Up against the clock

SPROUGHTON Primary School has been described as a failing school. Today the headteacher has pledged to get the school out of special measures by this time next year.

SPROUGHTON Primary School has been described as a failing school. Today the headteacher has pledged to get the school out of special measures by this time next year. JAMES MARSTON investigates how.

IT was a verdict no school wants to hear.

Sproughton Primary School fell into special measures in September last year after Office in Standards in Education (OfSTED) inspectors declared the school as “failing to give an acceptable standard of education.”

Headteacher Jane Needle said: “We were very disappointed and obviously we realised there was a lot to be done. A lot of issues had been identified and we needed to move much quicker, we needed to make things happen to improve.”

The report, made after a visit by an inspection team in September 2006, highlighted a number of issues the school is facing and problems it needs to overcome.

Quality of teaching

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Inspectors said: “Teaching and learning are inadequate except for years five and sic, where it is lively and tailored to pupils' abilities. In other classes, this is not the case. Lessons lack pace and pupils are not told what they are expected to be learning. “Teachers are not skilled enough in assessing their pupils' work and making sure their planning identifies what they need to learn next.”

Mrs Needle said the school's five teachers were being supported by the Local Education Authority “We are making teachers aware of modern teaching methods. We have had a very stable staff here, my predecessor had been here for 18 years as have a lot of colleagues, and teaching was not as up to date as it could have been.

“In September we are replacing staff and currently recruiting.”

Morale is good among staff, Mrs Needle said.

“It is incredibly hard work but it is very rewarding and the children are enjoying learning which is great.”

Achievement and standards.

Inspectors said: “Standards attained by pupils in year sic and year two in national tests are broadly average but have declined in recent years, especially in writing.

“Pupils of all abilities under achieve as they move through the school. The standards attained are not high enough.”

“Standards of handwriting and presentation throughout the school are not good enough. Very few of the older pupils have a joined, fluent and legible handwriting style.”

Mrs Needle, a former deputy head at Claydon Primary School, said the school had brought in advisors to help children identified as gifted and talented.

She said the school's layout and facilities also needed improving.

She added: “The school was built for about 80 children in the 1950s and we have 101 on the school roll. The school doesn't really have a library, which should be the centre of a good school and there are no areas we can withdraw with the children for smaller groups.”

Mrs Needle also pointed out the assembly hall which doubles up as a classroom, gym, dining area and corridor, making teaching in and using the space for activities very difficult.

She said: “The staff rooms are also not big enough; we don't have a reception area or a headteacher's office.”

Personal development and wellbeing

Inspectors described this area of the school's performance as good.

They said: “Pupil's spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development is good. They enjoy school and all it has to offer and they demonstrate this through their good attendance rate and high take up rate for clubs and sports activities. Even when lessons lack pace and are uninspiring they remain well behaved and keen to learn.”

Mrs Needle said: “We have always had a good grade on this from OfSTED and this is an area that is very important to us. We are a real community school and the village and community take pride in their school and a keen interest in the children. We will maintain the well being off all children and staff.”

Mrs Needle said the school had not suffered problems with pupil behaviour.

She added: “The children are lovely and well behaved. There isn't the level of disruption that you would normally associate with special measures.”

Curriculum

Inspectors found the curriculum satisfactory overall but unsatisfactory for the school's reception class.

Mrs Needle said inspectors had highlighted the lack of an outdoor learning area for the school's youngest pupils.

She said: “Our curriculum needs to be developed and the basics are already in place. I would like to work on a lot more cross curricular links and it is crucial we make it fun to learn.

“We have some very able children at the moment and there is a lot we can do with them which, in turn, raises standards.

“We have provision for some music teaching at the moment but there is a lot of talent that is untapped.”

As well as improving music teaching the school is planning to make youngsters more IT literate and has recently bought new lap top computers for the school.

She added: “The reception class was one of the major areas identified in the report and we are putting a lot of work into that. The reception classroom has been refurbished, and there has been teacher training but there is a long way to go.”

Care, guidance and support

Inspectors said: “The school provides good pastoral care for its pupils. Pupils are known well by all the staff so that any signs of distress are very quickly noted.”

“Pupils' progress is inadequately monitored as they move through the school so that too many do not make good enough progress.”

Mrs Needle said the school now has a monitoring system in place and children are informed of what they are expected to be learning and how they will achieve it.

Leadership and management

Inspectors praised Mrs Needle, who for her understanding of areas that needed improving within the school.

They added: “Within one year she has brought some changes for the better, most notably the rise in standards in year six, mainly by sharing the teaching of these pupils.”

However, inspectors also said the school has no systems in place for checking the quality off teaching and learning in the school.

Mrs Needle said an interim report by inspectors has praised the school for a “robust monitoring system” that has been put in place.

She pointed out some of the areas already improving. In class one teacher Cheryl Singleton was overseeing year ten and eleven year olds as they worked on a piece of writing.

In class three teacher Jessica Bailey was working with youngsters as they learned to tell the time.

The atmosphere across the school seemed happy, and the children were noticeably well behaved.

In the school grounds Mrs Needle said: “We have lots of space here and we are very lucky really.

“A major improvement will be an outdoor area for the school's reception class. We have no got the go ahead and it should be ready by Easter.”

Mrs Needle said she hopes Sproughton will be out of special measures by this time next year.

She added: “It is a big challenge and there is a lot to do but I think it can be achieved. Standards are already rising. These children only get on education and we have to give them the best.

“Sproughton is already a good school in so many ways we now want to it be a cracking school.”

Do you have a child at Sproughton primary? Is your child's school in special measures and how is it affecting them? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

30 pupils in an average class

5 teaching staff

£285,000 annual budget

101 pupil roll

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