The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors, who evaluated the overall effectiveness of the school and investigated the following: •pupils’ achievement, to confirm whether it is good or outstanding •the particular impact of teaching and the curriculum on the high standards in writing •how monitoring impacts on teaching and learning, particularly in the Foundation Stage. Evidence was gathered from discussions and school documentation, and pupils were interviewed to hear their views and to check their personal development and well-being. Other aspects of the school’s work were not investigated in detail, but the inspection found that the school’s own assessments, as given in its self-evaluation, were largely accurate, if modest, and these have been included where appropriate in this report.
Description of the school
This infant school shares an extensive campus with Henleaze Junior and Claremont Special School. With nine classes, three for each age group, it is larger than most infant schools. The vast majority of pupils are White British. A few pupils are at the early stages of learning English as an additional language. There are below-average numbers eligible for free school meals or with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. The school has a Healthy School award and one for promoting physical activity. It serves a predominately affluent area.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Henleaze Infants provides an outstanding education for its pupils. At the heart of its success is the constant desire of staff and pupils to learn more. Staff's professional knowledge is excellent and they review and select carefully from research and new initiatives to find the most effective strategies to use. Consequently, pupils' achievement is outstanding and standards have been well above the national average in reading, writing, mathematics and science continuously since the year 2000. The school has particularly good strategies for supporting the development of writing. All pupils, irrespective of their levels of maturity, gender, ethnicity, learning difficulty or disability, love coming to school. They are keen to join in the many exciting learning opportunities. The school is highly inclusive and has a strong partnership with the special school on site. For example, pupils share a delightful integrated dance class. One parent captured the essence of the school when writing, 'It would be hard to find a better learning environment; children are both respected and encouraged.' Children make an outstanding start in the Reception classes. The school consistently builds on this and as a result, pupils' personal and social development and well-being are excellent.
The rich curriculum promotes pupils' thinking skills, their quest for knowledge and their imaginations. The current work on Mexico is a good example: within the role-play 'market' there are good resources and prompts that immerse children in this culture and encourage them to try using simple Spanish words. Pupils develop an excellent understanding of how to keep themselves healthy and safe, although they are not all entirely clear yet about the concept of 'bullying'. They find adults in school trustworthy and know how to get help if they need it. Pupils recently enjoyed a visit from a farmer, who explained where healthy food comes from. They participate in the many after-school clubs such as cookery and 'fun football' and some attend the on-site extended care. Their overall attendance is good and they are close to reaching the ambitious target set by the local authority this year.
Teachers, and their able teaching assistants, rigorously assess what pupils have learned. They then adapt their planning well, repeating and reinforcing where necessary but also providing good extra challenges for those who grasp things quickly. Children learn how to learn; they refer to a set of animals who demonstrate useful characteristics such as the tortoise's steady persistence. Each class has a display of these creatures so the concept is meaningful, even for younger children. Teaching is outstanding. During the inspection, in a philosophy lesson, 30 seven-year-olds explored how characters in a story responded to a new arrival. The skilfully directed discussion led to good listening and reasoning and a sophisticated understanding of the similarities and differences between people. Pupils behave very well because they are interested and active but some pupils feel that just occasionally a few may not be as kind to each other as they could be. The care, guidance and support, together with pupils' spiritual, moral, cultural development, are of an exceptional standard so will no doubt deal with this issue/perception. Pupils are involved in peer reviews of work and understand the school's clear marking policy. Both very effectively help their confidence in taking the next step in their learning. The headteacher is an excellent leader and role model. She has her finger on the pulse of the school and the school's self-evaluation is detailed and perceptive, although some of the grades the school awarded itself were unduly modest. Pupils and parents appreciate how the headteacher knows each child and family by name. She and her able senior management team have exceptionally robust systems for monitoring the curriculum, the planning, each year group's learning objectives and pupils' individual progress towards them. Well-chosen intervention programmes help any pupil who shows signs of falling behind or needing extra help. The school divides the leadership and management responsibilities among staff, thus freeing the headteacher to monitor practice by regularly working alongside each class teacher. Middle managers help ensure that teaching is of a high standard and that it is consistent across classes. Governors are fully involved in school evaluation and improvement planning and hold the school to account for the quality of education provided. There is a lack of clarity in the terminology in the school development plan that makes it less easy to monitor the school's progress at a glance. Some miscommunication between the governors and parents regarding the decision on school uniform has left a significant group of parents feeling dissatisfied. The school is further developing its website to assist communication and aims to give, for example, additional information about the teaching of reading. Parents are very strong partners with the school in supporting pupils' learning. Pupils are very well prepared for the move to the junior school, and their excellent basic skills, including writing and the competent use of information and communication technology, greatly assist their future economic well-being. The school demonstrates an outstanding capacity to reflect and constantly continue improving.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
The well-established system for making home visits before children start school eases the transition from home to school very effectively. This patient approach results in children who are exceptionally well settled. Consequently, children make rapid gains in their social and academic skills, leading to outstanding achievement. The outstanding leadership ensures that there is an exciting curriculum indoors and outside. Almost all pupils attain or exceed the expected goals by the end of the Reception Year as a result of the exceptionally high quality teaching and provision. A thorough quality assurance scheme is used effectively to ensure the provision is continually developed and improved. The Foundation Stage is an integral part of the school and children enjoy many opportunities to make choices and decisions. They are confident enough to send representatives to the school council by the summer term each year. There are good procedures to aid children's transition into Year 1.
What the school should do to improve further
- Ensure the success criteria in the school development plan are clear to all users and assist in the efficient evaluation of the school's improvements.