The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
The school is a larger than average. It serves an area of mainly local authority housing and many families are on low income. The percentage of pupils who are entitled to free school meals is higher than the national average as is the number of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. In September 2006, a Children's Centre was built in the school grounds and this resulted in the Nursery class being transferred from the school. The Governors have experienced difficulty in filling the vacant headship. The former deputy headteacher is currently leading the school as acting headteacher since the start of the academic year. The school has achieved recognition for its provision as a Healthy School, has an Inclusion Award, Artsmark Gold and Family Learning Kitemark.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a satisfactory school that is beginning to improve its educational provision under new leadership and management. A strong team of committed staff work well together to ensure that all children have good levels of care and support. As a result, children's personal development and well-being are good. Adults establish good relationships with pupils and this contributes to their excellent behaviour and attitudes towards their work. Pupils' attendance is average but they say they like coming to school and enjoy the good range of out-of-school activities. This is a view echoed by many parents who are overwhelmingly supportive of the school. Pupils have an outstanding knowledge of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle and how to stay safe because of the strong emphasis placed on these aspects by the school. These are some of the stronger elements within a satisfactory but improving curriculum, where information and communication technology (ICT) is used well as an effective teaching tool. There is an appropriate emphasis on numeracy and literacy and meaningful links are made between subjects but this is not as well developed in Key Stage 1.
While teaching is satisfactory overall, it is inconsistent across key stages. This means that, although overall achievement is satisfactory, pupils progress at different rates.
Staffing instability in Key Stage 1 in recent years has contributed to teaching and learning not being effective enough and pupils have not achieved as well as they could. As a result, standards at the end of Year 2 have fallen to well below average for the last two years. The acting headteacher has acted swiftly, and with some success, to address the staffing issues and to improve the quality of teaching and the curriculum for these two year groups. This is clearly making a difference and has halted the decline in standards. Pupils are now making satisfactory progress but standards still need to be raised further. Good teaching in Years 3 to 6 accelerates learning and pupils make up lost ground. This is because in these year groups, teachers accurately assess what pupils need to learn and so they set work that is suitably challenging. This helps learners achieve standards that are broadly average by the end of Year 6 in mathematics and English, and well above average in science. Those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities also make better progress in Key Stage 2 because the additional support they receive meets their needs well.
Leadership and management of the school are satisfactory, but there are notable strengths. These include the way in which the acting headteacher has provided clear leadership and within a short period created an able and enthusiastic leadership team, which has a renewed sense of purpose and is clearly focused on school improvement. The leadership has recognised that most subject leaders, although enthusiastic, are underdeveloped and do not yet have a good understanding of the links between information from assessments and performance data and what is needed to be taught to raise standards. This limits their ability to contribute to school improvement, for example, by comparing this school's performance to others nationally. Some individual leaders, however, are well informed and knowledgeable and have a good overview of their areas, which enables them to strengthen provision and improve standards.
The headteacher has carried out an accurate assessment of the school strengths and weaknesses and has a clear plan of action to move the school forward. This, coupled with recent decisive actions and a clear focus on raising standards, demonstrates a satisfactory capacity to improve. Governors fulfil their statutory duties and are supportive of the school. The school gives satisfactory value for money.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Children enter the Foundation Stage with skills below those expected for their age especially in literacy. A high priority is given to personal development and as a result, children settle quickly, enjoy coming to school and behave well. The progress children make is satisfactory but it varies between different areas of learning because many of the activities are too adult directed. This gives little scope for independent learning. There is a strong focus on improving language and communication skills; however, opportunities for children to practise these skills, for example, in imaginative play, are limited. In addition, access to an outdoor area has been restricted until very recently due to circumstances beyond control of the school. It currently does not provide a useful extension to the classroom. Consequently, the outdoor curriculum is underdeveloped and this has limited opportunities for children's learning. The Foundation Stage manager provides satisfactory leadership but has an accurate understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the provision and is taking steps to improve it. By the end of the Foundation Stage, children's skills remain below those expected for their age.
What the school should do to improve further
- Improve the standards and achievement at Key Stage 1.
- Develop the role of subject leaders so that they have a greater understanding of performance data and so are better able to raise standards and achievement.
- Ensure teachers make effective use of information from assessments in order to improve the impact and consistency of teaching and learning throughout the school.
- Develop the outdoor curriculum in the Foundation Stage and opportunities for children to learn independently.
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
Test results at the end of Year 2 indicate that there has been some underachievement by pupils in Key Stage 1. Effective strategies recently implemented by the school have eliminated much of this underachievement. Pupils' work and data provided by the school show that pupils' achievement is beginning to reflect the standards of which they are capable. In 2007, tests at the end of Year 6 showed that high standards in science had been maintained and pupils achieved well in English and mathematics even though standards in these subjects are average.
Pupils with learning difficulties make satisfactory progress because they are set work that meets their needs and are supported appropriately.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' social and moral skills are well developed and they have a good awareness of other cultures. Roles as playleaders, school council representatives, monitors and talking partners reinforce such skills and enable pupils to contribute usefully to the school community. Pupils are extremely polite, well mannered and show a high degree of maturity. Their excellent behaviour contributes very well to the school's warm ethos and to the high quality relationships. They enjoy the opportunities to be creative and share their learning with others. Attitudes to learning and their enjoyment of school are outstanding. These positive attitudes along with good progress in basic skills and ICT, ensures that pupils' future economic prospects are good.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The inconsistencies in teaching between key stages account for the unequal progress being made. In some year groups, teachers do not use information about how well pupils are doing effectively enough and as a result, work set is not as challenging as it should be. This leads to some pupils not achieving as well as they should. The most effective teaching is in Key Stage 2 where the quality of teaching is never less than good and there is some outstanding practice. This cannot be said for the other key stages. The pace and challenge of lessons is better in Years 3 to 6 and as a result, pupils learn quickly and effectively. Teaching assistants are very effectively deployed to support those with learning difficulties in Key Stage 2, helping them to make good progress in relation to their specific targets. This provision, however, has not yet been established throughout the whole school. Teachers' depth of scientific knowledge and expertise across the school helps pupils to maintain very high standards in this area.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum helps pupils make satisfactory progress in literacy and numeracy.
There are increasing opportunities for pupils to use ICT and literacy skills across a range of subjects and the school is making satisfactory progress towards introducing a modern foreign language. The enrichment activities are a strength of the curriculum. There are extensive opportunities for pupils to engage in musical and artistic activities that contribute well to their personal and cultural development. There is good provision for physical education and this links well to the strong focus on healthy lifestyles and personal and social development, which prepares pupils well for adult life.
Care, guidance and support
The quality of care is good with strengths that support pupils' personal development and well-being. A key feature of the school is its inclusive nature. This is borne out not only by the achievement of Inclusion Quality Mark, but also by the fact that pupils with learning difficulties and those who are vulnerable receive good quality care. Pupils' academic guidance and support is a weakness and most pupils are unaware of their targets or their next steps in learning. By contrast, pupils in years 5 and 6 are more involved in the assessment of their own work. They have a good understanding of their targets because effective marking is helping them to know how well they are doing and their next steps in learning. This is helping to accelerate pupils' progress. This practice is in the process of being extended throughout the school.
The school provides a safe and supportive environment, which parents appreciate greatly. Comments include, 'it's good to know our children are safe' and 'children are treated as individuals'. The school meets the latest government requirements related to safeguarding children, including those who are more vulnerable. Procedures for first aid and risk assessments are in place.
Leadership and management
The acting headteacher has already made a significant impact in identifying strengths and weaknesses to gain an accurate view of the school's performance and set it on the road to improvement. She has generated enthusiasm and commitment amongst the staff. The senior leadership and management team have skills that complement each other. They have formed a very strong team, which has a focus on raising standards, although they have not lost sight of the importance of pupils' personal development, which lies at the heart of this school. However, the role of subject leaders is not yet sufficiently developed in using performance data to help devise strategies that will raise standards and achievement.
Actions taken by the headteacher to address teaching and learning issues in Key Stage 1 are beginning to take effect. It is too soon, however, to measure their full impact. Good relationships with local schools, organisations and agencies contribute well to pupils' good personal development. For example, the involvement in a writing network is influencing positively the quality of writing and its assessment. Governors discharge their responsibilities satisfactorily. Resources are well managed and monitored closely.