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About St Stephen’s Church of England Primary School
Pupils, and their parents and carers, described St Stephen's Church of England Primary School as a welcoming place. They said that it is easy to make friends.
Pupils feel safe and happy at school because they are well cared for by adults. Leaders deal effectively with bullying.
Through the personal development curriculum, pupils develop a wide range of interests and skills.
They proudly carry out leadership roles. For example, pupils steer the work of the ethos committee and eco-group. These leadership roles help pupils to make improvements to their school and local community.
Leaders expect all pupils to achieve well. However, pupils do not achieve ...all that they should. This is because leaders do not provide sufficient guidance to teachers about what pupils need to learn as they progress through the curriculum.
Leaders expect pupils to behave well. Pupils live up to these high expectations. They are polite and respectful.
Well-trained staff support pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) to manage their additional needs.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Leaders have begun to shape a curriculum that captures pupils' interests and meets the requirements of the national curriculum. They have thought carefully about the overarching topics that form the curriculum in each subject and in the early years.
However, leaders have not thought deeply enough about the knowledge that underpins these broad topics. This hampers how well pupils, and children in the early years, learn new knowledge and skills.
Leaders do not provide teachers with sufficient information about the content that they need to deliver in key stages 1 and 2.
As a result, some teachers do not teach new content in the most logical order. Other teachers move on to new learning before pupils are ready. Consequently, some pupils do not retain all of the essential knowledge that they need for the next stages of their learning.
In the early years, teachers are also unclear about how to build children's knowledge and skills in the most effective way. Over time, children in the early years do not develop equally well in each area of learning. Some children are not as well prepared as they should be for the demands of key stage 1.
In the early years and across key stages 1 and 2, some teachers have not had the support and guidance that they need to design the most appropriate activities to help pupils to remember their learning. Some teachers choose activities that pupils will enjoy or find interesting, rather than activities that are designed to ensure that pupils learn the curriculum content. This hinders how well pupils acquire new learning.
Leaders' systems to check how well pupils are learning the curriculum are underdeveloped. A lack of guidance from leaders about what they expect pupils to know in each year group means that teachers are not equipped to check whether pupils have learned all that they should. At times, some pupils' misconceptions go unchecked.
At other times, pupils repeat work unnecessarily.
Leaders make sure that all pupils, including those with SEND, develop a secure body of reading knowledge. Pupils said that they enjoy reading.
They told inspectors that they read regularly at home and at school. Pupils benefit from reading the high-quality texts that their teachers select for them. Staff are well trained in helping pupils to learn to read.
In the early years, children begin to develop a secure understanding of how to use their phonics knowledge to read and spell words. Teachers help older pupils to catch up quickly if they fall behind with their reading. Pupils read suitable books to practise the sounds that they have learned.
Despite making progress with their reading knowledge, pupils' achievement is still affected by the weaknesses in leaders' curriculum thinking.
Pupils learn without disruption. They display positive attitudes to their learning.
Children in the early years settle quickly and learn how to take turns and follow instructions. Pupils follow the well-established school routines with diligence.
Leaders are skilled at identifying pupils with SEND.
Pupils with SEND benefit from additional pastoral support or specialist resources to help them to access the curriculum. However, pupils with SEND do not achieve highly enough because the curriculum is not well thought out.
Leaders make sure that all pupils access a carefully planned programme of wider personal development.
This includes pupils with SEND and those pupils who are disadvantaged. Pupils readily try new activities, such as learning to play an instrument, cooking for themselves or sewing. They appreciate the range of extra-curricular activities on offer.
Governors are increasingly holding leaders to account for the quality of education that pupils receive. They are beginning to challenge the weaknesses in the curriculum. Staff appreciate leaders' support for their workload and well-being.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders ensure a strong culture of safeguarding. They provide regular safeguarding training to all members of staff.
Staff know how to identify when pupils may be at risk of harm, and know the appropriate actions to take. Staff pass on their concerns to leaders responsible for safeguarding diligently.
Leaders liaise closely with other agencies to ensure that vulnerable pupils and their families get the timely support that they need.
Pupils learn how to keep themselves safe. Older pupils confidently described a range of strategies that they use to ensure that they remain safe while they are online.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• Leaders have not identified all of the essential knowledge that underpins the broad topics that make up the school's curriculum, including in the early years.
Consequently, some teachers are unclear about what knowledge they should be delivering and in what order. This hinders how well pupils, and children in the early years, achieve. Leaders should fully identify the curriculum content that children and pupils must learn.
• Leaders have not provided teachers, including those in the early years, with the information that they need to design appropriate learning activities. This prevents some children and pupils from deepening their knowledge, skills and understanding of the curriculum. Leaders should ensure that teachers have all of the information that they need, and that they are well trained, to prepare activities that deliver the content of the curriculum effectively.
• Teachers do not know exactly what knowledge pupils should have learned and by when. As a result, teachers are ill-equipped to check how well pupils are learning the curriculum. Leaders should finalise their curriculum thinking so that they can ensure that their assessment systems align with the knowledge that pupils are expected to learn in the curriculum.
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