The inspection was carried out by one Additional Inspector. The inspector evaluated the overall effectiveness of the school and investigated the following issues: achievement and standards, pupils’ personal development and well-being, the quality of teaching, care, guidance and support, and leadership and management. Evidence was gathered from the school’s self-evaluation (SEF), national published assessment data and the school’s own assessment records, policies, minutes and other school documentation. Observation of the school at work, interviews with members of the teaching staff and pupils, and parental questionnaires also provided evidence. Other aspects of the school’s work were not investigated in detail, but the inspector found no evidence to suggest that the school’s own assessments, as given in its selfevaluation, were not justified, and these have been included where appropriate in this report.
Description of the school
Monteclefe Church of England Junior School is smaller than most primary schools. It serves the market town of Somerton and its surrounding villages. Most pupils are of White British origin. On entry, pupils' attainment is wide ranging but is just below average overall, and the proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is broadly average.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school. What makes it so special is its community spirit. Parents are very supportive, pupils are proud to belong, and staff are loyal and hardworking. Good links with its partner infant and secondary school through the Community Learning Partnership, and with the local community, through such events as the Christmas carol concert, give pupils an awareness of their role in society as a whole. The family ethos ensures relationships through the school are caring and supportive. The school prides itself on its inclusive attitudes and has successfully absorbed some vulnerable children with emotional and physical needs. Pupils look after one another, and 'playground friends' ensure no pupils feel left out. Within this climate of care and good relationships, pupils are given the confidence to flourish. Overall standards in English and mathematics are broadly average by the time pupils leave in Year 6. Given their starting points, pupils make good progress, particularly in English and science, and overall achievement is good. Standards in science have been consistently good in recent years and, while results in national tests in English have varied, measures taken to improve the quality of writing have been particularly successful. In 2007, results improved in English, but slipped in mathematics. Pupils lack confidence in applying their numeracy skills in different contexts, and in lessons, expectations are not always high enough. While challenging targets were met in English, results were just below targets in mathematics. Pupils with learning difficulties make good progress. Good progress is the result of good teaching which encourages good attitudes and purposeful learning. Pupils enjoy the lessons and like their teachers. 'They like a good joke' is how one pupil described the warm relationships and sense of fun engendered in lessons. Classrooms are welcoming environments and learning is well managed. Instructions and explanations are clear and questions are used effectively to probe for understanding. Well-targeted support from teaching assistants ensures pupils with learning difficulties are included and encouraged to succeed. Both through the marking and feedback in lessons, pupils are given encouragement, as well as guidance on how to improve. Some variability remains in the quality of teaching, particularly in the use of assessment to plan work which challenges each and every pupil at their own level. The good curriculum is well planned and the recent re-structuring of classes means that it meets the needs of all pupils more securely. While there is a strong focus on basic skills in literacy and numeracy, the school also ensures pupils have good access to all subjects. French, physical education and whole-class instrumental music are taught by specialist teachers. The curriculum is enriched by a range of visits and visitors, and residential visits in particular make a significant contribution to pupils' personal development. An extensive range of extra-curricular clubs and activities adds much to the overall provision. The school's values are reflected in the pupils' good personal development, a strength of the school. Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. They particularly enjoy the opportunities the school provides for music; the samba and ukulele lessons are especially popular. In lessons, pupils are keen to please and try hard, responding well to motivational strategies such as table and house points. Their behaviour is thoughtful and considerate. Pupils have a very good understanding of healthy lifestyles, reflected in the school's recent award of both Healthy School status and Activemark. They feel safe in school and know that bullying is taken seriously and will be sorted out. The school council carried out important work in conjunction with Anti-Bullying Week, and has put forward ideas on environmental issues and playground equipment. Pupils know their views are listened to. These responsible attitudes help prepare pupils successfully for their future. Above all, pupils enjoy coming to school, which is reflected in their above-average attendance. The school pays careful attention to every child. Indeed, good care, guidance and support are at the root of all that the school does. Pupils' health, safety and welfare, including child protection and safeguarding, are a high priority. The care and support of vulnerable pupils, including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, are especially good. Academic guidance is good and increasingly effective as teachers use assessment data to track pupils' progress, raise expectations and set challenging targets. A good start has been made with relatively new procedures, though more needs to be done to make this a feature of everyday practice. Meetings between the headteacher and class teachers to review each pupil's progress are being used well to ensure pupils are on track, and intervention strategies are programmed for pupils at risk of underachieving. The headteacher's determined leadership, ably supported by his deputy, has created a school whose values are widely shared. Leadership and management are good. The school is moving forward strongly as a result of a clear focus on improving both standards and teaching. The drive to improve standards of writing has been effective and better use of challenging targets is being used effectively to raise expectations. Staff are ambitious for further improvement, and in this they are well supported by the governing body, who provide committed support and challenge. Monitoring is ensuring accurate and realistic self-evaluation. The school improvement plan identifies sensible priorities, but lacks a clear focus on how these are to be achieved. There is a commitment to improve further, and the school has good capacity to do so. Parental support is strong. They are particularly pleased with the welcoming environment, the approachability of staff and enthusiasm with which their children come to school. Typical of parental comments made to the inspector was: 'We have been delighted with the school for our children… and have nothing but praise for a wonderful school.'
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise expectations and standards in mathematics through applying numeracy skills in different contexts.
- Use assessment more consistently to plan work which challenges individual pupils at their own level.