Morale high as Minerva gets second Good from Ofsted

October 04 2018
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IT'S an exciting time for staff and pupils at Minerva Primary Academy in Hillfields.

 Not only are they preparing to move into their new state-of-the-art school building, they've just received the seal of approval from the government's education watchdog.

Ofsted visited in the summer for the first time since the school was judged to be good in 2014.

Inspector Steffi Penny concluded the school continues to be good, calling principal Pete Hallam and his staff "aspirational".

Ms Penny's report said: "The leadership team has maintained the good quality of education in the school since the last inspection.

"Leaders and staff alike set high expectations for pupils in all aspects of school life. Teachers consistently model high expectations, fairness and equality. Pupils speak confidently about their school and their learning."

She also told Mr Hallam: "You and your staff are aspirational in wanting an even more stimulating and enriching curriculum."

All  pupils the inspector spoke with said that staff are caring and considerate and make learning interesting. 

The report said: "Pupils are proud that differences are celebrated, for example in culture, religion, gender and views. They, along with members of the school, do not tolerate or accept any form of bigotry or unkindness. They told me that no matter who you are, or when you join this school, you will be among friends."

Pupils enjoy coming to school and staff morale is high, Ms Penny stated.

"This is a school where pupils know it is alright to make mistakes, because they learn from them. This helps to build their resilience. Pupils are taught to ‘have a go’ at challenging learning activities. Because of this, even if they get something wrong pupils do not lose their self-esteem or confidence."

Pupils told Ms Penny that there was no bulling at the school and said they were confident that if someone was being bullied, an adult would stop it. 

There is a strong culture of protecting pupils and supporting families in the school, the report said.

"Staff know when to report and refer concerns. The Academy provide strong care and support for pupils and their families. Along with other school staff, the family support worker provides strong support for families in times of crisis or individual need. Leaders take constructive action to ensure that pupils get the help that they need. As a result, pupils feel safe, and are kept safe."

The school's family worker, with support from the education welfare officer and vice principal, has also ensured that attendance has improved and persistent absence has decreased.

The report has come just months before pupils move into their new two-story school, which will feature a nursery, reception, infant and junior classrooms, offices, staff facilities, a main hall, studio and kitchen as well as new landscaping.

The new building is scheduled for completion in November 2018 and the official opening programmed for July 2019. Once completed, the current capacity of 300 pupils will increase to 420.

During demolition and construction, pupils have been located in part of the existing school, with additional learning space provided using a temporary Elliott classroom.

On the new build Ofsted noted: "Everyone in the school is excited about moving to the ‘state of the art’ building that they have watched being constructed next door. During this time of transition you (Pete Hallam) have ensured that staff have remained focused."

Mr Hallam said: "We are delighted that Ofsted have recognised the great job that the staff at Minerva do and we would like to thank the children and families for their positive comments as these contributed to such a great report."

Steve Taylor, CEO of the Cabot Learning Federation, which Minerva is part of, said: "This outcome is extremely welcome and also unsurprising - Minerva has clearly been a strong school for some time. The timing of the inspection means that the community can now look forward to the move into the new build with considerable optimism, anticipating the great things that the school will be able to achieve in its state-of-the-start new surroundings. Well done to all at Minerva."