The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors.
Description of the school
The school is smaller than average and serves pupils from a broadly average mix of socio-economic backgrounds. All pupils are from White British backgrounds. The percentage of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is below average. Teacher assessments show that pupils enter the Foundation Stage with skills in line with those normally expected for children of this age. The school has no hall and makes use of the resources at a local school for swimming and other aspects of physical education (PE). The school has gained the awards of Activemark and Healthy Schools Gold Standard in recognition of achievements in these areas.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a good school where pupils' personal development and well-being are outstanding. Purposeful and dedicated leadership, committed staff and good teaching enable pupils to achieve well. Pupils say that they very much enjoy coming to school and feel that they are treated with kindness and consideration. Parents praise the school highly and appreciate the excellent care and support it gives to their children. One parent wrote, 'With the kindness, understanding and patience of the staff, my child has come on leaps and bounds'. Pupils work and play together very well, behave exceptionally well and show very positive attitudes to their learning. Pupils are extremely confident, willingly discuss their learning and are developing a very good level of independence. They have an excellent understanding of the value of taking exercise and eating healthily.
Most pupils in the Foundation Stage make good progress and some, especially in communication, language and literacy, achieve exceptionally well. This is because teaching is consistently good and recently introduced initiatives are beginning to have a significant impact. Short, focused language activities that stimulate pupils' senses are enjoyable and help them to learn exceptionally well. However, this type of learning is still developing in other key stages and is not of such high quality. In recent years, standards at the end of Key Stage 1 have been average and pupils have made satisfactory progress. Although standards are still average, they are rising, and pupils are achieving well. This is because the staffing is now stable and the quality of teaching is improving. Because of the small number of pupils, standards at the end of Key Stage 2 vary from year to year. Currently they are above average and pupils throughout Key Stage 2, including those who find learning difficult, are achieving well.
The curriculum successfully places good emphasis on developing pupils' academic achievement and personal development. The school is proud of its achievements in music and art, and provides tuition for pupils in a variety of instruments. Pupils in Key Stages 1 and 2 attend swimming and indoor PE lessons at a local school. Although all pupils engage in daily planned physical activity sessions in classrooms, opportunities to develop the full range of physical education skills are limited by the lack of a school hall. This is a particular problem for children in the Foundation Stage who if the weather is poor undertake all their PE lessons in a very limited space.
Care, guidance and support are excellent. The school's procedures for ensuring the safety of pupils meet requirements. Pupils' books are marked well and good guidance is given for improvement. Pupils' progress is tracked exceptionally well and challenging targets are set. There are outstanding partnerships with external agencies to support learning.
The headteacher's dedication to the academic, social and emotional progress of the children is evident in the pupils' outstanding personal development and good achievement. The subject leaders monitor the school well through observing lessons and checking pupils' books. However, they are not used well enough to develop the teaching skills of other staff.
Governors are well informed about the school and are beginning to monitor the school's achievements in a more formal and systematic way. The school has good capacity to improve.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Children enjoy their work and play happily together in a friendly and caring environment. Relationships between adults and children are excellent. This helps create a relaxed, purposeful atmosphere where children feel safe and secure. Teachers and teaching assistants plan stimulating experiences for the children which cover all areas of learning. They know the children exceptionally well and keep detailed records of their progress. Consequently, activities are very well matched to the individual needs of all children. There is an appropriate balance of teacher-led activities and opportunities for children to choose for themselves. Children's behaviour and attitudes are excellent. The school is aware that the main area for outdoor provision is only adequate. Teaching and learning are consistently good and sometimes outstanding, especially in literacy. Most children achieve well and some make exceptional progress.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise standards, especially at the end of Key Stage 1.
- Raise the quality of teaching and learning by ensuring that more lessons engage pupils in activities which stimulate their senses.
- Ensure that subject coordinators are provided with more opportunities to share their skills with all teachers.
Achievement and standards
In recent years, due to staffing instability, there has been a decline in standards at the end of Key Stage 1. The 2007 teacher assessments show that, by the time pupils left Year 2, standards were average. The staffing is now stable and the quality of teaching is improving. Consequently, although standards in Key Stage 1 are still average, they are rising and pupils are making good progress. Since the school took the decision to separate upper Key Stage 2 pupils from those in lower Key Stage 2 for English and mathematics, progress of pupils has improved considerably. Progress is good overall, and occasionally it is outstanding. Currently, standards are above average. Although girls attained higher standards than boys in the 2007 national literacy tests, in some cohorts boys' attainment exceeds that of girls in all subjects.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development are outstanding. They are very polite, highly self-disciplined, happy and content. Pupils work exceptionally well together, have a good level of attendance and arrive punctually. This provides a firm platform for them to secure their future economic well being. Although pupils say that there are no instances of bullying, they are confident that staff will help them if necessary. Excellent relationships between pupils are evident in the lessons and on the playground. Pupils feel that their opinions are valued and their views are taken into account. The school council, ECO monitors and many other pupils are keen to carry out their responsibilities. Pupils make a positive contribution to the local and wider communities and are proud of their support for a wide range of charities.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Relationships between teachers and pupils are excellent. This secures outstanding behaviour and contributes very well to the very positive climate for learning. In all classes the atmosphere is calm, friendly and productive. Pupils respond to this and work hard. Lessons are clearly planned and the purpose of the work is understood by the pupils. Good use is made of the highly skilled teaching assistants, especially supporting those pupils who find learning difficult. Occasionally, pupils learn exceptionally well. In these lessons, pupils are engaged in exciting activities which stimulate many of their senses. Where learning is satisfactory, pupils are not engaged well enough and begin to lose interest. Marking is up to date and, especially in literacy, informs pupils well how to improve.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is well planned with good attention given to extending basic skills in literacy, numeracy and information technology. The nature garden, local village and residential visits are used well to stimulate curiosity and make learning more active and meaningful. French is an established part of the curriculum. There is a satisfactory range of out of school clubs, but these are limited due to the lack of space. The school tries hard to compensate for the limitations imposed by the school property. Daily physical activities are managed in confined spaces. However, the amount of time allocated to activities such as dance, drama and indoor games is limited. A good range of programmes to support pupils who need additional help is provided. Pupils' cultural awareness is extended well through visits, visitors and celebrating cultural traditions.
Care, guidance and support
High quality care, guidance and support are evident in pupils' good achievement, very positive attitudes and excellent personal development. Adults know pupils extremely well, and willingly listen and respond to their concerns and anxieties. Consequently, pupils feel safe and secure. Progress is very carefully monitored and pupils who are falling behind are identified early and support given. Risk assessments are carefully attended to and child protection arrangements are secure. Parents are kept well-informed about their children's progress and are very pleased with all aspects of the school.
Leadership and management
The headteacher's passionate commitment to improving the life-chances of all the pupils is clearly shown in her enthusiasm and dedication. She sets clear direction for the school and is held in high regard by staff, governors and parents. Teachers and support staff are enthusiastic, highly motivated and work very well together. Teaching is carefully monitored and the progress children make towards their individual challenging targets is analysed well. The school accurately assesses its own strengths and weaknesses and intended improvements are planned effectively. The subject coordinators monitor the school's performance in their subjects through annual lesson observations and checking on work in pupils' books. However, their skills are not used effectively enough to make improvements to teaching in all classes. The governors are committed and dedicated. Since the last inspection, they have improved their monitoring systems and are now beginning to put into place an even more rigorous process for holding the school to account.