Thursday, July 25, 2024

Holy Cross primary: “Teaching not good enough” say Ofsted

“The school is not good because there is not yet enough good teaching to ensure that all groups of pupils make good progress.”

Like it or not, Holy Cross primary school in South Ockendon is the type of school that education minister, Michael Gove will have in his eye-sights, in his quest to improve the standards in schools.

The Daiglen Drive school may now expect six monthly inspections until it passes muster.

Among the observations made by Ofsted are:

Overview

1. This is a satisfactory school where the welcoming ethos supports and encourages pupils’ all-round development.

2. The standards of education in this school are improving rapidly as a result of concerted efforts made by the leadership team over the past three years to move the school forward. S

3. Pupils’ attainment is average by the end of Years 2 and 6, rising from below average two years ago. Pupils make satisfactory progress from their below average starting points. The rate of progress has accelerated over the past two years. This is particularly evident in the Early Years Foundation Stage where children are now making good progress in all areas of learning.

4. Pupils’ behaviour is good. They show respect for each other and have positive attitudes to learning. This contributes well to their achievement and is supported well by the school’s highly inclusive ethos. Attendance is consistently above average.

5. The quality of teaching is satisfactory, with an increasing amount that is good, especially in the Early Years Foundation Stage.

6. Teachers have good subject knowledge and have high expectations of pupils’ behaviour and work. Nonetheless, the tasks that pupils are given do not consistently provide enough challenge for the more-able pupils.

Consequently, they do not always achieve the standards of which they are capable. Pupils’ presentation and handwriting skills are not sufficiently developed.

7. The headteacher, despite the considerable turnover in staffing, has successfully established a strong leadership team. Together, they are driving improvement and provide a shared sense of purpose to raise aspirations of pupils and staff alike.

The monitoring of teaching and management of performance are good. The newly appointed middle leaders are rapidly developing their monitoring roles, but it is too early to see the full impact of their work.

What does the school need to do to improve further?

1. Raise the quality of teaching and learning from satisfactory to good or better by: ensuring that learning activities provide sufficient challenges for all pupils, especially the more able, so that they all achieve as well as they can making sure that pupils’ presentation and handwriting skills are developed consistently across the school.

2. Consolidate the role of the recently appointed middle leaders in monitoring and evaluating the quality of teaching and learning so that they have a full impact on pupils’ achievement.

3. Children start in the Nursery with skills below those expected for their age, especially in communication, language and literacy. A stimulating learning environment and careful monitoring of children’s progress help them to make rapid progress and to achieve average standards in all areas of learning by the time they move to Year 1.

Outdoor areas have been improved since the previous inspection and are now well- resourced to stimulate children’s interest and enjoyment of learning. This was seen in the Reception classes where children enjoyed discussing the ‘crash landing site’ of the ‘Alien Zargog’ and writing letters to this new friend.

3. Pupils’ achievement is satisfactory and attainment is average by the end of Years 2 and 6. Standards have risen from a significantly below average level in 2009 to an average level over the past two years in English and mathematics owing to the successful teamwork of the headteacher and staff in implementing a more rigorous system for monitoring pupils’ achievement.

4. Pupils’ reading and writing skills are now much improved through the development of extended writing skills and cross- curricular topic work. This has successfully narrowed the gaps in pupils’ performance compared with all pupils nationally.

5. Attainment in reading is above average by the end of Year 2 and average when pupils leave the school in Year 6. Disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs make satisfactory progress as a result of the consistent and well-targeted support they receive from teachers and support staff. The very large majority of parents and carers are pleased with their children’s education and rightly feel that achievement is rising for pupils currently in the school.

Pupils develop a clear understanding of different genres and write effectively for different purposes. Many are fluent readers and are confident in reviewing the events and characters from the books they read.

Pupils engage in group and pair work where they enthusiastically discuss their ideas before embarking on a continuous piece of writing. This was seen in a literacy lesson where Year 4 pupils used persuasive texts in designing posters for different products, using a wide range of vocabulary, including ‘alliteration’ to persuade customers to buy their products. Pupils use their computer skills appropriately to support their learning in other subjects, such as conducting research work while learning about different countries.

Quality of teaching

1.There is clear evidence from pupils’ better progress that teaching, while satisfactory, is improving. Teaching is good in the Early Years Foundation Stage where a range of engaging activities captures children’s imagination and moves their learning on quickly.

Staff provide a welcoming environment where children become confident in pursuing indoor and outdoor activities that match their own interests as well as those directed by adults. Good links with parents and carers support children’s literacy skills well. For example, in the Nursery, teachers engaged children effectively in discussing the toy animals they took home and they thoroughly enjoyed explaining how they looked after them.

Parents and carers were involved well in this activity and wrote about the activities they had with their children at home.

2. Regular teaching of phonics (the sounds that letters make) supports children well in rapidly developing their reading and writing skills.

3. In most lessons, teachers display good subject knowledge. Where teaching is good, pupils are engaged well in their learning through effective questioning that successfully builds on their prior learning. For example, in a mathematics lesson in year 6, appropriately targeted questioning enabled pupils to gain a secure knowledge and understanding of how to calculate time differences between the major cities of the world.

4. Pupils successfully used their knowledge in geography to aid their learning in this task. Teachers make good use of technology and use the interactive whiteboards effectively to share the purpose of lessons so that pupils know what they are expected to do. They ensure that pupils use clear learning criteria to evaluate their learning and to understand what to do to improve. Planning is detailed, usually providing a range of activities for all groups of pupils.

However, occasionally tasks are insufficiently challenging to extend the skills and understanding of more-able pupils. Teachers do not promote pupils’ presentation and handwriting skills consistently. As a result, pupils do not develop these skills sufficiently to have a positive impact on their achievement.

5. Teachers promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development well through group discussions and topic work. Pupils are encouraged to read stories from different cultures and they learn to value different cultural traditions. Reading is taught well throughout the school, resulting in confident readers of all ages. Most parents and carers are satisfied with the improvements in the quality of teaching their children receive.

6. Pupils take on roles of responsibility within the class, through their school council work and fundraising activities to support national and international charities. Older pupils enjoy supporting the children from the Nursery and Reception classes. Attendance has been above average consistently over the past four years, reflecting pupils’ enjoyment of school.

Leadership and management

The school has a strong capacity for sustained improvement, as illustrated by the rapid rise in pupils’ attainment from below expected starting points.

The headteacher is highly regarded by the school community and, supported by staff and the governing body, has been instrumental in improving the school.

Senior leaders have established a rigorous programme for the monitoring of teaching and staff development through which they develop the expertise of teachers and consistently increase pupils’ achievement. This is supported by effective professional development and robust performance management. As a result, teaching is improving, although not consistently good across the whole school.

Assessment procedures have been strengthened to track pupils’ progress more effectively and to promote a more rigorous self- and peer-assessment system. This is being implemented successfully. Accurate self-evaluation successfully informs the school’s priorities for improvement planning.

Middle leaders new in post have got to grips quickly with their responsibilities and are rapidly developing their monitoring roles, although it is too early for them to have a full impact on pupils’ achievement.

The governing body is well organised, and makes effective use of the information gained from its members’ visits and that provided by the headteacher to hold the school to account for pupils’ achievement.

The curriculum has a strong focus on developing literacy and numeracy skills. It has recently been reviewed to provide more cross-curricular links between literacy, numeracy, and information and communication technology. This is having a positive impact on pupils’ achievement, especially in writing. Spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues are also promoted well through the curriculum.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Schools today are under so much pressure from government led targets that the quality of teaching does suffer, rather than focusing on all round curriculum most schools now only concentrate on those areas that will get the pupils past the examination so that the school can jump up the league tables, I know of one school that is actively testing year one puplis just so they can prove that they are top spot in the leagues.

    If the government and those before them stopped changing the curriculum every five minutes and left the education of children in the hands that know best (not some minister) then things will improve, also punishments for ill behaved pupils need to be looked at as they are allowed to get away with anything in classes now without any fear of retribution, parents also need to take a long hard look at themselves in those instances as well as the education of their children, teaching does not start and stop at the school gates.

  2. I would also scrap year 2 testing and use the infant years to concentrate on reading, writing, basic maths and PE. That way the fundamentals are learnt consistantly from an early age leaving the junior years to build upon this by introducing other subjects.

    Lambo is right, teachers have too much work. Their job should be to teach, inspire and encorouge not worry about league tables.

  3. This ‘Your Thurrock’ headline sadly portrays Holy Cross in a negative light! Having read the article through, it is obvious the school has made impressive progress and continues to do so!

    Attracting high quality staff, or retaining excellent teachers in Thurrock schools is never easy. The neighbouring borough of Havering, pay more money and Essex’s leafy laned Primaries are invariably a more attractive proposition to ply your trade!

    Consequently, recruitment is extremely difficult…and strap lines that only serve to sensationalise and skew the truth, do no one living or working within our Authority,any favours whatsoever!

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