The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors and an Additional Inspector.
Description of the school
Moat Primary School has more pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds than most other schools. More pupils than usual join the school later than at the normal time of admission, a few moving because long-term care arrangements change. The number of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds is higher than usual. Very few are at the earliest stages of learning English as an additional language. About a quarter of the pupils have learning difficulties or disabilities, which is above average. Many children enter the Foundation Stage with skills much lower than often found at that age. Moat Primary School is involved in various partnerships, for example with a nearby children's centre. A pre-school and after-school club share the same site.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Moat Primary School's overall effectiveness is satisfactory with good features.
'The staff are very dedicated – a lot of effort goes into extra clubs and there are wonderful trips.' 'The teachers are always there to listen and support children's needs.' These parents' views are shared by many other parents and pupils.
The staff put considerable thought into the care, guidance and support of the pupils. There are many constructive ways in which staff help pupils settle into school life and develop good personal skills. Links with families are nurtured well and pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties are learning how to cope better. Pupils behave well in lessons, get along with each other and adults, and take pride in their school.
The curriculum is good. Teachers look for ways to tap into pupils' natural curiosity and enjoyment of practical and creative activities. There is very high take-up of clubs, such as the gardening club, and the 'forest school' is loved by all. The children in the Foundation Stage have made good progress this year from low starting points.
Achievement in Year 2 and Year 6 is broadly satisfactorily. Standards have fluctuated in Year 2 and were well below national averages in 2006. Standards in Year 6 have remained well below average in the last three years, and in mathematics they were much lower than expected last year.
Pupils are making steadier progress this year because lessons were learned from what did not work so well last year. Programmes for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities are skilfully managed and these pupils are making good progress. However, more able pupils are not always moving forward fast enough.
The quality of teaching and learning is satisfactory. Lessons are planned in great detail and classroom management works smoothly. Some teaching is very successful. At times, teaching is less effective because explanations to the whole class continue for too long, cover too much and do not stretch the more able pupils enough.
Leadership and management are satisfactory. The tracking of pupils' progress has improved this year and this is another reason why pupils are making steadier progress now. Other useful management systems have been introduced recently. The staff are highly committed to providing a very good start in life for their pupils. Everyone is keenly aware of the most urgent priorities. Moat Primary School has good capacity to improve.
What the school should do to improve further
Achievement and standards
Standards on entry to the Foundation Stage are well below those found nationally. Children make good progress in the Foundation Stage but standards on entry to Key Stage 1 are still below average. At Year 2, standards are below national averages in reading, writing and mathematics. Standards in Year 2 have varied widely over the years. They matched national averages in 2005 and 2003 but were well below average in 2006, 2004 and 2002. Standards in Year 6 have remained well below average since 2004. Standards in mathematics declined significantly in 2006. The school has addressed the particular decline in mathematics by increasing the emphasis on the teaching of mental mathematics to improve performance.
The progress pupils make over their time at the school is broadly satisfactory, as demonstrated by the school's improved tracking system this year. Those identified as needing extra help are making good progress and are well supported by a range of intervention strategies. Occasionally, in lessons, more able pupils do not move ahead fast enough.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils of all ages enjoy coming to school. They love the clubs, trips and visitors. They speak positively about the ways that they take responsibility, for example taking food to the class recycling bins. The school council is elected democratically and understands that it is the 'voice of the school'. Pupils appreciate the healthy food and many take part in physical and sporting activities at break and lunchtime.
Behaviour in lessons and around the school is good. Pupils settle to work quickly and respond well to classroom routines. They are very polite to staff and really welcoming to visitors. They do not approve of the occasional play-fighting that occurs but say that incidents are dealt with quickly. Attendance is a little below average but most pupils attend regularly and turn up on time.
Quick paired discussions during lessons show that pupils are developing useful skills for their future life. Pupils engage earnestly in sharing their ideas and listening to their partners' thoughts. They are learning responsibility for resources through the token system for borrowing play equipment. Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. There are high participation rates in the choir and the gardening club that looks after the very attractive school outside areas.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning are satisfactory overall and some practice is outstanding. Considerable thought goes into lesson plans. Usefully, lessons have a clear structure and drive towards specific learning. Some teaching is imaginative, and gets pupils actively engaged and thinking. This very effective practice pitches demands on pupils well and sustains a good pace by varying learning approaches throughout the lesson.
Some teaching is less effective because it lacks variety and because teaching points are dealt with slowly. In part this happens because staff want to cover topics very thoroughly. However, when whole-class explanations continue for too long, pupils who could work faster are held back and the time for small group activities, where work is matched much better to pupils' starting points, is reduced.
Teaching assistants support individuals constructively and help them to succeed at their tasks. There is very good planning and team-working in Year 2, where the teaching assistant was observed helping pupils to dress up and role-play a story, carefully prompting them to use relevant vocabulary. Teachers mark pupils' written work regularly and give feedback on how well the pupils have done. In Year 4 pupils often assess their writing themselves, helping them concentrate on particular skills. This good practice is not evident in all books.
Curriculum and other activities
Teachers have put considerable thought into curricular planning, aiming to stimulate pupils' natural curiosity and give them something exciting to talk about. Staff have cleverly devised programmes to promote the pupils' personal development. The curriculum is enriched by visits and visitors, and there is a good range of out-of-hours activities. The outdoor facilities are very good, although currently the Foundation Stage does not have enough access to outdoor learning during the morning sessions.
The school's programmes for teaching literacy and mathematics have been strengthened following last year's results. Concerns about the teaching of mental mathematics have led to a greater focus on this in teaching programmes. Resources for guided reading have improved and more emphasis given to this within the timetable. Catch-up programmes are very well planned. Provision for more able pupils is less well developed.
Care, guidance and support
The staff are very committed to making every effort to ensure that their pupils get the very best start in life. They work constructively together, and link well with parents and other agencies. The learning mentor arranges sessions about parenting and works closely with individual families. The pastoral support worker provides a welcome safe haven for those pupils who need it, when they need it. The good care strategy means that pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties learn how to cope better.
There are good links with the pre-school and children settle quickly into the Foundation Stage class. Arrangements for reporting pupils' academic progress to parents are satisfactory. Procedures for child protection and safeguarding are sound.
Leadership and management
Leadership and management are satisfactory. The school has been involved with various local and national initiatives, including the Intensifying Support Programme. These have largely determined improvement priorities in the last two years. The headteacher and other managers are working at the right things to improve the quality of care and education.
The headteacher has a sound grasp of strengths and weaknesses in teaching. The different roles and responsibilities relating to care, guidance and support have been thoughtfully developed in response to the particular needs of pupils and their families at Moat Primary School. Very recently, the headteacher reorganised the senior leadership team's responsibilities to increase their accountability for standards and quality. This was a sensible move. The school is developing a tracking system to monitor pupils' progress each term rather than wait until the end of each school year. This was a necessary step, allowing staff to intervene quicker if pupils are falling behind and anticipate end-of-year standards more securely than before.
The co-ordinator for special educational needs manages the provision for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities very effectively and is gathering evidence about the impact of this work. Day-to-day management of the school is good. Systems run smoothly and everyone knows what they need to do to ensure that this happens. The governing body has an appropriate committee structure and organisation. It fulfils its statutory duties and is supportive of the school. Governors recognise that they need further training to help them gauge the school's progress more rigorously.