The inspection was carried out by one Additional Inspector.
The inspector evaluated the overall effectiveness of the school and investigated the following issues: the role of subject leaders and governors in monitoring and evaluating school effectiveness; the quality of provision for pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities; and achievement and standards. Evidence was gathered from observations of lessons, discussions with senior managers, governors and pupils, and a scrutiny of pupils' work, school documents and parents' questionnaires. Other aspects of the school's work were not investigated in detail, but the inspector found no evidence to suggest that the school's own assessments, as given in its self-evaluation form, were not justified and these have been included where appropriate in this report.
Description of the school
The school is situated in an historic market town on the outskirts of Leeds. It is much larger than average. Most pupils are of White British heritage with 8% coming from a variety of minority ethnic backgrounds. The movement of pupils into and out of the school is broadly average but does affect some year groups more than others. The proportion entitled to free school meals and the proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are both average. A new headteacher and deputy headteacher joined the school 12 and 18 months ago respectively.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school with some outstanding features. It provides good value for money. The school's own evaluation of itself is accurate in almost all respects but the level of care, support and guidance is outstanding, rather than good as the school believes. This high level of support, guidance and care reassures pupils, builds their confidence and enables them to be successful. All clearly enjoy coming to school and have a good attitude to learning. 'We have great teachers.' was the view of the pupils in the school council. Equality of opportunity is outstanding enabling all pupils to achieve their potential.
Pupils make good and often very good progress as they move through the school. This is because underachievement is quickly spotted and appropriate action taken to improve pupils' progress. In the national tests for Year 2 in 2007, standards were above average in reading and average in writing and mathematics. This is partly due to the consistently good quality of teaching in the smaller than average classes in Years 1 and 2. The strong emphasis in learning letter sounds in Year 1 is also having a positive impact on standards in literacy. The weakest performance was in writing with relatively few pupils achieving above average standards.
In the 2007 national tests for Year 6, standards overall were average in mathematics and science but below average in English. Standards in writing again adversely affected the performance in English. Nevertheless, the school's data clearly shows that almost all pupils made at least good progress. Most achieved well in relation to their prior attainment and this is due to the good quality of teaching and learning and high quality of support and guidance for individual pupils. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are particularly well supported by skilled teaching assistants. The good quality of teaching is directly responsible for pupils enjoying school so much and for them achieving as well as they do. Teachers' enthusiasm and the way learning is made fun, exciting and challenging are key strengths helping to create a purposeful atmosphere for learning throughout the school.
The specific needs of every pupil are carefully assessed using effective assessment procedures. The school now has a detailed, accurate picture of how well individual pupils are doing and what each needs to do next. A recent development is to involve pupils more in assessing their own progress and this is helping pupils to improve markedly as they are clear about what is expected of them. Care is taken to ensure that the more able are successfully challenged in each class and that pupils who may be underachieving in any area are quickly guided and supported. As a result, all pupils make at least good progress throughout the school.
Pupils' personal development is good and reflects their positive attitude towards learning and good behaviour. 'The amount of bullying is so small: smaller than smaller than tiny.' according to the school council. Pupils clearly love coming to school and are extremely enthusiastic about their learning. Attendance is average and unauthorised absence has been successfully reduced by school initiatives which praise and reward attendance and punctuality. The Healthy School Award demonstrates pupils' secure understanding of how to live healthily. Community links are strong and pupils are exceptionally well prepared for their future as they learn by example from staff how to be kind, considerate and polite. All are proud of the Stephen Lawrence Award and good opportunities to develop cultural awareness equip them well for their future in multicultural Britain.
A lively curriculum, with an international flavour, links subjects imaginatively together so as to make learning relevant and fun for pupils. Pupils say that they enjoy the topics such as 'Chocolate'. Visits and an extensive range of activities further enhance provision. Computers are used effectively to support learning in most curriculum subjects.
Parents and pupils alike appreciate the outstanding level of care, support and guidance that the school provides. Systems are firmly in place to ensure health, safety and child protection. A very close check is kept on the welfare of vulnerable pupils and there are strong links with outside agencies to support this work.
Good leadership and management are driving the pace of change. The school improvement plan reflects the commitment of everyone to raise standards further, but there are too many priorities and some of these are not very precise. Nor is it made clear how the school will measure how successfully it has tackled these priorities. The governing body has a high level of expertise and governors visit often. Their role in helping to monitor school effectiveness is developing. Overall, the school has a good capacity to continue improving.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
The quality of provision in the Foundation Stage has improved significantly because of effective leadership and management. This has resulted in consistently good teaching enabling children to enjoy their learning in an attractive and exciting indoor learning environment. There are plans to further improve the outdoor area to make it even more exciting and interesting. All children, including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities benefit from the good quality of teaching and close adult support. This gives children confidence and encourages them to succeed. Children enter school with skills that are below average for their age. They make good progress and by the end of the Reception year almost all achieve the skills expected for their age and many exceed them. Most join Year 1 as happy, keen and confident learners. Exciting learning opportunities are carefully planned to stimulate children's curiosity and their desire to learn in the Nursery and two Reception classes. Speaking and listening are developed effectively but, in some areas in the Nursery, the opportunity to develop early writing skills is not sufficiently emphasised.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise standards in English with a particular focus on improving writing.
- In the school improvement plan, identify more clearly the key priorities for development and how success for each priority will be measured.