St Michael’s Easthampstead Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School
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About St Michael’s Easthampstead Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School
St Michael’s Easthampstead Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School
There has been no change to this school's overall judgement of good as a result of this ungraded (section 8) inspection. However, the evidence gathered suggests that the inspection grade might not be as high if a graded (section 5) inspection were carried out now. Inspectors are recommending the next inspection to be a graded inspection.
What is it like to attend this school?
St Michael's has been through an extended period of leadership and staffing instability. During this time, school improvements stalled. The achievement and broader experience of some pupils, particularly those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), have not been good enough.
A new leadershi...p team is now in post. This is bringing much needed consistency and stability. There are now green shoots of improvement across many areas of the school.
Pupils are happy here. Children in early years make a strong start to their education. Pupils feel safe and trust staff to help them if they have a problem.
Staff expect pupils to conduct themselves well. Almost all do. Relationships are warm and productive.
Around the school, pupils are polite and courteous. However, some pupils do not always focus well enough in lessons.
The school values of 'Love, honesty, kindness, aspiration and respect' form part of daily life.
Pupils try hard to live up to these values. They are determined that everyone should be treated fairly and equally. Pupils attend a range of extra-curricular clubs and activities, such as sports, art and musical theatre.
They enjoy educational trips, such as experiencing life as an Anglo-Saxon as part of their history topic.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Since the arrival of new leaders last year, there has been renewed drive and focus on the school. Leaders rightly identified that the curriculum was not good enough.
They prioritised improving English and mathematics first. The curriculum in these subjects is now appropriately sequenced so that pupils can build on their learning. The early years curriculum is a strength.
Children develop their communication and mathematical skills well. Leaders know that in other subjects in key stage 1 and 2, the curriculum is not planned with enough precision. It is not clear what pupils need to learn and remember.
Sometimes, teachers plan activities without fully considering what knowledge pupils need. Consequently, pupils do not develop their understanding as well as they should.
Leaders are prioritising increasing staff's understanding of how to teach well.
They know that staff have varying levels of expertise. Some staff present ideas clearly and check pupils' understanding regularly. However, this not consistent across the school.
Some subject leaders are new in post and have not yet had a strong enough impact. Staff require additional support to fulfil their subject leadership roles well.
Leaders have ensured that reading is a priority.
Staff deliver the phonics programme well. Children are taught to read and write as soon as they start Reception. Teachers ensure that children have ample opportunity to develop a love of stories and rhymes.
Staff are adept at spotting and giving more help to pupils who struggle to read. As a result, pupils are well supported to read confidently and with increasing fluency.
Provision for pupils with SEND has been historically weak.
However, new leaders have made significant strides in improving the timely identification of SEND during the current academic year. Leaders liaise persistently with external agencies to secure more rapid support and assessment for pupils with SEND. Staff receive regular training to help pupils with SEND do better in class.
This is now starting to improve how well pupils achieve, as staff are increasingly skilled. Parents of children with SEND appreciate the improved communication from the school. Some, nonetheless, feel that not enough is done to ensure their child learns well.
Almost all pupils behave well. Expectations are now becoming increasingly established. Leaders have recently put a clear behaviour policy in place.
Pupils and staff understand this straightforward approach. Nevertheless, a small minority of pupils still struggle to behave well. This can sometimes disrupt learning in lessons.
However, caring and patient staff intervene to help get them back on track.
Leaders know that pupils' wider personal development could be even better. Pupils are taught to respect difference and understand equality well.
They learn through the curriculum about healthy relationships, well-being and growing up. However, recently introduced pupil leadership roles, such as reading buddies, librarians and play leaders, are not yet well established. Pupils welcome the development of these roles because they value the responsibility of being actively involved in school life.
The governing body is committed, experienced and knowledgeable. Governors fulfil their statutory duties around safeguarding and SEND well. They undertake training and have an accurate and realistic view of the school's context.
Governors have helpfully productive and open relationships with leaders.
Staff are committed to the school and dedicated to its pupils. Staff appreciate the stability brought by leaders this year and value the renewed sense of direction.
They feel that leaders engage with them well. While parents have understandably mixed views about the work of the school over time, many are pleased that the school is now turning a corner.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders have ensured that there is a strong safeguarding culture in the school. They know pupils and their families well. Leaders work tirelessly to get appropriate support for vulnerable pupils.
Leaders work with external safeguarding partners effectively. Well-trained staff are vigilant. They know that no concern is too small to report.
There are clear systems in place for staff to raise concerns. Governors monitor safeguarding procedures to ensure they remain strong. The curriculum helps pupils to stay safe and recognise risks they may face.
Pupils understand potential risks when they are online.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• The curriculum in some subjects is not planned with enough precision. This means that teachers are not clear about the knowledge that pupils need to learn, remember and apply.
This limits pupils' achievements. Leaders should make sure that the knowledge that pupils should learn across all subjects is precisely identified. ? Not all staff have strong pedagogical knowledge.
This results in staff planning activities that do not support pupils, including those with SEND, to know and remember more. Leaders should put in place systems to ensure that staff's pedagogical knowledge is strengthened. ? Not all subject leaders are clear on what their role requires.
They do not have a clear understanding of how to determine the strengths and areas for development within their subjects. Senior leaders should ensure that subject leaders understand their responsibilities and are able to evaluate their subjects effectively. ? Opportunities for pupils to develop their characters are currently underdeveloped.
Pupils do not have enough opportunities to play a meaningful part in school life. Leaders should ensure that pupils benefit from a range of enrichment activities.
When we have judged a school to be good, we will then normally go into the school about once every four years to confirm that the school remains good.
This is called an ungraded inspection, and it is carried out under section 8 of the Education Act 2005. We do not give graded judgements on an ungraded inspection. However, if we find evidence that a school would now receive a higher or lower grade, then the next inspection will be a graded inspection, which is carried out under section 5 of the Act.
Usually, this is within one to two years of the date of the ungraded inspection. If we have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education, we will deem the ungraded inspection a graded inspection immediately.
This is the second ungraded inspection since we judged the school to be good in 2013.
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