A Brighton primary school has been given a “good” rating – again – by the official education watchdog Ofsted.
Carden Nursery and Primary School, in County Oak Avenue, was inspected over two days at the end of September.
Ofsted said in its report published this week: “The head teacher and her senior leadership team have steered the school through recent challenging times successfully.”
The report came as Brighton and Hove City Council looks at cutting the intake to 30 children a year in response to a shrinking school-age population. A petition has been set up to challenge the proposed reduction.
Ofsted said: “Parents are very pleased with the school. They appreciate the care and attention staff give to their children and the lengths the school went to during the pandemic to support them and their children.
“Almost all those who completed Ofsted’s survey, Parent View, would recommend the school.
“Leaders are currently reinstating the usual wide range of subjects taught following the pandemic.
“They had made notable progress in improving curriculum plans prior to the pandemic. For example, the early years curriculum is now carefully constructed and highly effective in developing the youngest children’s learning and personal development.
“However, planned developments in some of the foundation subjects, such as history, in key stage 1 and 2 have been hampered by the pandemic.
“Leaders have made notable improvements to the teaching of phonics since the previous inspection. Pupils’ early reading skills have improved as a result.
“However, leaders are ambitious for pupils. A new phonics programme is currently being rolled out across the school.
“Although early days, the positive impact the programme is having on the quality of phonics teaching, and on pupils’ reading skills, is clear.
“Further staff training is scheduled for the coming weeks. This training will be particularly important for teaching in key stage 2, where historical weaknesses in phonics teaching have left some pupils struggling to read.
“Leaders are acutely aware of the importance of targeting this group of pupils and have made modifications to the key stage 2 English curriculum.
“Most pupils behave well in lessons. Occasionally, however, a few pupils lose focus and fidget during lessons. Sometimes this is allowed to continue for too long, so that other pupils are disturbed.
“Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), including those who attend the specialist resource centre, participate fully in school life.
“The special educational needs co-ordinator and teacher in charge work closely with staff and parents to ensure that pupils with SEND are suitably supported and learn well.
“The school assesses pupils’ progress as a continuous part of teaching. For example, questions are used during lessons to check pupils’ understanding, as well as more formal methods of assessment.
“Teachers meet with leaders regularly to discuss pupils’ progress and to consider how best to support pupils in the future.
“Pupils’ wider development is a particular strength of the school’s curriculum. The school’s commitment to equality and diversity lies at the heart of all it does and underpins pupils’ learning.
“At the time of the inspection, for example, the school’s flagpole was proudly flying ‘Pride’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ flags.
“Leaders are highly successful at engaging members from all corners of the school community in special events, such as its recent celebration of Eid.
“The school is currently in the process of restarting its usual wide range of clubs and activities. Leaders make sure that all pupils can attend clubs, regardless of background, ability or home circumstance.
“The arrangements for safeguarding are effective. Leaders maintain a strong safeguarding culture in the school. Regular and well-focused training ensures that pupils’ safety is always given a high priority.
“Staff have a shared understanding of their responsibility for making sure that pupils are safe. They report any concerns promptly.
“Leaders keep a close check on pupils’ wellbeing over time and seek advice from specialist services, such as children’s services, where appropriate.
“Leaders’ determination and tenacity in following up concerns has been key in securing vital support for vulnerable pupils and their families in the past.”
The school has 370 pupils from 3 to 11 years old, Ofsted said, adding: “The school’s atmosphere is buoyant as things begin to return to normal after the pandemic. Pupils are pleased to be back in school, enthused about learning and eager to catch up with their friends.”
Two inspectors spent two days at the school for its first routine inspection since November 2016. To read the full report, click here.
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