The inspection was carried out by two Additional Inspectors over two days.
Description of the school
Holton le Clay Junior is a smaller than average sized primary school which serves the village and surrounding area. A higher than average proportion of pupils has learning difficulties or disabilities. Six pupils have statements of special educational need. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is below average. Most pupils enter the school with knowledge and skills which are typical of pupils nationally. Virtually all pupils are White British and their first language is English.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is an effective school which provides a consistently good standard of education for pupils. There are areas of particular strength in pupils' personal development and the curriculum. The school is very well led by the headteacher who has high expectations of both staff and pupils and leads by example.
Pupils' achievement is good. By the end of Year 6, pupils reach above average standards in English, mathematics and science. Standards are highest in mathematics because teachers have particularly good subject knowledge. Pupils' consistently good progress is partly due to the school's positive atmosphere, good teaching and an exceptionally varied curriculum. Results in 2006 showed that a greater proportion of pupils reached the higher than expected Level 5. This improvement happened because the school identified that higher attaining pupils needed to be pushed on faster. The school has identified areas where pupils can still do better, such as developing their English skills in summarising what they have found out when concluding their work and in working out how to tackle and solve problems.
Pupils' personal development is outstanding. Pupils are very happy in school as a result. Parents are delighted with the school and one said, 'This is the best school she (her child) has ever attended.' Adults manage pupils consistently and positively, encouraging pupils' best behaviour through praise and their own good example. Pupils understand and share the school's values. They take responsibility for aspects of the running of the school, think for themselves and respond maturely. They make many positive suggestions to the three school councils to make the school better. Care and guidance is good because pupils know their targets for English and mathematics and adults monitor their progress towards them closely.
Teaching and learning are good and occasionally they are outstanding. Pupils have many opportunities to learn through exploring ideas practically, such as in the many excellent arts projects. Hence, they enjoy lessons very much and make good progress. Pupils appreciate teachers' humorous explanations and respond very well to them. Teachers plan carefully for pupils of differing abilities in most lessons. Occasionally, work is not well matched to pupils' abilities and some pupils find the work too easy or too difficult. Teaching assistants provide good additional support for pupils in lessons. They encourage pupils to explain their thinking and to concentrate on the task at hand. Pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities make good progress because of the well organised support they receive.
Good leadership and management are at the heart of the schools' success. The headteacher has a very clear vision and is effective in developing the staff's skills. Consequently the use of the building, displays of pupils' work, the provision for information and communication technology (ICT), library facilities and the curriculum for personal, social and health education have all improved considerably since the last inspection. The school knows itself well and so has a good capacity to improve further.
What the school should do to improve further
- Improve teaching by matching the work more carefully to pupils' abilities so that it is consistently good in all lessons.
- Develop pupils' English skills further so that they conclude their work more accurately and understand better how to interpret and solve problems.
Achievement and standards
Pupils of all abilities make good progress throughout the school and achieve well. They have achieved similarly for the last five years, which is a remarkable performance that reflects consistently good teaching and pupils' enthusiasm for learning. In 2006, pupils' results in national tests showed that attainments were again above national expectations in English, mathematics and science. Although pupils just missed their very demanding targets, a greater proportion of pupils in Year 6 gained the higher than expected Level 5 in their tests. Standards in English have been slightly lower than in other subjects. Pupils are less proficient in writing conclusions such as for science investigations and in understanding how to answer problems in mathematics. Pupils continue to make good progress in lessons and occasionally make excellent progress. Standards in art are high because the school teaches a very broad curriculum.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is excellent. Pupils have a love for learning and attend regularly, because work is interesting. Their impressive sense of teamwork, enjoyment of each other's achievements and commitment to the school's way of life all mean that they develop into mature young people. Pupils have a good understanding of being healthy and safe, which teachers develop in a wide variety of ways, such as through the 'eco' council. Displays of pupils' work are excellent and reflect the care adults have for the environment in which pupils work. Pupils have a very strong sense of belonging and commitment to the school and wider community. Older pupils routinely help younger ones in the playground, such as by organising games for them. There are many community based projects, not least the exciting link with a French village school near Le Mans.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The good teaching and learning result in pupils' above average standards of work and good progress. Lesson planning is typically precise, recording what pupils will learn by the end of each lesson. The school groups pupils according to their capabilities for some lessons. This arrangement is often successful because work is well matched to pupils' abilities. The teaching of pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities is good and many reach national standards in their work. The school makes good use of experienced teaching assistants and part time teachers to release class teachers to carry out other duties. The school makes good provision for French and team games in this way.
Lessons are usually lively and make pupils think hard, such as in an outstanding 'circle time' discussion in Year 5, where pupils evaluated last year's peer mentoring system very maturely. Many lessons are fun and pupils' enjoyment means that they are all the more prepared to learn enthusiastically. Teachers give pupils opportunities to work together in paired 'talking partnerships,' which help to stimulate their imagination and improve the quality of their work. In a small proportion of lessons, planning does not take enough account of pupils' wide range of abilities. This means that some find the work too easy or difficult, which reduces their rate of progress. This is an area for the school to monitor further.
Curriculum and other activities
The excellent curriculum is highly motivating for pupils and supports their outstanding personal development. The very wide range of work and activities, often based on real life examples, provides all pupils with opportunities to develop many interests and skills that they will need in future. The extensive provision for literacy and numeracy has led to pupils' consistent good performances year on year. An exceptionally wide choice of extra curricular sports promotes pupils' good health and ensures pupils derive great enjoyment from school. Art, drama and music feature strongly in much that pupils do. Pupils take part in an impressive range of projects, competitions and school based clubs in the arts. More than half the pupils sing in the school's choir. The school has worked closely with the neighbouring infant school on an excellent joint creative arts project for pupils in Years 2 and 3. On one occasion, pupils used the seaside as inspiration for high quality poetry, collages, clay tile designs, watercolour pictures, papier mache shells and studies of bird life.
Care, guidance and support
Adults are skilled in sustaining the quality of pupils' work and their excellent personal development. Pupils are continually encouraged to think about their learning and how successful they are. Individuals have a good understanding of what they do well and where they need to improve because teachers take the time to tell them. The school recognises that there is more work to do, for example, in pupils' having more time to review and assess each other's work.
Teachers ensure that when pupils transfer to and from the school that they are extremely well cared for and that their worries are addressed. The school rightly prides itself in the provision it makes for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities. Pupils with statements of their special educational need are very well included in all the school does and make good progress with their work and socially. The school complies with government guidelines to ensure pupils' safety and that all pupils are protected.
Leadership and management
The headteacher's very strong leadership coupled with subject leaders' good expertise ensure that standards have remained above average in English, mathematics and science. The headteacher has a collaborative approach to leadership, and there is a strong sense of everyone working in the same positive direction. This approach extends to parents. Part of the reason why standards are good is that the school encourages and receives strong support from home and pupils complete homework tasks enthusiastically. Governors provide a good level of challenge and serve the school well. Regular audits of how well subjects are organised help the school to improve. There are occasions when written feedback to teachers about lessons seen is not focussed closely enough on points to help them to improve.
The school deserves its high reputation in the community. It has exceptional links with the local network of schools. A series of joint projects, such as meetings to agree standards and levels of pupils' work, have helped teachers be sure that their assessments are accurate.