The school was visited by Ofsted inspectors in May 2013. This is a note on the background to the visit and their judgment. The team work and sense of spirit amongst the staff was exceptional.
The Inspection Visit
The new Ofsted approach (introduced in September 2012) gives schools less than a day’s notice of an inspection to try to give a genuine picture of a regular day at school. The Ofsted team was made up of three inspectors who spent time observing lessons, talking to staff, pupils, and governors and reviewing the school’s data and feedback gathered via the Parent View website. They attended assemblies on Thursday and Friday and met parents both in the playground and at tea afternoon on Thursday. The visit culminated on Friday afternoon with a discussion of their findings with the senior leadership team and a number of governors.
Their report assesses the school in four distinct areas which I have outlined below. More detail on this (and Ofsted inspections in general) can be found at www.ofsted.gov.uk.
- Achievement – this looks at both:
- “Attainment” i.e. the levels pupils reach by the time they leave school and
- “Progress” i.e. the progress made between joining and leaving the school
- Teaching and Learning
- Leadership and Management – including senior leadership team, subject and curriculum leaders and governors
- Behaviour and Safety
Each category is assessed against the following grades:
- “Requires Improvement” (previously “Satisfactory”)
- “Inadequate” (previously “Notice to Improve” or “Special Measures”)
The grades for the four areas are then combined to give a total overall assessment for the school. The key area in terms of overall judgment is “Achievement” as, according to the Ofsted logic at least, “Teaching and Learning” and “Leadership and Management” are both contributors to “Achievement” and hence can’t be rated more highly.
Following a detailed discussion, the inspectors concluded that our “Achievement” is “Good”. Their main input for this conclusion is the Year 6 SATS results for 2012 and 2011 leavers (results from 2010 are not available). They found that “attainment” is above national average in all subjects and highlighted Reading as a particular strength. They also commented on improvements in “progress” driven by the focus in recent years on Maths and Writing.
The main area that prevented them from giving an overall “Outstanding” assessment for this category was writing – specifically the “progress” made by our 2011 leavers. In this year group, 3 fewer pupils made “expected progress” than implied by the national average (although “attainment” levels were above national average expectations). The inspectors agreed that the school have addressed this area and that results have already improved: 2012 SATS results were above average for both “progress” and “attainment” and our internal data shows strong progress across all year groups. However they did not feel that this improvement has yet been sustained for a long enough period.
As a result of the Achievement judgment, Teaching and Learning and Leadership and Management were both also judged to be “Good”. Within Teaching and Learning all teachers were observed at least once and they assessed all teaching as “Good” or better with a sizeable proportion of the lessons judged to be “Outstanding”. Within Leadership and Management the inspectors commented on a culture of high expectation and strong self-assessment and complemented the team on strong leadership right across the staff team.
Behaviour and Safety was judged as “Outstanding” with particular mention of the pupils’ exemplary behaviour and strong sense of community. The inspectors also commended the school on our “Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural” (SMSC) provision.
The Overall judgment for the school based on these four categories is therefore “Good”.
Listening to the feedback from the inspectors and reading the report gives a picture of a school of which we can all be proud. They identified many areas of strength and it was reassuring to know that their views aligned very closely with our own self-evaluation in terms of both strengths and “development areas”.
A “Good” judgment is an achievement that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The “Outstanding” bar has been raised significantly since 2008 and while there is a risk that this grading is seen as a fall in standards this is demonstrably not the case. Nonetheless, we do aspire to be an outstanding school. We are pleased that the inspection team agreed that the key development areas have already been identified by the school and addressed effectively. Our challenge is to continue to work on those areas highlighted and maintain the drive to provide the very best education for the children at our school.
Whilst we do not expect another inspection for a few years, we are confident that continuing on our current course is likely to secure “Outstanding” results in 2013 and beyond.