The inspection was carried out by an Additional Inspector who evaluated the overall effectiveness of the school. The inspector looked particularly at the children's progress and standards as they move through the school, as well as the impact of initiatives taken by school leaders to raise standards and the quality of provision. The inspector met with staff, governors and pupils. Parts of lessons were observed, parents' questionnaires and a sample of pupils' work were examined and school information, including self-evaluation, were scrutinised. 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 the report.
Description of the school
Stadhampton is a smaller than average rural primary school situated in a village just outside Oxford. Due to the small size of the school, pupils are taught in three mixed-age classes. Most pupils are of White British heritage with a very small number from different minority ethnic groups. A small number are at an early stage of learning to speak English having recently arrived from Poland. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties is well below that found nationally.
The school has achieved a number of awards including 'The Oxfordshire Healthy Schools status', Investors in People, the Sports Activemark, the International Schools Award, Artsmark Award and also the Eco School Bronze Award. Since the last inspection, a new headteacher has been appointed and has been in post for two terms.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school, which owes its success to the good leadership and management of the headteacher and governing body, good teaching and the teamwork of staff. A strong feature of the teaching in the school is the excellent relationships between staff and pupils that promote outstanding personal development. Together with the school's outstanding curriculum this ensures good academic progress. When pupils leave the school, standards are above average and pupils' achievements are good overall. Parents and carers are supportive of the school and value the contribution it makes to the all-round education of their children.
Children join the Reception year with skills and abilities that are in line with those expected of four-year-olds. Throughout the school pupils make good progress in relation to their starting points and meet or exceed appropriate targets. By the end of Year 2, they consistently reach just above average standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The pace of progress is maintained as pupils move through the school. At the end of Year 6, standards in English are high, as last year's national tests results showed that over half of the pupils reached a level higher than expected for their age. Pupils achieve a little better in English than in mathematics or science. This is because they have a wider variety of creative opportunities across the curriculum to reinforce their literacy skills. The present Year 6 cohort is on track to reach even more challenging targets this year, so the school is sustaining above average standards in all subjects. Effective individual education plans provide the basis for the very good support offered, often on a one-to-one basis, for those with learning difficulties and for pupils at an early stage of learning English. Teaching assistants provide good support for pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and their progress is effectively monitored. All pupils develop well the basic skills they need for later life.
Pupils' outstanding personal development and well-being is brought about by strong pastoral care and guidance and an extremely stimulating curriculum. Their social, spiritual, moral and cultural development is outstanding. Behaviour is good, both in lessons and around the school and their well above average attendance is witness to the amount of enjoyment pupils get from their learning. They feel extremely safe due to the thorough procedures aimed at safeguarding them. They treat each other with respect and willingly respond to opportunities to accept responsibility. As a result, they feel happy and secure and are confident, independent learners. The school works well with outside agencies to support pupils with identified needs. For example, the school has made very good use of the contact with their Polish partner school who regularly provide books in Polish for the school library.
The quality of teaching and learning is good. Teachers have good subject knowledge, provide clear explanations and capitalise effectively on pupils' responsiveness and positive attitudes. Teachers plan for an appropriate mix of teacher-directed and independent work. The achievement of many external awards reflects the equal balance in the curriculum between promoting pupils' academic growth and their personal development. The rich curriculum is creative, inclusive and provides challenge. There are many activities that capture pupils' interests and extend their learning extremely well. Exceptionally good attention is paid to promoting an understanding of different cultures and beliefs. For example, the headteacher led a group of staff, pupils and parents on an educational and cultural visit to a small primary school in Poland and the links made enhance learning for all in this highly inclusive school. The project work, based on the school's established ties with its Polish partner school, have enabled pupils to make connections in their learning between English, history and geography. Through the successful Comenius Project, pupils have gained at first hand a very good understanding of customs and traditions in Portugal, Spain as well as Poland and this has added much vitality to the curriculum. The school has put in place several well-considered initiatives to promote pupils' understanding of healthy lifestyles. Adults are effective at tracking and supporting the pupils' personal and academic progress so they can achieve well.
Recent changes introduced by the newly appointed headteacher, have led to a more shared leadership and management. Roles have been clarified and areas of responsibility have been delegated. Plans for school improvement set out appropriate actions for some priorities but lack clear success criteria, particularly in identifying how staff at all levels will assess improvements in pupils' standards and academic achievements. The majority of parents hold the school in high regard. Many parents agreed with the sentiment of one who said, 'there is a good learning environment with supportive teachers led by an excellent headteacher.' Although parents comment on the good contact made through the weekly newsletter, there are some conflicting views amongst parents on how well the school takes account of their suggestions and concerns. Several parents feel that they are not being kept fully in the picture about how they can support their own children because of a lack of information on pupils' progress. The school agrees they must address this communication issue.
The governing body fulfils its statutory duties and offers a good degree of support and challenge for the school. The headteacher has done much in a very short time to move the school forward as seen in pupils' good academic achievement, their outstanding personal development and the exciting curriculum. The school is well placed to meet its challenging targets in 2008 and has good capacity for improvement.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
The Foundation Stage is led and managed well. One of the strengths of the provision is that Reception children work alongside Year 1 and this builds their confidence and supports their learning. Children arrive with skills that are broadly as expected for their age and most have had some pre-school education. They make good progress in the Reception Year. By the time they begin Year 1, most reach the expected levels for their age and a significant number exceed them. This is because of the positive relationships in this safe environment and the good teaching, which nurtures their development. Thorough lesson planning and a detailed knowledge of each child's ability ensure they achieve their best. Staff are developing ways to actively involve parents in their children's learning. The outdoor area has recently been developed so that children's choices to work outdoors and their independence are not inhibited.
What the school should do to improve further
- Ensure that development planning is sufficiently detailed to help managers to evaluate the impact of actions.
- Find ways to improve communication to parents on pupils' progress.