The inspection was carried out by one Additional Inspector in one day.
Description of the school
This is a smaller than average first school. Pupils are mainly White and of British background. There are smaller than average proportions of pupils eligible for free school meals and from minority ethnic groups. Two pupils are at an early stage of learning English. An average proportion of pupils find learning more difficult, but in the present Year 2 a higher than average percentage has learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD). One pupil has a statement of special educational need. There has been a drop in numbers and a reduction in teaching staff since the school was last inspected as the school is due to become an infant school from September 2007. A new headteacher was appointed in November 2004. The assistant headteacher was absent from August 2006 until June 2007. A private nursery is accommodated in a classroom that the school no longer needs. The school's work has been recognised by the International Award, Healthy Schools Status, Arts Mark and Active Mark.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school. It has some outstanding features. It provides good value for money. Since the arrival of the new headteacher in November 2004, the school has maintained better stability. There has been good improvement since the last inspection and the school has a good capacity to improve further. Parents are very positive about the provision that the school makes for their children and there is a thriving, supportive 'friends' association. The school's success is underpinned by its good leadership and management.
The school's self-evaluation is accurate, although it is a little modest about its strongest features. The process of self-evaluation involves all those that it should and is successful in identifying the right priorities for further development. The improvement plan drives development well, but as its criteria against which success is judged are not always measurable, it is not possible to evaluate the full impact of developments. Records used for measuring the progress that pupils make are paper-based and retrieval of information is rather time-consuming.
Excellent links with the nursery on its site mean that pupils quickly settle in Reception. They arrive with the knowledge and skills broadly typical of children of their age although groups vary quite considerably from year to year. The provision in the Foundation Stage is good. Children make effective progress and achieve well, and this continues throughout the school, because teaching is good. Pupils' progress is carefully checked and suitable action taken if individuals are falling behind. Pupils with learning difficulties are identified early on and good support is provided for them. At present, standards in Year 3 are well above average. Standards in mathematics are particularly high in the school, because the headteacher has led well the development of a structured approach to teaching that is consistently and effectively implemented by all staff. Standards in reading are also very high. In writing, standards are below those in mathematics and reading. The school has recognised this and has recently implemented a programme to address it; already there are signs that pupils' progress is accelerating.
Pupils' personal development and well-being are outstanding because the provision encourages these exceptionally well and the school has excellent links with others to ensure that pupils have all the support that they need. Care, guidance and support for pupils are outstanding. Behaviour is exemplary throughout the school. Pupils greatly enjoy the wealth of learning opportunities that the school provides. The curriculum is exceptionally rich, with an excellent number of extra-curricular clubs for a small first school. It gives pupils a good understanding of healthy living and physical activities are popular. Pupils are also taught well how to stay safe. There are outstanding opportunities to contribute to school life and pupils take their responsibilities seriously. They have an exceptionally strong voice and influence on school life through their democratically elected school council. Pupils leave the school with very high standards in basic skills, and exceptionally well developed skills in working with others in groups or teams. They also have a strong grasp of basic economic principles. Outstanding transition arrangements mean that Year 3 pupils approach the move with great confidence.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise standards in writing so that these become as high as the standards in reading and mathematics.
- Strengthen self-evaluation by:
- - using information and communication technology (ICT) to record attainment and measure pupils' progress and
- - ensuring that criteria against which success is judged in the improvement plan are measurable.
Achievement and standards
Whatever their starting points, all pupils make good progress and achieve well because of the good quality of teaching and pupils' positive attitudes to school and learning. Pupils with learning difficulties, special educational needs or English as an additional language make equally good progress because they are well supported.
In Year 2, standards overall are average. A third of this group has learning difficulties or special educational needs, particularly in literacy. Although standards in reading are average, they are well below average in writing. Nonetheless, the school's assessment information shows that pupils have made good progress in writing. Standards in mathematics in Year 2 are well above average. The school's success in mathematics is linked to a good consistent approach to the teaching of the subject. Standards in ICT have risen since the last inspection because the provision for this subject has improved.
Standards in Year 3 have been consistently above or well above average each year since the last inspection, and this year they are well above average. Standards in mathematics and reading are highest. Pupils particularly enjoy the weekly 'big writing' sessions, which are accelerating progress in this skill.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' personal development, including their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, is outstanding. Pupils' great enjoyment of school is reflected in good attendance. School rules, including those suggested by the school council, are exceptionally well respected and behaviour is excellent. Pupils are tolerant of differences and develop an excellent understanding of other religions, cultures and customs, particularly through 'international awareness' weeks. They get on very well together in the playground, which is a hive of physical activity as pupils make full use of all the equipment and apparatus. They make healthy eating choices and know well how to keep safe. There is an exceptionally wide range of ways in which pupils contribute, as monitors, playground 'buddies', school council members, fund-raisers for charities at home and abroad, eco-rangers, performers in the choir and mini-orchestra or growers of vegetables for healthy snacks. They develop excellent skills in getting on and working with others, and their high levels of basic skills and thorough understanding of simple economics prepares them exceptionally well for later life.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching, learning and assessment are good. The teaching and learning policy guides teachers well and is implemented faithfully. Teachers establish good relationships with pupils and show that they value them. This leads to pupils being confident learners. Lessons are well planned to ensure that tasks are well matched to pupils' levels of ability. Pupils understand why they are working in certain groups and say that the work is 'just right', although a few say that they would like more difficult tasks to do if they finish their work before the end of a lesson. Clear learning objectives are shared with pupils at the start of the lesson and they are clear about what they are learning and what they need to do. They are well involved later on in assessing how confident they are in carrying out the tasks associated with new learning. In the best practice, good feedback is given throughout the lesson, such as acknowledgement that a pupil has just reached a target. Teachers make effective use of ICT in teaching, and this is an improvement since the last inspection.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is outstanding as it is exceptionally rich. All required subjects are taught and subjects are linked together to make topics that are meaningful and enjoyable for pupils. For instance, as part of a topic on Egyptians, pupils learned about forces and levers by making a model of a shaduf. Learning is also brought to life through visits related to topics. Music is a particular strength. Pupils learn to play an instrument as well as perform in a range of groups. Themed weeks develop well pupils' global and cultural awareness. An excellent range of lunchtime and after-school clubs adds to the variety and gives pupils many opportunities to develop interests as well as physical and social skills. A strong programme of personal, social and citizenship education enables pupils to learn most effectively about relationships and how society works. The teaching of mathematics in groups of similar ability is successful in ensuring that the highest possible standards are reached in this subject.
Care, guidance and support
This aspect of the school's work is outstanding. Pupils' pastoral care has a high priority and daily staff briefings ensure that they are well informed about individuals' circumstances. Staff are well trained in matters of health and welfare, and arrangements for safeguarding pupils are robust. Pupils say that they feel safe and secure in school and have someone to turn to, including 'buddies'. Staff track pupils' progress carefully and intervene to support where necessary. Pupils are given excellent guidance about how to improve. They are involved in setting personal targets in the main subjects, and writing targets is developed in all subjects of the curriculum. As a result, pupils know what they need to do to improve. There is also good ongoing verbal feedback and marking is helpful. Workshops for parents have helped them to support pupils in doing homework. Support for children entering Reception, moving up a class and into middle school is excellent.
Leadership and management
Leadership and management are good. The headteacher provides very strong leadership. The headteacher has a clear vision, high expectations and is well respected by staff, governors, pupils and parents. High standards have been maintained despite some staffing changes. The skills of staff are systematically developed in areas where the need for improvement has been identified. For instance, all teaching staff have been trained in the new writing programme and support staff are being trained. Teaching staff have leadership roles and they fulfil these well. For example, subject leaders monitor provision and standards in their subjects. However, the paper records of pupils' progress make the latter process rather time consuming. Governance is good and has improved since the last inspection. Governors are most supportive and carry out checks on the work of the school. Good improvement is secured by implementing the development plan, although this does not always offer measurable criteria against which success can be evaluated. For example, 'improved standards in writing' is not precise enough.