Schools not making sufficient progress

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

TWO Oxfordshire schools in special measures have been told they are failing to make enough progress.

Berinsfield Primary School went into special measures following an inspection in May this year, when it was told it needed to raise achievement and improve teaching, rapidly improve strategic leadership and improve attendance.

But at its first monitoring visit, the school, which has 283 pupils, was told it was not making enough progress towards the removal of special measures.

St Nicholas Primary School in East Challow also received the same judgment following a recent monitoring visit.

Both are now governed by interim executive boards and super-head Martin Lester was parachuted in to take charge at Berinsfield.

Angela Renshaw was headteacher at the time of the inspection.

Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member Melinda Tilley said the lack of progress at Berinsfield was “a big disappointment.”

She said: “It wasn’t a big surprise when it went into special measures but I am surprised they haven’t made enough progress.

“I think the interim board will make progress but it is taking longer than we thought.

“It is very sad because it has the potential to be a really nice school.”

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Inspector Linda McGill said the results of Key Stage 1 assessments painted “a very depressing picture” with attainment in reading, writing and mathematics exceptionally low and only two out of 10 achieved expected levels in writing. And almost two-thirds of pupils did not get the level expected in maths.

The school has an above average proportion of children with disabilities, special needs, and those who are eligible for free school meals.

Ms McGill said: “The school has placed strong emphasis on the teaching of letters and sounds, but this appears to have had no impact on the pupils’ attainment in reading.”

She said the quality of teaching had not improved since the last inspection and also criticised the school’s target that 80 per cent of pupils should make at least expected progress across each year group.

She said: “This target is not challenging enough; in order for pupils to reach the levels that they should and make up lost ground, everyone must make expected progress and a substantial proportion should exceed it.”

But she did highlight some improvements since Mr Lester started in September, which she said had brought “a much-needed sense of urgency and drive to improve”.

Ms McGill said: “The pace of change was slow in the first few months following the school’s inspection but has now accelerated a good deal.”

Mr Lester was not available for comment.

St Nicholas Primary School, which has 84 pupils on roll, was criticised for variable teaching and achievement.

While inspector Chris Nye said an “encouraging start” had been made to address weaknesses, he said in too many lessons the planned activities didn’t match pupils’ needs well enough to make sure they made good progress.

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