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School taking positive steps despite 'requires improvement' Ofsted rating

Head teacher Kirstie Richards was pleased Ofsted recognised how far the school had come (Photo: Renouf Design)
Head teacher Kirstie Richards was pleased Ofsted recognised how far the school had come (Photo: Renouf Design)

A SCHOOL rated as ‘requires improvement’ for the second time in a row has nevertheless made “real” steps forward, according to Ofsted inspectors.

Pennington Church of England Junior School in Priestlands Road teaches 167 pupils aged between seven and 11 years old.

A report published after a two-day visit in March found that despite “considerable turbulence in staffing”, leaders now have a capable team who are focused on making the school a great place to learn.

It added: “Leaders have made real improvements in the last two years, particularly with pupils’ behaviour and the quality of education.”

However, the inspectors found that not all subject leaders had sufficient training to develop their curriculum areas, which meant some subjects were not sequenced well enough to help pupils learn and remember key knowledge.

Too many pupils do not read at an appropriate level for their age, the report added, but pupils were positive about reading and enjoyed an increasingly varied range of authors and genres.

Head teacher Kirstie Richards told the A&T: “I am very proud that Ofsted has recognised how far we have come in a short time.

“While it is still a ‘requires improvement’ judgement, we have a ‘good’ judgement for leadership and management and for personal development and we are heading in a very positive direction.”

She added: “The school has been on a journey since I arrived, following the turbulent period where it had six head teachers in two years. I am so proud of my team who have worked tirelessly to support all children in our local community.

“The Ofsted team were very clear that they could see that we would be ‘good’ at the next inspection in all areas because the school is well-led at all levels and provides an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone.”

The report also found that support for disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is strong at the school, with some children having complex needs and requiring high levels of support.

The report said: “Staff have had effective training and provide strong academic and emotional support to these pupils. As a result, pupils with SEND are beginning to thrive.”

The arrangements for safeguarding are effective and pupils feel cared for and safe in the school. Staff felt “proud” to work there, the report added.

Improvements the school can make included ensuring that pupils’ behaviour improves further so they take greater pride in their learning and do not disrupt others, it said.

It also advised training to staff on the teaching to help the many children who enter the school with below expected reading abilities.

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