The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Matchborough moved into new premises in 2003, providing it with good quality accommodation and grounds for the pupils. The school has leased a woodland and stream from the local council, which is known as the Forest School. There is an onsite nursery. There are two area units at the school catering for pupils from Redditch: a 10-place speech and language unit and an 8-place nursery for children with special needs, known as Nursery Plus. The number of pupils at the school with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is above average. The headteacher has been in post for a year and the two assistant headteachers for six months.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a satisfactory school, which is improving. Its key strength is the very clear vision of the headteacher, who has put many good new procedures in place over the past year. These are helping academic and personal standards to rise. As a result of the new systems for the care, guidance and support of pupils, their personal development and well-being are good, and evident in all aspects of school life. Pupils behave well and relationships are positive. They enjoy their learning and, as a result, attendance is improving and is now average. Good spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is fostered well through the many activities that promote caring attitudes and a clear awareness of different cultures and lifestyles.
Standards are below average on entry to the school. The achievement of most pupils is satisfactory. Pupils achieve better in mathematics than they do in reading and writing. Teaching has improved recently and is now satisfactory, and sometimes good. In mathematics, for example, standards are now average due to good teaching in the subject. Boys do not achieve as well as girls or as well as other boys nationally, particularly in writing. This is because the teaching of phonics is not always as accurate as it should be and because many boys, as well as girls, do not do enough writing. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, including those in the area speech and language unit and those in the Nursery Plus, achieve well because of the good support provided for them.
The satisfactory curriculum provides many good opportunities for pupils to explore the world around them and contributes particularly well to their cultural experiences..Pupils are very well cared for. Systems to keep them safe are robust. Academic guidance is good in English and mathematics, and assessment is beginning to inform teachers about how well their pupils are doing in those subjects. These new procedures are not embedded in other subjects and therefore do not yet enable the school to set priorities for future learning as clearly as they should.
Leadership and management are satisfactory and improving. New teachers, leaders and systems introduced over the past year have not yet had time to make a positive impact on provision and standards. The strong new leadership team has begun to monitor academic and personal achievements rigorously. As a result, leaders know what they need to do to improve. However, the school now needs to embed the new systems, particularly the assessment procedures, fully into the daily work of the school. The governing body is helpful but as yet does not sufficiently challenge leaders about the school's work. Improvement since the last inspection has been satisfactory and there is satisfactory capacity to improve further.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Provision for children in the Nursery and Reception classes is satisfactory, with some good features. The accommodation and resources are exceptionally good and significantly enhance the provision. Children benefit from a good range of activities that help them to improve their personal development and well-being. They learn to work and play together well. Teaching is satisfactory, with some good teaching in Reception where tasks are well matched to individual needs and abilities. A good new phonics programme is helping to improve literacy skills but at times activities do not enable pupils to link sounds and letters well enough. Occasionally tasks for the youngest children are over-prescriptive and do not enable them to make decisions for themselves. Teachers know children well and take good care of them, which leads to good relationships and positive behaviour.
What the school should do to improve further
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
Attainment on entry to the school varies from year to year but is below average overall. Pupils make satisfactory progress throughout the Foundation Stage, Year 1 and Year 2. As a result, standards are still below average at the end of Key Stage 1. In the 2007 assessments, at the end of Year 2, standards were below average in reading and writing but they rose in mathematics and matched the national average. Achievement is satisfactory overall and good in mathematics. In Years 3 and 4, pupils make similar progress, also achieving well in mathematics and making satisfactory progress in English and science. Boys across the school do not achieve as well as girls or as well as other boys nationally, particularly in writing. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, including those in the speech and language unit and those in the Nursery Plus, achieve their targets because of skilled teaching and the good additional support that is provided for them.
Personal development and well-being
Good spiritual, moral, social and cultural development enables pupils across the school to develop effective personal skills. As a result, they behave well in and around the school and enjoy their lessons. This is evident in their improving attendance, which is now broadly average. The school has achieved the Healthy School status, which acknowledges the way pupils choose healthy snacks and healthy lunches. They know how important it is to keep fit and would like to see more physical activities and clubs at the school. Pupils know about keeping safe and benefit from the school's good approach to personal, social and health education, assemblies and class discussions, which openly helps to resolve conflict. The school council is active and has been instrumental in supporting the use of friendship seats at playtimes to ensure that all pupils have a friend to play with. Pupils are regularly involved in charity fundraising events and show good understanding of local and distant cultures; for example, even the youngest children talk knowledgeably about the way people in Africa live. Pupils have recently collected enough money to install a water tap at a school in Ghana. Pupils' preparation for their future lives is satisfactory.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Lessons are well planned and resources are used appropriately to keep pupils interested. Interactive whiteboards, for example, are effectively used in teaching new skills and in involving pupils in their own learning, particularly in mathematics. Good mathematical demonstrations and practical numeracy tasks are helping standards to rise across the school. Teaching in literacy is less successful because not all teachers are secure in their subject knowledge, particularly in the teaching of phonics. This sometimes results in pupils being unsure about what is expected of them. Occasionally not enough is done to provide practical and visual activities that may help to include boys, for example in reading and writing activities. Not all pupils do enough writing. Teaching assistants are used well, particularly to support pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, resulting in their good achievement. Teaching in the speech and language unit and in Nursery Plus is good, enabling these groups of pupils to achieve well.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is effective in helping pupils to enjoy their education. The good mathematics programme is enabling standards to rise and is helping all pupils to improve their numeracy skills. The programme to improve literacy skills is satisfactory but does not always provide well enough for improving writing skills. Provision meets national requirements, and the Chinese and Mandarin clubs show it is responsive to local needs. There are good links across subjects with carefully chosen themes, which link learning in one subject to that in others by giving pupils planned opportunities to apply their learning to different situations. The current theme of Africa shows this to be working well. The Forest School also links learning well over many subjects and is very popular with pupils. Provision for those in the area units is good.
Pupils enjoy taking part in sporting competitions against other local schools but the range of lunchtime and after-school clubs is limited and does not fully cater for the interests of all pupils. The school is aware of this situation and is already working to provide additional activities in the summer term.
Care, guidance and support
Provision for the health, safety and well-being of pupils is rigorous. Pupils say they like being at school, 'because everyone is so nice and it is easy to make friends'. Pupils are well cared for by the whole school community. Since the recent introduction of the tracking system, pupils receive good support for learning, particularly in English and mathematics, and are now able to judge their own progress against their literacy and numeracy targets. The school has not yet implemented this system fully and there is limited information about achievement in other subjects. Teachers are beginning to use assessment to set priorities and targets in English and mathematics. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and those with additional needs are well supported and the precise targets in their individual education plans help them to make good progress.
The good progress made by pupils in the Nursery Plus and the speech and language unit is testament to the regular and effective help of the speech therapist and the assistant.
Leadership and management
The headteacher has a clear vision for the future of the school and has put in place many new and good procedures to bring about improvements. These are just beginning to have an impact on personal and academic standards, as, for example, in mathematics. Recent restructuring of staff and new senior managers has had a positive impact on provision resulting in a knowledgeable senior leadership team who are beginning to influence the work of the school. Formal procedures for self-evaluation are improving and, given time, should accurately inform the school about how well it is doing. Leaders are beginning to monitor the provision more thoroughly and this has helped the school to set challenging targets, although some targets are too challenging for a few pupils. Monitoring has also enabled the school to identify the areas that require development and staff have already begun to put procedures in place to improve standards in writing. Governors are supportive but do not yet challenge the school or hold it to account for its decisions. Parents are pleased with the school; a very small minority expressed some concerns about behaviour but new policies have helped behaviour to improve in all areas so that it is now good.