The inspection was carried out by two Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Milton Park is a smaller than average junior school. The majority of pupils are from White British backgrounds. A few are from a range of minority ethnic groups and have a home language other than English. Few are at the early stages of learning English. The proportion of pupils eligible for a free school meal is above average and the number of pupils with moderate learning difficulties is just above average. More children than is typical nationally join or leave the school at other than customary times of the year.
The school was federated with Milton Park Infant School in May 2008. The headteacher of the Infant school is now the executive headteacher of the federated school and has had oversight of the Junior school since September 2006. A newly constituted governing body has been formed from elections held.
The school holds the Basic Skills Quality Mark, ICT mark, Healthy Schools Award and Sports Activemark.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Milton Park is an improving school that provides a satisfactory education for its pupils. Since the last inspection, the school has undergone significant changes. Following a period of uncertainty the federation with the adjoining infant school has been well received. As one parent commented, 'The school is now an excellent place to be'.
At the heart of this positive picture is the strong and determined leadership of the executive headteacher, ably supported by her senior team. As a result, teaching and learning are beginning to improve, however, pupils' academic achievement is currently only satisfactory.
Children enter the school with broadly average standards. Standards in English and science are broadly average and just below average in mathematics. This is because pupils' communication and investigative skills in English and science respectively are strong. Pupils are not doing as well in mathematics because of weaknesses in their ability to apply their knowledge to problem solving by using the appropriate mathematical vocabulary. This has been identified by the school. Pupils' satisfactory progress is beginning to accelerate, particularly for pupils in Years 3 to 5 as a result of good monitoring and training. Although the current Year 6 have made satisfactory progress this year, they are unlikely to make up for ground lost in earlier years.
The headteacher has built an effective management team, who with the governors, have a very accurate view of the school's performance, and have rightly concentrated on improving both behaviour and the quality of teaching. Behaviour is now good. Although there are pockets of good teaching, there is still some inconsistency and teaching and learning are satisfactory overall. Marking gives feedback on strengths, but it does not always provide consistently clear guidance to pupils as to what they need to do to move to the next level. In addition, the introductions to some lessons are over long and lack the necessary challenge for pupils to work independently and achieve as well as they can.
The curriculum is satisfactory and is currently being reviewed. The school is working to develop links between subjects and make lessons more creative and interactive. Attendance is below average, although the school works hard to encourage parents not to take children away for holidays and family celebrations. This very caring and happy school offers good pastoral support. Pupils appreciate this and say that they feel safe at school. Good role-modelling helps them to learn social values. They do well in learning about health and in participating in physical exercise. Pupils enjoy a wide range of cultural experiences so that their spiritual, moral, cultural and social development is good. Pupils make a positive contribution to the lives of others in the wider community through raising money for charity. The school forms helpful links with the local secondary school and this together with improving basic skills helps pupils prepare satisfactorily the next stages in their education.
Governance is good. Governors are able to challenge and support the school with increasing confidence The school is proud of its good partnership with the parents and the local community and works hard to engage the support of parents through regular newsletters as well as 'drop-in' opportunities to meet staff. Its track record in improvement shows that the school has a good capacity to improve still further.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise standards in mathematics by ensuring that pupils are able to apply their numeracy skills to problem solving situations.
- Ensure that teaching consistently challenges pupils to achieve as well as they can.
- Improve the consistency of marking so that pupils benefit from more precise advice on how to improve.
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
Pupils' achievement is satisfactory. Standards in English and science are broadly average and just below average in mathematics. Currently pupils make satisfactory progress from broadly average starting points. School leaders have introduced effective assessment systems that ensure that the progress made by all groups of learners is tracked. Consequently, all groups of pupils, including those who struggle with literacy and numeracy, are making satisfactory progress. There is clear evidence that progress is improving and younger pupils are now working at levels that are in line with expectations for their age. Pupils who are learning English for the first time do as well as others. The school knows that results in writing are weaker than those in reading and has correctly identified the need to be clearer with learners about expectations for English grammar and the features of different styles of writing. Progress in mathematics has been slower because problem-solving skills are insufficiently developed.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' personal development is good. They feel secure and behaviour is good because of their positive attitudes to learning. Most learners come to school eagerly and enjoy their learning. However, a small number of pupils miss valuable learning time as a result of holidays being taken in term time. Pupils have good knowledge about what constitutes a healthy life style and this is reflected in the school's Activemark award. The school council provides pupils with an influential voice that has affected positive changes around the school, such as designing the new school uniform and logo. Pupils enjoy taking responsibility for assisting in the smooth running of the school. In the wider community, pupils make a good contribution through a range of activities including raising money for charities and hosting a popular art and picnic celebration.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
There is some good teaching, but not enough of it is of the high quality needed to improve progress and raise standards for all pupils. Senior managers are aware of this and provide support that is leading to improvement. Teachers manage pupils' behaviour well and they know how to inspire confidence and enjoyment. The learning mentor and teaching assistants provide consistently strong support for learning across the school, because of the excellent training they have received. Lessons are well structured and teachers clarify what pupils are meant to learn from the outset. This enables pupils, to an increasing extent, to reflect on their own progress. However, within this positive picture, occasionally the work is too hard for some and too easy for others. Marking is regular and generally helpful but does not always show precisely what is needed to make further improvements so that all pupils can achieve their best. In addition, the introductions to some lessons are over long, which leaves less time for pupils to work independently.
Curriculum and other activities
The school has revised the curriculum. Senior and middle leaders are working to try to ensure that the new curriculum is innovative, interactive, supports creative thinking, and meets the needs of all learners. Pupils enjoy a range of sports led by specialist coaches, which contributes well to their positive attitudes to keeping fit and healthy. The personal development programme has had a positive impact on pupils' social skills and maturity. For example, visiting speakers such as a police officer and a fire fighter have contributed to pupils' understanding of the world of work. Themed events such as arts week and Chinese New Year days inspire learners and help to develop their self-esteem and cultural awareness. There is an increasing programme of out-of-hours activities ranging from cheer-leading to tag-rugby. The school makes good use of the local area for interesting visits to places of worship, museums, theatres and galleries. Pupils enjoy using the computer suite, but they do not have enough opportunities to practise information and communication technology (ICT) skills in the classrooms. The mathematics curriculum is currently being reviewed in order to offer more learning opportunities for pupils' to develop their problem solving skills.
Care, guidance and support
Pupils receive good pastoral support. Staff work hard in supporting pupils' personal development and fulfil a valuable role in liaising with families. Safeguarding procedures are of good quality and early identification of vulnerable pupils enables skilled support to be provided swiftly by a number of external agencies. Pupils with moderate learning difficulties are well supported because of the good care they receive. Pupils' feel safe and confident that there is always an adult they can turn to if they have a problem. A quiet area in the playground is set aside for reflection. Good induction procedures settle new pupils quickly and happily into the school, irrespective of which time of the year they arrive. Academic guidance and support is satisfactory, but inconsistent. Teachers' marking is currently too variable and does not always provide precise advice on how to progress to the next level. Pupils, too, would welcome more opportunities to learn from each other.
Leadership and management
Self-evaluation is very good and so the relatively new leadership team under the guidance of the inspirational headteacher is already having a positive impact on pupils' learning. Together they have rigorously and accurately identified areas for development. There is a relentless drive on improving classroom practice through analysis of progress, regular observation and guidance for teachers, several of whom are relatively new to the school and to teaching. Subject leaders have equally good knowledge of their subjects and have established clear and challenging targets through the well-organised school improvement plan. However, some subject leaders are relatively new to their roles and have not had time to impact fully on pupils' achievements. The recently re-constituted governing body is playing an effective part in shaping the developments for the school, and ensuring that statutory requirements are met. Governors support the school well and are developing their independent monitoring role, in order to challenge and hold the school to account.