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Primary school criticised by inspectors promises 'rapid improvements'

PUBLISHED: 18:09 11 November 2019 | UPDATED: 05:18 12 November 2019

Hillside Primary School in Ipswich. 

Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Hillside Primary School in Ipswich. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Rachel Edge

A major shake-up to bring about "rapid improvements" at an Ipswich primary school is under way after it was criticised by inspectors.

Children at Hillside Primary School pictured in their library during 2018. The school has started a transition plan to improve standards.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChildren at Hillside Primary School pictured in their library during 2018. The school has started a transition plan to improve standards. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Hillside Primary School had already put a transition plan in place ahead of the "requires improvement" grading by education regulator Ofsted in October.

While inspectors praised the Belstead Avenue school's engagement with parents and the way pupils enjoy lessons, it also said: "Pupils are not achieving well enough in reading, writing and mathematics.

"Leaders and governors know this. They want pupils to do better but their actions have had limited success."

Ofsted's report also said the teaching of reading needs to improve in key-stage-one, although it is better in key-stage-two, and that: "Pupils do not achieve as well as they should in mathematics."

However, it acknowledged there were "rapid improvements in older pupils' writing skills, spelling and handwriting", adding: "This is because opportunities for teaching writing are well planned."

The inspector praised the school's extracurricular opportunities including its eco-club, choir and sports clubs, as well as lots of opportunities to get involved in the arts.

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With current headteacher Lee Abbott securing a headship at another school, experienced interim headteacher Alison Flegg has been appointed while recruitment for a permanent leader gets under way.

The school, which is run by the Active Learning Trust (ALT), will also work with Chantry Academy prinicpal Craig D'Cunha while the Rev Robert Hinsley is the new chairman of governors.

Bob Dool, chairman of the ALT and previously chairman of Hillside, said: "Hillside Primary School has a great deal to offer the community and is a school which is popular with pupils and parents.

"With a clear focus on improvement, the leadership team and staff will look to implement strategies and approaches which will raise aspirations and improve standards."

The Rev Hinsley added: "I am pleased the inspectors appreciate the hard work done to keep children safe in school and I, together with the governing body, are determined to support the new leadership team to quickly make the changes necessary to continue to improve Hillside."

Stephen Chamberlain, chief executive of the ALT, said: "I am pleased that Ofsted has recognised the great attributes that Hillside Primary School has to offer including their supportive culture and inclusive community.

"We are working closely with our colleagues at the school to help drive standards and expectations up in all areas. This is a time rich with opportunity for the school and I anticipate quick progress over the coming months.

"Everyone at Hillside and the Trust would like to thank Lee for his tireless efforts and wish him every success in his new role."

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