Bells Farm Junior and Infants is an outstanding school. It has numerous strengths, the most important being the dynamic and inspirational leadership of the headteacher, who, as one teacher remarked, 'Always leads from the front and would never ask anyone to do anything she would not do herself'.
She is very well supported by the deputy headteachers, all the staff and the governing body, who share her high ambition for giving pupils the very best start possible to their education. This relentless drive and passion for the development of pupils, 'they are at the heart of everything we do', has led to many improvements. Some have been exceptional, and consequently there has been considerable progress in ...the last three years across every aspect of the school's daily life.
In particular, this includes the huge improvement to the curriculum provision in the school, which is stimulating and exciting, matched precisely to pupils' needs, and has helped considerably to strengthen their basic skills in English, mathematics and information and communication technology. Other major improvements include the much increased effectiveness of the Early Years Foundation Stage and many aspects of leadership including the outstanding promotion of equal opportunities. In addition, there is a high level of involvement of pupils in the school and local community, and greatly improved provision for gifted and talented pupils, those with special educational needs and/or disabilities, and the small number of pupils from minority ethnic groups.
The school evaluates itself in considerable detail and with accuracy although is coy in its judgements of its success. These developments, and many others, strongly support the school's outstanding capacity for sustained improvement. The school takes great care of its pupils, ensures that they are safe, has excellent safeguarding procedures, and makes outstanding provision for pupils whose circumstances may make them potentially vulnerable.
This in turn helps pupils to behave in an exemplary fashion, another considerable improvement. The school's engagement with some parents and carers is excellent, but in spite of many initiatives, the school is still unable to reach out to others. In particular, the school has struggled for some time to involve more than a minority of parents and carers to partner it in supporting their children's learning.
The governing body contributes very positively to school improvement and is exceptionally well led by the experienced Chair, but could do more to engage with the parental community. Children make excellent progress in the Reception class, in spite of many barriers to learning when they begin. Excellent progress continues throughout the school, so that by the time pupils leave they reach at least average levels in English, and exceed them in mathematics.
There is evidence that many pupils reach above average levels in other subjects such as music and physical education. This is because of consistently high quality and exciting teaching, which is characterised by high expectations and the provision of many original and creative learning experiences for pupils. All groups of pupils achieve well, and have a particularly acute understanding of the importance of seizing all the opportunities the school provides, to help them in their future lives.
Information about the school
Bells Farm Junior and Infants is a smaller than average sized primary school. A large majority of pupils come from a White British background. There are a small number of minority ethnic groups, the largest being of Somalian background.
The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities is above average, the largest having moderate learning difficulties. The proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is well above average. The proportion of pupils joining and leaving the school at times other than is usual is above that seen nationally.
There is a children's centre attached to the school. Since September 2010 this has been managed by the school governing body and it is directed on a daily basis by a deputy headteacher from the junior and infant's school, under the overall supervision of the headteacher. The centre has been subject to a simultaneous separate inspection.
A breakfast club takes place daily in the centre and is administered by the school, and was included in the school inspection. An after-school club, managed privately, takes place in the centre daily, and is subject to a separate inspection. The school has achieved a number of awards, including Healthy Schools status and the Leading Aspect Award for Values Education.