Following my visit to the school on 7 February 2019, I write on behalf of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills to report the inspection findings.
The visit was the first short inspection carried out since the school was judged to be good in March 2015. This school continues to be good. The leadership team has maintained the good quality of education in the school since the last inspection.
You took up the post of headteacher in September 2018. Teachers and other adults working in the school value your strong, clear leadership. All staff say that they are proud to work at this school and that, since your appointment, you have... brought renewed energy and a strong focus on improving standards.
In the recent past, standards at the school have not been consistently good and, in some cases, have declined to be below national averages. In 2018, there were some improvements to the progress pupils made at the end of key stage 2. In mathematics and writing, for example, pupils made progress in line with the national averages.
However, pupils did not make strong enough progress in reading. Since September, you have quickly identified the school's existing strengths and weaknesses and put in place well-chosen, targeted interventions to address areas for improvement. For example, you have ensured that teachers receive the support they need to improve their practice.
Teachers have visited other schools to observe great teaching. Less experienced teachers observe more experienced colleagues and subject leaders teach model lessons. Teachers discuss their practice regularly and share ideas enthusiastically.
As a result, the quality of teaching is improving and most pupils are now making much stronger progress. Where there is a need for further improvement, leaders provide effective support and challenge for teachers. For example, there is still a need for all teachers to have the highest expectations so that more pupils achieve at the higher standard in reading, writing and mathematics by the end of each key stage.
Staff at all levels say that their well-being is considered, which helps them achieve a good work-life balance and helps the school to retain good teachers. Staff especially appreciate the 'well-being day' they can take to spend time with their families. Pupils are happy, confident and lively.
They are keen to learn and talk excitedly about their lessons. Their enthusiasm for reading is infectious and they encourage each other to read more and more. There is a calm, orderly atmosphere in school and pupils behave well.
Pupils take on roles of responsibility, such as prefects and school council representatives. The school council has had a tangible impact on the lives of pupils. Its members have used their influence to redesign the library and other facilities.
As a result of their work, the dining hall now has circular tables so that pupils can chat to their friends over lunch more easily. Pupils have a clear understanding about democracy and fairness. In lessons, they learn about different faiths and how to stay safe online.
Pupils enjoy a wide range of after-school clubs, such as street dance in the purpose-built dance studio, gymnastics, cross-country running and Christmas stitching. The environment is engaging and welcoming. In the early years, children enjoy inviting and well-organised indoor and outdoor spaces.
Classroom and corridor displays bring learning to life, such as poppies commemorating Armistice Day and celebrations of other cultures and faiths. Pupils make full use of the outdoor space through the 'forest schools' approach to outdoor learning. Parents are overwhelmingly positive about the school.
The majority of parents say that they find you and other staff welcoming and approachable. As headteacher, you are always available to talk to them. As one parent said, 'My child is very happy here.
I couldn't ask for more.' This was representative of many parents' views. Some parents, however, would like more information about their child's progress.
Together with other leaders, you have started to review the curriculum to ensure that pupils learn the knowledge and skills they need, while developing the language and vocabulary to express their learning more effectively. The school has achieved many awards, such as Arts Mark, Science Mark and Dyslexia-Friendly status. The recent developments in the teaching of writing are already showing an impact on pupils' increasingly sophisticated vocabulary.
Across the leadership team, there is now a commitment to improvement and a strong focus on achieving improved outcomes for pupils. Leaders at all levels are well developed in their roles. They monitor and evaluate effectively the impact of teaching and interventions.
They play a key role in improving the quality of teaching, supporting colleagues well to improve their practice. The governing body increasingly holds leaders to account for the impact of their work. Governors acknowledge that it would be beneficial to have their own action plan running alongside the school development plan to ensure that their skills are strengthened, supporting school improvement further.
Leaders' work to tackle the areas for improvement from the last inspection report is ongoing. Disadvantaged pupils currently in school are now making better progress. However, in 2018, disadvantaged pupils did not make strong enough progress.
No disadvantaged pupils achieved the higher standard at key stage 2 in reading, writing and mathematics. Added to this, the most able pupils did not make as much progress as other pupils nationally in reading in 2018. While pupils' attainment at the end of key stage 2 in mathematics has kept pace with the national average, pupils' attainment in reading has declined year-on-year for the last three years.
However, together with other leaders, you recognise these shortcomings and are addressing them with robust action plans. Current assessment information and work in pupils' books shows that pupils are now making much better progress. In the majority of classes, teachers are increasingly setting work at the appropriate level and providing more challenge.
Safeguarding is effective. The leadership team has ensured that all safeguarding arrangements are fit for purpose. Staff receive regular training and updates about statutory guidance.
Teachers and other staff are aware of the risks to children and the signs of abuse or neglect. They raise concerns readily with senior leaders, who ensure that these are followed up. Records show that referrals and actions are tracked and monitored robustly.
Inspection findings ? At the start of the day, we agreed that, on the basis of the school's recent performance, the areas of focus for the inspection would be: ? what actions are leaders taking to improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils and what has been the impact so far? ? how effectively do leaders ensure that all teachers have high enough expectations of what pupils can achieve in reading and writing? ? how effectively do leaders ensure that pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are well supported to make good progress? ? In 2018, disadvantaged pupils did not make as much progress in reading, writing or mathematics as other pupils in school or other pupils nationally. In the previous academic year, disadvantaged pupils were also absent from school more frequently than other pupils. ? Work in pupils' books shows that disadvantaged pupils currently in school are making much better progress as a result of leaders' actions.
You have identified the barriers to pupils' learning and have put in place carefully targeted interventions to address pupils' specific needs. Recently introduced interventions, such as new approaches to teaching phonics, writing and mathematics, are evaluated rigorously and are starting to show a marked improvement in pupils' work. ? Disadvantaged pupils' attendance has improved and is now broadly in line with that of other pupils in school and the national average.
This is in part because : pupils enjoy learning so much now that they make sure that their parents bring them to school regularly. You have also ensured that more support is available in school to help pupils and families who are facing challenges. ? In the past, too few pupils have achieved at the higher standard by the end of key stages 1 and 2 in reading, writing and mathematics.
By the end of key stage 2 in 2018, pupils' progress was below the national average in reading and, although progress in writing and mathematics was slightly better, it was still only broadly in line with the national average. In many cases in the past, boys have not achieved as well as girls, particularly in reading and writing. ? There is now a love of reading throughout the school and reading has a high profile.
Pupils are involved in designing the book corners in their own classrooms and choosing new books for the library. Many pupils read fluently and with good intonation and they are making better progress. They read often and compete to read as many books as possible and to complete challenges online.
• You have focused on increasing the level of challenge in lessons through using high-quality texts and supporting pupils to understand more explicitly how writers use language to create exciting stories, which make the reader want to read further. As a result, many pupils now talk knowledgably about language features in texts and use these features more confidently in their own writing. Through the new approach to teaching writing, pupils draft and edit their work, then they perform their writing to the class.
This motivates boys in particular to improve their work and write at length. I spoke to many boys who said they enjoy writing now. One boy said that, in the future, he would like to be an author.
• You have ensured that all staff now understand what pupils are capable of achieving and, as a result, expectations are higher. Pupils now feel challenged to achieve their very best and want to do well. There is a thirst for learning.
Work in pupils' books shows evidence of increasing challenge in the nature of tasks set by teachers and in the extent to which pupils are expected to write at length independently. ? Leaders and governors identified the progress of pupils with SEND as an area for improvement in the school development plan. This is also an objective in the school's equality plan.
This is because, in the past, pupils with SEND have not made as much progress as they should have done. ? Leaders have ensured that pupils with SEND are now well supported to make good progress. SEND interventions, which are specifically designed to address pupils' individual needs, are tracked and monitored regularly to ensure that they are having an impact.
Leaders have ensured that more support is available to support pupils' social and emotional well-being, which is starting to have an impact on pupils' readiness to learn. Current assessment information shows that pupils with SEND who have benefited from the targeted programmes are now making better progress than other pupils. Next steps for the school ? Leaders and those responsible for governance should ensure that the progress of all pupils continues to improve by ensuring that: – all staff have consistently high expectations of what pupils can achieve, taking into account their starting points, so that pupils are challenged and supported more effectively to achieve higher standards by the end of each key stage – leadership and management are strengthened further by ensuring that governors develop their skills to support ongoing school improvement as effectively as possible.
I am copying this letter to the chair of the governing body, the regional schools commissioner and the director of children's services for Staffordshire. This letter will be published on the Ofsted website. Yours sincerely Jane Spilsbury Her Majesty's Inspector Information about the inspection Before the inspection, I reviewed the published data and information on the school's website.
During the inspection, I met with you and other senior leaders to discuss the school development plan. I met with the chair and vice-chair of the governing body. I spoke to a representative of Staffordshire local authority on the telephone.
Together with the deputy headteachers, I visited lessons in the early years, key stage 1 and key stage 2. During lessons, I looked at work in pupils' books, talked to pupils about their learning and listened to pupils read. I talked to parents at the start of the day and took account of 70 responses to Parent View, Ofsted's online questionnaire.
I also reviewed 34 responses to the staff survey. There were no responses to the pupil survey. I spoke to pupils at break, lunchtime and in lessons about how they learn to stay safe and their enjoyment of school.
I met with you as the designated senior leader and other staff about safeguarding. I checked the school's record of recruitment checks. I read a selection of leaders' monitoring records and minutes of governing body meetings.