Cotton End Forest School

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About Cotton End Forest School

Name Cotton End Forest School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mrs Karen Headland
Address High Road, Bedford, MK45 3AG
Phone Number 01234740100
Phase Primary
Type Community school
Age Range 3-11
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 363
Local Authority Bedford
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

The school's distinctive focus on outdoor learning means that pupils are confident and happy away from the classroom.

Much of their learning happens in the outdoor environment and pupils enjoy this aspect of school. Pupils learn a range of life skills, including how to make fires and use bladed tools safely. However, not all teachers understand how to make all outdoor learning purposeful.

Pupils enjoy and benefit from the school's programme of educational visits. They also attend a variety of sports clubs, such as gymnastics, football and netball.

Across the school, pupils behave well.

Pupils know what is expected of them. As a result, the school has... a calm and purposeful atmosphere. Bullying is rare.

Pupils know they can share concerns with staff when they experience a problem. They know that teachers will deal with bullying quickly, if it should occur. Consequently, pupils are happy and safe at school.

However, staff's expectations of what pupils can achieve are not high enough. The work that pupils do is not always sufficiently challenging. Reading is a barrier for some pupils.

In the past, staff have not taught pupils to read quickly enough.

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

Since its previous inspection in 2017, Cotton End Forest School has grown quickly and has moved to a new site. Leaders have crafted a new vision for the school.

They have focused on maximising learning opportunities outdoors. The spacious and vibrant outdoor learning environment supports this vision.

Throughout this process of change, leaders have always considered the workload and well-being of staff.

Staff appreciate this. Leaders have begun to turn their attention towards developing the curriculum. However, there is some way to go to ensure pupils learn well in all subjects.

The curriculum is very much in development. Where leaders have chosen to introduce purchased schemes of work, it is clear what pupils learn and when. Shared approaches for assessment are set out and inform teaching.

In these subjects, pupils learn the curriculum well.

Leaders have not provided the same clarity in all subjects. In some subjects, teachers take broad aims and make decisions about the detail they will teach.

This means learning does not build over time and pupils do not make the useful connections between different aspects of the curriculum they should. Similarly, where there is lack of training for teachers, teachers provide explanations and set activities that are not appropriate for pupils. As a result, pupils do not learn as much as they should.

Leaders have recently adopted a well-sequenced phonics curriculum. They provided training so that staff can teach phonics consistently. Pupils therefore learn the sounds they need to know.

This shows in Year 1, where children generally blend sounds together to read words and sentences with increasing accuracy. However, there are groups of pupils in key stage 2 who did not benefit from this approach. Although staff identify these pupils, the catch-up support they receive is not helping them to catch up quickly enough.

This is because assessment is not being used well to teach these pupils the sounds they need to know to improve their ability to read confidently and fluently.The weaknesses in the curriculum and teaching in key stages 1 and 2 are not reflected in the early years. In the early years, the curriculum is well structured and children are provided with appropriate explanations and activities.

For example, children's mark-making knowledge builds sequentially over time and supports children with letter formation. This ensures they are ready for writing in Year 1 and beyond.

Leaders guide teachers to put in place adaptations that help pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) to succeed.

Teachers may meet a pupil's needs by altering resources or through targeted questioning to check understanding. These careful adaptations allow pupils with SEND to learn the curriculum alongside their peers.Leaders have high expectations for the attendance of their pupils.

They are consistent and tenacious in ensuring pupils come to school every day. Pupils are motivated to win 'Charlie Bear', given weekly to the class with the best attendance.Governors' strengths currently lie in how they oversee some aspects of provision, such as safeguarding and school finances.

Their checks and challenge help to ensure these systems work well. Governors have had less impact upon the development of the curriculum.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders provide staff with appropriate training which is regularly updated. Staff are vigilant and have a clear understanding of the system for reporting concerns. Leaders make appropriate referrals to external agencies when pupils require additional support.

They keep detailed records of any concerns and the actions that derive from these. The curriculum supports pupils to understand about how to keep themselves safe. For example, they learn how to keep themselves safe on the internet.

Leaders ensure appropriate recruitment procedures are followed. The processes are robust and regularly checked by the governing body.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• The curriculum in some subjects does not set out the order and detail of content to be learned.

Consequently, the curriculum pupils experience does not build towards profiency in these subjects. Leaders need to identify and order for teachers the vocabulary, concepts and skills pupils will learn in these subjects. ? Leaders have not equipped all teachers with the subject knowledge needed to teach the curriculum confidently and well.

As a result, teaching does not always help pupils to understand and remember, and some pupils do not make the progress that they could. Leaders should provide teachers with the training and support they need to teach the curriculum well. ? Previously, the phonics programme lacked rigour.

As a result, there are pupils in key stage 2 who have not secured the phonic code. The catch-up support they receive is not tightly focused on the sounds they need to know. Leaders should ensure that staff use assessment to inform timely catch-up support that ensures these pupils learn to read fluently.

Also at this postcode
Dawn Until Dusk Ltd At Cotton End

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