The inspection carried out by an Additional Inspector. He evaluated the overall effectiveness of the school and investigated the following:
- the rigour and accuracy of the school’s self-evaluation processes
- the progress pupils are making in their work; their self-reliance and ability to work independently
- the level of pupil’s basic skills and their ability to use them flexibly across the curriculum
- the quality of planning to meet the needs of all pupils in the mixed ability classes.
Evidence was gathered from discussions with pupils, the headteacher and chair of governors; observations of parts of lessons; analysis of school documentation; samples of pupils’ work and the parental questionnaire returns. Other aspects of the school’s work were not investigated in detail, but the inspection found no evidence to suggest that the school’s own assessments, as given in its self-evaluation, were not justified and these have been included where appropriate in this report.
Description of the school
Red Rose is similar in size to most primary schools. It serves an area of average social and economic characteristics. Pupils are of White British backgrounds. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is below average, as is the percentage of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Very few pupils join or leave the school at times other than the start or end of an academic year.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Red Rose is an outstanding school where pupils reach high academic standards and excellent levels of personal development. These successful outcomes are as a result of excellent leadership, outstanding teaching and a rich and diverse curriculum. Parents recognise the school’s strengths and are appreciative of the level of care and encouragement their children receive. ‘We believe that Red Rose Primary is an outstanding school where our daughter has been able to flourish. The school provides excellent care, guidance and support and is very well led.’ Such a comment is typical of many received and fully justified by the inspection findings.
Standards have been consistently well above average, apart from 2006 when they were average. The school identified and successfully addressed the reasons for this dip in performance and as a result standards in 2007 were again well above average. Given the starting points of children, which are typical for their age, these high standards at Year 6 represent outstanding achievement. The school’s assessments and the quality of the work seen during the inspection show that these outstanding standards are being maintained and that pupils are poised to exceed the challenging targets set for them this year. Pupils’ basic skills are exceptionally good and they use them flexibly and well in all subject areas. For example, in a Year 5 lesson pupils discussed the concepts of freedom and emancipation in relation to the slave trade, demonstrating their ability to deal with social, moral and economic issues far removed from their own experiences. Such skills and the high standards reached are an outstanding grounding for the future.
Pupils develop excellent qualities for gaining success in their future lives. They become confident and self-reliant young people whilst doing very well academically. School is a fun and enjoyable place to be where they feel safe and secure. Pupils say that there is never any bullying or tormenting and that everyone gets on well together. Behaviour is excellent and pupils know right from wrong. They are sensitive to the needs of others and do a great deal to raise money for a range of charities. Older pupils have responsibilities helping with school routines and supporting and mentoring the younger children. Pupils’ views and suggestions for improvements are channelled through the school council, resulting in better facilities for outdoor play and learning. The importance of rest, diet and exercise to health and well-being is understood and acted upon. Pupils take their music into the community and their tree planting skills have enhanced the local environment. They have a good understanding of the diversity of British society and their own and other cultures and faiths. Their social, moral, spiritual and cultural development is exceptional.
Learning is excellent. Work is presented to a very high standard, demonstrating the pride pupils take in all they do. Visitors are drawn to a wealth of displays in classrooms and corridors celebrating pupils’ achievements, including examples of independent working in art and design technology. The wealth of stimulating displays in and around the school inspires pupils to learn and represents a significant improvement since the previous inspection. The breadth in the excellent curriculum is one reason why pupils are so well motivated to learn. Another is the wide range of enrichment activities in lessons and after school. The Year 1 visit to Beamish Museum, for example, enabled pupils to understand how society has developed over time. The purpose of such visits is carefully thought out by staff to give the maximum educational benefit. As one pupil put it, ‘Teachers don’t just take us there, they explain the significance of everything to us.’ Excellent provision is made for the development of pupils’ basic skills and effective support given to those who need additional help with literacy and numeracy. Assemblies and reflection time, together with an excellent personal, social, health and citizenship programme, make a considerable impact on pupils’ outstanding personal development and well-being.
Teachers ensure that learning activities are sufficiently varied to enable all pupils to make maximum progress in lessons, including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. They do this by assessing pupils’ work regularly and using the information to inform their planning. The quality of teachers’ marking is exceptional. Not only are comments encouraging but helpful pointers are given on how to improve. The neatness and clarity of the marking are an excellent example to pupils on how to present their written work. Teachers ensure that all pupils have an active part to play in lessons and that work is suitably demanding. Not only do teaching assistants and helpers work effectively to support those pupils who struggle, they play a vital role in providing more challenging work for those who are quick to learn. Questioning is used well to test understanding and to get pupils to reflect further and talk about their work at length. More could be done, however, to use questioning to encourage less confident pupils to contribute to class discussions.
The school is exceptionally well led and managed. The headteacher, ably supported by a skilled deputy, has been instrumental in securing significant improvements since the previous inspection. This is particularly apparent in the rigour of the school’s tracking of pupils’ progress and the quick and effective measures taken when weaknesses are uncovered. She is well supported by an experienced and committed deputy headteacher, senior staff and teachers who work hard to ensure that every pupil has the opportunity to reach their potential. There is a sense of unity and common purpose about the school and morale is high. Self-evaluation is accurate and appropriate priorities are in place to take the school forward. Excellent use is made of performance targets to raise standards further. Rigorous monitoring of provision and evaluation of its impact on pupils’ progress characterises the very effective subject leadership. Governors are knowledgeable and closely involved in the life of the school. They play their part in asking the right questions and in forward planning. The school has an excellent capacity to improve on what has already been achieved.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
The quality of provision and the standards reached are excellent. Attainment on entry to the Reception Year is similar to that expected of most children of that age. They settle quickly because of close liaison with the pre-school providers and the strong links with parents and carers. Children form very good relationships with each other and with adults and are keen to learn. Learning activities are matched closely to children’s needs and interests and strike the right balance between directed and child-initiated activities. As a result they soon develop high levels of confidence and independence. An excellent personal, social and health education programme provides effectively for their well-being. The outdoor play area caters exceptionally well for all areas of learning as well as giving children opportunities for independent and creative activities. The excellent leadership of the Foundation Stage has created a caring and welcoming environment in which children flourish. This results in all children meeting their learning targets by the time they enter Year 1 and many exceeding them. They are very well prepared for this next stage of their education.
What the school should do to improve further
- There are no significant areas for improvement apart from those already identified in the school’s development plan.