The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This larger than average school serves a relatively deprived, multi-cultural area in Harrow. A high proportion of pupils are eligible for free school meals. Most pupils are from minority ethnic backgrounds and one in four is at an early stage of learning English. An above average percentage of pupils has learning difficulties or disabilities. The attainment on entry is below average overall. A considerable number of pupils join or leave during the school year. Several of these are asylum seekers or refugees. The school has secured awards such as, Healthy Schools Award, Basic Skills-Quality Mark3, Active Mark and Investors in People.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school with several outstanding features. The good leadership of the headteacher ensures that pupils make good progress and that their personal development is outstanding. Pupils are confident and enjoy school immensely. They have positive attitudes and behave exceptionally well. Pupils take on responsibilities as school councillors and mentors, which contribute to their growing maturity and prepares them well for their move to secondary school. Pupils from all backgrounds are well included and this contributes to the school's warm family ethos. Staff know pupils very well and their very positive relationships are key in making pupils feel very special. Parents really value this. One wrote, 'The school built my son's confidence and the grades went up!'
Considerable attention is paid to monitoring pupils' achievement, and strategies are quickly put in place to tackle any potential underachievement. Pupils feel safe at school because they are extremely well cared for. They understand the need for healthy diets and exercise, and actively participate in a range of sporting activities on offer.
Pupils achieve well and attain average standards by age 11. Pupils' work shows that they are in line with the national expectations, when they leave school at age 12. Results of national tests in the past three years have been above average in mathematics and science, and average in English. However, the most recent results for pupils aged 11 show a decline in standards, particularly in English. This was mainly due to a higher than usual number of new arrivals in Year 6. Pupils' performance in writing has been identified as the weakest aspect of their work and various measures such as 'the big writing project' are having a positive impact. The school's data on progress indicates that pupils currently in Year 6 are making good progress towards the school's challenging targets, and they are on target to reach the expected standards.
Good teaching has a positive effect on pupils' achievement and progress. Pupils thoroughly enjoy learning, typically saying 'the teachers make lessons fun'. Assessment information is well used to set individual targets and to make sure that pupils know what they have to aim for next. The curriculum is outstanding and strongly enriched by clubs, visits and visitors. Teachers place good emphasis on teaching the basic skills of literacy and numeracy, while providing good opportunities for pupils to excel in sports, art and music. Pupils with learning difficulties are effectively supported and particular attention is being paid to improving boys' writing. However, planning for more able pupils is more variable and sometimes opportunities are missed to make sure that there is best possible challenge.
Leadership and management are good at all levels. Planning for school improvement is comprehensive and governors play an important part in overseeing the work of the school. Procedures for self-evaluation and review are good. An especially strong feature is the partnership with a cluster of schools and many other beneficial links established with the community. Strong links with local schools enable smooth movement between schools. The school has been successful in addressing the issues from its last inspection and has a good capacity to improve still further.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise standards in English, particularly in writing for all pupils.
- Ensure that teacher's planning consistently offers optimal challenge for more able pupils.
Achievement and standards
Pupils attain average standards at the age of eleven and twelve. Achievement and progress are good in relation to their starting points of limited English skills. The national test results at Year 6, have been good in the past, but dipped in the last year due to cohort differences. A significant number of new arrivals with complex needs and varied experiences joined the group with some very new to learning English. Standards in English, particularly in writing, lag behind the broadly average standards in mathematics and science. Through effective analysis and research, the school has introduced good strategies to support pupils' achievement. Measures such as the effective use of drama encourage pupils to write more fluently. The well-established family literacy programme is also proving beneficial to get parents more involved with their child's education. Pupils who join the school during the year and those with learning difficulties and disabilities, make good progress due to the very effective support they receive. Pupils learning English as a new language make equally good progress and achieve well. The difference in achievement of boys and girls is carefully monitored and action taken to diminish the gap.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' personal development, including their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, is outstanding. Mature, well-mannered pupils develop exceptional self worth because the school emphasises the affirmation of academic and personal success. Attendance is average and improving as a result of the good strategies in place. Pupils from many different backgrounds work and play harmoniously. They feel the school is a secure place and develop a sense of community through a range of fund raising events. Year 7 pupils trained as mediators, effectively support the younger ones, using good negotiation skills and empathy. Pupils are keen to support charities and enjoy responsibility as members of an active school council. One commented 'we tell things as they are and don't just agree with adults-that's democratic'. Pupils know about eating healthily and keeping fit. They acquire average level of basic skills but develop strong teamwork skills and personal qualities for life in future. Enterprise education is well promoted, for example at the summer fair, boosting pupils' understanding of their future economic well-being.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
'Teachers and other staff are a big asset for this school' wrote one parent. Teaching is good with some outstanding features such as the high quality relationships that underpin the strong management of behaviour. The learning environment is well organised and stimulating. Teachers make good use of the digital cameras and videos to make their lessons livelier. Pupils are well motivated and enthusiastic as a result. Interesting themes, such as 'ghost busters' when designing a logo, are effectively used in lessons. Pupils stay on task and are particularly happy to talk about what they are doing, when they find their work appropriately challenging. For example, pupils were bursting with excitement to score and achieve in a lesson, exploring calculations through competitive games, and using the interactive white board. Teachers generally plan well to meet the needs of all the pupils and make their expectations clear. Additional adults and withdrawal groups are used very effectively to support pupils with learning difficulties. However, at times planning lacks sufficient detail to ensure consistent challenge for more able pupils.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is outstanding and developed to suit pupils' needs. It is enriched by innovative approaches in linking different subjects creatively across the curriculum. For example, pupils talked about exploring links between sounds and vibrations in science when making musical instruments in design and technology. The extensive range of clubs such as art, athletics, cricket, football and badminton, is complemented by external coaching. Specialist teaching is available for pupils wanting to learn a musical instrument. The school orchestra and the Year 5 drumming extravaganza are excellent examples of developing pupils' musical talents. The range of visits to places of historical interest such as Canterbury and Hatfield House, is stimulating and well chosen to support and enhance pupils' interest and enjoyment. Pupils also benefit greatly from opportunities such as learning about the exciting world of forensic science as part of the community learning programme. Their skills in information communication technology are well developed and used to enhance learning in other subjects. There is a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy. Opportunity for pupils to apply their basic skills across other subjects are well provided for.
Care, guidance and support
Pupils receive outstanding care, guidance and support. The school's calm and harmonious atmosphere creates a welcoming environment for pupils and visitors. Parents overall are supportive of the school's work and feel their children are safe and well cared for. One very contented parent wrote, 'my child received sympathetic and motivational educational support and care.' Support staff are well deployed to care for pupils with educational, social, and emotional issues. Excellent links are maintained with external services while providing valuable support to teachers and teaching assistants. Pupils speak confidently about being able to trust their teachers who they say, 'always listen and are kind and helpful'. Pupils feel safe and secure as a result of the very effective procedures to safeguard them.
Pupils' progress is carefully monitored. They are given clear targets and guidance in what they have to do to improve. Targets are well supported by good quality marking, especially in English. Guidance for pupils who have learning difficulties or disabilities and those on early stages of learning English, is excellent.
Leadership and management
The headteacher provides strong leadership and a clear sense of direction to the school for its future developments, securely centred on improving standards. He is ably supported by a very enthusiastic deputy and well united staff. The expertise of subject leaders and other individuals is well utilised. They ensure that those with responsibility carry out monitoring that is sufficiently rigorous to provide them with an astute understanding of the quality of provision within the school.
Self-evaluation is good, which means that the school knows what it does well and takes effective action to bring about improvements, for example, the need to accelerate progress in writing has been rightly identified. The leaders are aware that there is more to do to ensure teaching of the best quality in all areas, so that all pupils make the maximum progress. The headteacher enjoys the trust and respect of all members of the school community. One parent wrote, ' the headteacher is always very friendly and willing to help'. Governors understand the school well and provide good support. They ask challenging questions, and give their time generously.