The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors.
Description of the school
Preston Grange is a smaller than average primary school and serves an area of social and economic disadvantage. Almost all pupils have a White British background and half are eligible to receive a free school meal. The proportion of pupils who join and leave the school after the Reception year is much higher than the national average. The proportion of pupils who have learning difficulties and/or disabilities is average. Just over half of all teachers are new to the school in the last two years. The school has achieved a number of awards including the Basic Skills Quality Mark; the Learning Excellence Award; ActiveMark and has recently been named in the top 100 most improved schools.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Grange is an outstanding school lying at the heart of the community and is popular with parents and pupils alike. Its mission statement, ‘Together we make the difference,’ reflects how the school’s staff work tirelessly along with other agencies to make sure that each pupil achieves as well as they can. Children enter the Reception class with skills that are well below expectations for their age. They make outstanding progress so that by the time they leave school in Year 6, pupils reach standards that are expected nationally and half exceed them. This progress is particularly rapid in English and in science. Much of this success is down to good teaching and the excellent guidance that pupils receive so that they know exactly what they need to do to improve their work. This is done through the setting of individual targets that are based on the most recent monitoring of their work by senior leaders. The results of this monitoring help teachers adapt lessons to meet the needs of individuals and groups within the class. Teachers receive high quality support and guidance from the deputy headteacher and other senior managers, and there is potential for the quality of teaching, good overall, to improve further still.
Pupils enjoy coming to school and they feel safe and free from harassment. Since the last inspection the school has improved health and safety procedures; these are sound. Pupils lead active and healthy lifestyles whilst they are at Grange, they select healthy options at meal times and even lunchboxes are free from sweets and chocolate. Almost half the school take advantage of the breakfast club, providing fruit juice and toast, which is funded by the school. Pupils are very well prepared for their future lives through the development of key skills such as collaboration and cooperation, as well as leaving school with high standards in ICT, literacy, science and numeracy. Pupils make a good contribution to the community. They take on jobs and roles within the school, for example, as trained play leaders and when representing the school in distributing gifts at harvest and in performances for the community.
Good provision in the Reception class enables children to get off to a flying start. Routines and strong relationships with staff are established quickly, which enables children to be confident, independent learners. The structured and purposeful role-play activities strengthen children’s speaking and listening, creative and communication skills.
Central to the school’s success is the dedication and commitment of the teaching staff, and the headteacher’s and deputy headteacher’s excellent leadership and management. There is an ethos of self-evaluation and a relentless drive that underpins year on year improvement. It is very clear how teachers have learnt positively from frequent and rigorous monitoring of their work. Governors have a basic understanding of their roles and responsibilities. This, together with the good improvement since the last inspection, show the school has a good capacity to improve further. The headteacher uses funding streams from outside the school well to improve provision for pupils, employing, for example, an extra teacher to keep class sizes low. Staff and other resources are used very effectively to ensure that pupils achieve as well as they can and, as a result, value for money is outstanding.
What the school should do to improve further
- Enable governors to be more fully involved in the strategic management of the school.
Achievement and standards
Standards are above average and pupils make outstanding progress from their point of entry to the school. They enter the Foundation Stage with skills lower than expected for their age, particularly in language, reading, writing and knowledge and understanding of the world. Whilst in the Reception class, children make rapid progress so that by the time they enter Year 1 most have achieved the early learning goals which are expected for their age with the exception of communication, language and literacy. As a result of continued good progress in Key Stage 1, pupils reach standards in reading, writing and mathematics that are broadly in line with national averages, although fewer pupils reach the highest levels. Standards at Key Stage 2 for both boys and girls are above the national average. Moreover, half of the year group in 2006 reached the higher Level 5 in English, mathematics and science. Standards are similarly high in other subjects such as art, history and information and communication technology (ICT).
Personal development and well-being
Throughout their time at Grange, pupils develop excellent personal skills and attributes. This comes from outstanding moral and social and good spiritual and cultural understanding. Pupils take up opportunities to reflect and to express their thoughts; for example, in work about friends they expressed their feelings about what friends mean to them and what, in life, is really important to them. Pupils learn to respect differences between each other and show concern and compassion for the welfare of others. They raise funds for local and national charities; for example, they raised over £300 for a local baby unit and are keen to take care of the school environment by planting trees and clearing litter. This results in pupils' exemplary behaviour. Right from the start of their time at school, pupils are guided to behave well in a variety of situations and, as a result, the use of formal sanctions is rare.
Attendance is good and the school does all it can to encourage pupils to come to school regularly, including, on occasion collecting them in person from their homes. Teachers, through the recently formed school council, ask for pupils' views about whole-school matters. Through this, pupils know that they can influence decisions made on a range of issues including the redecoration of the classrooms and toilets.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The quality of teaching and learning is good. Typically, teachers give pupils precise learning objectives, short explanations and prepare work in most subjects that is very well matched to their different levels of understanding and knowledge. A few tasks are not consistently challenging, inspiring or related to pupils’ interests. The leadership team are aware of this and are tackling the issues. Resources are used well, such as ICT and small individual whiteboards to ensure pupils are active in lessons. Teachers have high expectations and routinely ask pupils to improve their work before presenting it as finished. They use open questioning well to extend and develop pupils’ understanding. A key feature of lessons across the curriculum is the development of key vocabulary, and the insistence on accurate spelling and neat handwriting. In the Reception/Year 1 class for example, children were learning how to use words such as ‘fleecy’ and ‘transparent’ to describe and sort different materials. Teaching assistants provide effective and valuable support to pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Work is marked thoroughly and teachers' comments are positive, recognising effort and achievement. Pupils are not always involved in the assessment of their own progress. Assessment is used well to plan and prepare lessons which build on pupils’ prior experiences and skills.
Curriculum and other activities
The good range of experiences in and out of lessons is a strong factor in pupils’ academic and personal progress. Recent changes to increase the focus on the development of skills, particularly in the foundation subjects such as history and design and technology has strengthened the quality of the curriculum further. The school is working towards providing the optimum of two hours physical education each week. They make good use of a local further education college; staff and students come to the school and provide extra sport coaching sessions for pupils. Visits are well planned to enrich and enhance what is taught in class, such as visits to Skipton castle, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the annual residential trip. These trips along with visitors to the school like the storyteller, the fire and nursing services, and an expert on racism provide beneficial ways for children to learn through first hand experience. As yet, there is limited opportunity for pupils to learn a modern foreign language or to play tuned musical instruments.
A good range of extra-curricular activities is provided for pupils, including those in Key Stage 1, although the proportion of pupils making use of the clubs is relatively low.
A similar emphasis on learning through doing underlies the curriculum in Reception year. At present, the curriculum is limited by a lack of outdoor access but teachers counteract this by making use of an indoor slide and the hall to develop pupils’ physical skills.
Care, guidance and support
The effect of having a large number of pupils joining and leaving the school other than in the Reception class is minimised. This is because teachers work hard to ensure that pupils are welcomed warmly and their progression from term to term is tracked carefully. Pupils have clear targets in English and in mathematics which they know and talk about. This means that they know exactly what they need to do to improve their work. Teachers measure pupils’ success in meeting their previous targets and set new ones which are based on the scrutiny of pupils’ work in all subjects. This enables teachers to ensure that children are building on their prior learning.
Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities make outstanding progress. They are supported very well by able teaching assistants who measure and report on pupils’ progress weekly. This information is fed back to teachers who amend their lesson plans accordingly. This leads to carefully selected support programmes being introduced that match the specific needs of individual pupils.
Induction procedures for children coming to the school in Reception are outstanding. Children due to start in September attend the school for an afternoon a week during the summer term to become accustomed to the staff and the building. This means that the Reception teacher has a clear idea about the strengths of individual children before they start at the school. Similar procedures to make the transition between different key stages are strong and this ensures that pupils maintain their good rates of progress. There are excellent links with the community and local schools. Teachers meet with staff from other schools in networks to share ideas and to learn from each other.
Comprehensive procedures are in place to ensure the health and safety of pupils and staff. This has been particularly important because of the on-going building work and because of regular disruption from vandalism and graffiti. Child protection and safeguarding procedures are in place.
Leadership and management
The headteacher, supported by an able senior management team, sets a clear direction for the school. Governors recognise that their involvement in strategic management could be strengthened. Some curriculum committee meetings, for example, are only attended by school staff which means that community, local authority and parent governors are not well placed to challenge, question or to support the school. The well constructed improvement plan is based on detailed ongoing evaluation of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement, but governors have only a limited input. Senior leaders monitor and evaluate planning, teaching, work and standards robustly in all subjects. This is then summarised and given to teachers so that they can adapt their plans to meet the needs of individuals and groups of children as well as focusing on improving aspects of their own teaching. Senior leaders know the school well and have an accurate view of teaching and learning. Any barriers to learning are tackled so that all pupils can achieve as well as they can. Staffing and other resources are deployed thoughtfully and some of the school’s budget surplus is being used to redecorate and refurbish the school site. There is good capacity to improve and value for money is outstanding.