Weak school improving under new head teacher

But Barnstaple primary must improve the quality of teaching and learning.

THE determined leadership of a new head teacher and senior team at a Barnstaple primary school is driving improvement, say Ofsted inspectors.

But despite encouraging signs, Sticklepath Community School has given a notice to ‘significantly’ improve the quality of teaching and learning, particularly in maths.

A two-day inspection in March found that while pupils’ progress in most classes was improving, too many pupils had made inadequate development over time.

Inspectors said reading and writing was improving well but remained low. They also found the quality of teaching varied across the school but was inadequate.

Ofsted said attendance was above average, behaviour was good and pupils enjoyed school.

The report said: “Determined leadership, particularly by the relatively new head teacher and senior leadership teams, has established a shared drive for improvement.

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“Although the new senior leaders are driving improvement, some initiatives have not been in place for long enough to establish consistently effective provision.”

They said improvements in the past year show the school was well-placed to do even better in the future.

Lead inspector Alex Baxter said that in a relatively short period of time, the school had eradicated most of the weakest teaching.

He said: “There is a general trend of improving practice. Parents typically comment that the school is noticeably better.”

Head teacher Sam Warner and deputy head Richard Blunt were appointed last September and by next September, up to half the teaching staff will have changed.

Miss Warner said: “I am confident that our SATs results this summer will be significantly better than last year because of the changes we have made.

“We have improved teaching and put a series of initiatives in place since September.

“There is a renewed focus on the basics of English and maths – and we have identified exactly where each child is and what they need to do next to improve.

“Across the whole school community we are more ambitious for our children and the teachers have higher expectations of their pupils.

“We expect more of the children and so they expect more of themselves and that’s the way to improve. Every child, no matter what their background, can achieve and that’s our aim.

“We are determined to be classed as good this time next year and, with our new staff team and the initiatives we have put into place, there is no reason why this can’t happen.”

Chairman of governors Andrew Pierce said: “The governors have every confidence in Sam and her new team to ensure that the improvements they have already made will continue.

“Ofsted recognised the work that has already gone on at Sticklepath this academic year and they too are confident that our team will continue to deliver an improved education for our children.

“We all share Sam’s desire to be rated good next year and to drive on from there to ensure Sticklepath is among the very best primary schools in North Devon.”

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