An Ofsted inspector has sent an encouraging letter to a Brighton primary school after she and a colleague visited last month.
The inspection found no significant concerns at Moulsecoomb Primary School, in The Highway, Lewes Road, Brighton.
The school is currently rated “inadequate” by Ofsted, the government’s official watchdog, a verdict that has drawn considerable local criticism.
Ofsted inspector Yasmin Maskatiya, who visited with her colleague Max McDonald-Taylor, sent a letter to Moulsecoomb head Adam Sutton.
She said that routine inspections were currently temporarily suspended and her visit on Tuesday 20 October had been constrained by measures put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
She wrote: “We did not undertake the usual range of inspection activities and were unable to check other sources of evidence, such as visits to lessons or looking at pupils’ work.
“During the visit, we spoke to you, the deputy head teacher, the special educational needs co-ordinator and the senior leader responsible for safeguarding.
“We did not speak to pupils because of the protective measures in place.”
She said that Ofsted was looking at “how England’s education system is managing the return to full education for pupils following an extended break in formal schooling due to the covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic”.
She added: “The information from this visit will feed into Ofsted’s national reporting so that the insights can be shared with the government and the education sector.
“We did not find any significant concerns during the visit.
“We did not consider your response to covid-19 during the spring and summer terms 2020 when the school was not open to all pupils.
“From this visit, inspectors noted that
- You opened the school to years 1 to 6 on (Tuesday) 8 September on a full-time basis. Reception children started on the same date but on a phased basis for the first week. Nursery children joined the school from (Friday) 11 September. These arrangements are normal practice for the school.
- Attendance of pupils since the beginning of term is slightly lower than for the same period last year. Pupils who have been absent have had contact from the school to support their return.
- Pupils are taught the usual range of subjects. You have made some adaptations to subjects, such as physical education (PE) where you have introduced cycling to ensure that pupils have physical activity.
- Teachers have carried out checks to see what pupils remember in reading, grammar, punctuation, spelling and mathematics. They have used this information to adjust their plans to focus on knowledge that pupils need to cover again and skills they need to practise.
- Leaders have placed a greater emphasis on reading across the school. They have found that pupils’ comprehension skills need to be strengthened. Some younger pupils, because they have missed part of their phonics programme, have been given extra help with their early reading skills.
- Teachers have found that in mathematics some pupils have needed extra help to regain their knowledge of place value and number.
- In the wider range of subjects, teachers are checking as they go what pupils have remembered from their past learning. With this information, teachers are able to home in on weaker areas of understanding.
- Leaders have set aside time and given teachers training to put together remote learning resources that are both digital and paper based. These resources follow the school’s curriculum. Any pupil currently absent has access to this remote learning.”
The school still faces uncertainty over its future. It was told that it would become an academy after Oftsed graded it inadequate but the regional schools commissioner has been unable to find a sponsor.
Campaigners in the area, who have cross-party support in Brighton and Hove, are hoping that the plan to convert the school into an academy will be dropped completely.
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