By Gavin Mackintosh-
A primary school has been praised by ofsted inspectors in a recent publication.
Ofsted rated Keighley St Andrew’s CE Primary school in Bradford, West Yorkshire, is one of those schools in which many pupils start at a very weak level of their age. Research conducted by The Eye Of Media.Com in 2017 showed that many pupils between the ages of 8 and 10 could not read up to 10 pages of material for their age at a time and demonstrate a basic understanding of what they read .
They also could not show that they knew how to find out the meaning of words they did not know, as basic as this sounds. Persistent absence was a problem , so their latest rating by Ofsted in a report in November 2017 as good is commendable. The news came to the Eye Of Media.Com as Ofsted published their latest report of their findings, and the school pushes forward in building the confidence of the pupils through a celebration that seeks to promote the positive progress made by the school.
Ofsted inspection team visited the school in November and praised the leaders of the school for maintaining a good quality of education since their previous visit, in March, 2013.
Former head Mrs Alison Bateman – who left the school in December for a headship position in London was praised for leading an “exceptionally strong and united” team. Richard Knowles- an inspector from Ofsted- praised the school leadership team was focused and worked hard to ensure pupils were safe, settled and made good progress.
Knowles said a positive learning culture had been created, which was reflected in the views of children and parents. He added that there was an “attractive and stimulating” environment.
Achievement in the school had previously stalled but by the end of key stage 2 last year the school was in the top ten per cent for progress in writing and top 20 per cent for mathematics. “This reflects the quality of teaching that pupils have received during their time at St Andrew’s,” Mr Knowles said.The report also highlighted the vigilance and commitment of all staff in keeping pupils safe and free from harm, but this point is irrelevant to academic progress or quality of the school. Protection from harm and danger should be guaranteed in every primary school
Knowles also credited the school for regular child protection training carried out for teachers, teaching assistants and governors. Child protection training is good, but as indicated earlier, The Eye Of Media.Com does not think this should feature in assessing how good a school is
Pupil attendance had been a main concern in the past, and when pupils don’t turn up in schools, they can’t make much progress in learning. Senior leaders and administrative staff in conjunction with the support of educational welfare officers and families has led to the dramatic reduction of absences in the school.
Mr Knowles also said considerable work had been done to improve the quality of teaching and progress in maths, and year-six pupils he had spoken to demonstrated “very strong” mental arithmetic skills. Strong mental arithmetic skills in essential for children because it enables them to keep sharp and practice more. An assessment by The Eye Of Media.Com’s research team in October, also showed that a high percentage of the pupils tested between the ages of nine and eleven evidenced strong knowledge of their time tables up to 12, and very good knowledge of division. In an age where much reliance on calculators has become the norm, many schools have abandoned the importance of training their pupils well in mental arithmetic.
Ofsted said the school had ”worked closely with the National Centre for Excellence in the teaching of Mathematics on a two year project to promote mastery”. The school had worked tirelessly to train staff on the current curriculum requirements and had developed a whole-school policy for the teaching of fractions, Ofsted said.
Many of the pupils assessed by The Eye Of Media.Com in June 2017, did not show much strength when it came to letter writing, an area where not much attention is given in many primary schools, but one we think deserves more attention. Primary school children are young, but they can still be taught to write letters with correct grammar at the level of their age. However, the general writing skills of the pupils in this schools appear to be above the national average of state primary schools, but still not that strong. Ofsted were impressed that in an area of high deprivation, the school had developed ”policies and practices that were highly effective and fit for purpose”. Opportunities for reasoning and problem solving were also embedded in most lessons, Ofsted said.
The children’s behavior was good, and there was a mutual respect between staff and pupils.
Mrs Rachel Whitham, the former deputy head and newly-appointed headteacher, welcomed the findings.
“We are extremely proud that Ofsted has recognised all the hard work and commitment that our staff have put into improving outcomes for our pupils,” she said.
“We’re especially pleased it has recognised the improvements made in the quality of all teaching.
“It was important to staff and governors that Ofsted arrived before Mrs Bateman’s departure so that it could recognise the hard work and good leadership she provided to all.
“She created so many opportunities for our middle and senior leaders to mentor and coach staff and improve teaching and learning across the school, particularly in maths and English.
“Our approach to pupils’ personal development and behaviour is rooted in how everyone involved in school life will demonstrate our school values and church school vision.
“Parents are very supportive of this so we are particularly pleased that Ofsted agreed with our parents and pupils that children at the school are well behaved, safe and happy. The inspector found our safeguarding practices to be ‘highly effective’.”
Mrs Whitham added: “I am looking forward to the challenge of continuing to drive the school forward and further improve outcomes for all our children, both academically and personally.”