St Nicolas' CofE VA School, Downderry
Headteacher: Mrs L Fear
Diocese of Truro
87 pupils, Mixed
|Unique Reference Number||112032|
|Inspection dates||13–14 January 2010|
|Reporting inspector||Paul Sadler|
|Type of school||Primary|
|School category||Voluntary aided|
|Age range of pupils||4–11|
|Gender of pupils||Mixed|
|Number of pupils on the school roll||85|
|Appropriate authority||The governing body|
|Headteacher||Trevor Caves (acting executive)|
|Date of previous school inspection||12 December 2006|
|Cornwall PL11 3LF|
|Telephone number||01503 250565|
|Fax number||01503 250565|
|Inspection dates||13–14 January 2010|
© Crown copyright 2009
This inspection was carried out by two additional inspectors. About half their time was spent observing four teachers teaching six lessons. Inspectors observed the school's work, and looked at documentation including records of pupils' attainment and progress, that relating to self-evaluation and strategic planning, and to plans for the curriculum and for teaching programmes. They analysed the results of questionnaires completed by pupils, staff and by 40 parents and carers.
The inspection team reviewed many aspects of the school's work. It looked in detail at the following:
The school serves a number of small coastal villages in a rural part of Cornwall. Almost all pupils are of White British ethnicity. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, mainly moderate learning difficulties, is average.
The school makes provision for children in the Early Years Foundation Stage in a class with pupils in Year 1. The remaining year groups are divided between three other classes.
The long-serving former headteacher retired in October 2009. The school is currently led by an acting executive headteacher, who is also headteacher of a nearby primary school. This is a part-time arrangement for two days each week; at other times the assistant headteacher is responsible for day-to-day leadership. The governing body is consulting with parents, carers and other stakeholders on the best model for the leadership of the school in the longer term.
|Inspection grades: 1 is outstanding, 2 is good, 3 is satisfactory, and 4 is inadequate|
|Please turn to the glossary for a description of the grades and inspection terms|
Overall effectiveness: how good is the school?
The school's capacity for sustained improvement
This is a satisfactory school which is undergoing a period of change. It has a number of good features, including pupils' attainment and progress in English, their excellent understanding of how to keep healthy, and their consistently good behaviour. Comments from parents and carers, such as 'the school has been very supportive of my children's special needs', reflect the good care, support and guidance that pupils receive. Leaders and managers work hard to ensure that the good curriculum stimulates and interests pupils. The very wide range of additional activities, including sport, music, art and residential opportunities, is an area of notable strength, as is the good provision for children in the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Children start school with skills and knowledge that are broadly as expected for their age. By the end of Year 6 their attainment in English is above average, but in mathematics and science it is average. Pupils have good skills of reading and writing from an early age and by the end of Year 6 can write accurately with flair and imagination in a range of styles. Good work by teachers and, especially, teaching assistants ensures that pupils with special needs and others identified as needing additional help make good progress. While in some respects pupils' progress is better than expected, the relative weaknesses in mathematics and science, especially in Years 3 to 6, lead to satisfactory achievement overall. This pattern is reflected in the teaching. While none is inadequate and some is good, especially in English and subjects such as art and music, in mathematics particularly teaching is satisfactory. Pupils have too few opportunities to apply their mathematical skills to solve problems that are relevant to life. The school recognises this weakness and current leaders and managers are working hard to resolve it, but as yet there has been too little time for their actions to have a measurable impact on pupils' progress. Overall, the school has a satisfactory understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, has successfully raised standards of English and improved provision for children and pupils in the Early Years through to Year 2, a matter raised at the last inspection.
The acting executive headteacher has achieved a considerable amount in a very short time. The growing strength of his partnership with the enthusiastic assistant headteacher is increasingly recognised by staff and pupils and by many parents and carers. For example, a more sharply focused strategic plan is emerging from a long list of tasks and actions, although this is not yet focused on key weaknesses. This, together with the success of previous improvements, reflects the school's satisfactory capacity to improve further. Governors are currently focused on deciding a future leadership model for the school. They meet their statutory responsibilities, for example to ensure that children are properly safeguarded, and ensure that the school makes a good contribution to community cohesion, but the level of monitoring of the school's work and of challenge offered to senior leaders is currently light.
Outcomes for individuals and groups of pupils
Children in the Early Years Foundation Stage make good progress, especially in the development of their communication, language and literacy skills. This good progress continues throughout the school in reading, writing and in some other subjects. Pupils talk and write with confidence and accuracy, for instance in writing poetry about the sea, or when describing experiences overseas to the class. In mathematics and science, progress slows, especially in Years 3 to 6. Pupils develop the necessary basic skills, but have difficulty applying them to 'real' situations. Pupils with special educational needs make relatively better progress in these subjects as the tasks they are given, although simpler, offer more opportunity for the pupils to see how the skill might be used.
Pupils have good social skills and relate well to each other and to adults. Older pupils care for younger ones and all say there is little bullying, any which occurs being resolved by adults. Pupils have a good understanding about how to keep safe in their coastal environment and when undertaking other activities such as using the internet. Pupils are enthusiastic about exercise and healthy eating, and enjoy a range of sports such as cross-country running and football. They make a good contribution to the community with activities as diverse as drama and music productions for local people and cleaning the beach. Attendance is average, and is lowered by the poor attendance of a small number of pupils, which the school works hard to resolve. While many of the skills pupils will need in later life are developing well, such as their use of information and communication technology and ability to work independently, the relative weaknesses in their numeracy and problem-solving skills mean this aspect of their development is satisfactory overall.
The school's Christian ethos and emphasis on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship contribute well to pupils' good spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Pupils are tolerant of those of different faiths and cultures, and have a good understanding of others' points of view, in spite of their limited contact with those from different backgrounds.
These are the grades for pupils' outcomes
|Pupils' achievement and the extent to which they enjoy their learning|
Taking into account:
The quality of pupils' learning and their progress
The quality of learning for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities and their progress
|The extent to which pupils feel safe||2|
|The extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles||1|
|The extent to which pupils contribute to the school and wider community||2|
|The extent to which pupils develop workplace and other skills that will contribute to their future economic well-being|
Taking into account:
|The extent of pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development||2|
1 The grades for attainment and attendance are: 1 is high; 2 is above average; 3 is broadly average; and 4 is low
Teaching has a number of strengths. Teachers use assessment well to identify the needs of pupils who need extra help, and intervene effectively to provide it, hence these pupils make good progress. Assessment is used more effectively to track progress in English than in mathematics. Marking is detailed and generally helps pupils to improve their work. Questioning is used well, and pupils give confident, detailed responses. Teaching assistants are used effectively and provide good support. Teachers are more confident in planning English and some other subjects than they are in mathematics where there are too few opportunities for pupils to solve problems and use their skills.
The school successfully applied for additional funding to develop the curriculum around the theme of the marine and beach environment and this is leading to some exciting work, for example on the habitats of sharks. Pupils speak with enthusiasm of the teaching of citizenship which links aspects of their personal, social and health education in an effective manner. There are some unusual features to the very good provision of additional activities, such as opportunities for the youngest children to take part in an overnight camp in the school grounds.
The school provides good care, support and guidance and has good links with parents and carers, external agencies and with many other local schools. A more rigorous approach to meeting pupils' special educational needs is proving successful, as the school works to achieve 'dyslexia friendly' status.
These are the grades for the quality of provision
|The quality of teaching|
Taking into account:
The use of assessment to support learning
|The extent to which the curriculum meets pupils' needs, including, where relevant, through partnerships||2|
|The effectiveness of care, guidance and support||2|
The acting executive headteacher has brought increased rigour to the school's self-evaluation and strategic planning, and has quickly formed good relationships with staff, governors and others, so that increased drive and ambition on the part of the school is already evident. While this has yet to have a significant impact on pupils' progress, some parents have already noted improved attitudes and behaviour among pupils. Effective leadership over a period of time has led to improvements in the teaching of English and in the Early Years Foundation Stage, but has had less impact in mathematics and science.
While parents and carers are supportive of the school and readily acknowledge its strengths, there is understandably some uncertainty about the future direction of the school and the governors' plans for securing long-term leadership. Rightly, the governing body intends to resolve this issue quickly. The energies of governors are currently mainly focused on this issue and as a result there has been less emphasis on monitoring and evaluating the school's routine work. Nevertheless, important issues such as the safeguarding of children have not been overlooked, and the school meets all requirements in this respect. The school promotes equality of opportunity effectively. Pupils with special educational needs are supported well and the school has worked successfully to address past differences in the achievement of boys and girls. The school works actively to promote community cohesion locally and through links with schools in other parts of the United Kingdom and the world.
These are the grades for leadership and management
|The effectiveness of leadership and management in embedding ambition and driving improvement|
Taking into account:
The leadership and management of teaching and learning
|The effectiveness of the governing body in challenging and supporting the|
school so that weaknesses are tackled decisively and statutory responsibilities met
|The effectiveness of the school's engagement with parents and carers||2|
|The effectiveness of partnerships in promoting learning and well-being||2|
|The effectiveness with which the school promotes equality of opportunity and tackles discrimination||2|
|The effectiveness of safeguarding procedures||2|
|The effectiveness with which the school promotes community cohesion||2|
|The effectiveness with which the school deploys resources to achieve value for money||3|
Children make good progress in all aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and start Year 1 with standards that are a little above national expectations, most notably in communication, language and literacy. With Year 1 classmates, the children discussed a map of a pirates' island. They could identify labels and in some cases read them. While Year 1 undertook a more structured activity supervised by a teaching assistant, the children selected their own play around the theme of the map. This led to some very good use of language and social interaction. A child built a tower of layers of different coloured bricks. 'It's a volcano. The colours are the layers of lava', he explained. Outdoors, other children collaborated to measure the length of a path using plastic 'footprints', or made a model island in sand.
Children are cared for well and parents value the welcoming environment and the information they receive about their child's progress such as through the 'Learning Journey' books. The class is well resourced for its size. The outdoor space has recently been expanded to include a decking area and greenhouse tunnel, but recent poor weather has prevented the organisation of this area to bring it into full use. This aspect of the school is led and managed well, the leader having undertaken significant training on the requirements for the education of children of this age.
These are the grades for the Early Years Foundation Stage
|Overall effectiveness of the Early Years Foundation Stage|
Taking into account:
Outcomes for children in the Early Years Foundation Stage
The quality of provision in the Early Years Foundation Stage
The effectiveness of leadership and management of the Early Years Foundation
Parents and carers are generally very positive about the school, especially the quality of care their children receive, the support for those with special educational needs, and the interesting and varied curriculum. Inspectors found these positive views to be justified.
Their less positive response concerning leadership and management is a reflection of the current uncertainty over the future direction and leadership of the school. Inspectors found that governors are correct in their desire to quickly resolve this matter.
Ofsted invited all the registered parents and carers of pupils registered at St Nicolas' School, Downderry to complete a questionnaire about their views of the school.
In the questionnaire, parents and carers were asked to record how strongly they agreed with 13 statements about the school.
The inspection team received 40 completed questionnaires by the end of the on-site inspection. In total, there are 85 pupils registered at the school.
|My child enjoys school||26||65||14||35||0||0||0||0|
|The school keeps my child safe||29||73||11||28||0||0||0||0|
|My school informs me about my child's progress||19||48||19||48||1||3||0||0|
|My child is making enough progress at this school||16||40||22||55||1||3||0||0|
|The teaching is good at this school||19||48||18||45||1||3||0||0|
|The school helps me to support my child's learning||18||45||20||50||1||3||0||0|
|The school helps my child to have a healthy lifestyle||28||70||11||28||0||0||0||0|
|The school makes sure that my child is well prepared for the future (for example changing year group, changing school, and for children who are finishing school, entering further or higher education, or entering employment)||12||30||15||38||3||8||0||0|
|The school meets my child's particular needs||17||43||20||50||2||5||0||0|
|The school deals effectively with unacceptable behaviour||16||40||17||43||2||5||0||0|
|The school takes account of my suggestions and concerns||19||48||12||30||1||3||1||3|
|The school is led and managed effectively||16||40||15||38||5||13||1||3|
|Overall, I am happy with my child's experience at this school||22||55||17||43||1||3||0||0|
The table above summarises the responses that parents and carers made to each statement. The percentages indicate the proportion of parents and carers giving that response out of the total number of completed questionnaires. Where one or more parents and carers chose not to answer a particular question, the percentages will not add up to 100%.
|Grade 1||Outstanding||These features are highly effective. An oustanding school provides exceptionally well for all its pupils' needs.|
|Grade 2||Good||These are very positive features of a school. A school that is good is serving its pupils well.|
|Grade 3||Satisfactory||These features are of reasonable quality. A satisfactory school is providing adequately for its pupils.|
|Grade 4||Inadequate||These features are not of an acceptable standard. An inadequate school needs to make significant improvement in order to meet the needs of its pupils. Ofsted inspectors will make further visits until it improves.|
|Overall effectiveness judgement (percentage of schools)|
|Type of school||Outstanding||Good||Satisfactory||Inadequate|
|Pupil referral |
the progress and success of a pupil in their learning, development or training.
the standard of the pupils' work shown by test and examination results and in lessons.
|Capacity to improve:|
the proven ability of the school to continue improving. Inspectors base this judgement on what the school has accomplished so far and on the quality of its systems to maintain improvement.
|Leadership and management:|
the contribution of all the staff with responsibilities, not just the headteacher, to identifying priorities, directing and motivating staff and running the school.
how well pupils acquire knowledge, develop their understanding, learn and practise skills and are developing their competence as learners.
inspectors form a judgement on a school's overall effectiveness based on the findings from their inspection of the school. The following judgements, in particular, influence what the overall effectiveness judgement will be.
the rate at which pupils are learning in lessons and over longer periods of time. It is often measured by comparing the pupils' attainment at the end of a key stage with their attainment when they started.
20 January 2010
Inspection of St Nicolas' School, Downderry, Torpoint PL11 3LF
We really enjoyed meeting you, talking to you and seeing your work when we visited your school recently. Thank you for making us so welcome and telling us about all the good things you do at school.
Yours is a satisfactory school. Your parents or carers agree there are lots of good things about it, which include:
We have asked the school to do two things:
Good luck to you all in the future.
|Any complaints about the inspection or the report should be made following the procedures set out in the guidance 'Complaining about inspections', which is available from Ofsted's website: ofsted.gov.uk. If you would like Ofsted to send you a copy of the guidance, please telephone 08456 404045, or email email@example.com.|