School etc

The Willows Primary School

The Willows Primary School
Greatbatch Avenue

phone: 01782 233280

headteacher: Mrs S Thursfield


school holidays: via Stoke-on-Trent council

545 pupils aged 3—11y mixed gender
510 pupils capacity: 107% full

275 boys 50%


270 girls 50%


Last updated: June 20, 2014

Primary — Community School

Education phase
Establishment type
Community School
Establishment #
OSGB coordinates
Easting: 386899, Northing: 345379
GPS coordinates
Latitude: 53.006, Longitude: -2.1967
Accepting pupils
3—11 years old
Census date
Jan. 16, 2014
Ofsted last inspection
Nov. 22, 2010
Region › Const. › Ward
West Midlands › Stoke-on-Trent Central › Penkhull and Stoke
Urban > 10k - less sparse
SEN priorities
HI - Hearing Impairment
Private Finance Initiative
Part of PFI
Free school meals %

The Willows Primary School

Inspection report

Unique Reference Number 123999
Local Authority Stoke-On-Trent
Inspect ion number 359561
Inspect ion dates 22–23 November 2010
Reporting inspector Judith Straw

This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.

Type of school Primary
School category Community
Age range of pupils 3–11
Gender of pupils Mixed
Nu mber of pupils on the school roll 468
Appropriate authority The governing body
Chair Mr Ben James
Headteacher Mrs Sarah Thursfield
Date of prev ious school inspection 10 March 2008
School address Greatbatch Avenue
Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent
Staffordshire ST4 7JU
Telephone number 01782 233280
Fax number 01782 233282
Email address reveal email: will…
Age group 3–11
Inspect ion dates 22–23 November 2010
Inspect ion number 359561


This inspection was carried out by four additional inspectors. The inspectors saw 20
lessons taught by 16 teachers. A number of shorter visits were made to classrooms to look
at samples of pupils' work. The inspectors held meetings with parents and carers, groups
of pupils, members of the governing body and staff. They observed the school's work, and
looked at the school development plan and safeguarding policies, the school's data on
pupils' progress, assessment records and case studies, curriculum planning and minutes of
meetings of the governing body. Questionnaires from 102 pupils, 33 staff and 95 parents
and carers were scrutinised.
The inspection team reviewed many aspects of the school's work. It looked in detail at the

  • The strategies the school is using to accelerate the progress of all pupils, particularly
    for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities.
  • The consistency of teaching and assessment and its impact on pupils' learning and
    progress, particularly that of more-able pupils.
  • How effectively leaders and managers are driving improvement.

Information about the school

The school is a much larger than average-sized primary school. The proportion of pupils
known to be eligible for free school meals is well below average. The percentage of pupils
with special educational needs and/or disabilities is above average and the number with a
statement of special needs is twice the national average. This is partly because the school
has a unit for pupils with hearing impairment on site. The proportion of pupils from
minority ethnic backgrounds is below average, as is the proportion of pupils for whom
English is an additional language. The school has achieved Healthy School status and is an
extended school.
A new headteacher has been in post since April 2010 and a new deputy headteacher since
September 2009.

Inspect ion grades: 1 is outstanding, 2 is good, 3 is sat isfactory, and 4 is inadequate

Please turn to the glossary for a description of the grades and inspection terms

Inspection judgements

Overall effectiveness: how good is the school? 2
The school's capacity for sustained improvement 2

Main findings

The Willows is a good school where pupils thrive in a nurturing environment. Every pupil is
valued as an individual. Pupils say they enjoy coming to school and feel safe and secure.
Parents and carers are highly supportive of the school. Typical comments include, 'My
child loves being at this school and each year has progressed significantly'. The school has
developed an excellent partnership with parents and carers.
Children enter the Early Years Foundation Stage with skills and knowledge broadly in line
with what is expected for their age. They make satisfactory progress and most reach the
early learning goals set for them when they enter Year 1. The nursery provides a bright
learning environment in which children enjoy playing and learning together. However,
sometimes adults miss opportunities to extend children's learning through questioning and
the well-equipped outdoor learning area is underused.
Pupils make increasingly good progress as they move through the school and by the end
of Year 6 reach above average attainment. In the most recent tests, nearly half the pupils
in Year 6 reached the higher Level 5, in both mathematics and science. Pupils with special
educational needs and/or disabilities make good progress because they are well supported
by skilled teaching assistants. Leaders have identified that boys make slower progress in
Key Stage 1 and this is currently an action point. The school has worked hard to improve
the quality of teaching and learning to good effect. It is because of good and occasionally
outstanding teaching that pupils generally achieve well. In most lessons there is a brisk
pace, pupils have a clear understanding of what they are learning and teachers' high
expectations ensure that pupils are given the right level of challenge. In a small number of
lessons, the pace is slower because teachers talk for too long. Good systems are in place
to monitor pupils' progress as they move from class to class and this enables the school to
provide effective targeted support where necessary. The curriculum is well organised and
imaginative, and impacts positively on pupils' motivation and progress. The quality of care,
guidance and support is another good feature of this school. Great care is taken to ensure
that hearing impaired pupils are able to take an active part in school life.
The headteacher, extremely well supported by her deputy headteacher, sets high
expectations for everyone and leads by example. Staff and the governing body share her
determination to continually improve and are united in a drive to raise achievement and
attainment. The monitoring of teaching and learning is comprehensive. The governing
body is well informed and provides a good balance of support and challenge. Safeguarding
requirements are met. A recent audit has identified an aspect required to improve even
further to ensure pupils' complete safety. The school, in partnership with the local
authority, is in the process of carrying out the necessary change. Since the last inspection,
the school has improved all aspects of its provision and pupils' achievement is better. In

Inspect ion grades: 1 is outstanding, 2 is good, 3 is sat isfactory, and 4 is inadequate

Please turn to the glossary for a description of the grades and inspection terms

the light of this, and the school's significant strengths, leaders and managers demonstrate
a good capacity to improve the school further.

What does the school need to do to improve further?

  • Improve outcomes and provision in the Early Years Foundation Stage by:
    developing adults' questioning skills
    focusing leadership more on the development of children's learning
    planning for better use of the outdoor learning environment.
  • Increase the proportion of outstanding teaching by:
    ensuring a brisk pace in all lessons
    personalising learning to take even better account of boys' preferred learning
    styles in Key Stage 1 in order to accelerate their progress further
    making more widespread use of the best practice evident in teaching, so that
    lessons constantly engage pupils' interest.
  • Ensure the identified adjustments needed to maximise pupils' safety are completed
    as soon as possible.
Outcomes for individuals and groups of pupils 2

Most pupils achieve well and enjoy their learning, especially in lessons where they are
actively engaged. In a Year 1 class, for example, pupils made good progress in
constructing a letter to poor Mr Wolf who was in hospital. They corrected their own
mistakes and talked about their work with great enthusiasm. Pupils' extremely positive
attitudes to learning and their good behaviour are strengths of the school. Inspection
evidence indicates that progress is accelerating strongly and that attainment is above that
found nationally in English, mathematics and science. In 2010, the targets set for pupils at
the end of Year 2 and Year 6 were exceeded. The most-able pupils are successfully
challenged and pupils' mathematical skills have improved this year. Good support for
pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, including those with a hearing
impairment, result in them being fully included in school life, which helps them to achieve
well both in terms of their personal development and in their academic work. Pupils for
whom English is an additional language make particularly good progress because of the
support they receive.
Pupils feel safe and attendance is above average. Pupils understand what it means to
have a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and healthy exercise. Pupils eagerly take
on responsibilities, such as play leaders, monitors, ECO- team and school councillors. They
make a good contribution to the school and local community. The extent of pupils'
spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good and this is reflected in the respect
and understanding they show to others. Secure basic skills, high self-esteem and
confidence prepare pupils well for the next stage of education.

Inspect ion grades: 1 is outstanding, 2 is good, 3 is sat isfactory, and 4 is inadequate

Please turn to the glossary for a description of the grades and inspection terms

These are the grades for pupils' outcomes

Pupils' achievement and the extent to which they enjoy their learning 2
Taking into account:
Pupils' attainment¹
The quality of pupils' learning and their progress 2
The quality of learning for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities
and their progress
The extent to which pupils feel safe 2
Pupils' behaviour 2
The extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles 2
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 we ll-being
Taking into account:
Pupils' attendance¹
The extent of pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development 2


The grades for attainment and attendance are: 1 is high; 2 is above average; 3 is broadly average; and 4

is low

How effective is the provision?

The majority of teaching and learning is good or better. Features of good lessons include a
good pace so that pupils are engaged and active, good quality resources which stimulate
interest, high expectations of what pupils can achieve and good subject knowledge. In
these lessons, pupils enjoy their work and there is a sense of energy and achievement
among pupils and staff. On occasions, the pace is not so brisk and pupils spend too long
listening to the teacher as opposed to learning and practising new skills. The use of
assessment is good. Teachers praise pupils for what they have done well and give useful
advice on how to improve and reach the next level. Pupils are encouraged to discuss their
work with adults and their peers and this strategy is helping to make pupils confident and
articulate. Well-briefed teaching assistants support and challenge pupils with special
educational needs and/or disabilities, enabling them to take a full and active part in
The curriculum is very well organised and promotes well pupils' acquisition of knowledge,
skills and understanding. It is imaginatively enhanced by visits and activities away from
the classroom. For example, after a visit to Ford Green Hall, a local museum, pupils said,
'It brought our lessons on the Tudors alive'. Pupils have good access to music and sport
and after-school clubs of various kinds are well attended. The curriculum is adjusted to
take account of pupils' differing abilities and is designed so that all have the best
opportunities to be successful. Although the lack of full attention to the preferred learning

Inspect ion grades: 1 is outstanding, 2 is good, 3 is sat isfactory, and 4 is inadequate

Please turn to the glossary for a description of the grades and inspection terms

styles of boys in Key Stage 1 has hampered their progress, strategies to accelerate the
progress of this group of pupils are beginning to have a positive impact.
Good care, guidance and support lie at the heart of this inclusive school. A nurture group
helps younger pupils who have difficulty in settling into school to feel relaxed and involved
so that they are able to take a full part in school life. Good links with external agencies
provide the necessary support for pupils whose circumstances have made them
vulnerable. Pupils are given a clear moral framework and understand how to follow class
rules, which are supported with rewards rather than sanctions. The school provides a
deaf-friendly environment, for example, all school meetings and assemblies are signed so
that everyone can take part and join in. Carefully planned arrangements are in place to
support pupils as they enter and leave the school.

These are the grades for the quality of provision

The quality of teaching 2
Taking into account:
The use of assessment to support learning
The extent to which the curriculum meets pupils' needs, including, where relevant,
through partnerships
The effectiveness of care, guidance and support 2

How effective are leadership and management?

The senior leadership team is well focused on driving and sustaining improvement. The
firm emphasis since the last inspection on improving teaching and learning has brought
about significant improvements in classroom practice, and this has had a strong impact on
pupils' progress leading to attainment rising to above average. The new leadership team
has a good understanding of the school's strengths and areas that require development,
because self-evaluation is rigorous and accurate. The school is aware that more can be
done to accelerate the progress of boys in Key Stage 1. The school has succeeded well in
addressing a previous weakness in mathematics. All adults in the school share the vision
for improvement and staff morale is high. The school has developed an excellent
partnership with parents and carers who appreciate the 'open door' policy, and who say
that they are very well informed, and feel that they are true partners in their children's
education. The school ensures equality of opportunity well in the curriculum and the gap
between the attainment of girls and boys has been closed by the end of Year 6.
The effective governing body challenges and supports the school in equal measure and
has a clear understanding of the work of the school. Members of the governing body
frequently visit school and have established good procedures for canvassing the views of
parents, carers and others before making strategic decisions. The contribution of the
school to promoting community cohesion is good. It plays a valuable part in the local
community, and increasingly in the wider community. The school provides a harmonious
community where pupils from different backgrounds work well and happily together.
Procedures for safeguarding are robust and meet requirements. All staff receive regular

Inspect ion grades: 1 is outstanding, 2 is good, 3 is sat isfactory, and 4 is inadequate

Please turn to the glossary for a description of the grades and inspection terms

training. Work is in process to fully secure the complete safety of pupils. The school
manages its finances well and provides good value for money.

These are the grades for leadership and management

The effectiveness of leadership and management in embedding ambit ion and driving
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 1
The effectiveness of partnerships in promoting learning and well-being 2
The effectiveness with which the school promotes equality of opportunity and tackles
discriminat ion
The effectiveness of safeguarding proce dures 3
The effectiveness with which the school promotes community cohesion 2
The effectiveness with which the school deploys resources to achieve value for money 2

Early Years Foundation Stage

Provision in the Early Years Foundation Stage is satisfactory. Recent changes of staffing
are being supported by senior leadership and procedures introduced are taking time to
have an impact on outcomes. Children enter Nursery with knowledge and skills broadly in
line with what is expected for their age. Nearly all children make satisfactory progress and
enter Year 1 at the expected level. A range of teaching methods and some good resources
provide a sound learning environment and sufficient activities to meet children's needs.
However, planning is not fine-tuned enough to ensure that all children learn quickly and
that teaching is always fully effective. There is some good direction from adults, but
sometimes opportunities are missed to encourage children to talk about and reflect on
their learning. Expectations about what children should achieve could be higher. In some
parts of the day, children are free to choose their own activities and can explore,
investigate and become independent learners. A good range of resources is provided
indoors, but outdoor learning is not developed as well as it could be to extend children's
learning experiences and to provide them with a full range of activities. Adults regularly
observe and record children's learning and development but do not always use these
assessments to tightly plan the next steps in learning.
Welfare arrangements meet requirements and the accommodation is secure. Effective
induction arrangements help children to settle quickly, and there are good links with
parents and carers and outside agencies to help to ensure that additional support is
targeted to those needing additional help. Good attention is paid to children's personal

Inspect ion grades: 1 is outstanding, 2 is good, 3 is sat isfactory, and 4 is inadequate

Please turn to the glossary for a description of the grades and inspection terms

development and they are well cared for and in the main they play well with each other
and generally behave well.

These are the grades for the Early Years Foundation Stage

Overall effectiveness of the Early Years Foundation Stage 3
Taking into account:
Outcomes for children in the Early Years Foundation Stage
The quality of provision in the Early Years Foundation Stage 3
The effectiveness of leadership and management of the Early Years Foundation

Views of parents and carers

The very large majority of the parents and carers who responded to the questionnaire and
all those who spoke to inspectors during the inspection were entirely positive in their
appreciation of the school. There was particular praise for school leadership and the way
in which the school is perceived to be rapidly improving. Parents and carers were
unanimous that there are excellent lines of communication between school and home and
said that they felt well informed about their children's progress. A few parents and carers
expressed concern that children did not receive enough individual attention and that there
was insufficient challenge for some pupils. Inspectors agree with the positive views
expressed and found that the school ensures the good progress of most pupils and that
the school generally sets high expectations in Key Stages 1 and 2, but that this is less
evident in the Nursery and Reception classes and for boys at Key Stage 1.

Responses from parents and carers to Ofsted's questionnaire

Ofsted invited all the registered parents and carers of pupils registered at The Willows Primary School 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 95 completed questionnaires by the end of the on-site inspection. In total,
there are 468 pupils registered at the school.
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%.

Statements Strongly
Agree Disagree Strongly
Total % Total % Total % Total %
My child enjoys school 67 71 27 28 1 1 0 0
The school keeps my child
56 59 38 40 0 0 0 0
My school informs me about
my child's progress
35 37 52 55 5 5 0 0
My child is making enough
progress at this school
44 46 45 47 4 4 1 1
The teaching is good at this
51 54 42 44 1 1 0 0
The school helps me to
support my child's learning
53 56 40 42 2 2 0 0
The school helps my child to
have a healthy lifestyle
48 51 44 46 2 2 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
33 35 46 48 3 3 0 0
The school meets my child's
particular needs
42 44 48 51 2 2 1 1
The school deals effectively
with unacceptable behaviour
39 41 51 54 2 2 0 0
The school takes account of
my suggestions and concerns
42 44 48 51 2 2 0 0
The school is led and
managed effectively
51 54 42 44 1 1 0 0
Overall, I am happy with my
child's experience at this
57 60 36 38 0 0 0 0


What inspection judgements mean

Grade Judgement Description
Grade 1 Outstanding These features are highly effective. An outstanding 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 of schools

Overall effectiveness judgement (percentage of schools)
Type of school Outstanding Good Satisfactory Inadequate
Nursery schools 58 36 4 2
Primary schools 8 43 40 9
Secondary schools 10 35 42 13
Sixth forms 13 39 45 3
Special schools 33 42 20 4
Pupil referral units 18 40 29 12
All schools 11 42 38 9

New school inspection arrangements were introduced on 1 September 2009. This means that inspectors now
make some additional judgements that were not made previously.
The data in the table above are for the period 1 September 2009 to 31 March 2010 and are the most
recently published data available (see Please note that the sample of schools
inspected during the autumn and spring terms 2009/10 was not representative of all schools nationally, as
weaker schools are inspected more frequently than good or outstanding schools.
Percentages are rounded and do not always add exactly to 100. Secondary school figures include those that
have sixth forms, and sixth form figures include only the data specifically for sixth form inspection

Common terminology used by inspectors

Achievement: the progress and success of a pupil in their learning,
development or training.
Attainment: 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.
Learning: how well pupils acquire knowledge, develop their
understanding, learn and practise skills and are
developing their competence as learners.
Overall effectiveness: 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 school's capacity for sustained
Outcomes for individuals and groups of pupils.
The quality of teaching.
The extent to which the curriculum meets
The effectiveness of care, guidance and
pupils' needs, including, where relevant,
through partnerships.
Progress: 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.

24 November 2010
Dear Pupils

Inspection of The Willows Primary School, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 7JU

Thank you for being so friendly and polite when we inspected your school recently. The
inspectors very much enjoyed talking to you, and reading the interesting work in your
books. I really enjoyed your wonderful singing in assembly on Monday morning. What a
super start to the week!
We agree with you and your parents and carers that The Willows is a good school. Nearly
all of you are making good progress and reaching above average attainment by the end of
Year 6. You told us how much you enjoy school and how you feel safe. We were
impressed by your good behaviour in lessons and as you move around school. You receive
good teaching and you have positive attitudes to learning and this is why you are
achieving well. It is good to see your headteacher and all the other teachers have high
expectations that you will do well and that they take good care of you.
Your school is well organised and well led by the headteacher, the governing body and
other staff. They are always looking for ways to make the school even better. In order to
help improve school further we have asked the headteacher to:

  • make sure that children in the Nursery and Reception make good progress by
    helping them to talk more about their learning and using the outdoor space more
  • make sure all lessons are as good as the best that we saw so that you do lots of
    interesting activities and enjoy your work
  • complete the work being done to make sure that you are absolutely safe at break
    and lunchtimes.

You can help the teachers by continuing to behave well, trying hard and following their
advice on how to improve your work.
I wish you well for the future.
Yours sincerely

Mrs Judith Straw
Lead inspector


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