The school was inspected by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This larger than average sized primary school, serves an immediate area of established private housing. Some pupils travel a significant distance to attend school. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is below average. The proportion of pupils from minority ethnic heritages is well below average and very few are at an early stage of learning to speak English as an additional language. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is below average. The school holds a Healthy Schools Award, Arts Council Artsmark Silver, the Activemark and is an Investor in People.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school that is building well upon the strengths which were reported when it was last inspected. Particularly positive progress has been made in aspects of its curriculum provision and the tracking of pupils' academic progress. These areas of its work are outstanding. Pupils enjoy their education at Sandal and parents are overwhelmingly supportive of the school. Their feelings are summed up by the typical comment, 'My children find their time at Sandal exceptionally enjoyable and rewarding.'
Children make good progress through the Foundation Stage. Most pupils enter Year 1 with secure skills which are in line with those expected for their age and some exceed those expectations. By the end of Year 2 and Year 6, standards are above average and pupils' achievement throughout the school is good. The good personal development and well-being of the pupils are a priority of the school. Consequently, pupils demonstrate good behaviour and attitudes to work and understand the importance of healthy lifestyles. Good links have been established with the local community to promote the pupils' well-being. Their spiritual, moral and social development is good overall, but pupils' understanding of life in a multicultural society is not thorough enough. Pupils are well prepared academically for the next stage in their education and the development of valuable life skills.
Teaching and learning are of good quality and some was observed to be outstanding. Well informed teaching assistants support pupils well and are central to the good overall progress which pupils make. The marking of pupils' work is not consistent. Whilst some marking is of the highest quality, some does not give sufficient guidance on how pupils can improve their work. Pupils feel safe in school and know that they are cared for. The school's provision in this area is good.
Leadership and management of the school are also good. Leaders set a clear direction for improvement which results in the good quality of care and education that pupils receive. Leaders have an accurate knowledge of the school's strengths and areas for development as a result of their effective self-evaluation of the school. Challenging targets are used well to encourage pupils to make better progress and so raise standards. Subject leaders are knowledgeable and keen to develop their expertise. The recent changes in management responsibilities are becoming well established. Governors are well informed, supportive of the school and suitably challenging. They discharge their duties well. The school has a good capacity to improve as demonstrated by the continual rise in standards. Consequently, it provides good value for money.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage Grade: 2
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Children's attainment on entry to the Foundation Stage varies widely but their overall skills are broadly typical for their age, with some weaknesses in communication, language and literacy and some strengths in mathematical development. They make good progress in all areas of learning because of the good teaching and support which they receive. By the time they enter Year 1 the majority have achieved the expected goals, with a number of children exceeding them. Good induction procedures ensure that the children settle happily into school routines and they pass through the Nursery and Reception years effectively. Relationships are strong throughout and children are cared for well in a secure and attractive learning environment. Praise is used well to reward children's success and, as a result, they grow in confidence and independence. They show good attitudes to their learning because of the good range of practical activities that engage their interest. Their behaviour is good. Planning and assessment systems are thorough, with work which is matched well to children's needs. Leadership and management of the Foundation Stage are good. The experienced teachers and support assistants work well together as a team. Strong provision is made for children's physical development both within the Nursery and for outside play. Relationships with parents are good. Parents appreciate the good provision made for the children and the information they receive to assist their child's learning at home and at school.
What the school should do to improve further
- Ensure consistency in teachers' marking so that pupils know how to improve their work.
- Improve pupils' understanding of life in a multicultural society.
Achievement and standards
The majority of pupils enter Year 1 with broadly average standards overall, whilst some demonstrate above average skills. Progress is good and most achieve well, attaining standards which are just above average by the end of Year 2, in reading and mathematics, but which remain broadly average in writing. Pupils' achievement across Years 3 to 6 is generally good and overall standards continue to improve over time. Above average numbers of pupils gain the higher levels in English, mathematics and science. Pupils' progress in writing is slower than that made in reading, mathematics and science, but the school is working hard in this area and the overall trend for improvement is clear. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, and the very small number of pupils for whom English is an additional language, achieve well as a result of the good support available for them.
Personal development and well-being
The pupils' personal development and well-being are good. Their enjoyment of school is outstanding and this contributes strongly to their good behaviour and good attendance. Pupils know well how to keep themselves safe and healthy. The school council is active and its members are proud of the offices they hold. They know their views are taken into account and can see the results of their efforts, for instance, in the new playground markings. They undertake surveys to gain pupils' views and in doing so are gaining skills which will assist them in adult life. The pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good overall, but pupils' understanding of the multicultural nature of today's society is less thorough. The good work undertaken in this caring school contributes much to the pupils' positive relationships and good attitudes between all who work and learn in it. This is reinforced by the overwhelming support recorded by parents.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The good teaching and learning pupils receive contributes significantly to the good progress they make. Teachers and their assistants work well together to create a positive and friendly atmosphere which pupils both appreciate and enjoy. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and the small number for whom English is an additional language are supported well. This contributes significantly to their good progress. Elements of outstanding teaching were seen in work involving information and communication technology (ICT) across a range of subjects in Key Stage 2 and independent science work in Key Stage 1. In these lessons pupils were managed very effectively and tasks were challenging and sustained pupils' interest and enthusiasm. Where teaching was less strong some activities for learning were not planned according to the individual needs of pupils and the pace of lessons was slower. There are examples of very high quality marking, which enables pupils to be clear about how they should improve their work. However, this quality is not sufficiently consistent across the school.
Curriculum and other activities
The school provides a curriculum which meets the pupils' needs and interests exceptionally well whilst ensuring the development of secure basic skills. Good opportunities are provided for pupils to learn within a questioning and problem-solving environment, which brings learning alive. ICT is included effectively across a wide range of subjects. The coverage of art, physical education, music and sport is outstanding and excellent standards are achieved in these areas of work. The school has an enviable range of very well supported out of school activities and includes an extensive range of visits and visitors to greatly enhance its teaching. Residential activities in Years 4 and 6 extend the pupils' personal, social and emotional development well. They raise their self-confidence and help pupils to work well together in teams.
Care, guidance and support
Care, guidance and support are good overall. Health and safety arrangements are well established and child protection procedures meet legal requirements. Pupils say they feel happy and safe in school, free from risks and bullying. There are effective procedures, managed well by the learning mentor, to ensure pupils have good attendance. Pupils are aware that their welfare is important to the school. Records of the pupils' academic progress are of outstanding quality. Staff track the progress of individual pupils with the utmost rigour and provide high quality support for those who need it. Effective strategies are in place to support pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and the small number of pupils for whom English is an additional language. Overall, the good standard of care is a significant factor in the pupils' outstanding enjoyment of school, their good progress and good personal development.
Leadership and management
The headteacher, well supported by his staff, has ensured good improvement since the last inspection, particularly in what is now an outstanding curriculum and in the way the school tracks and builds upon pupils' individual performance. The school's good quality assurance processes ensure pupils achieve well and results in an accurate self-evaluation of the school's performance. Relatively recent changes in the structure of the leadership team have meant a greater sharing of responsibilities between staff who are becoming more actively involved in the improvement of the school. However, it is still too early for the full effect of these changes to be seen. Governors meet their responsibilities well and have a good range of expertise amongst their membership. They are well informed, have a good overview of the school and hold senior managers to account effectively. The school provides good value for money.