By John Baron
A West Leeds headteacher has spoken of her disappointment after Ofsted inspectors raised concerns that the quality of education at her school was declining.
Inspectors said Cobden Primary School in Farnley ‘requires improvement’ for the quality of education it provides, the behaviour and attitudes at pupils and in its leadership and management.
The inspection, carried out in November/December, praised the early years provision and personal development as being ‘good’. But the school – which had previously received a ‘good’ rating overall from inspectors – has been told it needs to improve.
Headteacher Paula Head told WLD: “We were very disappointed with the overall outcome of our recent Ofsted and don’t feel it was a true reflection of the Cobden Community.
“We were pleased that personal development was judged to be good, as we feel the care and support we give to children and families is at the heart of what we do.
“Our Early Years leaders have done an amazing job over the last couple of years and we had already started to ensure this good practice was continued into KS1 by putting our experienced Reception teacher into Y1 last September. In fact all the areas to improve were already detailed in our School Improvement Plan, but this wasn’t acknowledged by Ofsted.
“Our staff are dedicated and want the very best for our children so the impact of this judgement on staff morale has been difficult to deal with. However, we are a great team, have an incredibly supportive governing body and are confident that when we are inspected again we will be judged ‘good’.”
Ms Head, who has been in charge at Cobden for 15 years, said that the school had asked for the inspectors’ visit to be postponed after a high number of staff and pupils had been badly affected by a flu type virus.
She said some classes were observed being taught by a teacher who wasn’t their usual class teacher and the phonics was being delivered by teaching assistants covering for absent colleagues.
Inspectors praised a ‘well-planned’ curriculum at the school, but said teachers did not always choose the best activities to help pupils remember well.
The report adds: “Senior leaders have put in place a lesson structure they have asked teachers to use. In subjects, such as history, teachers are unclear about what this should be and do not follow it.
“In lessons, teachers present too much information. There is little time given to build up prior knowledge or connect to new knowledge. Pupils spend a long time listening and waiting. They become restless and do not always show positive behaviours. Subject leaders need to develop teachers’ understanding of what their expectation is. “
Inspectors also called for dedicated time for pupils to solve problems in maths, and said the phonics system is not fully embedded in lessons and in catch up sessions.
The full report on the school, which is based in Cobden Road, can be viewed in full here.