|Name||Hillshott Infant School and Nursery|
|Ofsted Inspection Rating||Good|
|Inspection Date||04 November 2010|
|Address||Ridge Avenue, Letchworth, Hertfordshire, SG6 1QE|
|Religious Character||Does Not Apply|
|Number of Pupils||212 (56% boys 44% girls)|
|Percentage Free School Meals||11.8%|
|Catchment Area Information Available||Yes, our catchment area data is FREE|
Information about the school
This is an average-sized school. The large majority of pupils are White British, with around a quarter coming from a wide range of different minority ethnic backgrounds. Only a small number of pupils are at an early stage of learning English as an additional language. A high proportion of pupils have special educational needs and/or disabilities, including many with a statement of special educational needs. This is, in part, because the school incorporates a specialist base for up to 10 pupils with speech and language difficulties. The school also provides a ’nurture group’ to support pupils who need extra help to boost their confidence and learning. Children in the Nursery attend part time. The school has attained the Investors in People, Sports Partnership and ICT Mark awards, as well as Healthy Schools status.
This is a good school where pupils achieve well, both academically and in their personal development. Progress is good throughout the school, from the start of the Nursery and Reception to the end of Year 2. As a result, pupils’ attainment has been consistently in line with the national average, even though many children join the school with low prior attainment. The school caters for a high proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, including those in the speech and language base. These pupils’ achievement is especially impressive, with many surmounting their learning difficulties to go on to attain standards in reading, writing and mathematics that similarly match the national average. This illustrates the school’s outstanding promotion of equality for pupils of all abilities and backgrounds. The school’s success is due to consistently good teaching and excellent arrangements for pupils’ care and welfare that result in pupils feeling exceptionally safe in school. Parents and carers, with whom staff work in very close partnership, are especially appreciative of the way in which their children are nurtured and looked after. One parent summed up the views of many in explaining, ’My daughter comes home excited and inspired by what she has done and cannot wait to return. She has even asked to come in at the weekends! On numerous occasions, I have been made aware that the staff are catering for her individual needs, developing her areas of special interest, giving her opportunities to learn new skills and challenging her.’ The curriculum is outstanding not only because the topics studied are made interesting and exciting but also because learning is carefully matched to pupils’ individual needs. Regular dialogue between school leaders and class teachers results in close monitoring of each pupil’s progress and individualised provision that maps out a programme of tailored support to boost learning. For pupils identified as at risk of falling behind, this means interventions such as ’reading recovery’ and other one-to-one assistance to accelerate their progress. For more able pupils, it means more challenging work and stimulating activities, such as, the opportunity afforded to pupils to make animation films that bring their modelling clay figures to life. The school draws extremely effectively on its partnerships with a wide range of outside agencies to enhance the support provided to pupils. From the start of the Early Years Foundation Stage, teachers quickly establish orderly routines that ensure that children listen carefully and work with concentration. Behaviour throughout the school is exemplary, even for those children who, when they join the school, initially struggle with self-control. In this, facilities such as the ’nurture group’ play a key role. Just occasionally, however, some pupils’ attention drifts when they are expected to sit for too long listening on the carpet. Relationships throughout the school are very good and so pupils are eager to please their teachers. A notable feature of lessons is the way teachers set out at the start not just what it is that the pupils are expected to learn, but also why this is important. This helps to make learning relevant and contributes to pupils’ sense of achievement. However, its impact is sometimes dissipated when the learning objectives are displayed only on small handwritten sheets that can be difficult for pupils to read or refer to during the lesson. Pupils have targets in their writing and mathematics books and they often refer to them when they are working. Marking gives pupils helpful guidance on how to move their learning on, but sometimes spelling errors go un-noted, with sentences ticked as correct when they are not. Although pupils have word books and cards that list common spellings, there is not a consistently routine expectation that pupils check their own or each other’s spellings. Although the governing body is supportive, the retirement last year of several key members without effective plans for others to take on their roles has limited governors’ involvement in overseeing the school and setting its direction. The school development plan is comprehensive but not all of its objectives are linked to quantifiable outcomes. Nevertheless, the headteacher and leadership team have a sharply accurate picture of the school’s many strengths and have been perceptive not only in identifying where improvements can be made but also in putting in place improvements. Monitoring of lessons now involves all staff so that teachers visit each other’s classes and learn from each other’s teaching. This has contributed to the picture of consistently good teaching across the school. Leaders last year identified that the progress of some of the more able pupils was less rapid than that of others. Measures put in place, including changes to the curriculum, have corrected this. Such changes for the better demonstrate the school’s good capacity for continued improvement.