School etc

Peterswood Infant School and Nursery Closed - result of amalgamation Dec. 31, 2010

see new Longwood Primary School

Peterswood Infant School and Nursery
Paringdon Road

phone: 01279 *** ***

headteacher: Ms P Tate

school holidays: via Essex council

Primary — Community School

Education phase
Establishment type
Community School
Establishment #
Close date
Dec. 31, 2010
Reason closed
Result of Amalgamation
OSGB coordinates
Easting: 544958, Northing: 207672
GPS coordinates
Latitude: 51.749, Longitude: 0.098457
Accepting pupils
3—7 years old
Ofsted last inspection
May 13, 2009
Region › Const. › Ward
East of England › Harlow › Staple Tye
Urban > 10k - less sparse

Peterswood Infant School and Nursery

Inspection Report

Unique Reference Number115049
Local AuthorityEssex
Inspection number326119
Inspection dates13–14 May 2009
Reporting inspectorSue Hall

This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.
The registered childcare, managed by the governing body, was inspected under section 49 of the Childcare Act 2006.

Type of schoolInfant
School categoryCommunity
Age range of pupils3–7
Gender of pupilsMixed
Number on roll
School (total)126
Government funded early education
provision for children aged 3 to the end
of the EYFS
Childcare provision for children
aged 0 to 3 years
Appropriate authorityThe governing body
ChairMr Stephen Slater
HeadteacherMrs Marianne Fuller
Date of previous school inspection 6 June 2006
Date of previous funded early education
Not previously inspected
Date of previous childcare inspection Not previously inspected
School addressParingdon Road
Essex CM18 7RQ
Telephone number01279 431520
Fax number01279 453373

Age group3–7
Inspection dates13–14 May 2009
Inspection number326119

Inspection report Peterswood Infant School and Nursery, 13–14 May 2009

© Crown copyright 2009



The inspection was carried out by an additional inspector.

Description of the school

This is a smaller than average size infant school in Harlow close to the Essex boundary with outer London. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is more than twice the national average. The number from minority ethnic groups is above average. Ten per cent of pupils are from settled traveller families. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, including those with a statement of special educational needs, is considerably higher than average. The majority of these pupils have speech and language or emotional and behavioural difficulties. An interim headteacher has been in the school for less than a month while the school goes through a consultation process regarding possible amalgamation. There is provision for children in the Early Years Foundation Stage in the Nursery and Reception classes.

Key for inspection grades

Grade 1Outstanding
Grade 2Good
Grade 3Satisfactory
Grade 4Inadequate

Overall effectiveness of the school

Grade: 3

This is a school that provides a satisfactory quality of education. The parents who responded to the inspection questionnaire are pleased with the quality of care provided. Nevertheless, some rightly have concerns linked to the many recent and past staffing changes. However, with a more stable staffing situation there have been several recent improvements and the school now has the capacity to continue to improve.

Children enter the Nursery with skills that are well below expectations for their age in all areas of learning but particularly in communication, language and literacy which presents many challenges. Across the school a large number of pupils have learning difficulties and/or disabilities. For instance, in Year 2 almost half the pupils are on the special educational needs register. Over recent years progress has been patchy and there are gaps in what pupils know, understand and can do which until very recently have affected their learning and personal development. However, with improvements in the quality of teaching and learning current progress is now largely satisfactory. Most pupils steadily build on the good progress they make in the Reception class and those of all abilities achieve satisfactorily overall. This helps pupils prepare satisfactorily for their future. Nevertheless, standards are well below average for the current Year 2 and are particularly low in writing.

The personal development of pupils is satisfactory. Parents say their children generally enjoy coming to school and most pupils agree. Behaviour is satisfactory overall. Many pupils behave appropriately, although some struggle to conform to expectations. Most have a satisfactory understanding of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle although this does not always result in them making healthy food choices. Pupils take on a reasonable range of responsibilities in the school and local community. Their understanding of how to keep themselves and others safe is satisfactory. High rates of absence have had an adverse affect on some pupils' progress but effective steps have been taken to improve attendance and levels are currently satisfactory.

The curriculum, teaching and learning are satisfactory. Staff have worked hard to provide a range of activities that capture pupils' interest. The school is involved in an intensive support programme which is beginning to have an impact and raise standards although more could still be expected of some pupils. The pastoral care of the pupils is satisfactory with some strengths, in particular the real warmth shown to pupils, created by caring support staff. However, assessment information is not used well enough by the school to provide challenging activities for all pupils or to set personal targets to help them make up lost ground quickly.

Leadership and management are satisfactory. The recently appointed interim headteacher has a strong grasp of provision and what needs to be improved although she has not been in post long enough to ensure that pupils achieve all they can. The main inspection judgements match those of the school's own self-evaluation. Staff and governors have a sound understanding of the school's effectiveness. However, the monitoring of the work of the school is not robust enough to help leaders in identifying areas for further improvement.

Effectiveness of the Early Years Foundation Stage

Grade: 3

Children enter the school with wide-ranging but generally very low level skills and several have learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Many are initially very quiet and lack confidence. The additional needs of those who struggle to communicate with others are quickly recognised and appropriate support is provided. The curriculum is satisfactory overall. The outdoor area shared by the adjoining Nursery and Reception groups is an excellent resource that is used for imaginative activities that stimulate imagination. Teaching and learning are satisfactory overall, as is the progress made: this is often better in Reception where progress is currently good. However, teachers do not always tailor the activities well enough to the needs of all children. For instance, the use of teaching time in the early morning sessions for pastoral support limits the development of basic skills. In some activities the children sit on the carpet for too long listening to others which adversely affects their interest levels and concentration. While there are numerous activities to promote mark-making and early writing, not enough help or specific guidance is given to children to improve their writing skills. The welfare of the children is promoted satisfactorily. Staff take the opportunity to talk to parents at the start and end of sessions. Leadership and management of the Early Years Foundation Stage are satisfactory. The team leader provides good teaching skills but has not had sufficient opportunity to monitor the quality of provision in the Nursery to address some planning issues and the match of activity to children's need.

What the school should do to improve further

  • Increase the rate of progress made by all pupils especially in their writing.
  • Extend the use of assessment information to inform planning and set both tasks and targets for pupils that are more challenging.
  • Monitor the work of the school more rigorously and clearly identify the areas for improvement.

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

Grade: 3

From low starting points, pupils now make satisfactory overall progress. Those currently in Year 2 have been particularly affected by numerous staffing changes and this patchy provision has led to very mixed progress. In recent years, standards in Year 2 have been significantly below national averages. Although they improved in 2008, particularly in reading, the school's own data shows that standards are set to fall significantly this year. Pupils' skills in reading, writing and mathematics are very mixed but generally well below average especially in writing. Assessment information indicates that pupils in Year 1 have slightly higher levels of ability. However, the majority of pupils have recently started to make better progress and assessment information indicates that this is now largely satisfactory. Pupils with multiple learning difficulties make considerable progress in their personal development and are therefore able to achieve satisfactorily. Pupils from traveller backgrounds and the small number speaking English as an additional language also make satisfactory progress which helps them prepare for their future economic well-being.

Personal development and well-being

Grade: 3

The large number of staff provide a happy environment so that pupils enjoy their time in school. Pupils particularly like the range of practical activities where they find things out for themselves. However, while most generally have positive attitudes they do not always try hard enough to produce good quality, neatly presented work. The school helps pupils to develop a satisfactory understanding of healthy lifestyles. For instance mid-day staff unobtrusively keep an eye on what children eat and encourage them to try new foods. If dietary concerns arise these are discussed with parents. However, there is much work to be done to establish healthy eating. There are plenty of opportunities for physical exercise and pupils benefit from shared use of the large field which has a positive impact on healthy lifestyles. Most pupils play well together, know how to keep safe and behave appropriately. There is little problem with bullying and pupils know there is always someone to talk to if they feel unhappy. There are some opportunities for pupils to make a positive contribution to the school and local community and there are clear plans to develop the role of the school council. The staff have worked very hard to improve attendance, particularly in reducing the proportion of pupils persistently absent from school. Overall attendance is now closer to the national average.

Quality of provision

Teaching and learning

Grade: 3

Parents have rightly been concerned about the long-term issues related to staffing absences and the arrangements to cover them because they have adversely affected the rate of pupils' progress. However, there is now a more stable staffing situation and most of the teaching observed during the inspection was satisfactory. Staff have good relationships with pupils and offer lots of encouragement which has a positive impact on learning. Experienced teaching assistants make a valuable contribution by supporting class teachers which ensures a good level of adult support. Staff work well together and there are clear routines and procedures, although there are inconsistencies in daily practices. Teachers' expectations of their pupils are still occasionally too low. The planning of activities does not always take sufficient account of how assessment information can be used to set suitable targets or organise activities to meet the learning needs of pupils of different abilities. Several pupils are very quiet and teachers do not always coax them to join in discussions well enough. Nevertheless, most pupils become more enthusiastic learners as they spend more time in school and grow in confidence.

Curriculum and other activities

Grade: 3

The staff have worked hard to improve curriculum planning and while there are strengths and weaknesses, this is satisfactory overall. Staff are skilled at providing lots of practical activities that motivate pupils to find things out. This was reflected in the many smiles and the buzz of excitement of pupils in Year 2 who had planned and made full sized go-karts in a parent workshop and were looking forward to testing these in the playground. The general areas around school and classrooms are bright and lively environments where pupils' work is well displayed to raise their interest and self-esteem. There have been many initiatives introduced to improve pupil learning such as 'The Big Write' project, but these are still at an early stage and not yet fully impacting on standards. The school has looked carefully at how to encourage pupils to attend and to involve parents in their children's learning. However, with recurring staffing changes these initiatives have not always reaped the anticipated reward.

Care, guidance and support

Grade: 3

The pastoral care of pupils is satisfactory and with some effective elements. Staff have warm and caring relationships with pupils as seen in the supportive touch on a shoulder and lots of smiles and encouragement provided for all. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are given high levels of individual and group support from skilled and experienced practitioners that enable them to grow in confidence. There are good links with a wide range of external agencies that support pupils' personal development. Procedures to safeguard pupils meet statutory requirements. The school has appropriate systems to check and track the progress pupils make. However, staff do not use such information consistently well to inform planning and set more challenging targets for pupils, or provide activities that challenge the average and higher attaining pupils. The school sets targets for individuals and groups and reports on whether these have been met. However, as targets are too low this does not do enough to promote better achievement. The marking of pupils work is inconsistent and there is not enough guidance for improving the presentation or content of their work.

Leadership and management

Grade: 3

The recently appointed interim headteacher has made an early, accurate assessment of the current quality of teaching and has a firm grasp on the effectiveness of provision. The deputy headteacher has served the school well in a myriad of roles, including effective teaching and cover for other responsibilities. This has had a stabilising influence during the recent staffing turbulence. The school works closely with different groups in the local community, including traveller families, which helps support satisfactory community cohesion. However, until very recently, there have been weaknesses in monitoring the work of the school. Evaluation had not been rigorous enough in identifying concerns and inconsistencies. Consequently, leaders and managers have had an inadequate basis for pursuing improvement. For instance, reports to governors are immensely detailed, but have largely highlighted strengths without pinpointing weaknesses well enough. Governors are well intentioned and supportive. They are working hard to develop their role as critical friends of the school by holding it to account more for the achievement of the pupils.

Any complaints about the inspection or the report should be made following the procedures set out in the guidance 'Complaining about inspections', which is available from Ofsted's website:

Annex A

Inspection judgements

Key to judgements: grade 1 is outstanding, grade 2 good, grade 3 satisfactory, and grade 4 inadequate.School Overall

Overall effectiveness

How effective,efficient and inclusive is the provision of education,integrated care and any extended services in meeting the needs of learners?3
Effective steps have been taken to promote improvement since the last inspectionYes
How well does the school work in partnership with others to promote learners' well-being?3
The capacity to make any necessary improvements3

Effectiveness of the Early Years Foundation Stage

How effective is the provision in meeting the needs of children in the EYFS?3
How well do children in the EYFS achieve?3
How good is the overall personal development and well-being of the children?3
How effectively are children in the EYFS helped to learn and develop?3
How effectively is the welfare of children in the EYFS promoted?3
How effectively is provision in the EYFS led and managed?3

Achievement and standards

How well do learners achieve?3
The standards¹ reached by learners4
How well learners make progress, taking account of any significant variations between groups of learners3
How well learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities make progress3

Personal development and well-being

How good are the overall personal development and well-being of the learners?3
The extent of learners' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development3
The extent to which learners adopt healthy lifestyles3
The extent to which learners adopt safe practices3
The extent to which learners enjoy their education3
The attendance of learners3
The behaviour of learners3
The extent to which learners make a positive contribution to the community3
How well learners develop workplace and other skills that will contribute to their future economic well-being3

The quality of provision

How effective are teaching and learning in meeting the full range of learners' needs?3
How well do the curriculum and other activities meet the range of needs and interests of learners?3
How well are learners cared for, guided and supported?3

Leadership and management

How effective are leadership and management in raising achievement and supporting all learners?3
How effectively leaders and managers at all levels set clear direction leading to improvement and promote high quality of care and education3
How effectively leaders and managers use challenging targets to raise standards4
The effectiveness of the school's self-evaluation3
How well equality of opportunity is promoted and discrimination eliminated3
How well does the school contribute to community cohesion?3
How effectively and efficiently resources, including staff, are deployed to achieve value for money3
The extent to which governors and other supervisory boards discharge their responsibilities3
Do procedures for safeguarding learners meet current government requirements?Yes
Does this school require special measures?No
Does this school require a notice to improve?No

1 Grade 1 - Exceptionally and consistently high; Grade 2 - Generally above average with none significantly below average; Grade 3 - Broadly average to below average; Grade 4 - Exceptionally low.

Annex B

Text from letter to pupils explaining the findings of the inspection

15 May 2009

Dear Children

Inspection of Peterswood Infant and Nursery School, CM18 7RQ

Thank you very much for looking after me when I visited your school recently. I enjoyed speaking to several of you and meeting you in lessons, at lunchtime, in assembly and when I spoke to a group of you.

These are some of the best things I found in your school.

  • Peterswood Infants is a happy place; most of you like coming to school and you usually behave well.
  • The staff are good at welcoming you all and giving you lots of extra help if you need it.
  • There are some interesting things for you to do and find out about.
  • The school is attractive and staff display your work really nicely to help you feel good about what you can do.

The inspection found that the school provides a satisfactory quality of education. I have asked the school leaders to:

  • help you make better progress especially in your writing
  • check that teachers use the information they get when they look at your work to match this to the things you do next
  • ensure that staff and the governors check what is happening in school more carefully so that they identify what the important things are to be improved.

To help your school to do better, please try to work hard all the time, eat healthily and make sure you come to school regularly and on time.

Yours sincerely

Sue Hall

Lead inspector

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