The inspection was carried out by two Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
Almost all of the pupils at this smaller than average school are of White British heritage with a small number from other, mostly Asian, backgrounds. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is below average. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD) is above that found nationally, many of whom have moderate learning difficulties. In addition, four pupils with hearing impairment attend the adjacent separately managed unit. The school has achieved a Healthy Schools Award, the Active Schools Mark and Investors in People status. A new deputy headteacher was appointed in January and a new headteacher at Easter.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Wallisdean Infant is a satisfactory school. Emerging from a period of disruption caused by high levels of staff turnover, it is now showing clear improvement. Over recent years, staffing problems have led to pupils underachieving and standards declining. This is beginning to be addressed by the school. While standards are significantly below average in reading, writing and mathematics, pupils make satisfactory progress and, taking account of the especially low starting points of this group of pupils, achievement is now satisfactory. In Years 1 and 2, progress has improved but is uneven, and the school has still further to go. Pupils' personal development and well-being are good; they behave well and are strong advocates of healthy lifestyles.
The strong leadership of the new headteacher and her deputy is providing a clear vision and focus on improvement. Leaders have produced a brief, provisional improvement plan and rightly intend to expand it to become more comprehensive. Their evaluations of the school are satisfactory but their systems of monitoring are not yet fully rigorous. Leaders' initial actions have had an immediate impact on accelerating the achievement and progress of pupils, including those with moderate learning difficulties and hearing impairment. Key actions have been in staff mentoring to improve the quality of teaching and in raising the levels of challenge in teaching. Consequently, teaching and learning are now satisfactory.
Care, guidance and support are satisfactory. Teachers know pupils well. They provide a high standard of pastoral care and pupils appreciate this. As one said, 'We like school because teachers look after us well.' However, teachers do not give sufficient guidance to pupils on how they can improve their work. The school enjoys good links with partner schools, pre-schools and outside agencies to ensure pupils' well-being. In this caring climate pupils develop a strong commitment to healthy lifestyles and they enjoy school a lot. However, attendance is only satisfactory because some families take holidays in term time. Pupils behave well and know how to keep safe. They make a good contribution to the school and wider community through charitable fund raising and helping around the school as buddies and school council members. They are developing their basic skills of literacy and numeracy satisfactorily.
Subject leaders are not yet fully effective because new leadership teams are not yet monitoring and supporting their subjects sufficiently. Governors make a satisfactory contribution and they are well involved in the life of the school. Recent improvements show that leaders have developed the school's capacity for improvement, and this is now satisfactory. The curriculum caters for personal development well but is not yet leading to good progress in literacy and numeracy. Assessment is inconsistent in its accuracy and use. This restricts the tracking of pupils' progress and the ability of teachers to set challenging targets. As a result, those pupils with less challenging targets do not achieve as well as they might.
Parents are overwhelmingly supportive of the school and virtually all feel it is well led and managed. As one parent said, 'Since the new headteacher has arrived, the school has been absolutely fantastic.'
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Children settle happily into school. They feel secure and quickly gain in confidence. They cooperate well with others and their personal and social development is good. Most children start school with skills that are below those expected for their age but this fluctuates year on year. Their attainment is below average when they leave the Foundation Stage. They make satisfactory progress because teachers plan activities well to stimulate children's curiosity and promote their independence. The daily 'Letters and Sounds' programme is making a positive contribution to developing children's reading skills. The Foundation Stage has recently undergone changes to staffing and, while teaching and learning are satisfactory at present, there are strengths. Although there is generally a balance between adult led activities and opportunities for children to explore for themselves, this is inconsistent. Teachers do not always use questioning sufficiently to extend children's thinking and, sometimes, they keep children sitting on the carpet too long. As a result, they lose concentration and interest. Positive relationships are established with parents and carers and there are good arrangements to ensure a smooth transition into Year 1.
What the school should do to improve further
- Ensure that the teaching has a greater impact on accelerating the progress pupils make in reading, writing and mathematics in order to raise standards.
- Improve the rigour and accuracy of self-evaluation so that the school has a clearer picture of its strengths and weaknesses and plans effectively to raise standards.
- Develop the roles of subject leaders in improving teaching and learning and raising achievement.
A small proportion of schools whose overall effectiveness is judged satisfactory but have areas of underperformance will receive a monitoring visit by an Ofsted inspector before the next section 5 inspection.
Achievement and standards
Pupils' achievement, from their starting points is satisfactory. However, achievement has been inadequate in some classes in recent years linked to high levels of staff turnover. This has been a concern for some parents. Progress has improved in Years 1 and 2 over the past two terms because of successful strategies adopted and improvements to teaching. Although current standards in Year 2 are well below average, these pupils had particularly low starting points and they are making satisfactory progress. They are mostly on track to reach their challenging targets. Pupils with hearing impairment, those with moderate learning difficulties and others with LDD achieve as well as their peers because teachers plan adequately for their needs. In addition, learning assistants support these pupils well by giving extra encouragement and explanation.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils are happy and clearly enjoy school a great deal. They and their parents believe that behaviour is good and there is little bullying and inspectors agree. They know they can go to teachers if there is a problem. Pupils understand how to keep safe. They practise healthy eating and are enthusiastic about physical activity. 'Play Buddies' ensure that no one is left alone or upset at playtime. For example, a Buddy was seen placing an arm around a tearful child and escorting him to a teacher. The school council helps pupils to learn to consult and take on responsibilities. They enjoy deciding how to spend the budget given to them and this gives them experience of financial planning. Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. They are serious and thoughtful in assembly. Their knowledge of world faiths and cultures is underdeveloped.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning have improved but there remains too much variation in the quality of lessons. For example, alongside good lessons in the school there are others where teachers do not match their work well to the needs of pupils and their expectations are too low, resulting in slowed progress. Teachers use interactive white boards well to make learning exciting. Some teachers are not yet using the school's new assessment procedures effectively in their planning resulting in work which is not well matched to the pupils. Teachers' marking of pupils' work is variable but there are pockets of good practice in the use of 'Two stars and a wish' system. Teachers' procedures for marking are unwieldy and not easily used or understood by pupils. Teachers and learning support assistants work together effectively to ensure that pupils who need extra help quickly receive it. As one parent commented, 'The LSA has had a great impact on the progress of my child'. Staff form very good relationships with pupils. This helps pupils to develop in self-confidence and motivates them to try their best.
Curriculum and other activities
The school's curriculum provides a wide range of interesting and enjoyable activities. Much of the curriculum is focused on imaginatively designed themes such as, 'Roving Reporters.' These encourage pupils' curiosity and help develop positive attitudes to learning. However, the curriculum for English and for mathematics, whilst satisfactory, is not yet helping pupils to progress well in those subjects. The school recognises there is more to do and some parents agree with this. The school provides a good programme to support pupils' personal development and social skills. Good features include a wide range of extra-curricular activities, which are well supported. Good use is made of visits to broaden pupils' experiences and visitors to school, such as theatre groups. The wide-ranging provision for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities, including the hearing-impaired pupils is good, as they are well supported and work is matched to their specific needs.
Care, guidance and support
The academic guidance pupils receive is satisfactory. It is helping them to achieve satisfactorily, but could be more effective. The school has not yet fully implemented their tracking system and pupils' targets often lack challenge. As a result, pupils do not yet have clear enough guidance about how their work could become better. Staff show high commitment to care. Consequently, they have effective strategies for promoting pupils' health and safety and their good behaviour. Relationships are good between staff and pupils, creating a climate in which pupils grow in confidence. Arrangements for safeguarding are similarly rigorous. Staff provide sensitive and well-focused support for vulnerable pupils, including those with a variety of learning difficulties and disabilities. There is a well-judged combination of withdrawal and in-class support provided by the learning support assistants. The school works effectively with a range of agencies, including the neighbouring junior school, to meet their needs.
Leadership and management
The good leadership of the new headteacher and deputy headteacher is driving the school to focus on raising standards. Recent years have seen substantial changes in staffing where almost all senior leaders have changed, along with many teachers. This turbulence led to a decline in standards in recent times. New school leaders have acted with urgency to reverse this decline by supporting teachers to improve their practice and by introducing new teaching strategies. These actions have begun to have a clear and positive effect on improving pupils' progress, but there is much more still to do. The school's leadership team will not be fully in place until next term, when there will be a full complement of staff. School leaders have not had enough time to establish rigorous systems for monitoring the work of the school. As a result, they do not have a complete picture of the school's strengths and weaknesses. They are in the early stages of writing improvement plans but these are not yet fully developed to address properly the school's key priorities. Subject leadership is inconsistent due to staffing difficulties and is now being revised. School leaders have maintained a caring climate for pupils. They provide well for pupils' personal development and give high priority to meeting the needs of vulnerable pupils. Governance is satisfactory. Governors meet their statutory duties and hold the school to account well but they do not have a clear picture of the school's strengths and weaknesses.