The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of schools and two Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Parish is larger than most primary schools. The percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals is below average. The pupils come from a wide range of minority ethnic backgrounds, although fewer than average are at the early stages of learning English. A smaller than average proportion of pupils has learning needs and/or disabilities. The school has achieved the Artsmark Gold, Eco silver, Healthy Schools, Basic Skills Quality Mark and Investors in People awards.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Parish is a good school with a lovely atmosphere which is well matched to its wonderful Grade 11 listed building and extensive grounds. Pupils, parents, governors and staff all comment very warmly about the quality of relationships and the welcoming atmosphere of the school. The achievement of awards such as Artsmark Gold, Eco Silver, Healthy Schools and Basic Skills Quality Mark is testament to their determination to ensure that pupils become good 'all rounders'.
Pupils make good academic progress. Children enter school with skills that are in line with those expected for four year olds. Progress is steady in Reception and speeds up in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 so that by the time pupils leave they achieve standards which are consistently above national averages in English and science and average but improving in mathematics. A fall in standards at Key Stage 1 has been arrested this year and there has been a slight rise in those achieving the higher levels. The school rightly believes that they can improve standards still further, particularly in the Foundation stage and at the higher levels in both Key Stages 1 and 2. Assessment information is well used to identify individuals, groups or subjects where achievement could be better and the school is sharpening its focus on raising standards. Teaching assistants have been well trained to enhance classroom and small group support: 'catch up' programmes, booster clubs and sessions for more able mathematicians are leading to improvements in pupils' attainment and progress.
A key factor in the good achievement is the high priority placed on ensuring that all pupils feel safe, well cared for and valued. As a result, personal development and well being is good with outstanding features. The Christian ethos of the school is a strong feature and pupils of all ages show respect, kindness and courtesy towards others. Relationships and behaviour in and out of lessons are excellent. Year 6 pupils told us they are confident to move on to secondary school because taking part in the wide range of activities on offer has helped them gain confidence academically and socially. Pupils have an excellent understanding of how to keep fit and healthy. They are given good guidance and support, are sure that their concerns will be dealt with quickly and understand clearly what they need to do to improve.
Teaching and learning are good. All staff work hard to provide interesting, well structured lessons. Good team work with teaching assistants ensures that activities are matched to different abilities although sometimes there is not enough challenge to fully stretch the pupils' learning. Pupils enjoy their lessons because they are kept very involved and have good opportunities to develop their ideas through paired and small group discussion. The curriculum is good with particular strengths in music and the expressive arts, information, communication and technology (ICT) and physical education.
Leadership and management are good. The headteacher has been in post for just under a year and in that time has valued and built on the strengths of the school and sharpened the focus on those aspects where further improvements can be made. He has involved the whole school community, supported and enabled other school leaders to carry out their responsibilities well and clarified the direction and vision. As a result everyone connected with the school has a shared commitment to ensuring continued improvement. Governors provide good support and are developing their role as critical friends. The main areas identified for improvement at the last inspection have been successfully addressed and the clarity of direction and commitment to sustaining success and improving still further mean that the school has good capacity to improve.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage Grade: 3
Provision in the Foundation stage is satisfactory. When they arrive in Reception most children are achieving in line with national expectations. They move on with their learning at a satisfactory pace so that by the start of Year 1 most are working within the early learning goals and attaining at average levels. There are valuable links with parents and other early years' providers and these help the children to settle quickly into the Reception classes when they arrive in September and January. They soon make good friends, treat each other and adults with respect and become confident, happy learners. They take their varied responsibilities very seriously indeed and carry them out well. The teachers are new to the school this year and are enthusiastic and eager to improve the provision. There is good team work with teaching assistants and good procedures in place to ensure that care and welfare have a high priority. Teachers' planning and assessment take account of children's individual needs and all the areas of learning are adequately covered. The range of activities is somewhat restricted which limits opportunities for children to choose their own activities, develop independent learning skills or make leaps in their learning. There is currently no permanent leader of the Foundation stage and although it is being managed efficiently there is no overall plan in place to target the most needed improvements.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise expectations of what pupils can achieve and ensure there is sufficient challenge in lessons for all pupils, especially the more able.
- Improve the provision in the Foundation stage so that it better meets the needs of all learners.
Achievement and standards
Achievement is good and by the time pupils leave the school they attain standards which are consistently above average in English and science and average in mathematics. All groups of pupils make similar good progress and effective systems such as individual support, 'catch up' and booster clubs are in place to make sure that no pupils fall behind. When the current Reception pupils start Year 1 the majority will be working within the early learning goals. In 2006, assessments show that attainment at the beginning of Year 1 was below average which resulted in a lot of catching up needed during Key Stage 1. By the end of Year 2 attainment is broadly average. Progress continues to speed up throughout Key Stage 2 and school tracking shows that the majority of pupils are meeting their challenging targets. The school is well aware that there is further scope to raise standards, particularly at the higher levels. The work in pupils' books and in lessons indicates that standards are rising due to careful use of assessment information, the use of additional well trained support staff, improvements in planning and improved resources for reading. There is good evidence that pupils achieve very well in subjects such as music, art, physical education and information, communication and technology.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' personal development and well-being are good with some outstanding features. They enjoy school, mix well, show respect for each other and very positive relationships are a striking feature of the school. One pupil said, 'It's one of the best schools with loads of nice people.' Pupils' behaviour in lessons and around the school is exemplary. They show a real desire to learn so they work with enthusiasm and always try to do their best. The relatively high number of families who take holidays in term time means that some children miss important learning time and as a result attendance is just satisfactory.
Pupils have an excellent understanding of healthy eating and life style, take part enthusiastically in games and extra curricular activities and proudly wear their walk to school badges. Pupils enthusiastically participate in a wide variety of fundraising and community activities. They welcome responsibilities and carry out duties as monitors, School Council representatives or Eco Team members with pride and efficiency. A strong Christian ethos is at the heart of pupils' good spiritual, social and moral development.. Pupils have a good understanding of Christianity and other faiths. Cultural development is satisfactory although understanding of the diversity of cultures within the school is less well developed. The strengths in pupils' personal development and well-being combined with academic skills equip them well for the future.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning are good. Teachers have good subject knowledge and lessons are well planned, interesting and lively. As a result pupils are keen to learn, relationships are good and behaviour in lessons is outstanding. Opportunities for speaking and listening through talking partners and group work are used very effectively in developing pupils' ideas and enabling them to be confident and articulate. In an outstanding Year 2 lesson pupils co-operated very well in a drama, literacy and ICT lesson, role playing, explaining and photographing scenes from their story. In mathematics lessons pupils are able to explain and demonstrate their good understanding of various problem solving strategies. Lessons are well structured and teachers skilfully use different activities to make sure all pupils are actively involved throughout. Teaching assistants provide good support particularly for pupils who need extra support or guidance. Pupils commented that, 'teachers are very patient and explain work if we do not understand it the first time.' Pupils are proud of their efforts, handwriting is good and work presented very well. Teachers know their pupils well and plan lessons to meet the needs of different ability groups. However, sometimes, challenging extension tasks for more able pupils are given too late in the lesson and the work is left uncompleted. In some lessons, the pace is rather leisurely and pupils do not achieve as much as they should in the time available.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is good throughout Key Stages 1 and 2. It is well balanced so that provision across all subjects is good and the needs of all pupils, including those with additional learning needs, are met well. Good planning and provision for personal, social and health education ensures that pupils respect and care for each other and understand the importance of fitness and well-being. Music provision is very strong and opportunities to play in the orchestra, sing in the choirs and perform add to achievement and the excitement of learning. Provision for ICT is also good resulting in pupils achieving a high level of knowledge and skill when using computers. A very high number of pupils thoroughly enjoy the wide range of clubs and after school activities. A particular strength is the provision for sport and physical activities. Visits and visitors, including artists, authors, scientists and musicians further enrich the curriculum and increase interest and enjoyment. Some good links are made between subjects and this is an area the school intends to develop further. There is a strong focus on equipping pupils with the skills needed to cope with the next stage of education. As one parent commented 'I also have an older child who attended Parish, and the excellent behaviour and participation of Parish children is often commented on at his secondary school.'
Care, guidance and support
Care guidance and support are good. Staff know pupils very well and assign a high priority to their care. Parents are rightly confident that their children are happy and secure. Procedures for child protection and all aspects of health and safety are rigorous and well managed. This is a significant improvement since the last inspection. Induction of new pupils is sensitively and efficiently organised, their needs are assessed well and effective support is put in place for those who need it. Good systems are in place to support the transition to secondary schools. The school also makes very good use of a range of agencies to provide additional support and expertise. Pupils with learning difficulties or disabilities have clear education plans with achievable, regularly monitored objectives. Pupils work is well marked, especially in English, and so they know how well they are doing and how to improve their work. Improvements in marking and the increased involvement of pupils in evaluating their learning are recent and are not fully embedded across all classes or subjects.
Leadership and management
Leadership and management are good and have resulted in a strong ethos within which pupils develop well personally and academically. A governor aptly remarked that, 'the new head teacher has embraced what was good in the school and is now providing challenge where it is needed and moving the school on'. The headteacher has effectively motivated the whole school community to sharpen the focus on attaining higher standards. The leadership team are enthusiastic, receive good support and carry out their responsibilities well. The current year has seen a change of headteacher, other major staffing changes, particularly in the Foundation stage, and a restructuring of senior leadership roles and responsibilities. The new system will be fully in place in the next academic year and there is potential for senior leaders to have even more impact on whole school evaluation and improvement. Monitoring of performance is rigorous, involves leaders at all levels and employs a good range of strategies such as demonstration lessons, focused observations and training to ensure improvement. Analysis of performance information and data is used effectively to set targets for improvement. For example, the school accurately identified as a priority to raise standards particularly in Years 1 and 2, and has implemented strategies which are beginning to show success. The school has a good understanding of its strengths and weaknesses and improvement planning is practical and well focused on the impact of actions on pupils' achievement. The links between improvement strategies and pupil progress are not always sharply focused enough to enable the school to measure the impact of different activities. Governors provide good support and improved systems for involving governors are increasing their understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the school.