and those associated with learning difficulties and/or disabilities often affect some year groups very significantly, for example the current Year 6 group. The school includes an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Base, which caters for six pupils with communication and interaction needs who come from the wider area of Plymouth. The school also integrates ten pupils with severe and profound learning difficulties from a local special school. The school holds the following quality marks: Investor in People, Healthy School Status and Inclusion Kitemark, Basic Skills and Activemark Awards.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Goosewell is a good school. There are outstanding features, not least, given its substantial size, in its welcoming, inclusive, family ethos. Other strengths include excellent leadership from a dynamic headteacher and outstanding pastoral care from all staff. Consequently, pupils attend well, really enjoy school and behave and adopt safe practices in an exemplary way. Despite a high number of pupils entering the school other than at the normal time of entry, and increasingly with additional learning needs, the school continues to improve. Standards are currently average at the end of Year 6, and in relation to starting points, represent good achievement.
The outstanding educational direction promoted by leaders and managers has been particularly successful in recent years in raising expectations of what pupils can achieve and this is underpinning the momentum of improvement. Raised aspirations have also brought excellent links with parents, the community and outside agencies, which, together with good care, support and guidance, sustain the pupils' good personal development and well-being. Parents recognise and appreciate these qualities: a typical comment included, 'This is a lovely school that has gone from strength to strength.'
Children are taught well and make good progress in the Foundation Stage (Reception classes). Consistently effective teaching, focused use of teaching assistants and the pupils' positive attitudes and enjoyment of learning ensure that good progress continues through the school. As a result, standards are rising. Standards are above average in science, physical education and information and communication technology (ICT). This is because pupils' learning is less constrained by the relatively weaker basic literacy and numeracy skills, which stem from specific learning difficulties and pupils having moved schools. Standards are broadly average in English and mathematics. Even so, pupils' speaking, writing and mathematical problem solving skills are still not good enough and a few pupils underachieve.
Teaching and learning are good and are well matched to the breadth of pupils' abilities. The increasing involvement of pupils in self-evaluation is an improving feature, which, for example, has lifted the performance of potentially higher attainers. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, especially those with complex needs, are extremely well supported and have precise targets for improvement. At times, the guidance given to average attaining pupils, about how to improve and what they should achieve, is not as clear and this limits their progress.
Leadership and management are good. Innovatively constituted, separate leadership and management teams and effective structures of leadership and management at every level represent significant improvements since the last inspection. Colleagues, including governors, ensure that provision is monitored carefully. In particular, the monitoring of teaching and learning is of high quality. The use of target setting is not as effective, for example in accelerating the progress of some average attainers. Nevertheless, self-evaluation is good. This is evident in the consistency of teaching, the breadth and richness of a good curriculum and consequently the pupils' improving achievements. These show that the school is well placed to improve in the future.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Well-implemented induction procedures ensure that children make a good start in Reception classes. Initial assessments vary year on year. Those made this year show that children enter school broadly in line with expectations, but with lower knowledge of numbers, letters and writing. Children make good progress because teaching and learning are effective and there is an exciting, well-planned curriculum. Excellent leadership ensures that the spacious indoor facilities are well organised and provide a stimulating place to learn. This enables staff to provide a good balance between adult led activities and those the children choose themselves. Children with complex needs and children entering later than the normal time of entry receive excellent support. The majority of children enter Year 1 having reached most early learning goals, but using words, and to a lesser extent numbers, is still below expectation. The small, secure outdoor area is well used. However, its limited size and lack of some all weather protection limit opportunities for children to choose outdoor learning activities for themselves.
What the school should do to improve further
- Improve pupils' speaking skills, thereby extending their vocabulary and supporting writing skills.
- Improve pupils' basic numeracy and problem solving skills in mathematics.
- Strengthen the use of targets to show pupils what they have to do to improve and indicate to teachers and learners what should be achieved.
Achievement and standards
Most pupils, across the range of abilities and backgrounds, achieve well at this school. Standards are rising and more pupils are on course to meet appropriately challenging targets. However, because a high proportion of pupils joined later than usual from other schools, often with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, standards are broadly average in Year 6. Children make good progress in their Reception year. Children do best in personal, social and emotional development. Most children achieve the goals expected on starting Year 1; however, having entered school from a low base, several children still find using words and numbers difficult. Progress through Years 1 to 6 is good as consistently effective teaching helps pupils build on previous learning. Most pupils do best in science and physical education by the end of Year 6, where standards are clearly above average. Many pupils also have good ICT skills. Standards are average in English and mathematics. However, pupils' confidence and skills in speaking and writing, by using more adventurous vocabulary, and in solving problems in mathematics are still not high enough.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils are polite and well mannered. They enjoy school greatly, attend well and have good attitudes to learning. Pupils take their responsibilities very seriously, for example as 'peer mediators' helping others at play times. Pupils' moral and social development is outstanding and is a key factor in ensuring their behaviour is exemplary. Whilst their spiritual and cultural development is good overall, pupils' appreciation and understanding of the diversity of life in modern Britain's multicultural society are not as secure, but satisfactory never the less. Pupils have a good understanding of right and wrong and display a high level of consideration for others. They say they feel safe and secure and know that any rare instances of unkind behaviour would be dealt with quickly and effectively. Pupils have a good understanding of how to live healthy lifestyles and are very enthusiastic about sport. Pupils play an active role in school decision making through the school council and involvement in the local community and charitable fund raising. Despite some weaknesses in literacy and numeracy skills, pupils' ability to work well together and their good ICT skills prepare them well for future life.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teachers and their assistants manage pupils' behaviour very effectively and share a real sense of enthusiasm that enriches learning. A close match between learning activities, good quality teaching assistant support and pupils' needs typifies teaching and learning throughout the school. These ensure that pupils learn well and make good progress. This is especially the case when pupils are taught by specialist staff and supported for their complex learning needs in classes, in the ASD Base and, often for example, in physical education. Teachers have strengthened how they challenge higher attainers and induct newly arrived pupils to bridge any gaps in previous learning. However, occasionally, introductory discussions in lessons continue for too long, and the pace of learning and pupils' interest slip, slowing the development of speaking and numeracy skills. Most teachers give good guidance through marking, but in some lessons average attainers lack sufficiently clear targets to show them how to improve. All teachers use interactive whiteboards effectively to provide visual stimuli to accelerate pupils' learning. Teachers also very effectively stimulate pupils' ideas imaginatively, for example role playing life in Greek and Victorian times.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is enriched by outstanding extra-curricular pursuits and very beneficial links with parents, the local community and outside agencies. There is an excellent range of well-attended sporting opportunities. There is a good curriculum for children in Reception and, across the school, pupils have good opportunities to take responsibility as learners. The increasing involvement of pupils in evaluating their own work is a good feature. All these contribute very effectively to the pupils' exemplary behaviour, enjoyment of learning and healthy, safe lifestyles. The teaching of French and German brings good opportunities for pupils to understand different cultures. Provision for ICT is good. The school ensures that the curriculum meets pupils' diverse needs well and has recently strengthened provision for those who join the school in midstream. Provision for literacy and numeracy is generally good, including in other subjects. However, too often, pupils' speaking and problem solving skills are not given sufficient emphasis slowing pupils' development of these skills. The curriculum is enhanced by very well maintained facilities, stimulating displays of pupils' work and 'celebration assemblies' which value pupils' efforts and promote good achievement.
Care, guidance and support
Pastoral care and the way all pupils are included equally in all aspects of school life are outstanding. There is a very pleasant family atmosphere and this contributes well to pupils' outstanding enjoyment of learning and sense of well-being. Parents value the way the school supports their children and comment about 'teachers really caring'. Pupils say they know there is always someone to turn to if they have a problem. Induction and transfer arrangements are good and help pupils settle quickly into new routines. Pupils' health and well-being are safeguarded very securely. There is excellent support for vulnerable pupils, including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, which ensures they make good progress. The quality of teachers' marking is good and provides most pupils with effective guidance. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities know and understand their individual learning targets. Other pupils, especially average attainers, do not have such a clear view of what they have to do to improve. The school is strengthening procedures to track pupils' progress and set targets for improvement, but these have yet to be implemented to best effect.
Leadership and management
The headteacher gives the school an excellent sense of direction. He provides an outstanding lead in promoting teamwork and inducting pupils into a supportive, caring ethos. With good and often high quality support from senior colleagues and governors, 'Every child really does matter' at this school. Securely established leadership and management teams implement well-considered plans for the development of the school. These take increasing account of pupils' and parents' views. Self-evaluation is accurate and effective and is based on rigorous monitoring of the impact of teaching on pupils' learning. This enables the school to identify and sustain plenty of existing good, and often better, practice and address inconsistency in procedures. However, target setting is not yet managed to ensure it is used in a sufficiently systematic way to have a sharp enough impact on pupils' progress. Other initiatives, such as improved curricular planning and increased use of teaching assistants, are increasingly meeting pupils' varying needs and have a positive impact on their progress. These show that the school has a good capacity to improve further.