A SMALL village primary school has been heavily criticised by the education watchdog.

St Nicholas CofE School in East Challow, near Wantage, was rated ‘inadequate’ across the board by inspectors from Ofsted after a two-day visit in April.

It has now been put in special measures after inspectors found both the teaching quality and pupils’ achievement poor.

The report, published on Friday, also said pupils did not always feel safe at school and lessons were often disrupted.

The school recently had teachers from King Alfred’s Academy in Wantage come in and help out.

Lead inspector Mike Capper said in his report: “Leaders at all levels have not brought about sufficient improvement in the school’s performance.”

He said despite extensive help from the local authority and King Alfred’s, the school’s efforts to improve teaching had had a limited effect.

In a statement, headteacher Margaret Kelly and chairman of governors Yvette Ford said the report was “very disappointing” but it should not take long to make significant improvements.

They said: “The school is committed to respond to this Ofsted report with focus and determination, to ensure that all pupils achieve their potential and make the progress they should.”

Simon Spiers, head of King Alfred’s Academy, speaking for the Wantage Area Schools Partnership, said: “I think everyone connected with the school is obviously very disappointed with the outcome.

“King Alfred’s has been supporting the school over the recent months and will continue to offer support at every level to help bring about improvements for the children over the coming years.”

Ofsted grades schools either outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate. An inspection of the Sarajac Avenue school in December 2008 rated it as satisfactory, as did a report in 2005.

Melinda Tilley, cabinet member for schools at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The council is already working with the school on the issues raised in this Ofsted report recognising the need for swift improvements.”

There are 84 pupils at the school.

In 2009, the school benefited from £500,000 of county council cash in a renovation project with work creating bigger classrooms and a special needs facility.

Millbrook Primary School in Grove was also rated ‘inadequate’ in a recent inspection and issued with a notice to improve.