The inspection was carried out by two Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This is an average sized school. It serves an area of particularly high deprivation. Children enter the Nursery with knowledge and skills below those usually found. Nearly a third of pupils are eligible for free school meals. Almost all the pupils are of White British heritage. There is a much higher proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities than average; over half in some years. Most children attend the Nursery, which is a satellite to a Children's Centre, before joining the school. The school is a focus school for information and communication technology (ICT) in the East Midlands region for the Specialist Schools Trust. It is involved in the Excellence in Cities Project and Derbyshire's Behaviour Improvement Project. It has received several awards to recognise its work. These include the ICT Mark, Basic Skills Quality Mark, ABC Anti-bullying Excellence Award, Activemark, Artsmark, Investors in People and the BT Award for communication technology.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school. It provides a good quality of education because it is well led, managed and governed. The headteacher sets the tone for an exceptionally caring school that supports pupils extremely well. Constructive partnerships with a wide range of agencies and other professionals strengthen well the support provided by the school. It also shares aspects of its good practice with others. Parents are delighted with the school, and full of praise for the caring staff, the way that pupils are treated as individuals and the progress that they make.
Children get off to a flying start in the Foundation Stage, because the provision here is good. By Year 6, pupils reach standards that are average showing that they make good progress in their time at the school. Pupils make excellent progress in ICT and standards are above those expected, because the provision for this has improved greatly since the last inspection. However, the school recognises that standards in mathematics are lower than those in English, and that pupils' skills in calculation are weak. It is already taking suitable action to rectify this. Careful tracking of pupils' progress identifies any who are falling behind and these pupils are well supported in catching up. Guidance to help pupils improve is satisfactory and care, guidance and support are good overall.
The school is justifiably proud of the pupils, whose personal development is good. They really enjoy school and are proud to belong to it. They particularly like the wide range of activities provided outside lessons that enable them to participate in sports, widen their interests and socialise with friends. The good curriculum is tailored well to pupils' individual needs. There are good opportunities for them to learn about healthy lifestyles and keeping themselves safe. Pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties are catered for well, so that they improve their behaviour and become better adjusted. Behaviour is good. Pupils willingly contribute to school life and to the wider community, taking their responsibilities seriously. Because pupils develop their basic skills well, particularly in ICT, learn how to work together and acquire skills in enterprise, they are well prepared for secondary school and future employment. The school is increasingly successful in raising pupils' aspirations for future working life.
Wide-ranging evaluations of the school's effectiveness and actions taken subsequently have secured good improvement since the last inspection. There is good capacity to improve further. All staff with responsibilities play their part in checking provision, so the school is well able to identify areas of strength and aspects that need to be developed further. However, the monitoring of teaching is not always successful in pinpointing exactly what needs to be done to improve practice. Lesson observations focus too much on what teachers do and not enough on the progress that pupils make. Nonetheless, teaching is good, and teachers and assistants are well supported in improving their skills. Teaching assistants play a key role in taking small groups of pupils who need more individual attention, and this is particularly successful in accelerating progress.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Children thrive in the Foundation Stage, which is well led and managed. Good liaison with parents helps to ensure that they settle quickly in the Nursery. Classes provide a vibrant and stimulating environment, and the purpose-built Nursery accommodation is particularly good. The outdoor area is used well to extend learning opportunities. Teaching is good in the Nursery and Reception classes. It is animated and enthusiastic, which holds children's interest well. They are carefully assessed and planning takes good account of their individual needs. Staff quickly identify children who need extra support, and provide this. Staff work well as a team and ensure that children have a good range of experiences. Planning ensures a good mix of activities led by staff and those from which children can choose. New technology is used most effectively, such as the use of a web-cam to enable them to 'talk to Santa'. By the time children leave Reception their knowledge and skills are similar to those expected. The school recognises the need to analyse assessment information in all areas to measure and compare the gains that pupils make.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise standards in mathematics, particularly pupils' skills in calculation.
- Strengthen the monitoring of teaching and learning by focusing on the progress that pupils make in lessons.
Achievement and standards
All pupils achieve well. Standards in ICT are above average, because the school has developed well the teaching, resources and range of learning experiences that it provides. The subject has a high profile in the school and teachers and pupils are very confident users of new technology. Pupils' good progress in English and mathematics is associated with highly effective support that is given to any pupils who fall behind or are experiencing personal difficulties. There has been a small rise in standards since the last inspection. Although there was a dip in standards last summer, standards have risen again and pupils are on track to reach the school's targets.
Personal development and well-being
The emphasis on positive attitudes, high expectations and self-belief enable pupils to become confident, responsible and very thoughtful young people by the time they leave the school. Their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. They behave sensibly and safely and consistently try their hardest. Pupils enjoyment of school is not fully reflected in the school's attendance levels, which are satisfactory but reduced by a small minority. Pupils have a clear understanding of how to keep safe, what is needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and know the value of exercise. They take full advantage of the opportunities provided through the school council to help improve the quality of their own community and environment, and greatly value the opportunities to contribute to local celebrations and projects. They leave school well equipped for secondary school and future employment.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning are consistently good in the Foundation Stage and Years 1 and 2. In Years 3 to 6 teaching is more variable but good overall. Staff have positive relationships with pupils and manage them well, making their expectations of work and behaviour clear. Pupils respond well and show good attitudes to learning. Thorough, accurate assessment is used well to plan tasks that are matched to pupils' abilities. Teachers use ICT well, in particular to encourage independent learning. Because teachers explain the purpose of the lesson clearly, pupils know what they are learning. Occasionally, the progress that pupils make in lessons is limited because teachers leave too little time for them to complete tasks. Skilled teaching assistants give the right amount of help in lessons.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum has many strengths. There is a suitable emphasis on English and mathematics and the school is already implementing the new arrangements for teaching these. However, it recognises that it needs to look more closely at what is provided in mathematics. Time allocated to the humanities has been improved, boosting pupils' cultural awareness. Experiences increasingly excite pupils' interest and enable them to be more actively involved in their learning. The quality and scope of activities to enrich the curriculum are particularly impressive, ranging from learning Spanish to enjoying the benefits of a wealth of educational visits, as well as participation in local community projects and after school clubs. The provision for pupils with learning difficulties, and those needing emotional support, is most effective. Several parents wrote appreciatively about the good additional activities for pupils identified as gifted and talented.
Care, guidance and support
There is a strong and successful emphasis on promoting the social and emotional development of pupils. Pastoral care is highly effective. Pupils feel safe and secure. They say that adults listen to them and any concerns are taken seriously. Pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities are well supported, including effective partnerships with a wide range of external support agencies. The school works successfully to strengthen the involvement of parents in its life and work. Parents are taking an increasingly active role in supporting their children's learning at home. Arrangements for child protection, health and safety and the safeguarding of pupils are implemented well. Systems for tracking pupils' academic progress are well developed and effectively used to identify those in need of support. Marking is satisfactory because it is not yet consistently good across the school. Although pupils have targets for their learning, they do not all know what these are.
Leadership and management
The headteacher has worked effectively to develop a common vision that is shared and recognised by all, including the pupils. She is well supported by her senior management team and middle managers. Any weaknesses are quickly identified and swift action is taken to rectify these. Lesson observation is used satisfactorily as a means of improving teaching and learning. There is a strong emphasis on making up for any disadvantage experienced by many pupils as well as a continuous effort to drive up standards. Challenging targets are set to raise achievement. The deputy headteacher ensures that staff are well supported in developing their skills. Governors are most supportive. They know the school well and keep its work under review through visits, meetings and workshops.