A school where pupils are ‘not achieving as well as they should’ in some subjects has been ordered to improve by the education watchdog. Stansfield Hall Primary School, in Littleborough, has been rated as ‘good’ for close to 10 years - most recently retaining the accolade in 2017.
But it has been told it now ‘requires improvement’ following a recent Ofsted inspection. A new report notes that children are happy at the Todmorden Road school, and teachers’ ambitions for them to ‘achieve well’ is borne out in mathematics and early reading.
This includes those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). But inspectors say ‘not enough thought’ has been given to the curriculum in other subjects - and leaders have not ensured children in the early years receive a suitable education.
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“As a result, children and pupils are not achieving as well as they should in some subjects beyond reading, writing and mathematics,” the report states. “At times, the curriculum does not match the ambition of the national curriculum. Pupils’ achievement across these subjects is not good enough."
It continues: “In the absence of clear information about what pupils should learn and when this should happen, teachers are ill-equipped to design learning, and effective assessment strategies that enable pupils to build their knowledge over time.”
Officials said this meant pupils were sometimes given disconnected activities that did ‘not lead to secure understanding’. “At times, pupils are faced with tasks that they can do easily,” the report adds.
“Elsewhere, pupils struggle with tasks because they do not have the building blocks in place to help them to succeed.”
The curriculum in the early years was found to be ‘unsuitable’, with lessons being too advanced for children of that age. “These children are not ready for much of this curriculum and, as a result, they miss out on the fundamental building blocks that they need for later success,” officials noted.
“This also means that some children do not develop effective behaviours for learning quickly enough. Therefore, children do not get off to a good start in the early years.”
However, the report also praises the school for having ‘successfully focused on ensuring that pupils study a carefully designed curriculum for early reading and mathematics’.“
As a result, teachers know what they should teach and pupils build up their knowledge in these subjects over time,” it adds. “This means that most pupils achieve well in these areas.”
Pupils were said to ‘feel safe and emotionally secure’ at the school. Inspectors also found their wellbeing was ‘supported effectively’ and they were treated with respect by staff.
“In turn, this fosters positive relationships between all members of the school community,” the report notes.
“Pupils appreciate the enrichment opportunities on offer. They spoke highly of the residential visits and the club that they can attend. They particularly enjoy the opportunities to take part in various school performances.”
New headteacher Donna Taylor-Smith said the report was 'disappointing' - but also highlighted 'many positive aspects of school'. "Early reading and maths were both identified as a success, as was the behaviour and attitudes of our children and their strong personal development," she said.
"In the short time that I have been at Stansfield Hall, I have seen many strengths, including children eager to learn and committed hard working staff. I feel positive, that as a team, we can rapidly address the areas identified within the Ofsted report."
Ms Taylor-Smith says the report 'clearly sets out two main areas to improve' - early years and the development of the curriculum 'to secure knowledge coherently'.
She added: "With the full support of the governing board, diocese and local authority, I feel confident that improvements will be swift, as we start on an exciting new journey for the school.”
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