The inspection was carried out by one Additional Inspector who evaluated the overall effectiveness of the school and investigated the following issues: current standards, the achievement of pupils who move into the school other than at the usual times, the quality of teaching and learning, and the way in which the school checks its own performance. Evidence was gathered through classroom observations, work sampling and discussions with pupils, staff and governors. 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, were not justified, and these have been included where appropriate in this report.
Description of the school
This large school serves a mixture of local authority and private housing. Almost all pupils are of White British backgrounds and use English as their first language. The number of pupils who have learning difficulties is slightly above average. The Nursery has opened since the last inspection. There is an above average movement of pupils in and out of the school other than at the usual times of joining or leaving. There are more boys than girls, particularly in the Nursery. The school has recently achieved a number of national awards. It provides extended services from 7.45 to 18.00 for 51 weeks of the year.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Shiphay provides an excellent quality of education for all its pupils. From standards that are well below the expected levels for their age when they enter the Nursery, pupils reach standards that are significantly above the national average in English, mathematics and science at the end of Year 6. They attain exceptionally high standards in information and communication technology (ICT), French, humanities and the performing arts. The meticulous tracking of each individual's progress ensures that all pupils achieve exceptionally well. Teachers keep a careful check on each pupil's progress and target individuals with extra help where needed. This means that those pupils who find learning more difficult than others and individuals who have moved into the school partway through their primary education achieve as well as their peers. Very interesting programmes, such as the 'Bright Sparks' project for pupils who have excellent ICT skills and exciting activities planned with local secondary schools, ensure that the more able are fully challenged in their learning.
Much of the success of this school is down to the vision and direction of the headteacher who, aided by the excellent work of the senior leadership team, has ensured that pupils receive only the very best quality of education. The senior leaders set very challenging targets to raise standards. They achieve this because they invest in an enriched curriculum and carefully target resources to ensure that the needs of all the pupils are met. The way in which governors steered and supported the establishment of the Nursery illustrates their excellent involvement and commitment to the school. The school has an extremely accurate view of its own strengths and areas requiring development.
Teachers are skilled at making learning very interesting. The careful choice of stimulating topics enables the pupils to make links in their learning across the curriculum. For example, Year 6 work on the Second World War includes a geographical study of Slapton Sands where pupils are involved in physical training activities similar to those undertaken by the troops during the war. A whole-school project on Africa has heightened the pupils' awareness of Fair Trade. After designing and making a wide range of goods, the pupils priced each item. They then sold them at a public sale and sent the profits to a charity supporting world poverty. This project enabled them to gain a good understanding of the value of money and the importance of Fair Trade purchases. This prepared them extremely well for their future economic well-being.
Literacy and numeracy skills are taught very well and illustrations of their use in everyday life are often given to help the pupils understand the concepts. The successful enhancement of learning through memory games, and through visitors such as artists and filmmakers, ensures that pupils develop these skills but also enjoy learning. Teachers have exceptionally high expectations, as illustrated by the 'no hands up' policy. This means that teachers randomly select individuals to answer questions. Consequently, pupils are required to be attentive at all times. Teachers ensure that they maintain the interest of boys and carefully craft lessons to ensure that they achieve as well as the girls. Most of the pupils' work is clearly marked and individual targets support improvements well. However, systems to guide the pupils towards the next step in their learning are not consistent from class to class. Consequently, this does not support smooth transition through the school.
Pupils' personal development and well-being are outstanding because they receive the highest quality pastoral care, guidance and support. They keep fit because they know the importance of regular exercise. Planning the menu for school lunches with the cook also ensures that they understand the principles of eating healthily. Pupils explain that there are always adults they can go to for help and that their teachers and support staff 'always look out for them'. Pupils use the 'ideas box' to share suggestions for school improvement and their views are always taken into consideration. For example, the school council is proud that the designs pupils have created for improving the toilet facilities have been adopted. Younger pupils are well looked after by the older pupils who take their responsibilities as peer mentors and playground buddies very seriously. The pupils' excellent attitudes towards learning are reflected in their regular attendance. They grow into confident and sensible young people who value their education and know that they must, as one of their songs they regularly sing in school suggests 'give it all you've got, 'cause you've really got a lot to give'.
Most parents are happy with the school and their views are echoed by one who explained that 'Shiphay is a great platform for the next generation of children'. Whilst a small minority of parents are unhappy about communication between home and school, inspection findings confirm that 'teachers are very approachable and friendly'.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
The success of the Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) is down to the exceptional skills of the teaching and support staff. They fully understand how these young children learn and they provide an excellent quality of provision. Every activity planned has a teaching purpose and this ensures that the children build firm foundations in their learning. For example, 'Café Time' enables these youngsters to learn about eating healthily but also about sharing, taking turns and socialising with each other. The very stimulating indoor and outdoor learning areas provide very high quality opportunities for boys and girls to choose to be active learners or take time for more reflective learning. Creative role-play areas are used successfully to develop speaking and listening skills. For example, at the 'Shiphay Seaside', when pretending to play in the water and sand, the children widen their vocabulary and experiment with new sounds. The identification of key personnel for each child ensures that the transition between home and school is seamless.
What the school should do to improve further
- Adopt consistent systems in all classes that will help all the pupils know what the next step in their learning will be.