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Ellesmere Port church school requires improvement, says Ofsted

But inspectors say governors have an unmistakable commitment to making progress

St Mary of the Angels Catholic Primary School(Image: Google Street View)

A church primary school in Ellesmere Port requires improvement, Ofsted believes.

Inspectors reached the conclusion after spending two days at St Mary of the Angels Catholic Primary on Rossall Grove, Little Sutton.

Although the effectiveness of the school’s leadership and management, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment and outcomes for pupils should improve, they suggested the personal development, behaviour and welfare of the children and the early years provision are good.

At a previous inspection the school, which has 206 children, was said to be ‘Good’ overall.

Lead inspector Maggie Parker has told parents and pupils: “This is a school that requires improvement.

“Teachers, leaders and subject leaders do not know how well different groups of pupils progress including those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities and disadvantaged pupils.

“This restricts their ability to plan work and improvements.

“Leaders’ lack of communication about the progress that their children are making towards their targets is a cause for concern for some parents.”

Systems ensuring that staff, including teachers, are held to account are not sufficiently rigorous while the quality and impact of teaching are variable.

Some teachers do not give pupils, especially the most able, enough chance to excel.

Evidence in some topic books shows a lack of opportunity for pupils to deepen their writing and mathematical skills.

Some teachers do not apply the school’s policy on feedback to help pupils improve their work.

Pupils’ understanding of other faiths and cultures is weak and needs further development.

The inspectors also felt the school does not provide pupils with sufficient opportunities to enrich their learning, for example by taking part in after-school clubs.

On the other side of the coin, safeguarding at the school is said to be effective with pupils feeling happy and safe. They look after each other.

Senior staff actively promote the spiritual development of pupils and there are strong links with the school’s parish.

The children are courteous and polite, attendance is above average and punctuality is good.

Good quality teaching in the early years ensures that children have a successful start to their education.

In their detailed report, the inspectors say senior staff are not able to confidently and accurately discuss the current progress information for groups of pupils.

Predictions made by class teachers appear to confirm that the school is moving in the right direction after two years of disappointing results although these are not based accurately on pupils’ starting points and their progress towards individual targets.

The information shared by the headteacher about the achievement of all pupils and groups of pupils does not provide enough context for governors to be able to challenge leaders effectively.

Inspectors feel the school’s work to promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is a ‘strength. Pupils learn about the importance of prayer and live by their school motto.

The curriculum has been developed so that it takes account of the new and more demanding national curriculum.

Staff report they feel well supported and are eager to continue to improve their practice. They feel the headteacher cares about their well-being.

Funding has not been used to support after-school clubs and sports and all pupils, including the disadvantaged, lack the opportunities to take part in a wide range of sports and after-school activities.

A new leader for pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities is embracing her role with enthusiasm and professionalism.

According to the inspectors many parents are ‘very happy’ with the leadership of the school. However there are some who feel that they are not adequately informed about the progress their children are making and have requested more regular and detailed reporting on the progress their children make.

The local authority continues to provide light-touch support as does the archdiocese.

'Unmistakable commitment'

Governors are aware of their roles and responsibilities and take their duties seriously. They show an ‘unmistakable commitment’ to improving the school’s performance.

“They understand what the areas for improvement are and realise that outcomes for pupils at the school have been disappointing for the past two years, particularly at key stage 2,” says the report.

The governing body is diligent in its responsibilities for keeping pupils safe and staff also ensure that children are kept safe.

They have a good awareness of the signs and symptoms of abuse and the procedures to follow should they have any concerns about pupils’ welfare.

Teachers understand the importance of setting work at the right level for all pupils but they do not always do so especially when it comes to the most able pupils.

These, and occasionally other pupils, sometimes have to complete work that is relatively easy and does not add to their existing understanding or deepen their thinking.

Teaching assistants make a good contribution to learning, particularly for the least able and pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Parents agreed that their children are cared for well and praise the staff for being approachable. Pupils enjoy their learning, work hard and want to succeed according to the inspectors.

Ofsted made 14 requirements for further improvement at the school.

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