A Brighton primary school requires improvement, the official education watchdog Ofsted said in a newly published report.
Hertford Junior School, in Lynchet Close, Brighton, was previously graded good – the second best of the government watchdog’s four ratings.
The school, which has a higher than average number of disadvantaged pupils, was given the disappointing rating – the second worst – after two inspectors spent two days at the school in March before the covid-19 coronavirus lockdown.
The Ofsted report said: “The quality of education is not good enough. Pupils do not learn the knowledge and skills they need in reading, writing and mathematics.
“The executive head teacher (Zoe McGuigan) has taken decisive action to strengthen the leadership of the school since its previous inspection.
“Leaders’ work to improve the quality of the curriculum and to develop teachers’ skills is beginning to have a positive impact.
“The behaviour of pupils is improving. At lunchtime the wide range of activities on offer helps pupils play together calmly.
“However, in some lessons pupils lose focus and find it difficult to sustain concentration because they find work too hard or too easy.
“Training is helping staff to respond in a constructive way when pupils find managing their own behaviour difficult.
“In the past the support and challenge offered to leaders, by governors, was not good enough. Work with the local authority has enabled governors to improve their effectiveness.
“There is an increasingly consistent approach to the teaching of mathematics across the school.
“Teachers think carefully about the order in which they teach new knowledge. They also check what pupils remember and know. As a result, pupils improve their mathematical understanding.
“Plans to improve the teaching of reading have only just started to be implemented.
“The way that reading is taught is different between classes. Some teachers do not have the skills or expertise to teach reading effectively. There has been little training for staff. Pupils do not become fluent readers quickly enough.”
In some subjects, the report said, “curriculum planning is not detailed enough to ensure that knowledge and skills are taught in a logical order.”
It also said: “Teachers and curriculum leaders do not routinely check what pupils have remembered. As a result, pupils have gaps in their knowledge.
“This means that some pupils lose focus in lessons because they find learning too difficult.
“Pupils proudly explained their involvement in the eco council, including buying and planting trees around the school site and encouraging recycling.”
The report added: “In the past, progress and attainment in reading, writing and mathematics has been very low.
“Since the last inspection, there have been significant changes to the leadership structure of the school.
“Leaders are now taking the right steps to address low standards. This is beginning to have a positive impact in mathematics and writing.
“Leaders need to ensure that there are rapid improvements to the approach used to teach reading and that staff have the skills and knowledge required so that pupils achieve well.
“Changes to middle leadership and improvements to the curriculum are very new. Some parts of the curriculum, such as mathematics and history, are carefully structured. Others are not planned well enough yet.
“Curriculum leaders should continue to develop and sequence subjects coherently. They should ensure that teachers routinely check what pupils have learned and remembered so that pupils do not move on with gaps and misconceptions in their knowledge and skills.”
The board of governors is now chaired by, Jenny Perrin, an official at Brighton and Hove City Council.
The report added: “Governors have worked with the local authority to help secure improvements. These are beginning to have a positive impact on pupils.
“Governors are now clear about their roles and responsibilities and have an accurate understanding of how they need to develop their effectiveness further.
“Governors need to sharpen their evaluative role so that they can provide more robust challenge and support to school leaders.”
The school has 190 pupils, the report said, and the “personal development” was good. But the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes and leadership and management all required improvement.
To read the full report, click here.