Ofsted: Horndon requires improvement but on the right track

OFSTED inspectors who visited Horndon-on-the-Hill C of E Primary School at the end of last term say the school is improving and that “the new head teacher has made a notable recent impact”.

But they judged the school to require improvement because – despite clear signs of progress – it is still early days for the new head teacher Travis Martinson to have improved the quality of teaching across the board and increase the rates of progress across the whole school.

They also say subject leaders do not always ensure pupils are sufficiently challenged or that best practice is shared among staff.

Yet their report noted many strengths, saying pupils are enthusiastic and want to succeed; their behaviour is good and attendance above average.

Reading is taught well across the school says the report released this week and there has also been a marked improvement in standards in the phonics check and in the provisional Key Stage 2 results following the 2012 dip.

There is also good teaching in Early Years and Reception.

Head, Travis Martinson, said: “It was pleasing to see the inspectors noted how things are really improving at the school and I am absolutely confident that when they return they will see a real and positive difference.”

And Thurrock Council’s education portfolio holder Cllr John Kent added: “The inspectors noted how the support from the local authority has helped the school ‘to regain its momentum and improve provision’.

“The additional governors put in by the council have underpinned this improvement and highlight how this authority wants to work with all the schools in Thurrock to get the best possible results for our young people.”

Among the criticisms were:

1. The quality of teaching is not consistently good. Teachers focus too much on covering the school’s programmes of study and do not adapt the activities covered to the different capabilities and needs of pupils in school.

2. The work set by teachers is not always at the correct level to ensure that all children are challenged by the work that they do.

3. Teachers do not always ensure that writing tasks are given a specific purpose and lessons do not always focus precisely enough on the exact writing skills pupils need to acquire to succeed.

4. In 2012, the results achieved in national tests declined in mathematics. Although pupils’ achievement has started to accelerate in the subject, improvements have not been sustained over a long enough period of time.

5. More-able pupils are insufficiently challenged in mathematics.

6. There has been too much instability in the leadership of the school. Until recently, leaders and governors have not ensured that teaching policies and agreed practices are fully embedded so that pupils’ progress is good. Not all subject leaders are sufficiently involved in monitoring and improving learning and the school’s best practice in teaching is not fully shared with all staff.

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