|Name||St Michael’s CofE Primary School|
|Ofsted Inspection Rating||Requires improvement|
|Inspection Date||25 February 2020|
|Address||Dalston, St. Michael’s C.E. Primary School, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA5 7LN|
|Religious Character||Church of England|
|Number of Pupils||216 (48% boys 52% girls)|
|Number of Pupils per Teacher||22.0|
|Percentage Free School Meals||6.5%|
|Percentage English is Not First Language||0.5%|
|Pupils with SEN Support||11.6%|
|Catchment Area Information Available||Yes, our catchment area data is FREE|
|Last Distance Offered Information Available||No|
What is it like to attend this school?
Pupils we spoke to told us that the school is like ‘a big happy family’. Pupils feel safe and well cared for. They thrive in a nurturing environment. Pupils are kind to each other and respect people’s differences. Older pupils recognise that behaviour is better than it used to be. Bullying is rare. Pupils say that if it does happen, they tell an adult and it stops. Most parents and guardians agreed with this.
Pupils enjoy their lessons. They learn well in reading, writing and mathematics because their learning builds on what they already know and can do. Teachers have high expectations of pupils in these subjects. However, pupils’ learning in other subjects is not as well organised. In subjects like history, pupils do not always see the connection between one lesson and the next. Pupils have gaps in their knowledge because their learning is not well ordered.
Pupils have many opportunities to develop their interests and responsibilities in school. Older pupils help care for younger pupils on the playground. School councillors help the headteacher to make decisions about the school. Pupils access a wide range of after-school clubs. These are well attended by all pupils.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Leaders have transformed the curriculum for reading, writing and mathematics. They have invested heavily in professional development to improve these subjects. Curriculum plans set out what pupils will learn and in what order they will learn it. Leaders check on how pupils are progressing in these subjects. As a result, most pupils achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics at the end of key stage 2.
Leaders have developed detailed planning for science. This sets out the content and sequence of learning for most year groups. For example, pupils in Year 5 were learning how the Earth moves around the Sun. They could relate this to earlier learning in Year 3 about the Sun and shadows. However, not all teachers follow the sequence of lessons laid out in the science planning. As a result, some pupils do not develop the scientific knowledge they need as a foundation for future learning.
In other subjects, curriculum leaders are only starting to develop the expertise that they need to ensure that the curriculum is sufficiently ambitious. In subjects like history, computing and art planning is underdeveloped. This means that teachers have too little guidance to plan learning that is well ordered. As a result, pupils’ learning does not systematically build on what they already know and can do. Leaders know that there is much to do to ensure that pupils learn the knowledge they should in subjects other than reading, writing and mathematics.
Leaders have introduced a new phonics programme. Staff are highly trained. A daily phonics lesson ensures that pupils learn and remember the sounds that letters make. Books are well matched to the sounds that pupils know. Pupils use theirphonic knowledge to sound out unfamiliar words. Staff provide effective support for pupils who fall behind. In 2019, the proportion of pupils who reached the expected standard in the phonics screening check was broadly in line with the national average.
Older pupils are avid readers. They develop their fluency and comprehension through reading carefully selected class novels. Parents and pupils share a love of reading at the monthly reading cafes.
Children settle quickly into the Reception class. Staff take every opportunity to develop children’s language and mathematical skills. Staff use the outdoor environment to enrich learning. For example, children visited a local forest centre. They collected natural materials and made string maps to show the journey of a mouse. They shared these journeys using a range of geographical vocabulary.
Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) receive effective support to access the curriculum. This is usually provided in class, so that pupils do not miss out on learning in the wider curriculum. Pupils with SEND make steady progress through the targets on their plans.
Pupils know the importance of helping people who are less fortunate than themselves. One pupil has inspired the whole school to support a toilet twinning project. Pupils proudly display the community scrapbook which records fundraising events.
Governors know the school well. They share the same ambition as the headteacher to improve the curriculum. Governors undertake a wide range of training. This helps them to support and challenge the headteacher effectively.
Pupils, parents and staff recognise the positive changes that the headteacher is making. Teachers appreciate the opportunities that leaders provide to improve their learning. This includes the recent training on the role of the curriculum leader.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders make the correct checks on adults who work and volunteer at the school. Staff are well trained to spot the signs that a pupil may be at risk. Staff regularly update their safeguarding training. As a result, staff are knowledgeable and vigilant. When necessary, they take the right action to follow up their concerns.
Pupils are taught to recognise risk. For example, during a fire drill, pupils remained calm. They followed carefully the instructions from adults. Pupils evacuated the building in a matter of minutes. Younger pupils learn about road safety. Older pupils learn how to ride their bike safely on the road.
What does the school need to do to improve?
In the foundation subjects detailed curriculum planning is not available to teachers. This means that there is insufficient guidance for teachers to plan in these subjects. Teachers are not clear what is the most important knowledge to be learned and in what order it should be learned. As a result, new learning does not build on what pupils already know. Senior leaders should ensure that for every foundation subject there is a clear sequence of learning which shows how pupils will develop and build on their knowledge, so that pupils achieve well in these subjects. . Foundation subject leaders do not yet have the knowledge and skills that they need to contribute to curriculum improvements. Recent training for subject leaders is clarifying the expectations of the role. As a result, curriculum leaders are in the early stages of influencing the quality of what is planned and implemented in their subjects. Senior leaders should ensure that foundation subject leaders have time and support to plan the curriculum and carry out the necessary checks on its implementation and impact.