School etc

Sandling Primary School

Sandling Primary School
Ashburnham Road
Penenden Heath

phone: 01622 763297

headteacher: Mrs Lynda Downes


school holidays: via Kent council

421 pupils aged 4—10y mixed gender
420 pupils capacity: 100% full

205 boys 49%


215 girls 51%


Last updated: July 17, 2014

Primary — Community School

Education phase
Establishment type
Community School
Establishment #
OSGB coordinates
Easting: 576624, Northing: 157776
GPS coordinates
Latitude: 51.292, Longitude: 0.53174
Accepting pupils
4—11 years old
Census date
Jan. 16, 2014
Ofsted last inspection
March 14, 2012
Region › Const. › Ward
South East › Maidstone and The Weald › North
Urban > 10k - less sparse
Free school meals %

rooms to rent in Maidstone

Schools nearby

  1. 0.5 miles St Paul's Infant School ME142BS (238 pupils)
  2. 0.6 miles North Borough Junior School ME142BP (265 pupils)
  3. 0.8 miles Threshold Learning Centre ME142UG
  4. 0.8 miles Meadoway Specialist School ME142NH
  5. 1.1 mile East Borough Primary School ME145DX (423 pupils)
  6. 1.1 mile Mid-Kent School for Girls ME141EE
  7. 1.2 mile Invicta Grammar School ME145DR
  8. 1.2 mile Maidstone Grammar School for Girls ME160SF (1245 pupils)
  9. 1.2 mile The Maplesden Noakes School ME160TJ
  10. 1.2 mile Invicta Grammar School ME145DS (1239 pupils)
  11. 1.2 mile The Maplesden Noakes School ME160TJ (1080 pupils)
  12. 1.3 mile Vinters Boys' School ME145DT
  13. 1.3 mile Valley Park Community School ME145DT
  14. 1.3 mile Valley Park School ME145DT (1254 pupils)
  15. 1.4 mile Brunswick House Primary School ME160QQ (420 pupils)
  16. 1.5 mile Mid-Kent Behaviour Service & Education Office ME141AF
  17. 1.5 mile Maidstone, St John's Church of England Primary School ME145TZ
  18. 1.5 mile Maidstone, St John's Church of England Primary School ME145TZ (280 pupils)
  19. 1.6 mile The Cedars ME168AU (4 pupils)
  20. 1.6 mile Palace Wood Junior School ME160HB
  21. 1.6 mile Palace Wood Infant School ME160HB
  22. 1.6 mile Detling Church of England Primary School ME143JT
  23. 1.6 mile Maidstone, All Saints Church of England Primary School ME156YH
  24. 1.6 mile Allington Primary School ME160PG

List of schools in Maidstone

Age group 4–11
Inspection date(s) 14–15 March 2012
Inspection number 379631

Sandling Primary School

Inspection report

Unique reference number 118511
Local authority Kent
Inspection number 379631
Inspection dates 14–15 March 2012
Lead inspector Wendy Simmons

This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.

Type of school Primary
School category Community
Age range of pupils 4–11
Gender of pupils Mixed
Nu mber of pupils on the school roll 418
Appropriate authority The governing body
Chair Steven Sherman
Headteacher Lynda Downes
Date of previous school inspection 15–16 May2007
School address Ashburnham Road
Penenden Heath
ME14 2JG
Telephone number 01622 763297
Fax number 01622 200015
Email address reveal email: off…

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Inspection team

Wendy Simmons
Christine Dickens
Jameel Hassan
Additional inspector
Additional inspector
Additional inspector

This inspection was carried out with two days’ notice. The inspectors visited 34
lessons, including some that were part lessons. Fifteen teachers were observed.
Discussions were held with staff, a representative of the governing body and the
senior management team. The inspectors held three meetings with different groups
of pupils and listened to pupils read. Samples of pupils’ work were seen.
The inspection took account of the responses to the online questionnaire (Parent

View), observed the school’s work and evaluated the responses to the questionnaires

from pupils, staff and 90 parents and carers. In addition, the inspector received an
email with comments from one parent. A range of documentation was scrutinised,
especially that linked to the school’s development plans, assessment data, and
information linked to behaviour and anti-bullying. The lead inspector conducted some
joint lesson observations with the headteacher.

Information about the school

This school is larger than the average-sized primary school. Early Years Foundation
Stage children work in two adjoining Reception classes. Almost all pupils come from
White British backgrounds, although a few pupils are from Asian, European or Black
African heritages. A few pupils speak English as an additional language. The
proportion of disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs is below
average. The proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals,
although increasing, is much lower than average. The school meets the

government’s current floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for pupils’

attainment and progress. The school has several awards, including effective financial
management and the Healthy Schools award.

Inspection judgements

Overall effectiveness 2
Achievement of pupils 2
Quality of teaching 2
Behaviour and safety of pupils 2
Leadership and management 2

Key findings

  • Sandling Primary is a good school. Leaders, including the governing body, have
    high aspirations for the pupils. The school has maintained levels of attainment
    in English and mathematics at the end of Years 2 and 6 that are significantly
    above average. Parents and carers have considerable confidence in the work of
    the school, with almost all indicating that they would recommend it to others.
    The quality of teaching and achievement, although good, remain the key
    priorities for improvement in the drive to make the school outstanding in the
  • Children are helped to make a strong start in the Early Years Foundation Stage
    and from this point they make good overall progress as they move through the
    school. Achievement overall is good, although sometimes a little uneven within
    a few of the year groups. In addition, leaders are working to ensure that
    disabled pupils and those with special educational needs make as consistently
    good progress in all areas of learning as their peers, particularly in reading.
  • As a result of good teaching, pupils enjoy learning, work hard and achieve well.
    The school is correctly focused on making more teaching outstanding. Although
    teaching of basic skills is good, with some interesting links with different
    subjects of the curriculum, there remain improvement areas linked to reading,
    writing and mathematics in order to ensure that all pupils achieve exceptionally
  • Pupils enjoy school and show positive attitudes to learning. Their behaviour in
    class and around school is often exemplary. However, overall behaviour and
    being safe are good. This is because parents, carers and pupils noted that
    although pupils are safe at school, there have been some instances of bullying.
    Inspectors confirm that bullying is taken seriously by school leaders.
  • The effective leadership team are fully focused on improving further the
    teaching and pupils’ progress in reading, writing and mathematics and are
    aware of what requires improving. Leaders’ perceptive self-evaluation, together
    with good monitoring of teachers’ performance, successfully underpins the
    school’s on-going improvement.

What does the school need to do to improve further?

  • Improve pupils’ achievement and the quality of teaching to outstanding by:
    ensuring that all year groups make equally impressive progress
    ensuring that the additional support in reading for disabled pupils and
    those with special educational needs is as effective as possible
    making reading activities as inspiring as possible within guided reading,
    including making more effective use of book corner/library resources
    ensuring that the teaching of letters and sounds (phonics) in Year 1 is as
    challenging and developmental as possible and that whole-school spelling
    ensuring that in mathematics, all pupils fully understand their targets and
    know exactly how to improve their skills
    improving displays, so that they are of higher quality and are used to very
    best effect to enrich learning and celebrate pupils’ achievements.

Main report

Achievement of pupils

Parents and carers are confident that their children make good progress, and
inspectors endorse this view. Children make good progress in the Early Years
Foundation Stage. They were observed enjoying selecting activities for themselves
and being helped to learn more formal skills through good discussion and
cooperative work. For example, children counted the legs of the three spiders that
they had found in the garden and this led to them doing a sum of 8+8+8=24. In the
school as a whole, pupils’ progress is good, and better in certain years. However, in
Years 1 and 3 it tends to be more uneven and this is why progress is not yet

Lessons and work in books confirm that the most-able pupils and those who speak

English as an additional language often do very well at this school. The proportion
gaining the higher Level 5 or even Level 6 is showing a continuous trend of
improvement. Pupils work diligently on activities, showing particularly good focus and
perseverance, with plenty of opportunities for independent investigation and
research. For example, Year 2 explained which kind of shoe/boot/trainer they can
run fastest in and why this may be so. Year 6 explored friction when evaluating the
effectiveness of different running surfaces. In all science work, pupils are helped to
make very strong links with mathematics.
The school has been working to help disabled pupils and those with special
educational needs to make faster progress, and this is becoming increasingly

effective in writing and mathematics. However, some support for reading is not as
effective as it could be. All groups of pupils are being given more motivating tasks to
write about because teachers have modified the curriculum to ensure that pupils
write for interesting and meaningful purposes. As a result, this is helping pupils to
enjoy writing while also enriching their vocabulary well. This was evident when Year
6 worked on ‘flashback’ writing and used such words as ‘reminisce’ and



Descriptive vocabulary was also used well in the Year 4 play scripts

and when Year 2 wrote about the characters in

Tortoise’s Dream.

Opportunities are,

however, being missed to help pupils to use editing skills as early as possible when
pupils are ready for this in Year 2; this hampers pupils from making outstanding
Reading skills are above average by the end of Years 2 and 6. Pupils do well because
a high proportion of time is allocated to reading and pupils often read regularly at
home. The school places a good focus on the teaching of letters and sounds
(phonics) in Reception and in Year 2. But learning is not accelerated fast enough in
Year 1 because activities are not organised well enough into ability group tasks or

reinforced enough across the curriculum. Overall, pupils confidently blend letters

together to read, but they are not as skilled at segmenting letter sounds to help

them with their spelling. Leaders are focused on improving spelling and this is
starting to make a positive difference.
In mathematics, learning is practical and carried out in fun ways. Pupils have a good
grasp of basic number skills and confidently use their tables. Sometimes
opportunities are missed to jot down each step of their calculations as they go, which
then hampers them in explaining and assessing their own progress within lessons.
Some targets are not easy for pupils to understand and this leads to unevenness in
how well pupils know what they have to do to improve their skills.

Quality of teaching

Typically, the quality of teaching is good overall, so that pupils are helped to develop
their basic skills in a wide range of subjects, and parents and carers agree that this is
the case. There are carefully planned and suitable opportunities to build up skills step

by step in almost all year groups. Where this is not quite as strong, it is largely due

to inexperienced teaching, which is already being carefully monitored and the
teachers concerned given support. Teachers are skilled at asking probing questions
that help pupils to talk about their ideas and give an insight into how well they
understand new things. This form of assessment is used well to help adults to
reshape, revisit and extend learning. Teachers make sure that lessons are organised
for pupils’ differing needs and abilities. However, this is more effective within writing,
mathematical and science activities than in group reading activities. For example, in
guided reading sessions some of the learning tasks do not enthuse the pupils, relying
too heavily on silent reading or uninspiring comprehension tasks. Teachers are not
making consistently good use of displays and book corners to help pupils to learn to
the best effect.

The use of information and communication technology by teachers and pupils is very
well developed, so that pupils are helped to work independently on their own
research work. For example, pupils in Year 4 were observed in deep concentration
finding about the athletes who will be taking part in the 2012 Olympics. This kind of
project work contributes much to the effective provision of pupils’ spiritual, moral,
social and cultural awareness.

Behaviour and safety of pupils

Discussions with pupils confirmed that they almost always behave well, are polite
and respectful. There has been improvement in rates of attendance as a result of the
effective work of the family liaison officer, so that they are securely above average.
Parents and carers confirm that their children are safe, and pupils agree. In lessons,

pupils’ behaviour is often very impressive. The playground is very small and this can

lead to some minor arguments over the space. There have been no recent
Meetings with pupils confirmed that they understand about internet bullying and
about the importance of being respectful to people with differing religious, cultural or
sexual orientation, as well as those with disabilities. Incidences of bullying are rare
overall and have mostly been linked to name calling. A few parents and carers raised
concerns that the bullying policy is not actioned by some staff in a consistent enough
way. Inspectors scrutinised the records and these show that any incident of recorded
bullying is taken seriously. A new discussion forum is now in place to strengthen the
partnership with parents and carers, should they have any concerns. Plans are
underway to provide more training for staff, including the lunchtime meals
supervisors, so all understand best practice in promoting at least good behaviour.

Leadership and management

Parents and carers believe the school is well led and managed, a view that is
confirmed by this inspection. The headteacher and her senior management team
share a range of complementary skills that enable them to evaluate the work of the
school well and make effective development plans. This is evident in their monitoring
of lessons and evaluations of pupils’ views, which have led to training and increased
opportunities for pupils to write at length within many subjects. Initiatives have
resulted in improving achievement in writing. In mathematics, there has been a
concerted effort to check and extend links between different subjects, and this has
been successful.
Leaders ensure that the curriculum promotes pupils’ basic skills well and provides
opportunities to enrich their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development in a
variety of ways. For example, Year 3 thoroughly enjoyed learning about Greek life
and the pupils were observed acting out their own play called

What’s Up, Icarus?

with great enthusiasm. Leaders are ambitious to make teaching and learning
outstanding in the future. They recognise, for example, that in order to ensure
completely equal opportunities in practice then additional support is required in

reading for disabled pupils and those with special educational needs. Work has
begun by purchasing new books that make reading more fun for older boys who find
reading difficult or uninspiring. Discrimination of any form is not tolerated, as
evidenced by the fact that the school has been successful in ensuring that pupils who
are eligible for free school meals do equally as well as other groups.
The school was judged to be good at the last inspection. Leaders are building on
these outcomes well, maintaining effectively the good-quality teaching in a range of
subjects, including an increasing proportion of outstanding teaching. As such, the
school demonstrates a capacity to improve further. The governing body is fully
involved in the life of the school, both supporting and challenging it to do better.

Leaders ensure that effective safeguarding procedures are in place.


What inspection judgements mean

Grade Judgement Description
Grade 1 Outstanding These features are highly effective. An outstanding
school provides exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs.
Grade 2 Good These are very positive features of a school. A school
that is good is serving its pupils well.
Grade 3 Satisfactory These features are of reasonable quality. A satisfactory
school is providing adequately for its pupils.
Grade 4 Inadequate These features are not of an acceptable standard. An
inadequate school needs to make significant
improvement in order to meet the needs of its pupils.
Ofsted inspectors will make further visits until it

Overall effectiveness of schools

Overall effectiveness judgement (percentage of schools)
Type of school Outstanding Good Satisfactory Inadequate
Nursery schools 46 46 8 0
Primary schools 8 47 40 5
14 38 40 8
Special schools 28 48 20 4
Pupil referral
15 50 29 5
All schools 11 46 38 6

New school inspection arrangements have been introduced from 1 January 2012. This means that
inspectors make judgements that were not made previously.
The data in the table above are for the period 1 September 2010 to 31 August 2011 and represent
judgements that were made under the school inspection arrangements that were introduced on 1
September 2009. These data are consistent with the latest published official statistics about
maintained school inspection outcomes (see
The sample of schools inspected during 2010/11 was not representative of all schools nationally, as
weaker schools are inspected more frequently than good or outstanding schools.
Primary schools include primary academy converters. Secondary schools include secondary academy
converters, sponsor-led academies and city technology colleges. Special schools include special
academy converters and non-maintained special schools.

Percentages are rounded and do not always add exactly to 100.

Common terminology used by inspectors

Achievement: the progress and success of a pupil in their

learning and development taking account of their

Attainment: the standard of the pupils’ work shown by test and

examination results and in lessons.

Attendance the regular attendance of pupils at school and in

lessons, taking into account the school’s efforts to

encourage good attendance.

Behaviour how well pupils behave in lessons, with emphasis

on their attitude to learning. Pupils’ punctuality to

lessons and their conduct around the school.

Capacity to improve: the proven ability of the school to continue

improving based on its self-evaluation and what
the school has accomplished so far and on the
quality of its systems to maintain improvement.

Leadership and management: the contribution of all the staff with responsibilities,

not just the governors and headteacher, to
identifying priorities, directing and motivating staff
and running the school.

Learning: how well pupils acquire knowledge, develop their

understanding, learn and practise skills and are
developing their competence as learners.

Overall effectiveness: inspectors form a judgement on a school’s overall

effectiveness based on the findings from their
inspection of the school.

Progress: the rate at which pupils are learning in lessons and

over longer periods of time. It is often measured

by comparing the pupils’ attainment at the end of a

key stage with their attainment when they started.

Safety how safe pupils are in school, including in lessons,

and their understanding of risks. Pupils’ freedom

from bullying and harassment. How well the school
promotes safety, for example e-learning.

17 March 2012
Dear Pupils

Inspection of Sandling Primary School, Maidstone ME14 2JG

I am writing to thank you for taking so much time to talk with us and for completing
the questionnaires. You go to a good school, where you work hard and are well
taught. As you explained, you enjoy school and it is evident that this was so in
almost all of the lessons seen. You are well prepared for secondary school because
your standards of work are higher than we usually find in primary schools. We
especially like your science work and the way that you do mathematics and writing in
so many different subjects. You read a lot, which is good, but we think that you do
not have nice enough book areas and some reading activities could be more fun. You
agree that you feel safe at school and your behaviour is usually good. You explained
that there are a few incidences of bullying. We looked into this and found that the
school has become much better at dealing with these and remains focused on
ensuring that teachers and other staff are being better trained.
Your headteacher and other staff agree with me that the following things are
important priorities to work on in order to improve the quality of teaching and pupils’
achievement to outstanding.

  • Those of you who find reading difficult should be given better support and
    reading activities should be made more interesting, especially when you do
    guided reading, including making more effective use of book areas.
  • Children in Year 1 should do more work on letters and sounds (phonics), and
    everyone should work as hard as possible on their spellings.
  • In mathematics, teachers should make sure that you fully understand your
    targets so that you know exactly how to improve.
  • Teachers should improve displays so that they help you to learn as well as

Please continue to work hard.
Yours sincerely
Wendy Simmons
Lead inspector


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