The inspection was carried out by two Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Hardwick is a smaller than average sized school serving an area of significant social deprivation. The roll is declining because the area is undergoing major redevelopment. The proportion of pupils entitled to a free school meal is three times the national average. There are a few pupils whose first language is not English and the proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is significantly above national levels. The school provides nursery education in the afternoons and has Gold Healthy Schools and Eco School status. A total rebuild of the school is planned for the very near future.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Hardwick Primary is a satisfactory and improving school with some good features. It serves an area of considerable social deprivation and has to operate in outdated buildings. The school provides a warm, welcoming and inclusive environment for all its pupils and parents. It works particularly well with the local authority and other agencies and partners to provide a wide range of activities and experiences that contribute significantly to pupils’ personal development and future well-being. High quality care is also a strength of the school. It has to work hard in its challenging context to promote positive attitudes, raise pupils’ self-esteem and establish a good climate for learning. It is successful in this respect and the high quality transition project with the local secondary school ensures that its pupils make the move to their next stage of education with confidence and ease.
The pupils make satisfactory progress from low levels of attainment on entry and this results in broadly average standards at all Key Stages. Writing skills are, however, above average and this is a real strength of the school. So, too, is the way information and communication technology (ICT) is used to support learning especially in literacy and numeracy and across the creative subjects. Significant improvements in national test and assessment results last year reflect the robust measures put in place by the restructured leadership team to raise standards. Over the last three years, an innovative support group has been used to set clear expectations for pupils’ behaviour and this has enabled teachers to focus more closely on promoting learning. It has had considerable success in bringing calmness to the school, a greater sense of social responsibility, and in improving pupils’ personal development and well-being. Reallocation of subject responsibilities and a robust holding of staff to account for the quality of teaching and learning have also all begun to have a positive impact on pupils’ achievement.
The school’s self-evaluation is accurate. It knows what it is doing and has good strategies in place to build upon recent improvements. Teaching and learning are now more solidly satisfactory than before and there are some examples of good practice. The inclusive curriculum and good care, guidance and support ensure that equality of opportunity is promoted. Learners with difficulties and/or disabilities, who make up nearly half of the school, make satisfactory progress but the more able are not fully stretched. The school recognises that expectations are generally too low and that teaching and learning need to be consistently good or better if last year’s improvements in standards are to be maintained. The tracking of pupils’ progress is robust but guidance on how pupils can improve is not always given. Improvement since the last inspection has been good. Leadership and management are satisfactory overall and there have been some recent successes in bringing about improvements in behaviour, achievement and standards. As such, the school’s capacity to improve further is good.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Provision in the Foundation Stage is satisfactory with some good features. On entry to the Nursery many children have skills that are below or significantly below those typically found, particularly in personal, social and emotional development and in communication, literacy and language development. Staff create a very caring environment for children with good routines so that they quickly begin to feel happy and secure. The indoor learning environment supports pupils’ independent learning well but the outdoor area is not sufficiently used to support their physical development. Children enjoy the range of activities and work enthusiastically at their tasks in the Reception class where observations are well used to monitor their progress. Close attention is given to developing social skills. As a result, most children make satisfactory progress. By the end of the Foundation Stage, however, the majority of children have still not reached standards typical of their age, due to their low starting point, with their communication, literacy and language development remaining the weakest areas. Leadership and management are good.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise standards and increase progress across all stages of the school.
- Improve the quality of teaching and learning so that it meets the learning needs of all pupils.
- Ensure teachers have high expectations of pupils and set them challenging targets.
A small proportion of the 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
Children enter the school with attainment below or significantly below that which is typical in all areas of learning. By the time they leave the Foundation Stage most are working securely towards the nationally agreed early learning goals but are still below national expectations. Progress is therefore satisfactory. Pupils continue to make satisfactory progress at Key Stage 1 and standards are still slightly below average by the end of Year 2. Writing has become a real strength of the school and standards now exceed national levels although mathematics is slightly weaker and standards are below average. Standards at Key Stage 2 dipped in 2006 but have also risen over recent years and are now broadly average. Higher attaining pupils do not make the expected progress but those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities do. Given their attainment on entry to the school, the pupils’ achievement and standards are broadly satisfactory. The school has improved from its position as one of the lowest scoring schools nationally and is now in the top third of schools for the progress made by pupils.
Personal development and well-being
The personal development and well-being of pupils are good. The strong focus on the social and emotional development of the pupils has had a very positive impact. They are confident when talking to the adults in the school with whom they have good relationships. They are welcoming and friendly towards visitors. Most pupils respect and understand the feelings of others. They are proud of their school, feel safe and their attitudes and behaviour in lessons are good. Pupils enjoy their learning and the school works hard with parents and outside agencies to ensure that attendance is good. There have been no exclusions in the recent past. Pupils are knowledgeable about ways to promote healthy lifestyles through diet and exercise and many older pupils choose to buy fruit from school or to attend the school’s breakfast club. ‘Learning ambassadors’, playground buddies and the work of the school council help pupils to become more socially responsible. Pupils’ moral and cultural development is good but their spiritual development is only satisfactory. School assemblies do not always promote this as well as they could. Pupils’ involvement in the local community is satisfactory. Their skills in ICT are well developed for their age and the school is also rightly focused on ensuring they develop better literacy and numeracy skills; they are adequately prepared for the next stage of their schooling.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The quality of teaching and learning in the school is satisfactory with some good features. Having improved behaviour and restructured the staffing, the school has undertaken significant work in the last two years to improve teaching and learning. Lessons are generally well planned and delivered, often involving an interactive whiteboard. For example, in a Years 3 and 4 numeracy lesson on data handling, interesting resources and activities challenged the pupils well and good support and guidance from the teacher and his assistant ensured that appropriate learning took place. Progress here was good and the pupils enjoyed themselves. In too many lessons, however, insufficient challenge, especially for the more able, means that interest levels flag. The lack of work appropriately matched to the pupils’ learning needs and low expectations mean that insufficient progress is made in these lessons. Learners with difficulties and/or disabilities are satisfactorily supported. The marking of pupils’ work is generally thorough and helpful.
Curriculum and other activities
The quality of the curriculum is good with outstanding features. It is broad, balanced and inclusive. All pupils, from Reception onwards, either use ICT in their communication and topic work or, with older pupils, ICT skills and applications are linked to their literacy and numeracy programmes to help develop their learning. This is an outstanding feature of the school and supports its capacity to improve further. The school is currently reviewing its provision for both core and foundation subjects, has introduced thinking skills and promoted creativity in many of its themes. Key Stage 2 pupils are taught French. The good personal, social and health education programme supports the school in its drive to promote the pupils’ personal development and well-being. A good range of extra-curricular activities are provided including eco-themes, use of a residential outdoor centre and various clubs and visits to enrich pupils’ experiences.
Care, guidance and support
Good quality care is at the heart of the school. Pupil behaviour is now monitored and managed in such a way that significant improvements have been made. Pupils are clear about the sanctions and rewards and enjoy collecting ‘school stars’ in recognition of their responsibility and efforts. The school takes proper action to ensure pupils’ health, safety and welfare. Statutory procedures are in place to safeguard children. Pupils can share their problems in confidence with an adult, bullying is minimal and well dealt with, and pupils say they feel secure and well looked after. The school links particularly well with other agencies to provide good care and support for its many vulnerable children including those with learning difficulties. Support staff are also effectively deployed to ensure their needs are well met. The school has a robust system for tracking pupils’ progress. Guidance for pupils on what they can do to improve further is, however, underdeveloped.
Leadership and management
Leadership and management are satisfactory overall with some good elements. The headteacher has led the school through a restructuring programme and a focus upon improving behaviour that are now beginning to bear fruit. She has a clear vision for improvement and is building a school with high quality care and support. The creation of a new leadership team with responsibilities for key areas of school improvement has begun to raise standards from their low base to being broadly average. The recent redistribution of subject coordinator posts has also begun to focus attention upon how improvement can be made in each area of the curriculum. Targets are beginning to challenge both teachers and pupils to reach satisfactory levels of learning but expectations are not high enough in some classes and subjects. The school evaluates its progress well and recognises that it has to improve the quality of teaching further in order to sustain the recent rise in standards. Resources are deployed satisfactorily. The school has had difficulty in recruiting parent governors but the governing body holds the school to account well and has a good understanding of its strengths and areas for improvement.