The inspection was carried out by one Additional Inspector.
Description of the school
Sawley Junior School is a larger than average sized school. It draws its pupils from the local area, which has a good social mix. The percentage of pupils claiming a free school meal is above average. The proportion with learning difficulties or disabilities is above average, as is the proportion with a statement of special educational need. Fewer pupils than average come from minority ethnic groups and none is at an early stage of acquiring English. Attainment on entry is broadly average. The school has a Healthy School Award.
Overall effectiveness of the school
The inspection outcomes agree with the school's own judgement that it is a good school providing good value for money. There are some outstanding features in the leadership of the headteacher, pupils' personal development and in the level of care and guidance given to pupils.
The school assesses pupils' attainment soon after they enter Year 3. Standards are broadly average overall, but the school's tests at the beginning of Year 3 show there is some weakness in pupils' independent writing skills and knowledge of phonics to aid reading. Pupils achieve well and by the end of Year 6 attainment is above average overall. Standards in English and mathematics are above average, and in science they are average. Pupils have excellent attitudes towards school. They respond really well to the school's high expectation of conduct and as a result their behaviour is exemplary. The school has a calm air about it which is conducive to good learning. Pupils thoroughly enjoy school. Those entering Year 3 soon get used to the routines and say they 'settled in very quickly.' Older pupils say they 'feel very safe and comfortable in school.' They are very aware of how to stay healthy. They make very wise choices while eating at lunchtime and there is a very high take-up of extra curricular activities, many of which are aimed at promoting physical fitness. Pupils play an important role in the life of the school and through school councillors they have a significant say in what goes on from day to day. In addition to the good development of literacy, numeracy and computer skills, pupils' ability to show initiative and take on responsibility gives them a good grounding for the next stages of their school lives.
Pupils find lessons interesting. This is because teachers work hard to make learning relevant and meaningful. The quality of teaching and learning is good with some excellent aspects. The excellent way that teachers make sure that pupils are fully involved in learning and in assessing their work, means they are actively involved throughout lessons. Pupils find school interesting because the good curriculum is planned well. Subjects such as art, music and information and communication technology are linked with other subjects and used effectively to add variety and interest to classroom activities. Both pastoral care and the academic guidance pupils receive are excellent. All pupils, whatever their needs are extremely well looked after. Full assessment of each individual's academic strengths and weaknesses takes place soon after they start school and their progress from then on is very carefully tracked. This is very well established in English and mathematics and academic profiles of pupils are building up well in other subjects, including science. Sensitive and timely support is provided as a result of the interpretation of assessment data, whether providing extension work for those progressing well or providing excellent support for those struggling through helping them develop literacy skills. As a result pupils' personal development is outstanding. Leadership and management are strong. The headteacher provides outstanding leadership. She has excellent support from the senior leadership team. Areas they have worked on, including using assessment data in monitoring achievement and planning, have led to good improvements impacting well on pupils' achievement.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise standards in science to match those in English and mathematics.
Achievement and standards
Attainment at the end of Year 6 is above average overall and pupils make good progress. Test results at the end of Year 6 are above average for English and mathematics, but have remained close to the national average in science for some years. Achievement is good overall, but satisfactory in science. The school has identified that not enough higher attaining pupils, particularly girls, achieve the higher levels in science. The school's strategies for resolving this have already had a measure of success. Pupils make particularly good progress in writing and half of the pupils attained the higher levels in English this year. Those pupils with learning difficulties or disabilities achieve extremely well as a result of accurately targeted and effective support in class and in smaller focused groups.
Personal development and well-being
This is a real strength of the school. Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is particularly well developed leading to pupils' excellent attitudes towards school and learning. This makes a significant contribution to their good achievement. Pupils' behaviour is excellent throughout the school. Older pupils show a very mature and sensible approach to school life. They are very caring and show great pleasure in looking after other pupils including those with physical disabilities. All pupils understand the need to look after themselves and are very knowledgeable about keeping safe. They are enthusiastic about school and even younger ones talk about the full programme of after school activities, which they really enjoy. Their enthusiasm is reflected in their above average level of attendance. The school council and older pupils are extremely reliable and discharge their responsibilities very well. They show a great deal of initiative in planning and organising activities that they and other pupils have suggested.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The quality of teaching is consistently good throughout the school with some excellent aspects, particularly in the teaching of literacy. Teachers go to great lengths to ensure that pupils at all levels of attainment take a full part in lessons. Pupils are involved in assessing how well they have learned during lessons. They engage in self-assessment particularly well as they are able to pin point where their learning is stronger or what they need to do to improve. The pace of lessons is generally brisk. Teachers have high expectations and plan challenging learning activities for pupils at all levels of attainment. Pupils say that the work provided 'makes them think.' When teachers ask questions, they expect pupils to justify the reasoning behind their answers. This is more prominent in English and mathematics than science.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is constructed well to provide an interesting and enjoyable range of stimulating learning experiences for pupils at all ages and levels of attainment. Strong links between subjects make the curriculum meaningful to pupils. Personal, social and health education, including sex education and raising pupils' awareness of the dangers of drug abuse, contribute significantly to their personal development and to their safety in and out of school. There is a good range of extra curricular activities provided for a wide range of pupils and these very effectively support pupils' awareness of healthy living and offer a wide range of creative learning opportunities. The curriculum in science has recently been modified to meet the needs of more able pupils and indications are that this is having a positive impact on standards.
Care, guidance and support
This is outstanding both in terms of the personal support pupils receive and in the academic guidance, which supports the improvement in their achievement. The school has excellent links with professional agencies which help provide sensitive and highly effective personal support for all pupils who need it and in particular those with learning difficulties or disabilities. Child protection procedures and health and safety measures are meticulous and fully in place. Checks have been made on all adults who come into contact with pupils. The school builds a detailed profile of each individual pupil's strengths and weaknesses and very carefully tracks their academic progress as they move through the school. Assessment information is used extremely well to identify pupils who need to be supported further or who need to be challenged more. For example, this has led to improvements in the curriculum offered to pupils in science.
Leadership and management
The headteacher shows excellent leadership qualities and she has established a very strong senior leadership team. They work extremely effectively together to monitor pupils' achievement and to evaluate the school's strengths and weaknesses. Subject leadership is good; subject leaders work closely with members of the senior leadership team and other staff to improve provision in individual subjects. This has resulted, for example in good cross-curricular links which add interest and enjoyment to learning and improvements being agreed in science. A particularly strong commitment to ensuring that there is equality of opportunity for all pupils underpins the school's work. The governors are well informed, play an active part in monitoring the school's performance and provide a healthy balance of support and challenge. They are actively involved in school self-evaluation, which effectively identifies priorities for improvement. The school's capacity to improve is good.