Pennington Junior School is an inclusive school. Pupils told me that everyone is welcome in this school and 'everyone has a voice'.
The school supports the learning of all pupils, regardless of their abilities or needs. Pupils feel safe and know the adults are there to help them if they have any worries.
Pupils possess strong moral qualities.
They learn about different religions and cultures. Pupils know the importance of respecting others. Pupils recognise that everyone should treat others as they would want to be treated.
Behaviour has very much improved, but there is still more to do. Pupils say that poor behaviour can sometimes interrupt their le...arning. They want this to stop.
Pupils told us that bullying sometimes happens but they feel confident because staff deal with it immediately.
Pupils are enthusiastic about the range of clubs on offer. They recognise these help their mental well-being and physical health.
Pupils especially enjoy gardening club, the many sports clubs and playing 'dench ball'.
Leaders are ambitious for every pupil in the school to do well. However, not all pupils read as well as they should because some are not getting the support they need to develop their phonics knowledge.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
After considerable turbulence in staffing, leaders now have a capable team who are focused on making the school a great place to learn. Leaders have made real improvements in the last two years, particularly with pupils' behaviour and the quality of education. In some subjects, leaders have designed an ambitious curriculum that should help pupils to build their knowledge and understanding over time.
However, some pupils still have gaps in their knowledge from the past. This means they cannot always understand challenging concepts. Not all subject leaders have had sufficient training to develop their curriculum areas.
This means that some subjects are not sequenced well enough to help pupils learn and remember key knowledge.
Too many pupils do not read at an appropriate level for their age. This is because they have not secured the basic phonics skills they need.
The systems in place to support reading do not always meet the needs of these pupils. Teachers' knowledge and understanding of phonics is not strong enough across the school. That said, pupils are positive about reading and enjoy an increasingly varied range of authors and genres.
Increasingly, pupils take books home and enjoy these in their spare time and with their families.
Leaders have developed pupils' pride in their own learning. They encourage pupils to 'be the best you can be'.
Improvements in pupils' attitudes have resulted in the vast majority wanting to learn. However, when the work is challenging, or they make a mistake, some pupils stop trying. At times, this lack of staying power leads to disruption, which interrupts pupils' learning.
Support for disadvantaged pupils and pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) is strong. Some pupils have complex needs and require high levels of support. Leaders in the main school and specialist classes ensure work is carefully planned and adapted to develop pupils' learning.
Staff have had effective training and provide strong academic and emotional support to these pupils. As a result, pupils with SEND are beginning to thrive.
Leaders have designed the curriculum well to support pupils' personal development.
Pupils learn to recognise their emotions and how to manage them. As a result, pupils understand better how they are feeling and increasingly use strategies to avoid conflict. Leaders strive to enable pupils to experience activities that will help them develop their character and skills.
For example, pupils enjoyed the challenge of camping out overnight on the school field.
Staff are proud to work at the school. They feel well supported and trusted to make improvements.
They appreciate the help leaders give them to manage their workload and well-being. Governors possess considerable expertise and challenge leaders to drive the school's continued improvement.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Pupils feel cared for and safe in school. They know they can talk to an adult if they are worried about something. Pupils know how to keep safe online and how to protect themselves from strangers.
Leaders carry out all the necessary checks on all adults working with pupils. Staff are well trained in safeguarding. They know everyone is responsible for keeping pupils safe.
They are vigilant and report any concerns they have immediately.
Governors are well trained and regularly check the school's safeguarding systems. This ensures that staff pick up on and rectify any weaknesses.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
Many pupils enter the school with reading abilities below those expected for their age. Current systems for identifying and supporting these pupils are relatively new and staff have not yet received enough training to enact these fully. Less fluent readers do not receive the support they need to read at an age-appropriate level.
Leaders need to ensure that full training, including the teaching of phonics, is provided to staff. . While behaviour has improved across the school, pupils' conduct and attitudes to learning are not yet consistently strong.
Leaders need to ensure that pupils' behaviour improves further so that pupils take greater pride in their learning and do not disrupt the learning of others. . Leaders have ensured that staff have received some useful training to develop their skills.
This has helped staff to improve their support for pupils with SEND. However, the work to improve subject leaders' skills and knowledge is at an early stage. Leaders need to ensure that staff receive suitable training to improve their understanding and planning of the curriculum so that pupils know and remember more.