The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This is a larger than average school which includes a funded nursery unit. The school is situated in a relatively deprived area of mixed housing. The proportion of pupils who take free school meals is above average. There is an average proportion of pupils with learning difficulties. There are fewer pupils from ethnic minorities than is usual. A new headteacher was appointed in April 2007.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school which is demonstrating improvement. Pupils achieve well to reach standards which are above average when they leave in Year 6. Nursery and Reception children make good progress from low attainment on entry and achieve well.
Pupils' personal development and well-being are good. There are good opportunities for them to take on responsibility and develop independence in their learning from Reception onwards. Pupils feel safe and take part in healthy activities. They enjoy school and have positive attitudes. Behaviour is good. The school council ensures that pupils have a voice in improving their school. Good acquisition of basic and social skills ensures that pupils are well prepared for economic success in their future lives. However, they do not have many first-hand opportunities to experience other cultures in the United Kingdom or abroad.
Teaching is generally good. It is outstanding in all the Foundation Stage classes and sometimes in Key Stage 2. However, in Key Stage 1, teachers do not have sufficiently high expectations and work is not always well matched to pupils' needs. As a result, pupils' progress in Years 1 and 2, while satisfactory, is slower than in the rest of the school. The curriculum is good, with outstanding provision in the Nursery and Reception classes. A good variety of activities and links enriches the curriculum, and creative links between subjects ensure that learning is relevant. However, the school is planning to review this provision to ensure the best balance between academic and creative learning. Care, guidance and support are good. This school takes outstanding care of all its pupils. Teachers and teaching assistants provide very good support for pupils with learning difficulties and ensure effective challenge for those who are more able in Key Stage 2.
Leadership and management are good. Strong teamwork, together with clear direction and a shared vision, leads a strong forward momentum in the school's improvement. For example, as a result of good self-evaluation, recent initiatives have successfully driven up standards in Key Stage 2 and this demonstrates the school's good capacity to improve. Quality and standards in the Foundation Stage are outstanding. Children in the Nursery and Reception classes have an excellent start to their education. The school has deservedly regained its good reputation in the community and parents are overwhelmingly supportive. 'The school has improved greatly over the past two years,' commented one parent. 'My children are both happy and make good progress,' said another.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise teachers' expectations of what pupils can do in Key Stage 1 in order to improve the quality of teaching and raise pupils' achievement.
- Increase pupils' multicultural awareness by providing them with first-hand experience of other cultures.
Achievement and standards
Attainment on entry to the school is well below average and children make good progress in both the Nursery and Reception classes. By Year 1, standards are generally still below average but they are in line with the national average in language and literacy. At the end of Year 2, standards were below average in national tests, but within the average range during the inspection. Achievement in Key Stage 1 is satisfactory.
Pupils across Key Stage 2 make outstanding progress and, by the end of Year 6, standards are above national averages and pupils exceed challenging targets in all subjects. This represents excellent achievement. However, progress in writing, which has been a priority for improvement, is still slow across the school. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities make satisfactory progress at Key Stage 1 and outstanding progress across Key Stage 2, achieving above-average standards for this group by the end of Year 6.
Personal development and well-being
When starting in the Reception class, the personal development of many children is below average for their age. However, they soon become confident, caring and thoughtful young people. Pupils play safely and are keen to talk about the need for healthy eating. They very much enjoy coming to school and have positive attitudes to their learning. Behaviour is good. Pupils' attendance is satisfactory and there have been no exclusions this year. Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good but there are few opportunities to meet and talk to people from other cultures.
Pupils are friendly, cheerful and respectful to each other and relationships are good throughout the school. They are always keen to accept responsibility and use their initiative. 'It's well fun being monitors,' said one older pupil. The school council is a useful forum for pupils' views and ideas for future projects, but it doesn't have a budget. Pupils are generous of spirit, contributing to good causes at home and abroad. The comprehensive programme for personal, social and health education and the good grounding in a range of basic skills means that pupils are well prepared for success in their future lives.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Children in the Nursery and Reception classes have an excellent start to their school life, with outstanding teaching and a stimulating variety of learning experiences. Teaching is good across Key Stage 2 and satisfactory in Years 1 and 2. Teachers in Reception and Years 3 to 6 have high expectations of their pupils but this is not generally the case in Years 1 and 2, where the pace of learning is slower. Teachers' very good relationships with their pupils and effective management of their behaviour ensure that they are well motivated and keen to learn. Most teachers continually assess pupils' progress to ensure that lessons provide the necessary challenge to move pupils' learning forward. When this is not the case, pupils are not always clear what they need to do to move to the next level in their learning. Although, in some classes, pupils benefit from good marking that gives them clear guidance on what they need to do next to improve their work, this is not consistent across all year groups. Teachers and teaching assistants work well together to ensure that pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities receive very good support and make good progress.
Curriculum and other activities
The school has adopted a creative approach to curricular planning, linking subjects together into learning projects, which ensures that lessons are interesting and relevant. The school has correctly identified the need to develop this approach further to ensure a balance of academic and creative skills. Pupils are increasingly involved in shaping the curriculum and assessing their own learning. A good range of clubs, activities, visits and visitors enriches the curriculum. Sports, drama and ICT clubs are particularly popular with pupils of all ages and there are good learning links with the secondary school. Stimulating displays of pupils' work around the school include some impressive graphics and word processing about jungle animals by Reception class children. There is good support to ensure that all pupils have appropriate access to the curriculum and there is some provision for more-able pupils, but this is still being developed. The Nursery and Reception curriculum is varied and exciting. 'We like our lessons because we always get to learn and lessons are fun,' said one Reception child.
Care, guidance and support
Pastoral care is outstanding and is a strength of the school. Staff know their pupils well and successfully create a positive ethos in which all pupils are enabled to flourish. Procedures to ensure that children are protected are up –to date and secure. Vulnerable pupils are identified early on in Reception, which enables support to be tailored for them at an early stage in their schooling. Links with outside agencies complement the school's provision effectively to ensure good inclusion of vulnerable pupils and those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. End-of-year reports provide parents with a clear summary of pupils' achievements, with suggested next steps. However, academic guidance for the pupils themselves is less well developed. Targets are set but not all pupils know what their targets are, what levels they are working at or how to improve their work. Good links with the local secondary school prepare pupils well for a smooth transition to the next stage of their education.
Leadership and management
The dynamic headteacher has a clear vision for improving the school. This is shared by all members of the strong senior leadership team, who work hard together to drive forward improvement under the excellent direction provided by the headteacher. Together, they have very successfully raised the standards of pupils' work across Key Stage 2 in English, mathematics and science. However,less progress has been made in raising achievement at Key Stage 1. Leaders know their school well and create a common sense of purpose amongst staff to improve the quality of teaching and learning. There is good equality of opportunity for all groups within the school, although some pupils in Key Stage 1 are not helped as much as they could be to fulfil their potential. There are good monitoring, tracking and self-evaluation processes to help the school identify areas for further development. There has been good improvement in all the key areas since the last inspection. Governors fulfil their roles and responsibilities well and give good support and challenge to help the school improve further.