When I joined The Schools of Woolton Hill in April 2021, I described the journey that both schools individually and collectively were embarking on. We have sought to create a ‘primary school experience’ for pupils in our Federation, by bringing together the strengths of both schools, whilst retaining their unique characteristics. We have worked to create a high quality, clearly structured and properly sequenced curriculum that offers continuity between Infants and Juniors. Our high quality teachers seek to deliver this in an exciting manner that makes learning ‘irresistible’ for all pupils.
The assessment undertaken by Ofsted is confirmation that the ambitious goals we set ourselves are the right ones and that we are making great progress!
Before talking about the highlights from the Ofsted inspectors report, let me first provide some context. It was over thirteen years since the Infant School was last inspected. During the intervening time, there has been a great deal of change in the way in which schools are assessed and graded, and it has become increasingly difficult for schools to be graded as Outstanding.
In the last year, for schools assessed where the previous grading was 'Outstanding'; less than 1 in 5 retained this grading. Nationally, out of the past 100 inspections, only 4 were graded 'Outstanding'.
So the goalposts have moved, but be assured, our target remains to get both Schools to Outstanding by the time of the next inspection.
A result we are proud of
We are rightly proud to be graded Good and this is a testament to the hard work of our staff, children, governors, and other stakeholders. You can read the full report attached to this post, but let me draw out some of the highlights of which I am most pleased.
Our core subjects are, of course, critically important and all parents are right to expect to see the school focus on these topics. Here is what the inspector had to say about reading and phonics:
Reading is taught well across the Federation, reading lessons are clearly delivered with a sharp focus on vocabulary. Children enjoy reading, the new Libraries are popular, as is class story time.
A clear phonics scheme is very well implemented in both schools - a real strength.
I was pleased to see the positive comments about our maths provision:
In maths children are taught key number fluency and reasoning skills through concrete, pictorial and abstract approaches. This enables pupils to embed their knowledge and understanding.
Our work to implement the Six Strands Curriculum was highlighted – you can find more details about what this is at this link:
The Introduction of the six strands curriculum was seen as a huge strength across both schools. They liked our vision of 'Three planks' to the curriculum: Knowledge, Skills and Learning Behaviours. A way to teach a progressive approach to acquiring the key learning behaviours that will support children in life. Children responded well and were able to recall what they'd learnt. Inspectors thought embedding this would be an excellent asset on our journey to outstanding.
Another area of focus for the school has been our provision and support for children with special educational needs (SEN). This was commented on by the inspector:
Pupils with SEN have their needs met through good leadership, clear systems and effective passports for success.
Our inclusive ethos to learning really stood out, especially at the juniors where this has really improved. We enable all pupils to 'find their thing' and in this we enable pupils to 'let their light shine'. Our vision is being realised.
Safeguarding is a key topic in Ofsted inspections for obvious reasons, and this has been a focus for staff and governors. I was pleased therefore to see this recognised by the inspectors:
Safeguarding is effective. A strong culture of vigilance. Designated Safeguarding Leads are tenacious and ensure that no pupils fall through the gaps.
Children feel safe in our Federation and have good relationships with staff and peers. Children understand the school rules and values well. All staff have high expectations for behaviour. Children behave well in lessons and low-level disruption is rare.
I am delighted with the result of the inspection, but we are far from ready to stand still. There is still much to do. Our ethos is very much about continuous improvement. You can see details about our current areas of focus at this link.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of the staff at both schools who not only supported these inspections but who work tirelessly every day to ensure that we push for continuous improvement to provide the best education and allow the children of our schools to “let their light shine”.
If you’d like to discuss the Ofsted report with me in more detail, please contact the office to arrange a time to talk.