The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This is a large inner-city primary school. Most pupils are from minority ethnic groups and currently 27 different home languages are spoken. Although the pupil roll is stable, the number of pupils entering and leaving the school other than at the usual times is much higher than usual. The percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals is average. The number of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is above average.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a satisfactory, but improving school. It has several good features. ‘Our children have always developed strong, positive relationships with their teachers and enjoy going to school. ‘We feel they are recognised and valued as individuals – both personally and educationally’, is a typical comment that reflects most parents’ high regard for the school. Partnerships with outside agencies and the community are good, celebrating the rich cultural diversity within the school population.
Pupils’ personal development and well-being and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development are good. Pupils are proud to show visitors around. They enjoy school and their excellent enthusiasm for keeping fit has helped the school gain two national awards. Pupils feel safe and they benefit from good care. Pupils make an outstanding contribution to the school community by accepting responsibility conscientiously as ‘Young Leaders’ for playground activities, buddies to assist those with social needs, and as carers for the school’s pets. Attendance is improving but is not yet at the national average. Continuity in learning is limited by the high level of pupil mobility and extended leave during term time taken by many pupils.
Achievement is satisfactory. This is because teaching and learning are satisfactory. There is some good and occasionally excellent teaching but pupils do not benefit from this consistently as they move through the school. Standards in all subjects at the end of Years 2 and 6 are below average although there are signs of improvement. Progress is uneven because teaching varies in its effectiveness and expectations are not always high enough. Some lessons are taught confidently capturing pupils’ interest and the pace of learning quickens. Other lessons are less successful, particularly when teachers spend too long teaching the whole class and do not give pupils sufficient opportunities to work independently or collaboratively.
The curriculum is good. It includes ‘creative modules’ that provide excellent opportunities for pupils to work in smaller mixed-age groups. The lack of computers restricts opportunities for pupils to learn independently. The Year 1 curriculum is not a natural extension of the good programme provided in the Reception year.
Leadership is good because there is an unwavering focus on raising standards and promoting personal development. Governors contribute well to the accurate self-evaluation. The school priorities are relevant and realistic.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
Provision in the Foundation Stage is good. Children enter the Nursery with abilities and skills that are well below those typically found. Many start with poor levels of speech and language, restricted understanding of number and limited personal and social skills. Teaching is good because it is well-matched to children’s interests and aptitudes. Consequently progress is good throughout the Nursery and Reception years. Despite the good gains made, a considerable proportion of children do not reach the nationally expected goals at the time of transfer into Year 1.
Children enjoy the well-planned activities. Nursery children were delighted when a centipede started moving. They responded promptly, chatting with each other about the number of legs! Good organisation of classrooms and the outdoor provision helps children to benefit from a good balance of child-selected and adult-led activities. Leadership is good and promotes a strong sense of teamwork and purpose. Teaching assistants provide good support and contribute well to the good care provided.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise expectations to ensure more pupils make quicker progress and reach higher standards.
- Improve the consistency of challenge, pace and active involvement of pupils in lessons.
- Improve the quality of pupils’ independent learning by providing more computers.
A small proportion of the schools whose overall effectiveness is judged satisfactory but which have areas of underperformance will receive a monitoring visit by an Ofsted inspector before their next Section 5 inspection.
Achievement and standards
Pupils’ achievement is satisfactory although progress from Year 1 to Year 6 is uneven. For several years standards by the end of Years 2 and 6 have been below average in all the main subjects. In 2007, pupils in Year 2 reached average standards in reading having made good progress in this key skill. Recent assessment data and inspection findings show that pupils, currently in Year 2, are again likely to attain below average standards. These pupils have made satisfactory progress compared to their starting points when they entered Year 1.
The achievement of the 2007 cohort of Year 6 pupils was satisfactory. Standards in the current Year 6 are on track to again be below average. Pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and those who are at an early stage of acquiring English make satisfactory progress.
Standards have been rising gradually. Variation in the rate of progress reflects some inconsistency in teacher expectations. The considerable movement of pupils entering and leaving the school, other than at the usual times means some do not attend long enough to benefit from the better aspects of teaching. Another barrier is that a significant number of pupils take extended leave during term time thus hindering continuity in learning.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils know they attend a friendly school. They form positive relationships with other pupils and adults and their behaviour is good. Pupils’ awareness of the need for a healthy lifestyle is outstanding. Those in Key Stage 2 undertake aerobic exercises vigorously. At playtimes and lunchtime pupils respond enthusiastically to the extensive opportunities to take part in physical activities and nearly all are involved. Pupils have a very good understanding of a sensible dietary balance that reflects the traditions and beliefs of the ethnically diverse pupil population. Pupils have excellent understanding of how to take responsibility for themselves, their friends, and the school pets. They make their views known through the highly effective school council. Pupils show they have a responsibility towards those who are less fortunate than themselves by successfully raising money for local and international charities. Pupils appreciate the environment and their understanding is maturing well through their involvement with the school’s allotment. Pupils are satisfactorily beginning to develop the skills necessary for the next stage of their education and in order to cope with later life.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning are satisfactory but the quality varies considerably through the school. Pupils’ work shows the way this variability leads to uneven rates of progress. Some lessons are good and occasionally outstanding. Teachers manage pupils well and relationships are positive. In many lessons teachers’ good subject knowledge helps them to teach confidently. In the most successful lessons progress is very good because pupils are enthusiastically engaged, enjoy the activities and receive appropriate feedback. The use of visual, aural and interactive approaches are typical of the better teaching. Powerful still images, media clips and sound were used to stimulate Year 6 pupils to express their views about world poverty in a lesson that improved their writing and spoken language.
Not all of the teaching is of this higher quality. Too often expectations are leading pupils to make satisfactory rather than good progress. This is one of the reasons why progress is uneven. Another is that sometimes teachers talk too much, the pace of lessons slows and pupils start to lose interest. This restricts the time pupils have to carry out activities individually or in small groups. Marking is regular but too variable in the quality of guidance provided to pupils on what they need to do to improve.
Curriculum and other activities
The curriculum is good, meets requirements and incorporates many aspects of health and social education. The provision is gradually raising standards, particularly in reading. There is a good and balanced provision in and out of the classroom. Pupils enjoy exemplary cross-curricular work undertaken on the school’s allotment that links science and history. Visits and visitors add richness to their learning experiences. Separate learning programmes are used to address the specific needs of all individuals, especially those who are at an early stage of acquiring English. An extensive and varied range of school clubs, including music and sport, considerably enhance the pupils’ experience and enjoyment.
Despite the several excellent and distinctive features in the curriculum there are some weaknesses. The curriculum in Year 1 does not provide sufficient opportunities to build on children’s good experiences in the Foundation Stage. Pupils have limited opportunities to develop their information and communication technology skills independently because there are not enough computers.
Care, guidance and support
Care, guidance and support are good. Safeguarding, child protection procedures and risk assessments meet requirements. School logs confirm there have been no exclusions, racist incidents or episodes of inappropriate behaviour.
Teaching assistants form trusting relationships with pupils. Their work with small groups and individual support programmes helps pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to make consistent progress. Some pupils, at an early stage of acquiring English, benefit from individual bilingual support. Good links with external support services have led to a reduction in school absence and individual support to meet pupils’ specific needs. The school gives a high priority to addressing the needs of a very diverse pupil population.
The school has invested heavily in an electronic tracking system with external analysis. This provides teachers with clear information about the progress of their pupils. Although pupils are set targets and their work is regularly assessed, the guidance they receive is variable in quality.
Leadership and management
Leadership, management and governance are good. Standards are improving gradually and pupils’ personal development is much improved. Other important outcomes of leadership are the improvements to attendance, curriculum enrichment and the provision of extensive support for pupils in specific groups.
There is a strong sense of teamwork, purpose and direction. The good monitoring practices draw on reliable sources of evidence including data analysis, lesson observations and examination of pupils’ work. Effective self-evaluation has ensured school leaders have an accurate picture of the school’s strengths and helps them set pertinent areas for school improvement. A strength of leadership is the recognition that further improvements are needed to improve teaching if progress is to speed up. In response, leaders are promoting staff discussion and agreeing criteria on the characteristics of good lessons.
Leaders set challenging targets and there is an expectation that, despite pupils’ low starting points, most will make good progress towards attaining average standards by the time the leave. The governors support the school well and contribute effectively to self-review. Observing a school council meeting helped governors judge how well pupils were developing personally. The school has improved since the previous inspection and has a good capacity to improve further.