Pupils at an Ellesmere Port school are celebrating after another thumbs up from Ofsted.
The good news for staff and children at Cambridge Road Primary and Nursery came from Her Majesty’s Inspector (HMI) Mark Quinn.
Mr Quinn wrote to head Darryl Pickering after making what is known as a ‘short’ inspection of the school which was rated as ‘good’ at the last full Ofsted inspection in December 2012.
”This school continues to be good,” says the HMI.
He told Mr Pickering: “The leadership team has maintained the good quality of education in the school since the last inspection.
“You and your senior leaders have a good grasp of the school’s strengths and areas for development and you are quick to take action to secure improvement when you identify a need.”
Although a large proportion of children start at Cambridge Road with a range of social and developmental issues, most pupils make good progress in their time at the school and the majority usually leave with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to go on to secondary school says the inspector.
“You have a strong determination to give your pupils the best experience of school that is possible,” Mr Quinn suggests.
As a result the school has gained recognition through two Quality Marks, one for its work in developing pupils’ basic skills and the other for ensuring that the school has an inclusive approach.
Displays around the school indicate the prominence its gives to the promotion of fundamental British values and to celebrating diversity.
“You also support pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development well. For example, you provide a wide range of clubs, such as choir, yoga and fencing.
“You also deepen pupils’ understanding of other belief systems, including humanism, through ‘faith weeks’, where visitors enhance the teaching of religious education by discussing their beliefs with pupils,” the HMI believes.
Mr Pickering has dealt with the areas for improvement identified in the last inspection report with 2017 expected to show encouraging results in the numbers of Year 6 pupils reaching the higher levels in national tests, especially in writing and in mathematics, following a dip last year.
There has also been an improvement in making sure that pupils do work that is demanding enough with evidence showing that teachers mostly plan work that is well matched to pupils’ abilities and provide suitably challenging work for the most able.
The school has ‘thorough processes’ for checking on the quality of teaching and learning and staff receive training which they say they appreciate.
A group of Year 6 pupils told the HMI they all enjoy coming to school ‘because they learn new things and have fun’.
“They like the opportunities you and your staff give them to broaden their experience of learning, from trips to London to playing wheelchair rugby in ‘sports week’,” the inspector told the head.
Parents made positive responses to Parent View, Ofsted’s online survey and made comments about the good progress their children make and about how approachable staff in school are.
In his findings, the inspector reveals one of his lines of enquiry concerned progress for current children at Cambridge Road including boys and disadvantaged children, in the early years.
He points out that ‘almost all children enter nursery with skills and knowledge below those that are typical for their age’ but finds that youngsters, including boys and disadvantaged children, ‘make strong progress from their low starting points during their time in the early years’.
By the time they leave reception over half of the children are usually ready for Year 1 as the early years leader and her staff teach children effectively and support those who need extra help with their learning.
The school is achieving it highest levels ever in the number of early years children achieving a good level of development and in the number of year 1 youngsters doing well in phonics.
In maths in Year 1 youngsters, including boys, ‘who can barely write numerals accurately at the start of the year’ can confidently add amounts of money and work out change later on while year 6 for 2017 shows a ‘marked improvement’ compared to 2016 in the proportion of pupils achieving the expected standard or better in English grammar, spelling and punctuation which is now above the national average. Although their reading is ‘some way’ below average this is being dealt with.
The school has effective arrangements in place to reduce pupils’ absences including awarding vouchers for high attendance.
“During your time as headteacher attendance has improved overall so that it is now close to the national average,” the inspector told Mr Pickering.
“More recently you have reduced persistent absence for disadvantaged pupils so it is no longer in the highest 10% nationally.
“However you acknowledge that there is more work to be done to try to reduce absence for this group of pupils even further.”
The HMI suggests, among other steps, the school should now ensure it carries out recently devised actions to improve achievement in reading by the end of year 2 and year 6, work to reduce absences further, especially for disadvantaged pupils and provide more opportunities in the early years for children to develop their maths skills.
During his inspection the HMI carried out short visits to the early years and to classes in key stage 1 and key stage 2, scrutinised a range of documents and held discussions with staff governors and pupils among other activities.