The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Lady Margaret is larger than the average primary school. The Nursery has 25 places for each of the morning and afternoon sessions. The school can cater for 90 pupils in other year groups. Pupils come from homes that are a little more disadvantaged than usually found. The proportions of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds and for whom English is an additional language are higher than in most schools. The school is located near to Heathrow and more pupils than normally join and leave the school at unusual times. The school had an interim headteacher for two terms before the current headteacher started in April 2007. The school has the healthy schools status, gold artsmark and football charter mark.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Lady Margaret is a satisfactory school. It is welcoming and pupils develop good personal skills. For instance, pupils who join from very diverse backgrounds, and sometimes with little English, settle quickly and feel part of the school family. Parents show a considerable interest in their children's education. Most feel that the school is doing a good job. As one wrote, 'My daughter enjoys her studies in school. She can't stay away for a day.'
Attainment on entry to school is below average overall for those who join in the Nursery, Reception or in later years. In recent years, pupils have left at the end of Year 6 with average standards in the national tests. Given their starting points this was good achievement. The changes in leadership in 2007 has coincided with a loss of momentum in key respects and this good progress has not been maintained. While pupils' progress is still satisfactory overall, there was a significant drop in standards in the Year 2 assessments and by some boys in mathematics in the Year 6 tests. Additionally, children in the Nursery are not making the progress they should. The quality of teaching varies from inadequate to outstanding and this mirrors the progress made by pupils. Teachers have forged good relationships in their classrooms, which means that pupils can learn without being distracted by others. Teaching is good for older pupils and their progress accelerates in these classes. Teachers vary in their effectiveness to plan work that meets the needs of different pupils.
The school has recently adopted a new approach to tracking the progress of pupils. This has the potential for identifying underperformance much better than previously so that appropriate support and challenge can be given to pupils. This data is not yet being used by teachers to inform their planning. The school does not evaluate the effectiveness of support for particular groups, for instance, those who join the school at unusual times. There has been rigorous monitoring of teaching quality by the headteacher and this has led to improvements in teaching. However, subject coordinators are only partially monitoring their areas. This is partly because the school is in a transitional period when it is reviewing and reallocating responsibilities. However, the school has missed opportunities to build on the existing strengths of experienced and competent coordinators for English, mathematics and science to provide more continuity.
Pupils enjoy coming to school very much and say that they feel safe there. They have positive attitudes to school and this is shown by their good attendance. They are courteous and have a good sense of right and wrong. A minority of parents feel that the behaviour of pupils is unsatisfactory and that there have been instances of bullying, particularly at lunchtime. The school has successfully taken very robust action to address this and pupils say that bullying is now extremely rare. Behaviour in and around the school is now good. Pastoral support is good and exemplifies the caring ethos of the school.
Progress since the previous inspection has been uneven. Pupils' achievement has fluctuated but is consistently at least satisfactory overall. There are strengths in the senior management team. The headteacher, supported by an able senior management team, is setting a clear direction for the school. Given its track record, the capacity for improvement is satisfactory.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
In 2007, children's attainments were well below the goals expected of them at the end of Reception, especially in communications, language and literacy and mathematical development. The school recognised that these pupils had made inadequate progress, even given their low starting points. The school has taken robust action. Teaching, learning and the curriculum have improved and management has been strengthened. Teachers in Reception classes have responded well to recent training and children are now making clear links between letters and sounds. Children are now making satisfactory progress overall. In the Nursery, however, there are no systematic assessments of what children know and can do. As a result, the planning does not take sufficient account of prior learning or the ways in which children of this age learn best.
What the school should do to improve further
- Improve the quality of planning and use of assessments in the Nursery.
- Ensure that there is effective use of data by teachers to set appropriate work for different abilities, particularly for boys in mathematics in Key Stage 2.
- Ensure that senior managers make effective use of data to inform planning and allocate resources.
- Strengthen the coordination of subjects and ensure that provision and pupils' achievement are monitored and evaluated effectively.
A small proportion of the schools whose overall effectiveness is judged satisfactory but which have areas of underperformance will receive a monitoring visit by an Ofsted inspector before their next section 5 inspection.
Achievement and standards
Standards at Key Stage 1 have fluctuated over the last four years. The school expresses a lack of confidence in the accuracy of its judgements of pupils' attainment in earlier years. This means that it cannot be certain about the reasons for this variation. The standards slipped, particularly in writing, from being average in 2006 to being below average in 2007. The school has responded appropriately. Staff are being trained to improve the teaching of reading and writing. Scrutiny of work and observations show that current progress is average. Over the last three years, pupils have made average progress between Years 3 to 6, except in mathematics in 2007. The school have identified that it was mainly boys who underperformed in mathematics. This was partly because of the poor behaviour of a few boys and partly through weaknesses in the curriculum. In response, pupils are being given more opportunities in mathematics to work practically and to solve problems. It is too early to measure the effectiveness of this initiative. Pupils with moderate learning difficulties make satisfactory progress.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. A good assembly helped to raise pupils' aspirations and develop their personal skills. Throughout the Foundation Stage relationships are good, so that children develop well socially. Younger pupils value the support they receive from older pupils who are `buddies` and 'pals'. Pupils have a good understanding and respect for other cultures and beliefs. This stems from the high priority that the school gives to recognising the rich diversity of its pupils' backgrounds. As one pupil said, 'The teachers help us to make friends. We learn about how others do things'. Pupils make a satisfactory contribution to the community and raise considerable sums for charity. The school council has been actively involved in implementing the school's anti-bullying policy. Given their average basic skills, pupils are satisfactorily prepared for secondary school.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teachers manage their classes well. They make learning objectives clear so that pupils know what they are expected to learn. All teachers are using interactive whiteboards and the pupils say this adds interest to lessons. Recent training on the teaching of writing is leading to improvements in some classes. There are more good lessons with older pupils. Their teachers are often enthusiastic, deliver lessons with good pace and the school's monitoring shows that they use a wide range of teaching styles. Teachers in the Foundation Stage have not provided a suitable range of experiences for the children until recently. The Reception teachers are working as a team to remedy this and teaching has improved as a result. Marking is done conscientiously but does not always show pupils how to improve.
Curriculum and other activities
Provision for personal, social and health education is good and contributes significantly to pupils' personal development and well-being. Pupils have a good understanding of healthy-living issues. This year, more emphasis is being given to providing pupils with opportunities for speaking and listening and working practically. This is appropriate as there is too much use of worksheets in some classes. The curriculum has been adapted well to reflect the diverse backgrounds of the pupils. For instance, each of the main festivals linked to pupils' particular cultures is celebrated. The provision for literacy is satisfactory and improving. All the areas of learning are represented in the curriculum for the Foundation Stage. Play activities help children to learn independently, but they are not always sufficiently challenging.
Care, guidance and support
There have been significant improvements in behaviour at lunchtime. Last year there were confrontations between pupils, principally because almost 600 of them were competing for limited space. This has been resolved by arranging for pupils to have lunch at different times. Additionally, supervisors have been trained and more play equipment purchased. Sound support is provided for new pupils who join at unusual times. Those who join the school with little English make the same progress as their peers, once they have gained the necessary skills in English. Pupils know their targets for improvement and these are helpful. However, academic guidance is only satisfactory. It is too dependent on the individual teacher and is not yet underpinned by an effective tracking system to monitor pupils' progress.
Leadership and management
There are emerging strengths in the senior management team. The new headteacher is giving good leadership. He has worked effectively with his senior team to quickly diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of the school. There has been support that has led to some improvements in provision in the Foundation Stage although more remains to be done. There is a clear and appropriate plan to improve pupils' literacy skills. The new library is well resourced and is a considerable asset to the school. It has been enthusiastically received by the pupils. Evaluation of the impact of some initiatives is limited by the lack of data on pupils' progress. Governors are supportive of the school.