The inspection was carried out by two Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
The school serves an inner city area of Derby. Almost all the children are from minority ethnic groups with many of Pakistani background. Fourteen languages are spoken in the school and the home language of the large majority is not English. The number of children eligible for free school meals is above average. The proportion with additional learning needs is below average as is the number with a statement of special educational need. The school holds Healthy Schools, Activemark, Basic Skills, Artsmark Gold and Investors in People Awards. The deputy headteacher has been undertaking the role of acting headteacher since December 2007 and will continue to do so until a new appointment is made.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school. This judgement matches the school's evaluation of its own effectiveness. Children like coming to school and parents are almost unanimous in their praise of the quality of care and education provided. One parent rightly notes of her children, 'They have been cared for to a very high standard and the teachers are all very approachable.'
Children enter the school with skills, knowledge and understanding that are well below the expectations for their age. Many initially have little or no English and are timid and often very quiet children. In the Foundation Stage they make good progress and this is often considerable in terms of how quickly they learn to speak English and then develop confidence in their own abilities. Nevertheless, from such a modest start, when children enter Year 1 their skills are still below what is expected for their age. In Years 1 and 2 children make good progress in all areas of their learning so that at the age of seven standards are close to the national averages, particularly in mathematics. Children of all abilities and from all backgrounds make equally good progress and achieve well.
Children's behaviour is good as is their personal development. They form good relationships with other children and the adults around them and are polite and keen to please. They know how to lead a healthy lifestyle and understand how to play safely. Children enjoy taking on responsibilities. Because they develop good basic skills and grow in confidence this helps them prepare well for their future. Attendance is satisfactory but affected by extended family holidays in term time.
Teaching and learning are good. Staff have high expectations of children's behaviour and the progress they make. Lessons are well planned and meet the needs of those of different abilities. Teaching assistants are very skilled in helping all children and provide bi-lingual support which has a positive impact on learning. The curriculum is good with plans for more cross-curricular activities to link subjects together. Staff provide a bright and stimulating environment. The care, guidance and support of children are good with some very effective elements. Staff show great warmth to the children and their families and pay careful attention to meeting their individual needs. However, staff are not rigorous enough in checking safety hazards and concerns including in storage and hygiene related issues.
The leadership and management of the school is satisfactory. The acting headteacher works well with colleagues and has a good understanding of what is effective and where improvement is needed. With the recent appointment of two acting assistant headteachers and re-distribution of subject responsibilities the school is well placed to make further improvements. However, opportunities for senior staff to monitor teaching and learning have been limited and rightly identified by the school as an area for further development. Governance is satisfactory although there is scope to extend governors' understanding of the information available to them and aspects for improvement.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
The large majority of children enter the Nursery with little or no pre-school education and knowledge, skills and understanding that are well below average for their age. Most have a very limited command of English and a real lack of confidence. A small number find it very difficult to separate from their carers and take some time to settle to routines. Many also have little knowledge and understanding of the world beyond their immediate family. While mathematical skills vary they are often slightly better than in other areas. After only a little while most children start to make good and sometimes very rapid progress in all areas of their learning. Those of all abilities and from all backgrounds achieve well. This is because teaching is good and meets children's needs well. The individual profile record for each child is an excellent means of tracking the development of skills and ensuring teaching then meets individual needs. Teachers and bi-lingual support staff have high expectations of the children and support them very effectively. There is a well-balanced range of child chosen and teacher led activities, although staff sometimes miss opportunities to focus on key vocabulary even further.
What the school should do to improve further
- Monitor health and safety issues regularly and rigorously and take prompt action to address concerns.
- Extend the opportunities for staff and, where appropriate, governors to monitor teaching and learning to identify further areas for improvement.
Achievement and standards
When children enter Year 1 their skills, knowledge and understanding are slightly below what is expected for their age. The development of speaking and listening skills is a priority across the school and staff plan a range of activities to enable children to make progress in this area. In Years 1 and 2 children make good progress overall and in Year 1 they often make excellent progress because teaching is particularly effective. By the end of Year 2 standards are close to the national average particularly in mathematics. However, few children achieve the higher levels. Information from tests and assessments shows that in some years boys have not done as well as girls and to a greater degree than seen nationally. However, records indicate that this year boys are set to do better than girls. Data suggests that in some years Black African children have not done as well as other ethnic groups. But some arrive after the usual time of admission and make good progress overall. Children with a range of additional needs make good progress because they are well supported in lessons.
Personal development and well-being
Children's personal development is good. They are encouraged to live healthy lifestyles and the school provides many opportunities for them to do this, including 'Huff and Puff' sessions. Children enjoy their lessons and are keen to take an active part in their learning, participating fully when given the opportunity. Most behave well and enjoy good relationships with each other. Children's spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. They are aware of the feelings of others and play well together in the playground. They are aware of their own and others' cultures and have a strong sense of fairness. The school council has a positive effect on the life of the school with children seeking improvements to school accommodation. The good progress they make in literacy and numeracy prepares children well for the future. Attendance levels are below the national average. Though the school monitors absences effectively, the major causes of absence include extended holidays in term time.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teachers and support staff share a clear commitment to the needs of this diverse local community. All have high expectations of behaviour, which ensures lessons are conducted in a calm and purposeful manner. Staff also have high expectations of what the children can achieve and plan activities carefully for those of different abilities. Bi-lingual staff play a very valuable role in supporting children with limited English and in their subsequent learning. Staff provide a very stimulating learning environment where extensive amounts of children's work are presented to a high standard which raises the self-esteem of the children and encourages neat presentation. However, occasionally staff miss opportunities to develop speaking skills even further through a focus on key vocabulary.
Curriculum and other activities
The school provides a good curriculum. The recently reviewed strategies for numeracy and literacy are used well to support learning and enable the children to make good progress. In the period since the school was last inspected there has been a focus on improving the quality of children's writing and language skills. This has been largely successful, particularly with children who start school with little English. The school has recently introduced more defined links between the different subjects, enabling teachers to concentrate on the needs of learners when devising what they are to teach. However, this is at an early stage and has not had a significant effect on children's achievement or on standards. The school provides a good range of activities beyond the school day and these are well attended. A wide range of visits and visitors are effective in helping children in their learning.
Care, guidance and support
Children are looked after well, with much warmth and care evident in day-to-day exchanges with children and their families. Arrangements for safeguarding children meet current requirements and all staff are aware of child protection procedures and what they should do if they have concerns. Children say that they feel safe in school and always have an adult to talk to should they have a problem. Relationships are good and children support each other well, such as when 'playground buddies' ensure that no child is left on their own. Academic guidance is satisfactory. The quality of teachers' marking and the use of assessment information is variable and in some classes there is not enough guidance given for children to make even more progress with their work. The school undertakes risk assessments regularly. However, such checks are not effective in identifying and addressing all concerns including unsafe storage of equipment and unacceptable toilet arrangements.
Leadership and management
During the period of temporary staffing arrangements the acting headteacher is providing effective leadership and management. While there has been a slight pause in some of the usual arrangements in school, there are positive signs of improvement through the recent appointment of acting assistant headteachers and a redistribution of roles and responsibilities. However, long-standing systems in the school to check what is provided are not as rigorous as they might be. For instance subject leaders have limited opportunity to monitor teaching and learning. Therefore they are not in the best position to identify what else needs to be improved. Governance is satisfactory. While governors are very supportive of the school their awareness of key areas is sometimes limited. The school has a large budgetary surplus but has clear plans to use this to the benefit of the children and minimise this in subsequent years. The staff work well together and share a determination to continue to move forward, therefore the school has good capacity to improve.