Must try harder verdict on school

Must try harder verdict on school

By Michael Upton | 15/07/2021

Must try harder verdict on school

PRIMARY school leaders are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures, inspectors found.

Ofsted inspectors recommended that St Mary’s Catholic Primary in Maltby does not appoint newly qualified teachers and criticised its policy to close early on Friday afternoons.

The 191-pupil school, part of the Holy Spirit Umbrella Trust, was put into special measures in February last year and received a two-day monitoring visit this May.

The school’s headteacher, Neil Harris, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the latest report.

Lead inspector Marcus Newby said: “Leaders and managers are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.”

Last year, inspectors found pupils’ quality of work across the curriculum was poor, expectations were not high enough and they did not learn to read or write well enough.

Mr Newby said the school and trust’s improvement plans were fit for purpose — but added: “Having considered the evidence, I strongly recommend that the school does not seek to appoint newly qualified teachers.”

He added: “Although leaders have prioritised many of the areas identified in the previous inspection, they are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.

“The absence of key leaders at the start of this work and the impact of the pandemic have delayed and stunted the effectiveness of leaders’ actions.

“Leaders did not fully consider the educational detriment of closing the school to pupils on a Friday afternoon.

“Leaders’ rationale for doing this was to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 and to allow for further staff training and planning, preparation and assessment time.

“Although leaders attempted to mitigate lost teaching time, this was unsuccessful. Pupils who had fallen behind due to historically poor teaching and the impact of lost learning time due to the national restrictions have been further hindered. Leaders must act promptly to reinstate this entitlement.”

Teaching had improved in art, English and the early years but, as with all subjects in the wider curriculum, there had been insufficient time for pupils to know more and remember more.

Mr Newby added: “This is because leaders have reduced teaching time and because subjects are not studied regularly enough or for sufficient lengths of time.”

Pupils are enthusiastic about books and looked forward to “First chapter Friday” when teachers read the first chapter of a book. Copies of these books are then made available for all pupils to access.

Mr Harris said: “We have had an extremely challenging 16 months since the original Ofsted inspection due to the Covid crisis. “However, we are extremely disappointed with this latest judgement, especially after the inspectors recognised that we have made a number of significant positive developments.

“We have taken immediate action to restore Friday afternoon sessions for children, which were temporarily amended during the Covid pandemic, and our plans to further develop the wider curriculum are in place. The inspectors recognised that both the trust’s and the school’s action plans are fit for purpose moving forward.

“We look forward to welcoming Ofsted back in the Autumn term when we are confident that they will see that further progress has been made.”

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