Abbots Hall Primary School

Name Abbots Hall Primary School
Ofsted Inspection Rating Good
Inspection Date 25 November 2010
Address Abbotts Drive, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, SS17 7BW
Phone Number 01375673188
Type Academy
Age Range 4-11
Religious Character Does Not Apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 228 (46% boys 54% girls)
Number of Pupils per Teacher 21.6
Local Authority Thurrock
Percentage Free School Meals 11%
Percentage English is Not First Language 3.1%

Information about the school

This is an average size school. There are more boys than girls, and there are fewer pupils than at the time of the last inspection. Most pupils are White British, with small numbers coming from minority ethnic backgrounds. A very small number of pupils are learning English as an additional language. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities is average. Of these, most have moderate learning difficulties; some have emotional and behavioural difficulties. An above average percentage of pupils join the school other than at the start of their primary education. The reduction in pupil numbers has given rise to a programme of redundancies since the last inspection, including a reduction in teaching posts. The headteacher was appointed in September 2008, having previously been acting headteacher and, before that, deputy headteacher. Abbots Hall has Healthy Schools status. The school site is shared with a pre-school and a children’s centre. These are both independently managed and are separately inspected.

Main findings

This is a good school. It has been through a difficult period since the last inspection. The positive views expressed by parents confirm that the fall in pupil numbers is due to the falling birth rate in the locality and not the result of parental dissatisfaction. On the contrary, many parents and carers wrote to praise this school and the education it provides for their children. They especially value the way in which the school looks after their children and the stimulating curriculum that motivates pupils to want to try hard, learn and do well. School self-evaluation is broadly accurate. It is to the credit of the headteacher and school leaders that Abbots Hall has been able to secure significant improvements in provision and in outcomes for pupils despite the severe challenge of having to manage reductions in staffing, including the loss of teaching posts. The difficulties have, nonetheless, taken a toll. Although most of the issues for development from the last inspection have been tackled successfully, some remain. Together with the continuing challenge of further planned staffing cuts, this limits as satisfactory the school’s capacity for improvement. Children make good progress in the Early Years Foundation Stage although, as at the time of the last inspection, they are overly directed in the mornings and have too few opportunities to learn through play. Progress is now satisfactory and accelerating in Key Stage 1. This is an improvement on previous years, when progress in Years 1 and 2 has been comparatively slow. Pupils’ attainment in Year 6 is average but this represents good achievement in relation to the same pupils’ Key Stage 1 test scores. The school has had greatest success in raising standards in mathematics and science, both of which were above average in assessments at the end of the 2010 academic year. It is English, and particularly writing, that still lags behind. Leaders have correctly identified that it is often boys who do less well in writing, so they have focused initiatives on providing more stimuli for boys through the opportunities to hone their writing skills on topics such as World War II. These are slowly narrowing the gender gap. Because the curriculum gives them interesting and exciting things to do, boys and girls are increasingly eager learners. Behaviour is consistently good, even among those who have previously struggled to control their behaviour. This is reflected in the sharp drop in the number of exclusions. Significantly, it also shows in pupils’ attentiveness in lessons and the way in which they listen carefully and appreciatively to the teachers and to each other. Teaching is satisfactory rather than better, however, because teachers do not capitalise enough on pupils’ enthusiasm. Teachers’ expectations are not high enough, especially in English, so lessons do not always move pupils’ learning on at a fast enough pace. In some classes, an overreliance on worksheets limits opportunities for writing, especially when these are similar for pupils’ often widely different capabilities. Even when teachers adapt activities to pupils’ different abilities, pupils are still all given the same ’success criteria’ for the lesson. For more able pupils, these lack challenge when they encompass work that these pupils show they have already mastered. Marking varies in quality. There is some high quality marking that sets out for pupils the next steps they need to take to move their learning on. This is especially the case in literacy and is helping to raise attainment in writing. However, opportunities are missed to build on this success by consistently reinforcing literacy skills through marking in other subjects. Too often, spelling and punctuation errors in subjects such as science go uncorrected. The school has plans to involve pupils more in checking and assessing their own and each other’s work, but this remains at an early stage of development. Pupils have helpful targets in their books to show them what they need to do to improve, but they do not all refer to them when they are writing because this usually involves having to flick back through their books to find them.