The inspection was carried out by two Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Nailsworth CE Primary School is smaller than average and has a smaller proportion than usual of pupils entitled to free school meals. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties is below average and no pupils have disabilities. Almost all pupils are of White British origin and none are at an early stage of learning English. The headteacher was appointed just over two years ago.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Nailsworth Church of England Primary School provides a good education and has a number of outstanding features. Parents and pupils are extremely happy with the school and are eloquent in their praise of the improvements brought about since the appointment of the current headteacher. One parent commented, 'This is a fantastic school that seems to be continually improving. The passion and enthusiasm of the head seems almost infectious.'
The headteacher provides outstanding leadership. He has introduced significant reforms, including very rigorous self-evaluation. This ensures that the school works consistently to improve pupils' learning. Staff share his vision and middle managers are becoming increasingly involved in helping to lead the school. Governance is outstanding. Governors know the school inside out and both support and hold it to account, as required. Systematic changes to the school are relatively recent and their full effect has yet to be felt.
By the time pupils leave school, their standards are above average and they have achieved well. In the past there have been some variations in the rates of progress in different year groups and with more able pupils achieving less well than they might. Recent improvements to teaching have begun to successfully address these issues, boosting the progress and standards of all pupils and the school now recognises that there is scope for more able pupils to do even better.
The curriculum is excellent. It is rich and varied and provides many splendid opportunities in the arts, sport and extra-curricular activities. Teaching and learning are good. Classrooms have a positive, dynamic atmosphere where adults and pupils alike collaborate enthusiastically to ensure good progress. Lessons are well-planned and pacy. A lack of consistency in the quality of marking of pupils' work, together with a lack of personal targets, means that pupils do not always have a sufficient understanding of the standards of their work and how they could improve.
Pupils' behaviour is outstanding and this makes a significant contribution both to their learning and their excellent personal development. Pupils love their school, have very few criticisms and have an exceptionally good understanding of how to stay healthy and safe. The school provides high quality care for pupils, and those with learning difficulties receive extremely effective support.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Children start school with the expected skills for their age. Home visits enable them to settle in quickly and also help the school to plan to meet all children's personal and educational needs. Thorough assessment enables work to be planned at the right level and promotes good progress although some of the most able do not reach the high levels that they should. Achievement is good and by the time they leave the Reception class, almost all children's standards meet national expectations and some exceed them. Children are independent learners, for example they work well both alone and together in their daily phonics lesson. They are happy and safe in school and are developing a good understanding of how to keep healthy. The learning environment has recently been extended, with a stimulating outdoor area that promotes their physical development well.
What the school should do to improve further
- Ensure that arrangements for marking and target setting give pupils a clear understanding of the standards of their work and how they could improve them.
- Ensure that more able pupils are consistently challenged to make better progress.
Achievement and standards
Children start school with skills that are similar to those found nationally. By the time they leave Year 6, their standards are above average. The achievement of pupils across the school, including those with learning difficulties, is good.
In the Foundation Stage, children develop their skills as good learners and this is good preparation for the rest of their time in school. They achieve well and start Year 1 with above expected standards, but relatively few gain higher levels of attainment.
Until recently, pupils in Key Stage 1 made satisfactory progress and 2007 results in national assessments were broadly average. The proportion of pupils gaining the highest level in writing and reading has been below average. The school has taken rigorous action to address these concerns and this is having a significant effect. Consequently standards in Year 2 are now above average in all areas and pupils' achievement overall is good. Pupils continue to make good progress in Key Stage 2, but across the school, more able pupils are not always sufficiently challenged to make the progress of which they are capable.
Personal development and well-being
Strong relationships across the whole school community help pupils to become happy and confident learners. Pupils have exceedingly positive attitudes to everything they do and describe their school as, 'the best'. Their behaviour is outstanding and contributes significantly to the happy atmosphere. Pupils learn and play together very well and feel free from bullying. They know how to stay safe and what to do if they feel at risk. Attendance is above average.
Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding. They are reflective, caring individuals and value each other. Pupils work extremely well together and have positive attitudes to others from different cultural backgrounds. They have an excellent understanding of what makes a healthy and balanced diet and the importance of exercise. Older pupils show a lot of responsibility by organising the school's 'wake and shake' early morning exercise programme, which is greatly enjoyed by children, parents and staff. These pupils also lead the 'Huff 'n' Puff' games club for younger children. Pupils contribute very effectively to their community, participating enthusiastically in the school council. They are extremely well prepared for the future through their excellent personal skills and their good progress in basic skills, particularly information and communication technology (ICT).
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching has numerous strengths and maintains a strong focus on promoting good learning and achievement. Pupils report that they enjoy lessons and the school's very effective monitoring ensures an improving consistency and quality in the way lessons are taught.
Lessons are very well planned and prepared. This ensures that there is a mixture of interesting activities which really engages the pupils in their learning. Teachers have high expectations of pupils' behaviour. Pupils strive to meet these and concentrate very well, moving from task to task with little fuss. The pace of learning is rapid. Lessons are purposeful and pupils' attitudes and behaviour are often exemplary. Pupils with additional learning needs are very well catered for. Assessment data is used well to ensure that these pupils are identified early and they receive powerful support from teaching assistants, who are highly valued by the school.
Variations in achievement are partially due to two areas where teaching is less effective. Firstly, some lessons do not provide enough challenge for more able pupils. However, the school is operating small extraction groups in every year for Gifted and Talented pupils, and the impact of these is yet to be seen. This weakness is still reflected in a smaller proportion of pupils than might be expected reaching the highest level at the end of Key Stage 1. Secondly, marking of work is inconsistent and does not regularly inform pupils of their standards and the next steps in their learning.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum provides excellent opportunities for all pupils to progress and develop well. The planning of pupils' work and activities is thorough and includes many chances for pupils to hone their skills in literacy, numeracy and ICT in different subjects. Planning for continuity of learning, especially when pupils start at school or leave for secondary education, is thorough and effective. All pupils in Years 1 to 6 benefit from French lessons. The curriculum provides many admirable opportunities for pupils in the arts and sport. The way pupils are prepared for their future economic well-being is exceptional. The school offers particularly good opportunities for them to develop an understanding of how to spend money wisely, for example by participating in a school bank.
The school has an impressive number of links with outside organisations within the local community, many of which regularly visit the school to enliven pupils' learning experiences. Pupils are very appreciative of the wide range of after-school and other activities and participate in large numbers.
Care, guidance and support
The school shows a strong commitment to caring for pupils, raising their self-esteem and promoting their health and safety. This has a tremendous impact on pupils' personal development and well-being. There are good, supportive relationships with parents who value their partnership with the school, particularly the exceptional support given to pupils with learning difficulties. Statutory arrangements for the safeguarding of children and child protection are thorough.
Pupils regularly receive good informal academic guidance from their teachers and most are aware of their targets in English and mathematics. These targets are set for the different ability groups within the class, and may lack the precision required to identify clearly, for each individual, the next steps in learning. Targets are reviewed termly, however this is not often enough to promote the best possible progress.
Leadership and management
The leadership of the school is successfully focusing on raising standards and promoting the personal development, equality of opportunity and well-being of all learners. The leadership of the headteacher is outstanding. His clear vision is complemented by an outstanding governing body, which both challenges and supports him most effectively. Together, they have developed an excellent understanding of the school's strengths and weaknesses. Parents support the school very strongly and the vast majority have mostly positive views about its work.
The school's self-evaluation has correctly identified key priorities for the future, including the further accountability and empowerment of subject leaders. This aims to distribute leadership further throughout the school. The strengths and weaknesses of the quality of teaching have been identified through the headteacher's excellent, insightful evaluations. These are effectively being used to improve the quality of teaching and learning still further. A good self-evaluation framework provides a tight structure to monitoring procedures and maintains a strong focus on outcomes for pupils. The school gives good value for money. There has been good progress since the previous inspection and these excellent monitoring systems ensure that the school's capacity for further improvement is also good.