Ark Castledown Primary Academy

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About Ark Castledown Primary Academy

Name Ark Castledown Primary Academy
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Miss Rebecca Stewart
Address Priory Road, Hastings, TN34 3QT
Phone Number 01424444046
Phase Academy
Type Academy sponsor led
Age Range 2-11
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 387
Local Authority East Sussex
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils at this school have very positive relationships with school staff.

They have confidence in them. They know that staff are there to keep them safe, and that they will help them with any worries they have.

There are high expectations for every pupil at this school across the subjects taught.

All children, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), now get off to an excellent start with their reading. This is enabling them to access the ambitious new curriculum that leaders have introduced.

Pupils understand the 'learning for life' values of 'eloquence, grit, responsibility, confidence, kindness and curiosity'.
Pupils know why these values are important, and how they will help them succeed now and into the future. Staff are unwavering in their expectation that every pupil will live by these values and follow classroom rules. Classrooms are calm and settled, and learning is now very rarely disrupted by behaviour.

If bullying is identified, staff act swiftly and effectively to address it.

Parents recognise that staff provide children and their families with a high level of support. There is, for example, a weekly drop-in counselling service that pupils and parents can access.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

This school became an academy and joined a multi-academy trust in September 2017. Prior to this, there had been a very concerning decline in the attainment and progress of pupils. Leaders within the school and the multi-academy trust took rapid and highly effective action in response to this decline.

They knew that they needed to ensure that all pupils learned to read fluently. A new phonics curriculum was introduced. Leaders have ensured that every member of staff has expert knowledge of teaching reading.

The books that younger children read help them to practise the sounds they have learned. For those few pupils who fall behind age-related expectations, expert teaching and support continues to be provided until they are fluently able to read. From Nursery to Year 6, teachers read to their classes daily to help foster a real love of reading.

Within the school day, there is dedicated time for pupils to read for pleasure, discuss their reading choices and share recommendations.

A new mathematics curriculum has been introduced, which starts when children join the school in Nursery. All staff have been trained to deliver the new mathematics curriculum in a highly effective and consistent way.

Pupils are given regular opportunities to revisit and consolidate key mathematical knowledge. This repeated recall ensures that, over time, they learn and remember more and become increasingly fluent mathematicians.

Leaders within the multi-academy trust work closely with school leaders to ensure that teachers receive focused and highly effective professional development so that, over time, their teaching of the curriculum becomes increasingly expert.

The impact of this work is particularly evident in relation to reading and mathematics, as this has been a key focus since academisation. In these subjects, pupils are now receiving an exceptional quality of education.

The impact of this support is also clear in the foundation subjects, but this work is at an earlier stage.

In these subjects, the trust has worked with subject leaders within school to develop a model curriculum. Each curriculum is carefully sequenced and sets out the knowledge that pupils need to learn over time. Subject leaders within school have been supported to personalise each curriculum to take account of the specific context of this school.

Staff are being supported to develop their subject knowledge in all subjects. Pupils with SEND are well supported so that they too can access the ambitious learning in each subject.

Leaders have a clear ambition for each foundation subject to be taught as effectively as reading and mathematics are taught, so that pupils at this school receive an exceptional education in every subject.

This is currently the focus for school leaders and for leaders within the multi-academy trust. Alongside this work on the curriculum, other well-considered projects, such as developing a whole-school oracy programme, are being implemented.

A broad range of clubs are offered by the school.

Leaders carefully consider how to ensure that all pupils can access clubs. For example, sports clubs run at lunchtime. Pupils enjoy a wide range of trips and enriching experiences within the school's curriculum.

Positive relationships sit at the heart of behaviour management at this school. Staff always maintain clear and consistent expectations for behaviour. They also have a detailed knowledge of individual pupil's needs and how to get the best from every learner.

Leadership and governance at this school are exceptional. Despite a number of leaders being new to post, the clarity of vision, the training and professional development provided both within the school and within the trust mean that all leaders are extremely well focused on the education provided by the school.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders at this school always act in the best interests of pupils. They have trained staff so that staff understand the signs that suggest a pupil is at risk of harm or has been harmed. There are clear systems in place to record concerns, and to record action taken.

These systems are also used to carefully monitor vulnerable pupils over time. The attendance, behaviour, pastoral care and safeguarding teams work very closely together so that they are able to draw together information and really understand the potential risks that some pupils might be facing. Leaders consistently ensure that pupils get the help that they need, referring to external agencies in a timely and effective way.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• In some foundation subjects, the curriculum has been implemented recently and has not had time to fully embed. Staff are not as expert in the teaching of geography, for example, as they are in teaching reading. Staff knowledge and expertise across foundation subjects should be further developed so that pupils' knowledge and understanding of each subject will also deepen over time.

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