The inspection was carried out by one Additional Inspector.
Description of the school
This is smaller than average urban primary school. While the majority of pupils come from White British backgrounds an above average proportion come from minority ethnic groups. A number are in the early stages of learning English. The proportion of pupils who are entitled to free school meals is well above average. The overall percentage of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is well above average with considerable variations in year groups. At the time of the inspection, the school was led by the deputy headteacher in an acting capacity. The school has Healthy School and sport ActiveMark awards.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school that has maintained its strengths since its last inspection, and improved in some areas. The school has been cautious in its own judgement of its overall effectiveness. The inspection confirms the views of the large majority of parents, who find the school to be well led and their children skilfully taught. Pupils are safe and well cared for, and enjoy their time in school, as their improving attendance demonstrates. They show in their understanding and commitment to healthy lifestyles that the school's achievement of the national Healthy School award and ActiveMark are deserved.
Pupils achieve well to reach standards in English, mathematics and science that are broadly average. However, not enough Year 6 pupils reach the higher National Curriculum levels. Early indications are that many of the current Year 6 pupils have reached the levels expected for their age and that the school is on line to reach its challenging targets for 2007. National test results are broadly average at the end of Year 2. Pupils make good progress and achieve well during Key Stages 1 and 2. Changes to staffing in the Foundation Stage have been effective and provision is improving. However, here, children's progress is satisfactory rather than good. They enter the school at levels below those expected for their age and few are on course to reach the early learning goals as they enter Year 1.
Pupils' personal development is good, as is their moral, social and cultural development, with outstanding aspects in their spiritual development. Older pupils are good ambassadors for the school. They show in their mature and sensible approach how effectively the staff support them to develop good personal skills. Behaviour is good in and around school, and pupils' commitment to learning is evident in lessons. They make a positive contribution to the school and local community, and are well prepared for the next stage in their learning. Teaching and learning are good. Pupils say that the best things about the school are the teachers and learning. The staff's lesson planning is detailed and pupils know what they are expected to learn. The curriculum is good and there are well attended after-school clubs and many interesting enrichment activities. Recent improvements to curricular planning, based on establishing links between subjects, is beginning to have a positive impact. The staff's care and guidance for the pupils is good. However, more needs to be done to guide academic development, to ensure that pupils take more responsibility for their learning and progress. Leadership and management are good. The acting headteacher provides effective leadership. She is supported well by the rest of the staff, the governors and most parents. Changes to the structure of the leadership team have empowered other senior leaders. They have taken on increased responsibilities successfully and are strongly committed to further professional development. Self-evaluation is good and the whole school community contributes to the effective school improvement plan. Improvement since the previous inspection has been good and there is a good capacity for future improvement.
What the school should do to improve further
- Increase the proportion of pupils reaching the higher levels in national tests at Key Stage 2.
- Ensure that the guidance offered helps pupils to know what they have to do to improve their work.
Achievement and standards
Children enter the school at levels lower than expected and reach average standards at the end of Year 6. Test results fluctuate year on year and reflect the considerable differences in the proportion of pupils in each year identified with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. The school does well for such pupils and for those from minority ethnic groups or in the early stages of learning English. The results of assessments in reading, writing and mathematics at the end of Year 2 are broadly average, mirroring the good progress pupils make during Key Stage 1. In Key Stage 2, this rate of progress is maintained and most pupils continue to achieve well. However, although test results have improved over the past few years, not enough pupils reach the higher level 5 in Year 6. In the current Year 6 progress and achievement are good and standards average.
Personal development and well-being
The majority of pupils respond with enthusiasm to the positive ethos of the school. Their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. Pupils enjoy school, feel safe and say they like the way that everybody gets on well together. The strong commitment of the acting headteacher and staff and the good relationships within the school ensure that all pupils, from all ethnic backgrounds, have a voice in the school. School council members and playground 'buddies' fulfil their roles well. They are involved in making decisions, for example to provide better access to water for pupils and more equipment to use at playtimes. Through work to achieve the national Healthy School accreditation all pupils have a good understanding of healthy living. Pupils' sound basic skills and good personal and social skills prepare them well for the next stage in their education and for their future economic well-being.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning have improved since the previous inspection. The school's ethos ensures that teachers know the pupils well and the tracking of their progress gives teachers good information to plan effective lessons. Pupils are keen to learn and talk positively about their interesting learning activities. Teachers and support staff work closely together, particularly to enable pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to make good progress. Teachers ensure that pupils know what they are expected to learn and assess how well they have progressed at the end of lessons. Although guidance is sometimes offered to pupils to help them understand what they need to do next to improve their work, this does not occur consistently. As a result, opportunities are missed to extend learning.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is enriched by a wide range of visits and visitors. It is enhanced by the effective use the school makes of its immediate environment and the thoughtful use of available space in order to extend learning. This helps pupils to become fully engaged in their work. Personal, social and health education gives pupils a good understanding of how to lead healthy lifestyles. There is a focus on the basic skills and these are used well in other subjects so that pupils see a purpose in their learning. A strength in the curriculum is the way in which activities are adjusted to meet the needs of all pupils, particularly those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, ensuring that all pupils make good progress. Pupils are enthusiastic about the good enrichment through a wide variety of clubs and activities.
Care, guidance and support
Care, guidance and support are good. The safeguarding of pupils meets national guidelines and systems are in place to ensure the health and safety of pupils. Partnerships with parents and other professionals are good. A strength of this partnership is illustrated in the good links with the partner high school, supporting the transition of older pupils. Procedures for the assessment and tracking of pupils' progress are being developed to ensure that teachers, pupils and parents have a more informed view of academic and personal progress. Pupils know their targets, but they are not always sufficiently aware of what they need to do to attain them. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are monitored and supported well.
Leadership and management
The acting headteacher provides clear leadership, and in conjunction with the substantive headteacher, has developed and utilised the considerable talents of the staff. Staff have improved how the school tracks the progress that pupils make. Provision in the Foundation Stage has improved and there is a growing sense of confidence and teamwork. Checks on the quality of teaching and learning and on pupils' progress are carried out effectively by the leadership team, with subject leaders becoming increasingly involved in this role. Nevertheless, the school's managers do not yet ensure that consistent guidance is offered to pupils to help them improve. The school has improved the fabric of the school building and information and communication technology equipment. The governing body is fully involved in the work of the school and monitors its performance closely. Governors use their expertise to support the school and to carry out their critical friend role effectively.