Armley’s St Bartholomew’s Primary School has been rated as good in all areas by Ofsted inspectors, writes Keely Bannister.
At the last inspection in January 2009 the school was rated as outstanding, but despite the lower rating the latest report states that good teaching means all pupils make good progress from relatively low starting points.
The quality of teaching is described as ‘consistently good’:
“The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is consistently good across the school. Teachers and teaching assistants have strong subject knowledge. They use this, together with an understanding of individual needs, to plan lessons which keep most pupils engaged in their learning.
“Ongoing assessment is used effectively to make sure that errors and misconceptions are picked up quickly and addressed. Pupils who need support to keep up with their peers are well supported.
“Additional provision for disadvantaged pupils, those with SEND and pupils who speak English as an additional language is having a strong impact on pupils’ progress. The school employs a full-time speech therapist who currently gives effective support to around 40 pupils in school.”
Improvement is required within some lessons though:
“Leaders are confident that the assessments that teachers make in English, mathematics and science are accurate. However, assessment in other subjects is at an earlier stage of development. This means that leaders are unsure of standards of attainment in other subjects.
“Phonics lessons are well structured and give pupils opportunities to apply their developing knowledge in reading and writing. However, expectations of what pupils can achieve and the level of challenge are not consistently high. The books which pupils use to practise reading are not well matched to phonics knowledge.
“The deployment of teaching assistants is generally very effective across the school. Many are skilled in delivering effective interventions to support pupils with specific needs. However, teaching assistants are not always used effectively in phonics lessons.”
The report says that the school is currently facing a number of challenges, including the headteacher leaving the school in March.
To counter this, the then deputy stepped up to acting head and one of the assistant headteacher became acting head. This arrangement will remain until July 2020 to give the school some stability.
In the report, the inspectors praised the senior management team in the school:
“Senior leaders are dealing very effectively with the many challenges that they are currently facing. They show a very good understanding of the strengths and areas for development for the school. They have identified and prioritised areas for development and are systematically addressing them.
“Senior leaders are very ambitious for the future. They are determined to make sure that every pupil in the school receives the support they need to make as much progress as possible. They are welcoming support from the local authority to help them to realise this vision.”
Other challenges facing the school are the number of children who speak English as a second language (ESL), have special educational needs (SEND) and who come from a disadvantaged background.
The school has clear systems in place to help tackle these issues:
“All children are well supported, including disadvantaged children and those with SEND or who speak English as an additional language.”
Pupils behaviour is good with children being proud of their school:
“Pupils have positive attitudes to learning. Most are keen to do well and take pride in their work. Pupils were able to speak to inspectors about their learning with confidence. Most pupils are actively involved in their learning.
“Pupils are proud of their school. They say that they feel very lucky to be part of such a diverse community. Many look forward to going to school. One pupil said, ‘School is the best thing in my life.’
“Pupils of all ages are keen to take on additional responsibilities. Some pupils act as buddies to new non-English-speaking pupils by providing welcomed support in their first language.
“Pupils have a good understanding of different types of bullying. They say that bullying is very rare in their school. They say that if it happens, it is dealt with quickly and effectively. Parents and carers who made their views known during the inspection agree with this opinion.”
This inspection took place between 10th & 11th July 2019 and was published 10th September 2019. The inspection team was led by Chris Cook.
You can read the full report by visiting Ofsted’s website.