Our Ofsted Report & Independent Review
Ofsted carried out an inspection of our school on 14th and 15th September 2021. In 2006, when we were last inspected, our school was rated ‘Outstanding’ under a very different Ofsted inspection framework. The 2019 inspection framework was introduced to focus on the importance of the whole curriculum, of knowledge and how it all fits together. Now, the judgement criteria for meeting Outstanding has also been raised considerably and will be awarded only when schools are exceptional in all five Ofsted areas.
Ofsted have rated our school “Good” in the areas of: Behaviours and Attitudes; Personal Development; Leadership and Management; Early Years provision. The inspectors have recognised our nurturing approach and the strong sense of community and there is much in the report to celebrate: “Staff have high expectations of pupils’ behaviour. Lessons are fun and interesting. Pupils work with enthusiasm and are keen to contribute their ideas. Incidents of poor behaviour are rare.” Safeguarding is rated as Effective: “Pupils are polite, cheerful and kind to each other. They feel safe and well looked after by adults.”
The inspection team took a ‘Deep Dive’ into our teaching of History and Computing in order to test out whether our curriculum is well-planned and sequenced. Inspectors felt that our History curriculum intent was not planned in the detail that they would have expected; the “Quality of Education” area of the Ofsted inspection was therefore rated as “Requires Improvement” and this area dictates the overall result of the inspection. The report does draw out that: “Leaders want the best for all pupils and know what improvements are needed to the curriculum to help pupils to flourish and succeed.”
The focus for our school over the last two academic years has been to put in place the best structure for the children that was achievable, given we are a small school. This led us to operate with mixed-aged classes for academic year 2020-21. We have prioritised ensuring our pupils have received the emotional and academic support they needed following the disruption caused by COVID remote working. During this time, our curriculum development has been an important part of our school improvement plan. However, the restrictions and impact of COVID on a small school have been significant and has meant our curriculum documentation and planning wasn’t at the level of detail necessary for the start of term.
Whilst our teaching staff know all of our pupils, what they are learning, and what they need to learn next, we had not documented this sequence to the level required for foundation subjects like history and art at the time of the inspection. As you can read in the report “Supported by the trust, leaders have begun to make the necessary changes.” Based on their inspection of Maths and Computing, our planning and teaching of core subjects Maths and Computing was good. The overall outcome of the Ofsted inspection is a disappointment to us and we intend to invite Ofsted back to inspect our school once again after Easter 2022.
Since the inspection, we have been reviewing our overview for each subject, to ensure that the teaching for the topic is clearly sequenced, with key knowledge identified. The learning page of our website explains this in more detail.
We have worked hard with the other TAMAT schools to establish a new assessment system for each subject of the curriculum, which we will be embedding 2021-22, making sure we assess and record how well each child has secured the key knowledge for each topic. As planned, an external consultant will be carrying out a Teaching and Learning Review in February 2022, where we will review the documentation we are putting in place. We will share the key findings of that review.
The government has reviewed the teaching of phonics nationally and the deadline to rollout changes is April 2022. The inspectors felt that the books which some of our children were reading should focus on a few key sounds at a time – to reflect the upcoming changes and the children’s phonics ability. The inspection team focused on the children who struggle to read and we have already responded by ensuring that the books they use in school are purely phonics-based and fully decodable, matched to their level. We have evaluated a range of Systematic Synthetic Programs and chosen a new phonics scheme which will replace ‘Phonics Play’ as our system of teaching; our results for reading and phonics have remained strong since 2019.
We are confident that, following the actions outlined above, we will have addressed the findings raised by Ofsted.
We value the support from our staff, parents and Local Academy Board in preparation for, during and following this Ofsted inspection. After sharing the report with our families, one of our parents said “I understand you must be disappointed, but please know that as parents, we have EVERY faith in you and your team. I have no doubt that most parents feel the same as we do. You have a great school, with outstanding teachers, and we look forward to the next few years of our child's education with you.”
During the inspection. our children showed their usual wonderful behaviour to the inspectors and showcased their fantastic work. We are all extremely proud of our school and collectively we will work to make the changes necessary to ensure the next inspection outcome delivers the result we deserve. Mrs Ezzard, Headteacher, recorded a presentation for parents and carers about the inspection report, which you can watch here.
PDF of Inspection report here
If you would prefer a printed copy of our Ofsted report or other information contained on our website please contact the school office.