The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
St Andrew’s is twice the size of the average primary school, situated in an area of mixed housing. The school is popular and over-subscribed. The number of children entitled to claim a free school meal is low. Most of the pupils come from White British backgrounds. The percentage of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is broadly average. The attainment of children when they begin the Foundation Stage is below what is usually expected for their age in all areas of learning.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This dynamic and creative school provides a good quality of education with some outstanding features. The school is innovative, outward-looking and willing to use different approaches to learning in order to prepare pupils for life in the 21st century. Success is evident in pupils’ confident and keen attitudes to work. The headteacher and staff have developed a distinctive curriculum, called the ‘Rainbow’ curriculum. Learning is seen as a total community responsibility, not just a classroom activity. The emphasis is on excellence and enjoyment firmly embedded in Christian values.
Pupils’ personal development is outstanding. They enjoy school and are proud of their achievements. They feel safe, well cared for and benefit from the school’s strong emphasis on living a healthy life with a good balance between work and play. Pupils are sensitive to the needs of others and, through the schools procedures and values, learn to be reflective, thoughtful, well-mannered and respectful. They contribute to the local, wider and global community through numerous initiatives and respond well to being given a wide range of responsibilities in school. Parents are overwhelmingly positive about the school and describe it as having ‘charisma’ and ‘character’. They praise the dedication of all the staff and the focus on achieving good standards along with the fostering of respect and a sense of fair play.
Children enter the Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) with below average attainment in all areas, particularly in their social, communication and numeracy skills. They make good progress. Most leave the Reception classes having reached or exceeded the goals set for them. Steady progress continues in Years 1 and 2, although standards at the end of Year 2 have been below average for the last 2 years. The schools’ own data shows that most pupils achieved well, particularly in mathematics. Not enough pupils reach the higher levels in reading and writing. By the end of Year 6, standards are above average in mathematics and science and a good proportion of pupils achieve well beyond expectations in these subjects. Standards in English meet national expectations but not enough pupils reach the higher levels. Progress in English has been consistently slower than in mathematics and science for some years.
Teaching and learning are good throughout the school with the emphasis on enjoyment, learning through play and using the whole school as a learning environment. Learning begins as soon as pupils enter school each day with a wide range of registration activities where pupils can enjoy many different pursuits. There are murals on the walls, a sensory garden, which is being developed in conjunction with the Woodland Trust and a science garden where pupils can follow some of the challenges suggested by teachers. A courtyard is currently being transformed into an outdoor mathematics area. Using the Rainbow curriculum the school is developing core skills in an innovative and creative way. Video conferencing links the school with communities across the world. The care, guidance and support of pupils are outstanding. Pupils flourish and grow in confidence in this nurturing environment.
Leadership and management are good at all levels with outstanding leadership from the headteacher. Senior and middle leaders have a shared vision and everyone in school is engaged in the drive for excellence. Governors are shrewd, supportive and very well informed. Self evaluation is strong. The school gives good value for money. Part of the school’s mission statement is to ‘be a school in which a sense of belonging, involvement and real partnership is felt by all’. In this they have succeeded.
What the school should do to improve further
- Extend the opportunities given to pupils to increase their skills in reading and writing in Years 1 and 2.
- Ensure that pupils always have work that challenges them and accelerates the rate of progress they make in English to match their good achievement in mathematics and science.
Achievement and standards
Achievement is good across the school. Pupils make steady progress throughout Years 1 and 2 and this rate of progress accelerates as pupils mature. The rate of progress speeds up as pupils mature and is good when they enter Year 6.
Children enter the Nursery with below average attainment, especially in the areas of personal and social development, communication skills and numeracy. They make good progress in all areas of learning and nearly all the children reach the expected learning goals. Girls tend to do better than boys and the school is addressing this with specific strategies aimed at raising boys’ achievement.
Standards in Years 1 and 2 have been below average for the last two years, particularly in the areas of reading and writing. The proportion of pupils doing better for their age by the end of Year 2, in reading, writing and mathematics is below average. There is little significant difference in the standards of girls and boys. Work in pupils’ books and school data shows that the recent strategies to raise standards in Years 1 and 2 are taking effect and most pupils are now making good progress.
Standards have been above average by the end of Year 6 for the last three years and are on a rising trend. Pupils achieve well overall and very well in mathematics where in 2006 their achievement was in the top 5% of schools nationally. Pupils have achieved very well in science over several years. Pupils were less successful in English but achievement was better than in 2005. Girls did less well than girls nationally in English. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities achieve well, often exceeding their targets.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils’ personal development, including spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding. Pupils are confident, independent and compassionate. Behaviour and relationships in and out of the classroom are exemplary. Pupils who attend school regularly clearly enjoy their education, work well in groups and are eager to learn. Many pupils have full attendance although attendance overall is average. Excellent spiritual development is promoted by assemblies, which are shared experiences for staff and pupils. All pupils engage well with activities and enjoy the opportunities to sing and listen to music during assemblies and in their lessons. At the end of every school day, all pupils reflect on the learning activities from during the day and on their contribution to the life of the school. Cultural development is outstanding because pupils develop an appreciation of the visual arts and music and, using the video conferencing facilities, engage with other pupils and teachers from many countries across the world.
Pupils say the school is a very secure place with good teachers who take care of them. They know the importance of staying healthy and take notice of the school’s good advice. Pupils say they enjoy the house system, which encourages healthy competition. They contribute to their community by working with younger pupils, supporting adults in numerous monitoring jobs and charity work. Through the very active school council, pupils know that their voice is listened to and cite the development of the ‘Timber Trail’ and benches in the playground as responses to their suggestions for improving the school. The range of opportunities available for pupils and their achievements prepares them well for future life.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning are good across the school. Teachers use their good subject knowledge to plan exciting and challenging lessons. This stimulates pupils to learn. There is very good teamwork and the school’s system of having four teaching groups for every three classes means that focused help can be given to smaller groups of pupils who need extra support or extra challenge. There is not always enough emphasis on reading and writing in Years 1 and 2. This does not give all pupils enough opportunities to practise their developing skills in these areas. The school is aware of this and has introduced strategies to increase pupils’ interest and skills. Teachers, support staff and parent helpers work very well together. There is constant exchange of information so that the progress of all pupils is measured effectively. Pupils clearly enjoy their work and there is a sense of excitement and anticipation in many lessons. There are very good tracking systems and the school has devised its own ‘bus stop’ assessment system where pupils’ progress is assessed, monitored and evaluated every term with reports sent home to parents. The system is used to set challenging targets in English, mathematics and science. Pupils understand what they need to do to improve and learn how to evaluate their own work and that of others in the class.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is good with outstanding features. The school is very innovative in adopting good practice from across the world to develop a curriculum based on early learning, or ‘Rainbow’, principles in all years. Increasingly pupils develop the basics of reading, writing and numeracy through a cross-curricular approach. There is a strong focus on investigation, play, creativity and using information and communication technology (ICT) to bring the outside world into the classroom. This is at an early stage, but there is already a major impact on pupils’ enjoyment of learning and on their awareness of healthy lifestyles. Pupils particularly enjoy ’DAZZLE’ time. This programme of exciting activities involves art, music, dance and sport. It gives pupils many opportunities to demonstrate their talents through performance. Music is very important in the life of the school. All pupils learn to play an instrument and music is played to stimulate or create an aura of calmness. Large numbers of pupils participate in the outstanding range of extra-curricular activities. Vibrant, informative and relevant displays in all areas help create an atmosphere conducive to learning. Externally, science and sensory gardens, and woodland areas, provide good opportunities for outdoor learning. Pupils of all ages are competent in using computers. The impact of these developments is raising standards. Very good provision for pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities enables them to access all areas of the curriculum. Pupils who have specific gifts and talents benefit from a programme of challenging and enriching activities. For example, they put their talents to good use in producing a school newspaper.
Care, guidance and support
The school provides pupils with an outstanding level of care, guidance and support. This is a community that nurtures the development and care of all pupils and all adults. Every member of the school is valued equally. Pupils relate very well to adults and gain sufficient confidence to express their feelings and opinions. Guidance for pupils is based on thorough, careful and rigorous assessment. All pupils, including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and those identified as gifted and talented, have targets that guide their learning to help them to achieve their potential. The tracking system has made a strong contribution to rising standards. The progress of each individual is recorded so teachers and other adults have a clear picture of what each pupils needs to do next. There are very effective links with parents and a range of local agencies to safeguard the needs of all pupils including the most vulnerable. Child protection, risk assessments and procedures for health and safety are robust, effective and very well monitored.
Leadership and management
Leadership and management are good. This is not a school that is content to stand still. The dynamic leadership of the headteacher, very well supported by all staff, ensures a relentless drive for improvement and a readiness to innovate and take carefully calculated risks to implement a wide range of learning approaches. These have had a considerable impact on standards throughout the school. There is a shared vision for an inclusive school in which all pupils are equally valued, expectations are high and the promotion of academic achievement and personal development have parity, all within a strong Christian ethos. Intensive monitoring and evaluation by senior and middle managers underpin a challenging but achievable long-term strategic improvement plan. However, even where the need for improvement is clear, progress has sometimes been too slow, as in the case of English throughout the school. There are excellent opportunities for professional development because rigorous performance management identifies training needs and the school embraces the philosophy of distributed leadership. Financial management is good. The school is well resourced, particularly for ICT, and every available area of the accommodation has been developed to provide a stimulating space for learning. The school gives good value for money. Governors are well informed, committed and supportive; they carry out their responsibilities well through a strong committee structure and governors linked to subjects and year groups who visit the school regularly. The school has a deservedly high reputation in the locality. Good progress has been made in all aspects of the school’s work since the previous inspection. Leaders at all levels have a good understanding of priorities, are clear about how to address them and have the sense of purpose, drive and confidence needed to support future progress. Consequently, the school has good capacity to improve.