The inspection was a reduced tariff inspection carried out by one Additional Inspector. The inspector evaluated the overall effectiveness of the school and investigated the following issues:
- the effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
- how well teachers measure and track pupils’ progress, and use the information to support learning
- the leadership and management of the school
- the personal development and well being of pupils.
Evidence was gathered by observing lessons, scrutinising pupils’ work, assessment information, school documents, responses by parents to the inspection questionnaire, and holding discussions with the headteacher, teachers, pupils, and the chair of the governing body. Other aspects of the school’s work were not investigated in detail, but the inspector found no evidence to suggest that the school’s own assessments, as made in its self-evaluation, were not justified, and these have been included, where appropriate, in this report.
Description of the school
This larger than average school serves an area of some economic and social deprivation. The percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals is broadly average. An above average number of pupils are of minority ethnic heritage. The proportion who speak English as an additional language is more than double the national average. The number of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is below average, although the proportion with statements of special educational need is average. The school holds the Healthy Schools Award, Activemark, Eco Schools Award, Artsmark, and FA Chartermark.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Hadrian Primary is an outstanding school where pupils make excellent progress. Their personal development and well-being, including their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, are outstanding. An overwhelming majority of parents agree, as typified in the comment, ‘I could not have wished for a better school’. The effectiveness of the Foundation Stage, and the quality of the school’s measurement and tracking of what pupils know and can do, have improved significantly since the last inspection.
Achievement is excellent. Teachers’ assessments at the end of Year 2 in 2007 showed standards in reading, writing and mathematics were a little below average. Current standards are rising and pupils in Year 2 are now reaching the level expected for their age. From a below average starting point in Year 1 this represents good progress. Progress accelerates in Key Stage 2 and the results of national tests at the end of Year 6 are impressive. Except for a slight dip in 2005 results have been significantly above average over the last five years. The more able pupils do especially well with a half of the children exceeding the level expected for their age in mathematics and slightly more than a half in science. Pupils currently in Year 6 have sustained these high standards. Pupils from a minority ethnic background achieve as well as their classmates.
Politeness, good manners, mutual respect and tolerance are hallmarks of pupils' behaviour. Their attitude to work is excellent: they are enthusiastic learners and thoroughly enjoy lessons because ‘teachers make learning fun’. Relationships are excellent and pupils say that this is a friendly and harmonious place to be. They are insistent that there is no bullying or racism in the school. Attendance is broadly average. It has been adversely affected by an outbreak of illness among younger children. Attendance in Year 6 is high. The school’s democratically elected school council, is held in high regard. It gives pupils an active voice in school improvements as, for example, in resolving an issue of safety with parents’ car parking at the beginning and end of the school day. Councillors are excellent citizens and role models for younger pupils. Through their widespread and active participation, pupils help raise significant amounts of money for charitable causes. They are very proud of their school. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is very important to the pupils. They are fully aware of the benefits of a well-balanced diet and lots of exercise. Many cycle safely to school as a result of the ‘Bike-It’ initiative. By the time they leave Hadrian’s, pupils have very mature attitudes to work, are self-assured, confident, and eager to face new challenges.
The quality of teaching and learning is good with some outstanding features. In many lessons, pupils work independently, taking charge of their own learning by thinking things through for themselves. All lessons are securely founded on well-informed planning, and on the excellent relationships between teachers and pupils based on mutual respect and understanding. Pupils say that ‘teachers are tricky, because they keep you learning even when you think you’re not’. Pupils speak with certainty about the targets they are set and the progress they make. They are less clear about how and what they need to do to improve because marking is not used consistently to identify the next steps for improvement.
The outstanding curriculum reflects the external awards the school has received. It offers much more than is normally required, including a modern foreign language, and is well used by teachers to secure pupils’ interest and enjoyment in learning. It underpins pupils’ outstanding progress in their skills, knowledge and personal development. Very wide ranging enrichment includes visits, visitors, extra classes, and a variety of sporting, creative and cultural activities which add depth and vibrancy to pupils’ learning.
Systems to support and guide pupils, particularly the most vulnerable and those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, are exceptional. They are based on clear policies which are implemented very well. The attainment of all pupils is checked carefully and any additional assistance is quickly provided as required, to ensure that fast progress is maintained. Assessment information is used effectively by teachers to help plan work which closely meets pupils’ needs. As a result, the number of older pupils needing extra help is low. Rigorous procedures to monitor the school and its work make it a safe and accessible place for all. Systems to safeguard children's welfare are strong, and well supported by close links with parents. Pupils' personal, health and emotional development is very successfully promoted in lessons and through excellent involvement of outside groups such as the fire service, community groups, and other professional agencies. Above all, the respect that all staff have for pupils makes this an exceptionally caring school.
The headteacher’s calm leadership, with close attention to detail, is a crucial factor in the school’s success. A knowledgeable, committed and large group of senior and middle leaders provides very strong support. They monitor closely the effectiveness of the school’s work. The honest and very self-critical perspective all managers adopt ensures that school self-evaluation is largely accurate if a little modest. Staff morale is high and reflects the confidence with which teachers and other adults approach the challenging targets for pupils, set by leaders. School development planning is very detailed, but does not always identify with sufficient clarity the ‘big picture’ of areas for improvement. The governing body is very effective and fully involved in monitoring. As a result, they give very good support and challenge to school development. The school has an excellent capacity to improve.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Attainment on entry to Nursery shows a declining trend over several years. From starting points mostly well below those typical for their ages, in particular in language, literacy and calculating skills, children make a good start to their education. This is because the Foundation Stage is well led and managed. Significant investment in resources, together with good quality teaching, means that children learn at a good rate. They enjoy a very effective balance of self-initiated and teacher led activities which encourages their independence and enjoyment in learning. Staff provide a good quality curriculum within a safe, secure and very attractive environment and give plentiful opportunities for outside play. Although children achieve well, their attainment at the end of the Reception year is below the expectations for their age.
What the school should do to improve further
- Ensure that the marking of work consistently gives pupils a clear indication of what they have to do next to improve.