The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors and two Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Summercroft Primary School is larger than average with 456 pupils on roll. It was newly formed in 2006 from established junior and infant schools on the same site. This is its first inspection. A below average number of pupils experience learning difficulties and the proportion entitled to free school meals is very small. The majority of pupils are White British but about a tenth comes from a range of different ethnic backgrounds. The proportion of pupils whose first language is not English is below that found in most schools but rising due to its location. There are currently several pupils at the early stages of language acquisition in English. The school is accredited with Investors in People and Healthy Schools Award.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school with some outstanding features, a view which its own, slightly cautious evaluation generally supports. However, evidence gained during the inspection makes it clear that the leadership of this newly amalgamated school is outstanding and that the headteacher has quickly established a very positive climate for learning. This is a significant strength and its impact has been considerable. One parent wrote that the school now provides, 'a harmonious atmosphere in which our children can flourish'. These words are echoed by many others and supported by inspectors.
Very effective leadership and management have also ensured that pupils' achievement is good in many areas. The pupils' personal development and well-being are outstanding. Relationships are very positive between pupils and adults and pupils themselves. Behaviour is excellent. All pupils love coming to school, speak confidently about all that it offers and strive to do their best. As a result, attendance is good and the vast majority attain standards that are well above average by the time they leave for secondary school.
The quality of education is good and has some significant strengths. Teaching and learning, and therefore achievement, are good overall but vary between satisfactory and outstanding. When outstanding, lessons are very well planned, exciting and clearly focussed on the needs of all pupils. In less impressive lessons, the work set sometimes lacks the right degree of challenge. Marking and feedback occur regularly but are often not used effectively enough to set new personal targets for pupils to achieve. The curriculum for children in the Foundation Stage is good. There is a broad range of learning experiences planned for all other pupils with a good balance between all subjects. The wide range of extra activities and level of enrichment are significant strengths. Links with other agencies are firmly established. Provision for pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is good. However, the support in class for those whose first language is not English is not always effective because staff do not yet have sufficient skills or experience to cater effectively for the needs of these pupils.
The level of guidance and support for other pupils is good. Safeguarding procedures are robust and effective. New pupils quickly become part of the school community because of excellent pastoral care and effective monitoring of personal development. However, the monitoring of academic progress is less secure because assessment procedures are not yet of a consistent quality across the school.
Leadership and management of the school are good overall. However, senior leaders and those with other responsibilities provide outstanding leadership and have been directly responsible for moving the school forward significantly in a very short time. Consultation with staff and parents is developing well. Governance is good and individual governors are playing an increasing role in monitoring the school's work. As a result, the governing body has a clear view of the school's strengths and areas needing improvement. It is now well placed to oversee the next stages of the school's development. Taking all factors into account, the school gives good value for money and demonstrates an excellent capacity for further improvement.
What the school should do to improve further
- Make better use of personal targets to help individuals to sustain their high standards and to take responsibility for their own progress wherever possible.
- Improve levels of support in school for pupils whose first language is not English.
Achievement and standards
Achievement and standards are good. Pupils make good progress across the school from above average starting points when starting in Year 1, to attain well above average standards in English, mathematics and science by the end of Year 6. The 2006 national tests results confirm that standards are high. Current teacher assessments indicate that these high standards are being maintained with most pupils likely to meet the challenging targets set and with about a third of pupils writing at the higher Level 5. The prevalence of high quality descriptive prose, such as that offered by one Year 6 pupil who wrote: 'Bright blue scarves swirling like crashing waves, swishing like currents, swooping and curving like birds in the sky', fully exemplifies the high standards being achieved. Overall, there are no significant differences between the achievement of girls and boys. Information and communication technology (ICT) is used especially well to support pupil achievement in many subjects. Many pupils and especially boys speak very favourably about its use and demonstrate high levels of competence for their age.
Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities make good progress in lessons because work is carefully matched to need. However, the achievement of the growing number of pupils joining the school whose first language is not English is only satisfactory, although their proficiency increases during their time in the school as they become more confident in spoken English.
Personal development and well-being
Personal development and well-being are outstanding. Pupils enjoy school and attendance is good. They say that there is little bullying in school. Pupils demonstrate an excellent awareness of how to stay safe and help each other. For example, Year 3 pupils said that they were not worried about the move to the junior building because they had an older 'buddy' partner. Pupils are enthusiastic about taking exercise and are able to make healthy eating choices. This is helped considerably by the healthy and tasty meals made available by the school. School Council members take their role very seriously and feel that adults act on their views. Pupils respond very well to the wide range of responsibilities given to them and carry out tasks such as playground mediator and lunchtime monitor effectively. Pupils make very good progress in their spiritual, social, moral and cultural development through assemblies, lessons, visits and visitors. They are confident and work very well in cooperative and problem-solving situations and respond enthusiastically to 'Talking Group' activities when pupils of different ages have excellent opportunities to discuss important issues. Older pupils regularly plan and organise fund-raising events for charities on a business model. This, together with their good achievement in basic skills, prepares pupils well for the next stage of their education.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The quality of teaching and learning is good and plays a key part in enabling the school to reach and maintain the high academic standards it achieves. Teachers are fully committed to those they teach. Pupils of all ages enjoy lessons and are eager to learn because teachers, effectively supported by teaching assistants, invariably present learning in ways that excite and stimulate them. In this respect, two inspiring lessons in ICT and history spring to mind. Teachers provide good opportunities for pupils to work with learning partners and take an increasingly active part in their own learning. The level of challenge is high for most pupils and progress is rapid. However, the progress of some more able pupils is not always as quick as it might be because occasionally teaching does not always cater fully for their needs.
Assessment varies in quality. In the Foundation Stage, it is very good. Elsewhere in the school it is not as consistently effective, especially in the quality of marking and target setting. The school is currently tackling this issue with a view to ensuring that pupils are fully aware of what they need to do to improve.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is good. The provision for the Foundation Stage children is of high quality, enabling them to make a fast start to their learning. In Years 1 to 6, provision in English, mathematics and science is consistently well planned, ensuring that pupils continue to make good progress. The provision for ICT is now increasingly well embedded in pupils' learning across the curriculum. Support for pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is good, being based on strong and well established arrangements and provision. While the school is very supportive of those pupils needing additional help with learning English, similar cross-school policies and plans for meeting their needs are not in place.
All other subjects are also well planned and provide pupils with interesting and exciting opportunities to extend their learning. Music is a notable strength in this respect. The curriculum is now increasingly, and successfully, enabling pupils to develop and apply their knowledge and skills in a wider variety of cross-curricular contexts. The school makes very good use of the local community to add breadth and enrichment to its work. The provision for promoting pupils' personal development, including personal, social and health education, assemblies and after-school activities is of a high order.
Care, guidance and support
Care, guidance and support are good. Arrangements for child protection, health and safety and the safeguarding of pupils are securely implemented. Procedures to promote good behaviour and safety are consistently applied by all members of staff with very good results. Induction procedures into school are very good. The school tracks pupils' attainment effectively to ensure that pupils make sufficient progress.
Relevant programmes are in place to help those who have not made as much progress as they could. The school has improved communication with parents and the majority are very happy with the school's work. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, vulnerable pupils and those with particular gifts are supported effectively. The school works collaboratively with external agencies to support their needs.
Leadership and management
Leadership and management are good overall with some significant strengths. The headteacher and deputy headteachers have provided outstanding leadership during the pre and post amalgamation period to create a fully unified school and an excellent learning environment for pupils. Expectations are high and challenging targets are set for pupils and staff alike in order to raise standards further. Roles and responsibilities are delegated well and teamwork is an especially strong feature. A culture of effective self-evaluation and review has been firmly established. Governors play and increasingly prominent role in this process and work closely with subject leaders and senior managers to effectively monitor the school's work. As a result, they have a clear view of its strengths and weaknesses and long term planning for future school improvement is good.