The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors and two Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Stocksfield Avenue Primary School is larger than the average sized primary school and is situated to the west of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne. The percentage of pupils entitled to free school meals is similar to that found nationally. The proportion of pupils from a minority ethnic background or who are at the early stages of learning English is lower than the national average. The proportion of pupils who have learning difficulties and/or disabilities is also lower than that found nationally. A small number of pupils have a statement of special educational need. The school is subject to re-organisation proposals and a new school building is currently being built as part of a local authority private finance initiative scheme. The school is closely linked to a children’s centre. There are currently 39 pupils in the Nursery who all attend full time. The school has achieved a number of awards including the Green Flag Eco-Schools Award, Basic Skills Quality Mark, Artsmark Silver Award, Investors in People Award and Healthy School Status.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Stocksfield Avenue Primary School is a good school. There is a new school building currently being constructed on the school site and the headteacher, staff and governors have taken every opportunity to ensure that this is providing a valuable learning opportunity for pupils as well as making sure pupils are very safe.
The successful personal development of the pupils is a reflection of the good care and support given to them. They say they feel safe in school and they know there is always someone they can talk to if they have a worry or concern. Pupils behave very well and report that there is no bullying. Pupils have a good understanding of how to keep healthy and enjoy opportunities to participate in out of school activities, such as sport. They contribute well to the school, for example as members of the school council or Eco Club, and also benefit from opportunities to work with members of the local community and other agencies. The majority of parents are very pleased with the quality of education and care provided by the school. One parent echoes the views of many when they say, ‘This is a good school and I would recommend it to anyone.’ Many parents comment on the friendliness and approachability of the staff and the good support their child receives if they have a problem.
Most children start school with skills that are typical for their age. They make good progress overall, although progress is variable across Key Stage 2. By the end of Year 6, pupils achieve standards which are above average, particularly in mathematics and science. The proportion of pupils achieving at a higher level in mathematics is above average and significantly above average in science. However, fewer pupils achieve higher levels in English.
Teaching and learning are good throughout the school and are improving as a result of effective monitoring by the headteacher and other senior staff. They clearly identify any pupils who are underachieving and ensure appropriate support is given to promote their progress. This is having a positive impact on raising standards steadily, particularly in Key Stage 2. Pupils have a good understanding of what they are learning in each lesson because of the clear expectations shared with them. However, they are not so aware of what they need to do to improve their work over time. Marking is not always as effective or as consistent as it should be. The curriculum engages pupils very well. It is greatly enhanced by opportunities to extend their learning, for example, by working with the organisation Groundwork on developing a presentation on global warming. Opportunities for music, dance and drama, particularly participating in school performances, greatly improve the confidence and self-esteem of pupils. The curriculum provides good opportunities for using local resources and involving parents, governors and members of the community in the pupils’ learning. Regular focus weeks are organised, including the recent one on ‘construction’. However, the curriculum in the Foundation Stage does not provide enough opportunities for pupils to develop their skills, both indoors and outdoors.
Good leadership and management are based on effective monitoring and evaluation by the headteacher and senior leadership team. They accurately identify and correct shortcomings. Subject leadership is good and has led to improved achievement, particularly in science and mathematics. Governors are very involved in the life of the school and have a clear understanding of its strengths and weaknesses. They, along with the headteacher and staff have demonstrated their commitment to raising standards of achievement for pupils. Consequently, the school is well placed to improve further.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Good provision in the Foundation Stage ensures that children learn in a caring and safe environment. Parents appreciate the way induction arrangements are effective in helping their child to settle and in supporting their personal development. Teaching is good and is well focused on early literacy and mathematics. Consequently, children make good progress in these key areas. Specific time is allocated to successfully helping children improve their speaking and listening skills and their confidence. Activities where adults work alongside children are interesting and motivate them well. However, at times children are too directed and have too few opportunities to make choices in their learning. Assessment procedures are good because they are centred on continuous observations of children. The information gathered is used well to inform day-to-day planning. This means children are well challenged and their learning is extended. The curriculum is satisfactory although the quality and range of learning opportunities both indoors and outside is limited. Leadership is good. The strengths of the provision are well recognised and appropriate areas for development have been identified.
What the school should do to improve further
- Improve standards in English, particularly for higher ability pupils.
- Improve consistency in the quality of marking and guidance so that pupils have a clear understanding about how to improve their work.
- Improve those aspects of the Foundation Stage curriculum which will allow children greater choice in the activities in which they engage and provide them with more opportunities to work independently both in the classrooms and outdoors.
Achievement and standards
Standards overall are above average at the end of Key Stage 2. They are higher in science and mathematics than they are in English. Pupils achieve well. When they enter the school their skills are typical of their age group, although a minority has immature speaking and listening skills. Children make good progress in all areas of learning and by the time they enter Year 1 their attainment is above that expected for their age. Good progress continues in Key Stage 1 and by the end of Year 2 standards in all subjects are significantly above average and have been so for a number of years. Progress in Years 3 to 6 is variable. It is particularly good in years 5 and 6. In the past it has slowed down in Years 3 and 4. However, the school has recently begun to rigorously assess and track pupils’ progress. Consequently, those who lag behind are now quickly identified and receive additional support. As a result, there is an improving trend in standards at the end of Key Stage 2 and, in the 2007 tests, pupils exceeded their targets.
The proportion of pupils achieving at the higher level in mathematics is above average and in science is significantly above average. However, in English too few pupils reach the higher levels. Boys tend to achieve better than girls. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities make satisfactory progress. Those whose first language is not English achieve particularly well.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils are happy, enjoying the wide variety of activities provided. Their behaviour is very good and they show consideration for each other. They feel safe, saying that the staff support them and are always willing to help with any difficulties they may have. Safety with regard to the Internet and other technologies is now being considered and parents and children have received effective input from school staff.
The pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. This is evident from the friendly faces, warm welcome for visitors and a willingness to involve others in their activities. Pupils are proud of their school. There is a strong sense of community, demonstrated by various fund raising activities and involvement in a wide range of community projects. The Eco Club and the effective school council are examples of ways in which the children influence the life of the school, bringing about positive change in aspects such as recycling and growing organic vegetables in the school allotment. Pupils appreciate the importance of eating healthily and are keen to take part in sporting activities, with a range of extra curricular activities being in place. Projects involving the local Education Business Partnership and other in-school activities develop the pupils’ group work and leadership skills well.
Punctuality and attendance are monitored carefully. They have improved recently and attendance is satisfactory. This is due to a range of strategies being put in place by the school in conjunction with the local authority.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning are good overall. Pupils behave very well in lessons and have positive attitudes towards their work. Teachers have good subject knowledge and are confident in their teaching. They plan effectively together in year groups to ensure consistency and progression in delivering the curriculum, particularly where pupils are set into ability groups. Teamwork is strong with staff supporting each other to share expertise in different subjects. Teachers explain clearly to children what they are expected to learn in each lesson and what they have to do to succeed. They challenge pupils well with appropriate questions to promote their thinking skills and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute. Pupils respond well and, for example in mathematics lessons, they give clear reasons for their answers to problems and are able to demonstrate the methods they have used. In good lessons, work is closely tailored to the needs of pupils and assessment is used very effectively within the lesson to identify pupils who need help and appropriate support is given, often by very effective support staff. However, teaching is occasionally less effective when pupils do not have the opportunity to be engaged in independent learning and practical activities. These lessons consist mainly of adult input and pupils do not always work at their own pace. Consequently, higher ability pupils do not always make as much progress as they should.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is broad and balanced and meets statutory requirements well. It is planned effectively to meet the needs of most pupils and is responsive to local circumstances. A new school building is in the process of being constructed on the site and the school has taken every opportunity to involve pupils in the process, creating a valuable learning experience for them. A wide variety of visits and visitors to the school greatly enhance the curriculum, including opportunities to work with theatre companies and storytellers. Opportunities to engage in drama and perform to an audience in class assemblies and school productions greatly enhance the confidence and self-esteem of pupils. The school effectively incorporates literacy, numeracy and information and communication technology across the curriculum. There are high participation rates in a wide variety of out of school activities including music and sports activities.
Care, guidance and support
Overall, this aspect of the school’s work is good. Pupils say they feel safe and always have someone to turn to for help if they need it. Child protection procedures and arrangements for safeguarding pupils are firmly in place and vulnerable pupils are well looked after because of the close links with external agencies. Aspects of personal and social education are central to the school’s ethos with one child commenting that, ‘Circle time is great because you can get things off your chest.’ There is a good focus on health education and pupils are actively encouraged to make healthy choices in their diet and to take exercise.
Systems to track pupils’ progress and to support their learning are satisfactory and, although at an early stage, are developing well. The needs of children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are identified early and effective steps are taken to give them appropriate support. Although there is good care and support for pupils, guidance to help them improve their work is inconsistent. The quality of marking of work is variable. Where it is good it provides pupils with constructive feedback and indicates how their work could be improved. Although pupils know what they need to do to achieve in each lesson, they are less aware of what they need to do to achieve in the longer term.
Leadership and management
The headteacher and senior management team are clearly focused on raising standards in pupils’ work and promoting their personal development. The senior management team, including core subject leaders, monitor and evaluate the work of the school very effectively. This is evident from the school’s accurate self-evaluation and the detailed school improvement plan which identifies the most important areas to be improved. Subject leaders also work well to support staff in extending their expertise. The school has made good progress in dealing with the issues from the previous inspection. Attendance has improved and is now in line with the national average. Marking, although improved, is inconsistent. The school has very good links with outside agencies to promote the personal development and well-being of pupils. This is an inclusive school where all pupils are valued and where they have an opportunity to voice their opinions and ideas. The governors fulfil their statutory duties well. They are closely involved in the work of the school and support in practical ways. They have a good understanding of the strengths and the areas to be improved and challenge the school effectively to improve further. They have been closely involved in the planning of the new school and have taken every opportunity to involve members of the local community. The governors take their financial responsibilities seriously and ensure good value for money. The capacity for the school to improve is good.