The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This large school serves pupils mainly from the immediate surroundings. Most are of Black African and Indian origin but there are significant numbers of Pakistani and White British pupils. The remainder comprise a wide range of other minority ethnic groups. Almost half the pupils are entitled to free school meals and about three quarters speak English as an additional language. These proportions are much higher than in most schools.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good and improving school. There is a clear and unswerving focus on ensuring that pupils leave the school with the necessary skills to enable them to get the best out of their future education. Standards at the end of Year 6 are in line with nationally expected levels. Bearing in mind that children start school at levels that are much lower than those expected for their age, this represents good achievement. All pupils do well, including the large number who are learning English as an additional language. This is because of the good teaching and targeted support that they receive. Reading standards have improved in Year 2 recently because of a well-structured phonics programme. Writing standards in Year 2 show little improvement however, and are much too low.
Behaviour is good and there is a high degree of racial harmony. Pupils enjoy school. They say that bullying is rare. 'There is some squabbling,' said one pupil, 'but we know what to do if we have any problems'. They are clear about the importance of keeping fit and healthy. They know how to keep safe on the roads and by the canal that is close to the school. They take an active role in the school, local and wider community. They are well prepared for their future education because of their high levels of confidence and their very good social skills.
Teaching is good. There are warm relationships between teachers and pupils and as a result, pupils feel confident to attempt new learning. Those learning English, quickly gain confidence in speaking in front of their classmates, readily engaging in discussion and debate. In some cases, pupils' interest and concentration is hindered by the large amounts of time they spend listening to the teacher rather than doing things for themselves. The curriculum is well organised and relevant to pupils' needs and interests. A good emphasis on the wider curriculum provides many opportunities for pupils to develop their confidence as well as their expertise in, for example, sport and art. Pastoral care is very effective, especially in supporting new pupils and helping them settle in quickly to school. Outstanding support is provided in small groups for pupils new to the country and who are learning English. Pupils' achievements are checked regularly and this information shared with parents so they can take an active role in supporting their children.
The school is well led and managed. The headteacher and deputy form a strong team, each with particular expertise and strength, which drives forward school development at a good pace. Middle managers are developing their roles appropriately. Governors have good systems in place to help them monitor the school's work.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Children achieve well in the Nursery and Reception classes. Activities are well planned and include a balance of child initiated and adult led opportunities. High numbers of adults, including support staff and students, mean that children receive a good amount of individual attention. Children learning English quickly develop their skills and confidence because they feel happy to try out new language within a safe and supportive environment. Adults model new vocabulary well and encourage children to use it during activities. Ordering different sizes of bears, for example, enabled children to learn 'small', 'bigger' and 'biggest'. They talked excitedly about the activity, using the words confidently. Teachers check children's achievements regularly so that they can give the right sort of work and support to help them take the next steps in their learning. The curriculum is adapted quickly to meet children's different needs. A new programme is helping to improve children's coordination, an area that had been assessed as a weakness in their physical development. Parents' help is actively sought and good communication between home and school is fostered well during children's early days at school.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise standards in writing in Year 2.
- Improve the pace of some lessons by ensuring that teachers use a wide enough range of strategies to interest and motivate the pupils.
Achievement and standards
By the end of Reception, standards are generally below those expected for their age although they vary considerably from year to year. Achievement is good however, considering that many children are still developing their confidence and fluency in English. Pupils build on these firm foundations throughout Years 1 and 2 although standards remain below average overall at the end of Year 2, albeit with some good achievement in reading. Writing standards remain low. As pupils develop their confidence and become more interested and motivated to succeed, their progress accelerates. By the time they leave the school at the end of Year 6, standards are broadly average in English, mathematics and science. Pupils from different minority ethnic groups, including those from Black African families, achieve well.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. Cultural development is particularly strong with pupils showing a keen awareness of each other's traditions and beliefs. They know how to keep safe in and out of school and are very aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They show high levels of confidence, commitment and social awareness by the time they leave the school and these qualities prepare them well for their future education and beyond. As one Year 5 pupil wrote, 'If you have an education you get a good job and if you have a good job, you get good money'. They enjoy school, behave well and support their class, school and wider communities through an active school council and fund-raising activities. Attendance is satisfactory. The school is working hard with parents and external agencies to improve the attendance of a small number of pupils.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Strong relationships between teachers and pupils mean that there is a good atmosphere for learning throughout the school. Teachers know their pupils well and usually plan work at the right sort of levels to help pupils move on at a good pace. They support pupils that are learning English very well by modelling language effectively and providing good opportunities for pupils to use new vocabulary and develop their confidence. Many teachers are beginning to use computers to help them present specific teaching points and this helps children to understand new concepts more easily. In some cases, the pace of lessons is slow. Teachers sometimes do too much of the talking themselves and do not engage the children in discussion or practical work.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is matched well to pupils' needs and interests. The current focus on developing pupils' thinking skills is making learning more interesting and purposeful, and is contributing to the rise in standards. There are many opportunities for pupils to develop literacy and numeracy skills. Information and communication technology is covered satisfactorily but there are not enough opportunities for pupils to develop their skills within other subjects. Pupils appreciate the wide and varied range of extra-curricular activities and the visits and visitors arranged to make their learning enjoyable and stimulating. Parents applaud the school's efforts to promote racial and religious harmony. One parent noted on a questionnaire, 'In an area that is multicultural, the school is excellent in providing religious and cultural understanding'.
Care, guidance and support
Personal care and support for pupils, especially those for whom English is an additional language, are very effective. New pupils receive excellent support and this helps them settle in quickly and take an active part in school life. Attendance is monitored very carefully so that the school can direct its resources effectively towards persistent non-attenders. The school has very useful links with outside agencies to support these pupils and their families. There are great efforts to ensure pupils' health and safety. Systems for safeguarding meet statutory requirements. Progress is checked through regular tests and parents are very well informed about their children's achievements and where improvements are necessary. Teachers set individual targets but do not always refer to these during lessons and in their marking of pupils' books. This limits their impact on pupils' learning.
Leadership and management
There is a very clear drive to improve standards and ensure that pupils gain the basic skills and personal qualities to make sure they are well prepared for the future. The head and deputy have the full support of staff who work hard to implement initiatives and to improve their teaching. They have an accurate view of the school's strengths and weaknesses and a clear plan to ensure continued improvement. They set challenging yet realistic targets for achievement. Team leaders and subject coordinators are still developing their roles and are beginning to take responsibility for improving teaching and standards. Parents value the headteacher's approachability and the way he is always available to answer any concerns or problems. Governors provide good support and hold the school to account for pupils' performance. They manage resources well, not shirking difficult decisions to gain best value for money.