The inspection was carried out by one Additional Inspector.
The inspector evaluated the overall effectiveness of the school and investigated the following issues: boys' writing and provision for the more able pupils in Year 2; procedures for assessing pupils' progress and setting challenging targets; and the quality of provision in the Foundation Stage. Evidence was gathered from: meetings with the headteacher, senior managers, governors and pupils; visits to every classroom; the scrutiny of pupils' work, assessment data and documents; and an analysis of the parent questionnaires. Some 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 given in its self-evaluation, were not justified and these have been included where appropriate in this report.
Description of the school
The school serves a large residential estate with mainly local authority housing and is average in size. Most pupils are of White British heritage with less than 2% coming from minority ethnic backgrounds. A very small number speak English as an additional language. The proportion of pupils entitled to free school meals and the proportion of those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are both above average. A significant number of pupils join or leave the school during the school year. A new Children's Centre is being built on the site, which is due to open this September. Most children enter school with skills that are generally very low for their age. Communication and social skills are particularly weak. The school has a number of awards such as Artsmark Gold, Activemark and Healthy School award.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is an outstanding school, which provides excellent value for money. Leadership and management of the highest standard have resulted in further improvement after a very good report at the time of the last inspection. The significant disruption caused by the new building work has not been allowed to interfere with the smooth running of the school or pupils' education and this is a credit to all staff.
The stability of staffing, especially at senior management level, with most having been in post since 1997, is a major contributory factor in maintaining and developing this high performing school. The outstanding quality of teaching and learning is another. Everyone in the school shares the same strong determination to raise standards and provide pupils with a worthwhile and rewarding education. Rigorous procedures are in place to monitor and evaluate teaching and learning that support the school's aims of being a 'thriving, caring, industrious and stimulating' place in which to learn.
Overall, standards are satisfactory by the end of Year 6. This represents excellent achievement from children's starting points. Moreover, it is a considerable achievement when the movement of pupils into and out of the school is taken into account. The standards of the current Year 6 in English and mathematics are broadly average and better than those attained in 2007. The above average standards in science have been maintained.
In English, writing has been given a much higher profile and teachers carefully plan work which is of special interest for boys in order to motivate them and hold their interest. This has resulted in a marked improvement in standards. The school has further refined its already effective procedures to track the progress individual pupils make. This gives the school the confidence to assert, correctly, that pupils' progress is first-rate. Older pupils in Year 6 also reach high standards in art and design, and information and communication technology. The range of school strategies to improve standards in Year 2 has been successful. Currently, standards in reading, writing and mathematics are below average rather than well below as they were last year.
Throughout the school, pupils make outstanding progress largely because of the excellent quality of teaching. In all classes, teachers are so enthusiastic and this rubs off on their pupils. Lessons are carefully planned with activities matched closely to pupils' capabilities, not least those who find learning difficult. Relationships between pupils and their teachers are a strong feature. Pupils also benefit from the close support they receive from other staff such as teaching assistants.
Pupils' personal development and well-being are outstanding. They are polite and friendly. Behaviour is excellent and pupils say that bullying is rare. Attendance is average. Maintaining attendance at the national average, consistently over a number of years, has been a considerable achievement given the context of the school. Senior management has employed a wide range of effective methods to ensure pupils attend regularly. Pupils of all ages show a good understanding of how to adopt healthy lifestyles. The outstanding curriculum has a huge impact on pupils' enjoyment of school and their personal development. Pupils feel proud that in Year 5, for example, they learn to play the viola and in Year 6, a brass instrument. Curriculum planning makes very effective links between the different subjects. Some pupils from Year 6, dressed as chefs, enjoyed cooking a Tudor cheese tart. This brought history and food technology alive in one go.
Similarly, the quality of care, guidance and support is excellent. Pupils have the vital support needed to learn as well as they can. The work of the learning mentor has been instrumental in ensuring that barriers to learning such as challenging behaviour are managed very well. The very few who speak English as an additional language have special tuition from a visiting specialist and are supported well in every lesson by staff. All pupils are set challenging individual targets and assess their own progress towards achieving these. This encourages them to take pride in doing well and gives them a firm understanding of their learning.
Parents' views are overwhelmingly positive. 'Amazing progress', and, 'Sheep Dip Lane is the best', are typical opinions. The school fully involves parents and deservedly has won their respect and support. Pupils are equally positive and are proud of their school. 'Teachers listen to you', was a typical comment and members of the pupil council relate with pride how they welcomed and looked after pupils from a flooded school last year.
An informed and involved team of staff supports the headteacher's outstanding leadership and management very well. Governors are very keen and capable in helping to bring about further improvement. 'This is a school that knows where it is going,' according to the local authority. As a result, the school has an outstanding capacity to improve further.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Children are given an excellent start to their education in the Foundation Stage because the teaching provided by teachers and their assistants is of the highest quality. Nursery and Reception children work together well in the unit, which has a generous level of staffing. This gives every child close contact with a caring adult who is able to support and encourage their learning. Outstanding leadership and management ensure that staff work very effectively as a team and plan in detail to provide an interesting, enjoyable and exciting range of learning experiences. These fully engage children and ensure that all make excellent progress. There is a strong emphasis on providing activities, which will encourage and develop children's skills of communication and their ability to work cooperatively with one another. For example, children love going on safari and sitting together in the bird watchers' hide. Children use computers confidently and much discussion was generated when making African animal masks. The African mud hut in a corner of the class was so popular that one child refused to come out of it even when a friend insisted the rain had stopped! By the end of their Reception year, many children achieve the nationally expected goals in all areas of learning. However, writing and speaking skills remain relatively weak, despite children's rapid progress in these.
What the school should do to improve further
- There are no areas for development other than those already identified by the school in its own school improvement plan.