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Pupils do not do well enough at Colburn Community Primary School.
Specifically, they do not make enough progress when learning to read. The curriculum in some subjects is not good enough. In addition, there is a small, but not insignificant, number of pupils who are unkind to others.
Nonetheless, Colburn Community Primary School is a welcoming and vibrant place to be for many pupils. Most pupils are confident and friendly. Many pupils say that they would recommend their school to a friend.
Relationships between staff and pupils are positive and respectful. Teachers in early years know children well, even though some children have only been in school for a sho...rt time.
Leaders do want pupils to achieve well.
Currently, many subject leaders are new to the role and are still working on reviewing the curriculum in their subject. While some areas of the curriculum require further development, particularly early reading and phonics, there are some strengths for leaders to build on.
Leaders understand the context of the local community.
They want the best for pupils and are keen for them to access a wide range of experiences during their time in school. Pupils speak enthusiastically about trips and after-school clubs.
The new headteacher has already had a positive impact, and governors, staff and pupils are excited about the future of the school.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
The headteacher is new to the school this term. He has identified the key areas of the school that need improvement and has already implemented some changes.
Leaders understand that teaching pupils to read needs to be a priority.
However, pupils do not learn to read quickly enough. The quality of the teaching of phonics is inconsistent. Some teachers do not address pupils' misconceptions during lessons.
Some 'keep-up' programmes that are matched to pupils' gaps in knowledge are in place. The pupils who access these soon catch up with their peers. Reading books are matched to pupils' ability.
Pupils can talk about their favourite books and show enjoyment of reading. Older pupils say that they do not read very often in subjects other than English.
In some subjects, for instance mathematics, leaders have carefully planned what pupils will learn and when.
Teachers present subject matter clearly, and pupils remember what they have been taught. In early years, children are learning to recognise numbers through carefully planned activities. In other subjects, such as history, leaders have not thought enough about what exactly pupils need to know and remember.
This makes it difficult for teachers to check what pupils know. Leaders have not ensured that what pupils learn in Year 1 builds on what they have learned in early years. This means that sometimes, pupils repeat what they have done before.
Most pupils behave well both in lessons and at breaktimes. Children in early years are beginning to understand behaviour expectations and routines. However, repeated incidents of bullying are a problem in the school.
Pupils were clear that adults do deal with bullying and said that this does stop it for a short time, but that it often reoccurs because adults do not check up on it.
Until recently, systems were not in place to monitor attendance and punctuality effectively. Too many pupils do not attend school often enough.
Newly introduced systems allow leaders to identify pupils who are frequently absent or late. Leaders then work with their families to address the reasons. The headteacher is keen to build positive relationships with families.
Leaders provide pupils with a range of experiences, such as trips. Pupils talk about these with enthusiasm, such as the Year 2 visit to Beamish Museum. However, pupils are not always clear about what they have learned as a result of taking part in these visits.
Pupils enjoy attending the range of after-school clubs on offer, including the healthy cooking club for younger pupils in the school.
Pupils know that it is wrong to discriminate against people because of, for example, their race or religion. They cannot always say why this might hurt other people's feelings.
The provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) is generally matched well to individual needs. Children in early years who may have additional needs are identified quickly. Leaders are determined that SEND should not be a barrier to achieving highly.
Skilled support staff deliver effective interventions. The provision in classrooms is less effective because support plans do not give staff enough detail about the precise support pupils need.
Over time, the way in which leaders have been challenged by governors has not been strong enough.
The local authority is currently working on making governance of the school more effective. The new headteacher is determined to bring about rapid improvements and he has the full support of both staff and governors. He has already got an accurate view of the strengths and weaknesses of the school.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Adults in school know the signs that indicate a pupil may be at risk and the importance of reporting those concerns quickly. Where a pupil is at risk, leaders take steps to make sure that pupils get the help they need.
Leaders recognise that pupils with SEND are among the most vulnerable pupils, and additional time is spent with these pupils, teaching them how to keep themselves safe. Leaders are aware of the contextual risks to pupils. They have formed positive links with external agencies such as the police in order to improve pupil safety outside school.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• The teaching of phonics does not enable pupils to learn to read quickly. Teaching is not of an equal standard in all lessons. Some teachers do not address errors and misconceptions within lessons.
This means that some pupils are waiting for the next assessment point before gaps in knowledge are identified. Leaders should ensure that all staff are trained to the same standard in the teaching of phonics. Leaders should also make sure that teachers are more consistent when checking how much pupils know in lessons to prevent pupils falling behind the pace of the programme.
• The curriculum in the foundation subjects does not enable pupils to build knowledge over time. While some thought has been given to the sequencing of topics in and across year groups, leaders have not identified precisely what it is that pupils should know by the end of a topic, and nor have they identified the small steps of learning that will enable pupils to acquire this knowledge. Leaders should ensure that curriculum plans set out exactly what knowledge pupils should learn and the steps that will be taken to ensure that they do so.
• Systems to deal with bullying are not effective. When bullying happens, adults do not take steps to prevent it reoccurring. Leaders should ensure that when bullying occurs, the steps taken are effective and stop it from happening again.
• The governing body does not provide sufficient levels of challenge to leaders, particularly in relation to attendance and pupil achievement. This means that over time, pupils' attendance and how well they achieve have not improved fast enough. Governors should ensure that they have processes in place to be able to hold leaders to account for school improvement.
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