GOVERNMENT watchdog Ofsted has returned to Horndon-on-the-Hill primary school after it received a “requires improvement” rating before the summer break.
Senior leaders and governors at Horndon-on-the-Hill C of E Primary were praised for “taking effective action to tackle the areas requiring improvement” say the inspectors.
However, the report still concluded that there is still some way to go. Some may look at the report and conclude that the key message in the recent Education Commission report that there was a “lack of aspiration in the curriculum” holds true for Horndon.
The report states:
1. Attainment in reading and mathematics at the end of Year 6 improved, attainment in writing was broadly similar to that in 2012. Too few pupils attained the higher level 5 in mathematics and writing.
2. School data indicate that attainment is improving quickly and more pupils are on track to make expected or better progress now.
3. The headteacher and governors have set high expectations for pupils’ progress as they progress through their year groups. Teachers are held to account for the progress pupils make, in regular meetings with senior leaders. Pupils who may be falling behind are discussed and strategies are put in place to address underachievement.
4. Teachers are helped to make more accurate assessments of writing through regular sessions in school and between schools to verify teachers’ judgements. Not enough is done, however, to check that assessments of mathematics are correct.
5. Leaders have drawn up appropriate improvement plans to address the areas for improvement from the Section 5 inspection. There is not enough clarity however about what specifically needs to improve to raise achievement in mathematics.
6. There is more good teaching now because of training and support including that provided by the local authority.
7. The headteacher observes teaching and learning regularly and provides some useful feedback to teachers. However, he does not set targets for improvement for every teacher that can be checked in follow up observations to ensure matters improve.
8. They also check for the effectiveness of teacher’s marking, which remains inconsistent. The leader for literacy has noted that in some classes pupils do not have enough opportunities to develop their writing skills. Teachers’ expectations of the amount of writing pupils will complete in their lessons are not always high enough. The scrutiny of pupils’ mathematics work showed that some of it is not challenging enough for the more able pupils.
Chair of governors, Neil Speight has responded to the report. Mr Speight said: “We are pleased the inspector has recognised the improvements in the school and that we have identified a clear way forward as we continue towards our target of being an outstanding school.”
Thurrock Council’s Leader John Kent said: “I visited Horndon Primary a couple of weeks ago as part of my plan to visit as many schools as possible in my first year as education portfolio holder and I had a chance to see for myself what has been happening there,
“The school is a happy one with a new and determined governing body which has set out exactly what it needs to do to improve.
“We have consistently said we want to see every school in Thurrock ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ in Ofsted terms and I was really impressed by the Horndon team’s progress towards reaching that goal themselves.”
Mr Speight added: “The inspector’s visit has highlighted areas where we need to improve further – notably in maths but also in writing – and she also stressed the need for accurate assessment of teaching standards and ensuring we maximise on the support we receive from the council.
“Her trained eye also spotted an administrative safeguarding error that we have corrected and we are grateful for that, highlighting the need for outside and independent checks.”
He said: “All in all, the inspection has supported the governing body’s belief that we have made significant progress and that we have a plan to sustain that improvement.
“We will ensure there is no complacency and we remain grateful for the support of Thurrock Council and the sound advice and critical eye of the inspection teams.”