Brighton primary still requires improvement two years after shock Ofsted report

Posted On 17 Mar 2020 at 12:53 pm

A Brighton primary school which previously dropped two Ofsted grades has been given an even worse inspection report.

Balfour Primary, which was rated as outstanding in 2010, good in 2012 and requires improvement in 2017, now requires improvement in two of the five areas it is inspected on.

Six months after the disappointing report in November 2017, head Marcelo Staricoff left and the school was without a headteacher for more than a year until new head Simon Davies started in October 2019.

The 2017 report said just one area, outcomes for pupils, required improvement, with all others rated good.

In the 2020 report, both the quality of education and leadership and management are rated as requires improvement.

The report says: “Many leaders are new to the school or to their roles. They have a strong desire for all pupils to do well. Their work is not yet having as much impact on the quality of education as it needs to.

“They have ensured that there is a clear, structured curriculum in place in mathematics and writing. Staff know what they need to teach in these two subjects in each year group. As a result, pupils achieve well in mathematics and writing.

“The curriculum is not as strong overall, however, as it is in these two subjects.

“There have been many changes to senior leadership over the past two years. A wealth of new systems and processes have been introduced but not monitored and followed up to assess the impact on pupils’ learning.

“This means that leaders do not have a secure understanding of the impact of their work. In recent months, under a new headteacher, there is a clearer strategic vision for the school.

“Leaders now need to make sure that they have a more accurate understanding of the impact of their work.

“This is so that they can fully judge the quality of education at the school and target their actions effectively.”

Mr Davies said: “Ofsted noted that we are on the right track with our school improvement plan as we have a greater focus on knowledge progression, assessment and differentiation in the foundation subjects and that they could see progress.

“Our newly developed school improvement plan has been in place since November and Ofsted rightly commented on how our development hasn’t had time to embed and as a result of this our subject leadership was also an area that required improvement.

“The new Ofsted framework stipulates that the Quality of Education judgement is a limiting factor, so we remain a Requires Improvement school.

“Although this is a disappointing outcome, we have had acknowledgement that there are numerous Good qualities about the school, and we are moving in a direction where rapid improvements will be seen.

“I continue to be passionate in driving the school forward and continuing our journey to excellence.”

Areas that were singled out for praise were helping reception children learn to read, promoting pupils’ personal development and getting children off to a good start in early years.

In 2016, 147 parents put Balfour as their first choice while applying for a total of 120 places. Last year, just 98 did.

The school currently has 788 pupils aged four to 11, with a school capacity of 872. Undersubscribed schools often struggle more than oversubscribed ones as funding is allocated per pupil.

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