Rising standards at Barnstaple primary school

QUALITY teaching is causing standards to rise at a Barnstaple primary school, say inspectors. And the head teacher has vowed to extend high quality teaching throughout the school. Education inspectors say there is some superb teaching at Yeo Valley Prim

QUALITY teaching is causing standards to rise at a Barnstaple primary school, say inspectors.

And the head teacher has vowed to extend high quality teaching throughout the school.

Education inspectors say there is some superb teaching at Yeo Valley Primary School in Barnstaple.

"The quality of teaching in Years 5 and 6 is now consistently good, with some being outstanding," they say.


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"Consequently, standards are rising. Standards have risen year on year at the end of Year 6 over the past three years since the head teacher took up post.

"All Year 6 pupils who started out in the school in Year 1 reached national average attainment in English, maths and science in 2009."

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Children start school with attainment well below that expected nationally, say the inspectors. And children joining and leaving the school at different times is also a significant challenge.

"The head teacher has shown steely resilience in tackling pockets of inadequate teaching throughout the school," says the report by the school standards agency Ofsted. "Over a three-year period she has taken decisive action to eradicate inadequate teaching in Years 1 to 6.

"Due to staffing issues, the head has focused sharply and directly on raisjng standards in Year 6 with a very significant measure of success."

But, says lead inspector Jeffrey Plumb, in the Early Years Foundation Stage, children are not making adequate progress in their learning. This means the school must therefore make significant improvements in this area of its work.

"Based on the success of actions already taken to bring about improvements in other areas of the school's work, there is a satisfactory capacity for sustained improvement," says Mr Plumb.

Head teacher Janet Reid said the Early Years was highlighted as a strength of the school in the last Ofsted inspection and the leadership of the unit had not changed.

However it was now having to cater for and support children with a much wider range of social needs.

"New legislation for Early Years has been introduced and it takes time for interpretations and judgements to be consistently applied," she said.

"We feel that Ofsted has a very difficult job making assessments in such a short time. This, along with the new flexible hours arrangements, has also meant many changes. We are, however, confident that we can make the improvements required with our acknowledged commitment and support from staff and parents."

Mrs Reid said this term Yeo Valley would be working with other schools in Barnstaple, the Children's Centre, the PCT and North Devon Homes on a range of activities for mums-to-be and new parents

The three Ofsted inspectors spent two days at Yeo Valley last year and their report has just been published.

They say the proportion of children with special education needs at the primary is well above average as is the percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals.

"A raft of outstanding measures put in place to support (these) pupils has reaped enormous benefits for them," says Mr Plumb. Throughout the school aspects of care for all the children are very strong.

"The vast majority of pupils enjoy coming to school and are proud to belong to the school," says the report.

"(It) successfully provides a nurturing, caring and supporting environment for pupils to learn. Specialist provision for music sparkles and the forest school programme accelerates pupils' learning. Work with families is a strong feature and pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good."

Ninety-eight per cent of parents questioned said they were happy with their children's experience at Yeo Valley.

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