The inspection was carried out by two Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This average sized primary school is in Wythenshawe, on the outskirts of Manchester, and is situated in an area of socio-economic disadvantage. Most pupils are from White British backgrounds with a small number from other ethnic heritages. A very small proportion do not have English as their first language. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is above average. Attainment on entry to the Nursery is below expected levels. A new headteacher was appointed to the school in September 2006.The school holds the Healthy Schools award (Gold), the Active Schools award and the Eco Schools award (Bronze).
Overall effectiveness of the school
Peel Hall Primary School provides a good education and gives good value for money. Parents strongly agree that their children are well cared for and enabled to make good progress. The new headteacher has created a strong team and has drawn staff and governors together with a strong sense of purpose. Leadership, management and governance are good. The school has made a good start on evaluating the quality of its work but has underestimated some aspects. This is because it recognises there is more to do. The school has improved well since the last inspection and has good capacity to improve further.
Pupils achieve well. Standards are broadly average. This is because pupils are well taught, lessons are interesting and enjoyable, expectations are high and pupils are given good guidance and support and clear learning targets. Standards are lower in mathematics than in English and science and this has been the case for two years. The school has identified, and inspectors agree, that achievement in mathematics is an issue. Pupils' ability to use and apply what they know to solve mathematical problems is insufficiently developed. Further work remains to be done to raise pupils' achievement. Standards in writing have risen considerably throughout the school over the last year and it is clear from pupils' work that they are achieving well. The school's well organised systems for identifying pupils' progress ensure that all pupils, including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, vulnerable pupils and those learning English as an additional language, make good progress.
Good provision in the Foundation Stage gets children off to a good start because they are encouraged to be adventurous learners and a good range of stimulating activities is provided for them. However, the Nursery and Reception classes are organised separately and this limits the access of the children in Reception to the outdoor area and also limits sharing learning resources indoors. The school has not as yet addressed bridging the gap between the Foundation Stage and Year 1 so that the small number of pupils who are not ready for more formal learning can continue to access a curriculum more suited to their needs. Consequently, those pupils make slower progress during Key Stage 1.
The interesting curriculum, enhanced by information and communication technology (ICT) and by a good range of extra-curricular activities, fosters pupils' needs and interests well. Pupils have a good awareness of the importance of healthy and safe lifestyles and also a well developed sense of personal responsibility, and these factors prepare them well for the future.The effective care and guidance provided by the school takes into account the pupils' emotional development as well as their learning needs. Pupils' personal development is good. It is tracked as carefully as their progress in learning. High priority is given to providing opportunities for them to have a voice in decision making and to gain self-confidence. The school uses the information it gathers to target support and interventions accurately. This is having a positive impact on raising standards of attainment in the school, through the provision of a supportive and caring school environment.
What the school should do to improve further
- Develop strategies to help pupils to use and apply what they have learned in mathematics when solving mathematical problems.
- Develop closer organisational links between Nursery and Reception classes in order to make the children's Foundation Stage experience even richer by sharing resources and by improving the access of the children in the Reception class to the outdoor learning area.
- Develop closer links between Foundation Stage and Year 1 in order to meet the needs of pupils who are not ready to start more formal learning.
Achievement and standards
Achievement is good for all groups of pupils, including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. From a below average starting point in Nursery, pupils go on to achieve broadly average standards by the end of Year 6. Standards were broadly average in English and science in national tests in 2006 and slightly below average in mathematics. Standards have been lower in mathematics than in the other two subjects for two years. The school has begun to address this issue, but further work remains to be done. Standards are approaching the national average at the end of Year 2, with an increasing number of pupils reaching the higher levels in writing this year as well as in reading and mathematics. Although the trend in the school's results shows a decline from 2005 levels in 2006, the school is likely to meet challenging targets this year and this represents good progress and a return to previous higher standards.
Personal development and well-being
Personal development, including spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, is good. Pupils' good understanding of social and moral issues is shown in their good behaviour and politeness and in their care for each other. Good support is given to the few pupils who display challenging behaviour or who have emotional difficulties, and this enables them to be fully included in school. Pupils enjoy their lessons and this is reflected in their attendance, which is in line with national averages. The implementation of a strict code of procedures has brought about improved punctuality, so that pupils do not miss out on important learning at the start of the day. Pupils have a good awareness of personal safety and healthy and fit lifestyles; they eat healthily and have good opportunities for physical exercise while in school. Pupils make a good contribution to the school community, acting as monitors and as active fund-raisers for charity. The school councils and class councils enable pupils to influence decision making. They take on responsibility in many ways, for instance as buddies to younger children and as play leaders. They learn to work both independently and as a team and this, in addition to their satisfactory grounding in basic skills, prepares them well for the future.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The quality of teaching and learning across the school is good. Good relationships between adults and pupils mean that pupils are secure and relaxed in school. Lesson content is relevant and interesting. As a result of this, pupils pay attention in lessons and work hard towards their targets. Planning caters well for the needs of different groups of learners and is now focusing more sharply on improving the achievement of all groups in mathematics. Pupils are given clear learning objectives in lessons and therefore have a good understanding of the purposes of their work, although occasionally teachers' instructions are not clear, leaving pupils in some doubt about what to do next. Teachers make good use of time and the pace of learning is lively. There are high expectations for pupils to present their work neatly. Teaching assistants are deployed well to help lower-attaining pupils and those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to make good progress in English and mathematics. Teachers use ICT and interactive whiteboards well in lessons to add interest. Good marking helps pupils to understand how well they are doing and what they need to do to improve.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is good, with significant strengths in making links between subjects and in the range of extra-curricular activities offered. There is a strong emphasis on developing basic skills, especially writing, through other subjects. ICT is used well across subjects and effective provision is made for pupils to develop ICT skills. Pupils learn Spanish in Key Stage 2 and this enhances their enjoyment in learning. The curriculum is planned well to include extension and challenge for the most able pupils. The Foundation Stage curriculum is good, but the separate organisation of the teaching areas means that access to all resources, including the outdoor area, is limited in Reception and this restricts curriculum planning. Curriculum links between the Reception class and Year 1 are not sufficiently developed to provide as well as possible for the needs of those children who start their education from a very low baseline and are not ready for formal learning on entry to Key Stage 1. Visits and visitors to schools and special topic weeks and events enhance learning, and residential opportunities also provide enrichment. Specialist coaches and after-school clubs supplement physical education lessons and promote active lifestyles.
Care, guidance and support
The school cares for its pupils well. Child protection procedures are in place, vulnerable pupils are identified and supported well and the school has satisfactory links with outside agencies. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are provided with well designed individual education plans and these are regularly reviewed. The progress of these pupils is tracked carefully and the provision for them is monitored regularly. This good care enables them to make good progress. The school gives good support to parents, helping them to play an active part in their children's learning. Views such as 'I have found the school to be very approachable and understanding' are typical of parents' comments. Appropriate health and safety, child protection and safeguarding procedures are in place. Pupils are guided well to make progress. They understand their learning targets and the targets are reviewed and updated regularly; pupils take their targets seriously and work hard to achieve them. Pupils' academic and personal progress is tracked regularly and the information this gives is taken into account when teachers plan the curriculum and when additional support is allocated.
Leadership and management
The newly appointed headteacher has made a good start by drawing governors and staff at all levels into the self-evaluation process. Monitoring and evaluation of teaching and learning are thorough and are carried out regularly and systematically, with subject leaders playing an active role. The school improvement plan is well structured, with a clear focus on all areas of the school's work and how these contribute to the pupils' personal development and progress. However, it does not refer closely enough to the school's end of key stage targets. Resources are managed well. The governing body is supportive and is able to offer constructive advice to the school, with governors becoming more closely involved with the school's work on a regular basis. The newly created management structure provides for sharing good practice and improved delegation of responsibilities. There is a good range of expertise among the school's middle managers and they are developing their new roles well. This has been evidenced this year in the improvements that have been achieved in writing, as a result of a well planned whole-school initiative.