Re : OFSTED Report following the inspection on 6th & 7th March 2018.
You will see that the Ofsted inspectors have judged our school to ‘require improvement’. This means that we are ‘not yet good’ but we will be re-inspected within 2 years when we will be in a better position to secure the ‘good’ judgement . We were deemed ‘good’ for behaviour, welfare and safety and ‘good’ for our Early Years provision. However, we need to improve our leadership capacity, improve reading comprehension, spelling and grammar and strengthen the progress made by SEND children. The staff and governors already have plans in place for this to happen.
Whilst I totally understand that this judgement may be of disappointment to some parents, this is most likely to be because parents have had experience of other school settings and feel that St Matthew’s provides so much more.
It was made clear to the Governing body and all staff by the Ofsted lead inspector that St Matthew’s is a unique school. It should not be compared and measured against already established schools as they are not ever changing, also, it should not be compared and measured against new schools that have started from Foundation and grown year on year. The Governors are well aware, that had this been the case our Ofsted grading would be different. Ofsted inspect schools on behalf of parents and have a set framework that they adhere to.
I’d like to thank parents for completing the ‘Parent View’ questionnaire. We had an overwhelming response which was incredibly positive. It has been a privilege to work with pupil, parents, staff and governors at St Matthews and see the school grow over the past 2 ½ years . As many of you are aware, we have not been operating at our full staffing compliment for the last year and this has been a limiting factor in our development.
There are many strengths to celebrate. The bold, italic comments are lifted directly from the Ofsted report.
The inspectors recognised the challenging task of opening a new school without an established community around it and felt that ‘the distinctive ethos of the new school has been securely established’. This means that the vision and values for the school are firmly embedded and all who work in our school are committed to what we are creating together. ‘Despite the challenges of establishing continuity in the school, the morale of staff is high.
Staff share the headteacher’s vision and aspirations for the school and its pupils.’ I am delighted this was picked up by the inspectors. It has been a challenging time for us with unavoidable absences and other limitations. The staff work exceptionally hard and go over and above for all the children in our care.
The inspectors recognised that parents are actively involved in their children’s education and appreciate the leadership of the school. ‘Parents are overwhelmingly positive about (her) leadership. Parents and carers wholeheartedly recognise the headteacher’s contribution to making the school a welcoming place where their children develop confidence and values. As one parent said, reflecting the views of many, ‘We love how parents are welcomed and encouraged to be involved in their children’s school career.’
Ensuring we had exemplary practice in Early Years was essential as it is from these firm foundations, we are able to build positively. This was recognised by the inspectors ‘Leadership and teaching in the early years are highly effective. Children make good progress.’
Our results for the past 2 years since opening, have been above National % and this positive trajectory will be maintained in 2018.
Inspectors noted that this positive data is transferred into Y1 when we are benchmarked against National Y1 phonics testing.
The teaching of phonics is effective. Standards have been above national levels for two years. The good teaching of phonics now begins in the Nursery class. It is taught consistently well in Year 1 and pupils make good progress in learning sounds which help them to read. Across the school, pupils are encouraged to read widely.
The teaching of Maths across the school and the leadership of Maths was viewed positively by inspectors, ‘The teaching of mathematics has improved and is now strengthening pupils’ progress.’ ‘The teaching of mathematics has been developed well and teachers all understand and use the school’s scheme of work. Pupils are given challenging tasks from the outset of the lesson and the progress of pupils is well promoted. Lessons all include frequent opportunities for pupils to tackle problems and work through investigations.’
With so many new children joining us throughout the year, with different expectations and experiences, it was imperative our behaviour systems were supportive of individuals’ needs and that all children felt they were valued and appreciated in school. The Inspectors also recognised this.
‘Pupils are keen learners and when teaching is effective they relish the challenge to do their best. The behaviour of pupils is good. Leaders have ensured that all staff have similar expectations of pupils’ behaviour in class and when moving around the school. Pupils are courteous and demonstrate good manners such as opening doors and speaking to all staff politely. Pupils behave well because they are happy in school and relationships between
staff and pupils are good. They uphold the school’s values with pride.’
We are supported in school by an experienced and effective Governing Body whose skills are very much valued and appreciated. ‘Governors are skilled and experienced. They have used the information provided by leaders to draw up plans for improvement. The minutes of meetings show that they effectively challenge leaders about pupils’ progress.’
The safety and care of our children is of paramount importance to us and inspectors recognised our systems were robust ‘The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.’ ‘Leaders ensure that all checks are promptly made on the suitability of staff and volunteers to work with pupils. Governors have recently carried out a full and detailed review of the school’s safeguarding procedures. Their comprehensive report confirms the effectiveness of the training in raising staff’s awareness of possible risks.’ All staff are vigilant for pupils’ safety. Pupils feel safe in school because as one pupil said, expressing the feelings of many, ‘Every single teacher is trustworthy and the school is my big family.’ Parents also overwhelmingly agreed that the school is a safe place for their children to learn. They are confident to approach leaders and teachers with any problems they may have, knowing that they will be dealt with promptly and effectively.’
I was also pleased that the inspectors recognised that the vast majority of the children in current Y3 to Y6 have not been with us for the past two years and that in most cases underachievement had been inherited. ‘Currently, because of a legacy of underachievement over time, some pupils entering the next stage of their education from the end of key stage 2 are not well prepared in the standard of their skills and knowledge.’
Inevitably, there are things we need to work on! The key message that Leaders and staff have taken from this report is consistency. Consistency will, of course, be in place over time but is an increased challenge in an ever changing school. I hope the new staffing structure proposed by Governors and the new appointments that will be made over the summer, will increase leadership capacity at all levels.
As the inspection report suggests, we are reviewing our English curriculum and will be ensuring we have evidence to prove that reading comprehension skills are taught consistently across the school. We had identified that many of our children had ‘gaps’ in their knowledge of spelling patterns and grammar knowledge and as a result, we recently introduced a new spelling programme which, as yet, is too soon to see the impact.
We have a higher than National % of SEND children in school and our aim is to ensure all SEND pupils make consistently good progress from their starting points. We will be reviewing the support in place for SEND children and will be seeking external advice to ensure their learning needs in class are fully met and addressed.