LANSDOWNE PRIMARY SCHOOL in Tilbury has received a disastrous Ofsted report that has branded the school as “Inadequate”.
The Inspectors came to the school in May and made a series of damning judgements on the beleaguered Tilbury school.
The report states: “Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector is of the opinion that this school requires significant improvement, because it is performing significantly less well than in all the circumstances it could reasonably be expected to perform. The school is therefore given a notice to improve.
Ofsted go onto specify the areas in which improvement is required. These include: governance, attendance, pupils’ attainment, the quality of teaching and teachers’ use of assessment information.
Amongst the criticisms are:
1. A small but significant minority of pupils who miss school because of parentally condoned absence.
2. The curriculum has not been sufficiently tailored to pupils’ different needs and offers too few opportunities for pupils to apply their literacy and numeracy skills in different subjects.
Even in the Early Years Foundation Stage, where children make satisfactory progress from their low starting points, they have too few opportunities to practise and apply their speaking and listening skills.
3. At the start of this year there were year groups where staff had insufficient knowledge of how well their pupils were doing. Though this has improved, the use of assessment remains inadequate because not all teachers make enough use of the assessment information that they have available to them to plan work that fully meets the needs of boys and girls of different abilities.
4. The governing body has not done enough in the years since the last inspection to challenge school leaders over pupils’ low attainment. It has been overly dependent on school leaders for information about how well the school has been doing and it has not set the strategic direction for the school. Although it has been aware that the many changes of staff have led to disruption in management and to pupils’ learning, it has not set up systems to reduce the negative impact of staff turnover.
5. Attainment has been consistently low in both key stages in each of the years since the last inspection. In most years, Year 2 assessments have shown pupils at the equivalent of around a year behind the national average. Attainment has been similarly low in the Year 6 national tests. In both 2009 and 2010, Year 6 pupils were the equivalent of four terms behind national averages in both English and mathematics. Boys have done less well than girls. Pupils known to be eligible for free school meals have attained exceptionally poorly. In 2010, this group in Year 6 were two years behind national averages.
6. Teaching is inadequate. There are still too many lessons where boys and girls make insufficient progress in part because assessment has been weak and teachers do not expect enough of pupils.
As a result, pupils are often set work that is well below the level expected for their age. Although pupils are engaged and interested in the activities that they are given to do, they can sometimes be slow to put pen to paper, with some lessons proceeding at too leisurely a pace.
7. Staff do not all take enough care to model standard English, and this, in turn, is replicated in pupils’ written work when they write about ‘what we done’ rather than ‘what we did’. Pupils’ written work is often let down by poor spelling and punctuation, and errors are not consistently corrected when work is marked.
However, Ofsted have also noted that in the general scheme of things, the school had “turned the corner”.
Head teacher Richard Epps, says he knows “this is just the first step”.
Mr Epps said: “When I came here there was a great deal of work to do. We have managed to put some firm foundations in place and I am really confident that real improvements will be visible in the next year.
“I have no arguments with the Ofsted findings. In fact the inspectors described our own self-evaluation as accurate. We have a notice to improve and we will do exactly that.”
He added: “What was particularly pleasing is that parents and carers are supporting our efforts and understand what we are trying to do here. Ofsted asked all parents a series of questions and the vast majority of those who responded — more than 100 in total — gave positive or very positive answers.
“We know we can’t change things overnight, but we are changing attitudes at the school. Attendance is improving, leadership is improving and in my view, the school is improving.
“We are working closely with Thurrock Council which is providing a carefully tailored package of support linked to the school’s key priorities. The council will continue to work in partnership with our senior leadership team and the governing body to effect further swift improvements.
“We are fully committed to becoming a good school in the very near future.”