We will get back on track, vows school principal

June 29 2018

HEADTEACHER Debbie Coker says she has "every confidence" Fishponds Church of England academy will get back on track following an Ofsted inspection which judged it as 'requiring improvement'.

Inspectors visited the primary school in April following a visit in May 2014 when it was judged to be 'good'.

Inspectors have now found the 442-pupil school 'requires improvement' in four of the five categories - effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare, and outcomes for pupils. 

They did, however, find the school to be 'good' in its early years provision.

The school says it has already started work on making improvements and feels it is well-placed to get a 'Good' rating "in the near future".

Inspectors were critical of the school's curriculum saying it "does not encourage pupils to fully develop their skills in reading, writing and maths" and the quality of teaching which is "too inconsistent" to secure good progress for pupils.

The report said that progress in 2017 was below average in reading and mathematics and the school was in the bottom 20 per cent of schools in the country in these subjects.

The progress made by disadvantaged pupils was particularly poor, they said.

Inspectors also criticised leaders and managers for not making sure teaching is good enough but said they believed principal Debbie Coker to be "ambitious and determined".

Mrs Coker's actions to improve the school, they said, had been hampered by a high turnover of staff.

Inspectors felt the school's work to promote pupils' personal development and welfare requires improvement and said pupils can be passive in lessons, showing little enjoyment or enthusiasm for their work. This was, they said, "a legacy of weak teaching and a high turnover of teachers".

On a positive note, the report said pupils feel safe, their behaviour is good and attendance is improving.

"Pupils get on well with each other and there is a very real sense of community in the school…they accept each other regardless of differences in backgrounds or circumstance. This contributes strongly to the welcoming ethos at the school."

Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development was judged to be effective.

Early years provision, which was judged to be 'good' was praised for its "well planned and and highly organised" curriculum. It is well led and children make strong progress because of the "strong care and opportunities offered".

Inspectors made it clear, this is now a school moving forward.

The report said Mrs Coker was "building strong and increasingly effective teams", going on to say: "She has managed the high turnover of staff well and has set a clear agenda for improvement."

Inspectors also said: "Staff are now overwhelmingly supportive of the principal and her leadership and fully support the renewed vision set out by her and senior leaders. They are well motivated and, newly qualified teachers in particular, have high morale."

The report gave the school a list of targets so it can improve further. This includes improving the quality of teaching, using pupil premium funding more effectively so disadvantaged pupils make better progress and ensuring the local board continues to strengthen procedures for holding leaders to account.

Staff should also work to develop pupils' confidence in their own abilities and to work develop pupils' confidence in their own abilities and to work more closely with parents to  make sure pupils attend school more regularly.

Principal Debbie Coker said: "I was really pleased that Ofsted recognised that as  a leadership team we knew our school well and had already started the actions that will lead the school to further improve. 

"Ofsted had every confidence that we will be ‘Good’ in the near future and we agree. We are a very unified team here at Fishponds and are excited for the journey ahead. 

"I was particularly pleased that our Early Years and KS1 departments were praised and that the team picked up upon the community feel of our school. We are passionate about our values and try to thread them through all we do."