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Pupils live out the school's vision of, 'In a community of kindness where all belong, be positive, be resilient, be creative'. They are polite, respectful and welcoming to all. Relationships across the school are warm.
This helps all pupils to feel safe and well cared for. They know there are trusted adults who will help them if they have problems.
Parents are positive about the school.
They value the opportunities the school provides to develop their children's interests. They say their children are 'always doing things'. Activities including musical theatre, dance and art develop pupils' creativity.
Trips and visits support pupils to develop their ...confidence. The benefit of these show in pupils' attitudes to learning. They show determination when faced with challenge and persevere to overcome difficulties.
Pupils feel their voice counts. They are proud that their ideas contribute towards school improvement. For instance, the recently introduced 'Bitham Badges' reward pupils for demonstrating the school's values.
Pupils realise that the school has undergone many changes and say these are for the better. They recognise the improvements leaders have made to the quality of education.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Leaders and governors are aspirational for pupils at Bitham Brook.
They have tackled weaknesses in the school and made structural change to ensure pupils learn well. Classes are organised, so the curriculum is more coherent. The restructure of the leadership team has built capacity to improve the quality of education.
Leaders know what makes learning effective. They are in the process of refining the curriculum to ensure it is of the highest quality. Where this is complete, it has been done meticulously and with ambition.
Leaders have identified the key knowledge pupils will learn. They have designed learning to help pupils know and remember more over time. However, this has not yet been completed for all areas of the curriculum.
Where this is not as fully developed or embedded, important learning is not explicit enough. The learning pupils are given does not always match precisely what leaders want them to know. As a result, pupils are less able to articulate their learning or build their knowledge as well over time.
As soon as children start school, there is a sharp focus on developing their language. Staff ask questions to extend pupils' vocabulary and give clear explanations of words they may not understand. For example, when reading about plants, one teacher explained 'when a plant is in bloom, it is going to flower'.
The impact of this work is evident in pupils' writing. As they move through the school, pupils produce writing that contains adventurous language, chosen for effect. However, pupils do not always apply their knowledge of spelling and punctuation or present their work well.
Leaders understand that weaknesses in pupils' reading will limit their life chances. They aim to ensure all pupils read with confidence and accuracy. The curriculum is adapted for pupils who have gaps in their understanding, so they secure key knowledge as soon as possible.
They provide pupils with books that support them to practise using their phonics. This helps pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), become more fluent. Older pupils develop strong comprehension.
Inspiring books, like 'The Boy in the Back of the Class' and 'Goodnight Mr Tom', support pupils' personal development. They help them understand themes such as refugees and bereavement. They support pupils to show empathy and tolerance for others.
Teachers adjust learning to ensure that pupils with SEND learn the curriculum well. They provide resources to help these pupils access the same ambitious curriculum as their peers. Pupils with SEND have learning targets that are well matched to their needs.
These targets are embedded in classroom practice.
In reading and mathematics, there are clear systems that support teachers to identify gaps in pupils' knowledge. They use this information to inform pupils' next steps in learning.
Leaders know these systems are not yet well developed across the curriculum and how this can affect how pupils learn. In addition, pupils' misconceptions can sometimes go unaddressed. This can prevent them building upon what they already know.
As a result of high expectations and clear routines, pupils behave well and attend regularly. In lessons, they listen carefully and focus on their learning. Pupils enjoy playtimes.
They know bullying is rare and leaders are quick to deal with it if it occurs. Leaders work actively alongside the family link worker to support families to demonstrably improve pupils' attendance.
Staff are proud to be part of the Bitham Brook team.
Most appreciate that leaders' ongoing work to revise the curriculum will help them become more knowledgeable and enable them to manage their workload more effectively.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders have developed a culture where staff prioritise keeping pupils safe.
They are alert to any potential risk and raise concerns without delay. Leaders are quick to liaise with outside agencies to secure the help pupils need.
Governors check that safeguarding is effective.
They make sure that all staff and visitors are safe to be with children.Pupils know how to keep themselves safe from risks in the local area and those that are more widespread. This includes being safe online.
Pupils can explain what makes relationships healthy. They know how to protect themselves from relationships that are unhealthy.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• Where the curriculum is not as fully developed or embedded, learning is not made explicit enough.
As a result, the learning that pupils are given does not always match precisely what leaders want them to know. Leaders need to ensure that the work to refine the curriculum is complete, so that the curriculum in all areas is as well embedded and ambitious as those already more established. This will ensure that pupils develop deep knowledge across the whole curriculum.
• Teachers' expectations of pupils' written work do not consistently reflect the same ambition of the curriculum. As a result, pupils do not consistently apply their knowledge of spelling, grammar and punctuation or present their work well. Leaders need to ensure that teachers raise their expectations of pupils' writing across all subjects, so that pupils apply what they know consistently, accurately and with pride.
• Assessment is not consistently used to identify pupils' gaps in learning across all areas of the curriculum. This means that learning is not always based upon pupils' prior knowledge and that important misconceptions can go unaddressed. Leaders need to ensure that assessment is robust across all subjects to ensure that learning is based upon pupils' starting points and the key knowledge they need to learn.
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