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School in Ipswich praised for ‘dramatic improvement’

PUBLISHED: 08:58 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:58 28 April 2020

Headteacher at The Willows Primary School in Ipswich, Paul Arch. Picture: ORWELL MULTI ACADEMY TRUST

Headteacher at The Willows Primary School in Ipswich, Paul Arch. Picture: ORWELL MULTI ACADEMY TRUST

Archant

The “dramatic improvement” of an Ipswich primary has been singled out for praise by Ofsted’s chief inspector - in spite of the school being told it “requires improvement”.

Deputy headteacher at The Willows Primary School, Viv Hunt. Picture: ORWELL MULTI ACADEMY TRUSTDeputy headteacher at The Willows Primary School, Viv Hunt. Picture: ORWELL MULTI ACADEMY TRUST

Even though The Willows Primary School was given the grading by education regulator after its visit between January 29 and 30, it was rated as “good” in four out of five inspection areas.

That meant its leadership, behaviour of pupils, early years provision and youngsters’ personal development were all judged to be good, although its quality of education was said to need improvement.

Lead inspector Adrian Lyons said: “There has been a dramatic improvement in the quality of provision, especially in reading and mathematics,” but added: “There are gaps in knowledge and understanding for older pupils.

“These result from a legacy of poor provision.”

Concerns had been raised previously by Ofsted about behaviour and attendance at the school’s forerunner, before it was taken over by the Orwell Multi-Academy Trust in April 2017

After the inspection of the Downing Close school, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman wrote to headteacher Paul Arch – who joined The Willows in September 2018 – to say: “Although your school was judged to require improvement overall, I was pleased to see that your leadership and management were judged to be good.”

“It is clear from the inspection report that that the school has gone through significant changes over the past few years.

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“I note that, under your leadership, school leaders have worked particularly hard to improve provision.

“As such, it is unsurprising that pupils speak so positively about their time at the school.

“I know that you and your team will be continuing your good work.”

She also praised the “steps that have been taken to improve the school’s approach to teaching” and said: “It is also good to know that the school is enhancing pupil’s personal development and raising their aspirations.”

After the inspection report was published in March this year, Mr Arch said he was pleased the watchdog “recognised the journey the school had been on for the last 18 months”.

He added: “Although the journey is not yet finished, Ofsted recognised the dramatic improvement in the quality of provision, especially in reading and mathematics.”

Attendance is said to have significantly increased, while “pupils show respect to teachers, visitors and each other”.

Mr Arch added that both pupils and parents told inspectors the school was much better than it was 18 months ago.

“I am very proud of my team and would like to thank them for all their hard work,” he said.

“We appreciate the support from our parents and local community as we can only further improve the school, working together.”


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