Nelson primary school needs special measures

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Ofsted inspectors have said a Nelson primary school requires special measures.

Inspectors who visited St John’s CE Primary School for two days in November classed the levels of pupil achievement, the quality of teaching and leadership and management as “inadequate” and said the behaviour and safety of pupils needed improvement.

In their report, they say: “Pupils’ progress over time is inadequate. In Key Stages 1 and 2, pupils significantly underachieve.

“This is because, from their individual starting points, all groups of pupils, including disabled pupils, those who have special educational needs, and the most able, make too little progress in English and maths. Over time, very few pupils make the rates of progress expected of them, particularly in maths.

“In Key Stage 1, progress in reading is inadequate as pupils’ knowledge of letters and the sounds they make is limited. In 2012 and 2013, the proportion of pupils who reached the required standard in the Year 1 national reading check was below the national average. Attainment by the end of Year 2 is low in reading, writing and maths.

“In Key Stage 2, over the last three years, pupils’ attainment in English and maths at the end of Year 6 has declined and is significantly below average in reading, maths and English grammar, punctuation and spelling. Pupils’ attainment in national tests is lower in maths and reading than in writing.

“In 2013, the proportion of pupils supported by the pupil premium funding in Year 6 attained standards even lower than that of their classmates in English and maths. Their attainment in these areas was the equivalent of being two terms behind their peers who were not eligible for support through this funding. This gap in attainment between pupils known to be eligible for free school meals and other pupils in the school is widening in English and maths. The progress made by both groups of pupils is inadequate.

“Standards are too low in English and maths and pupils do not make enough progress across the school from their individual starting points.

“Standards have declined since the previous inspection and school leaders, managers and governors have not acted quickly enough to bring about the necessary improvements. Weaknesses noted in the previous inspection have not been tackled.

“Gaps in the attainment of pupils supported by the pupil premium and all other pupils in the school widened even further in 2013.

“Over time, there has been too much inadequate teaching. Teachers do not adapt their teaching in response to the progress pupils make in lessons. This means the work pupils are given does not meet their varying needs.”

“Leadership and management over several years have not held teachers adequately to account for pupils’ low attainment and inadequate progress because the leadership of teaching is weak.

“Governors have not been rigorous enough in holding school leaders to account for pupils’ poor performance and have not acted quickly enough in addressing weaknesses in the school.”

At the time of the inspection, an executive headteacher had been supporting the school for three days a week and an acting headteacher had been in post for two weeks. Three-quarters of the teaching staff have only been in post since September.

A monitoring inspection at St Philip’s CE Primary School, Nelson, has found leaders have taken immediate actions to address areas for improvement highlighted in an inspection in October.

These include pupils’ use of vocabulary, marking of work and opportunities for pupils to work independently.