Portslade primary requires improvement

Ofsted says a primary school requires improvement because of gaps in pupils’ knowledge.

St Peter’s Community Primary School in St Pete’s Road, Portslade, was rated as good before the Ofsted visit in March 2022.

The report by lead inspector Clare Haines and Katherine Russell praises the school as “happy and safe” where children enjoy learning.

But they raised concerns about the new phonics programme to help pupils in years one and two whose schooling was disrupted by covid-19 lockdowns.

The report said: “Leaders know that pupils in years one and two do not learn to read quickly enough.

“Too many pupils cannot link letters and sounds with confidence. Staff training on new resources has taken place.

“However, leaders have not yet checked how well teachers have understood this training.

“Some teachers need more guidance on selecting the right books to help pupils learn to read. Teaching is not precise enough to help all pupils catch up.

“The headteacher aims for pupils to develop a ‘love of story’. Leaders are in the process of increasing opportunities for pupils to engage with a wide range of books.

“Staff changes and the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed leaders’ work to strengthen reading.”

In its list of improvements, inspectors advised the school to make sure the new phonics scheme is successful, and pupils receive the right books to support learning.

Teachers are advised to focus on children’s “knowledge gaps” from what they missed during lockdowns.

Leaders also need to ensure all staff are confident in understanding safeguarding issues.

A joint letter to parents from headteacher Michele Lawrie and chair of governors Michael Nicholls said inspectors commented on how courteous and polite the children are.

They highlighted how Ofsted praised the maths, PE, and science curriculum, and children with special educational needs get a “good deal”.

Their letter said: “As a school, we have always, and are always looking for ways to improve and do things better.

“In our school self-evaluation, we identify the areas that we need to improve on and use our school improvement plan to detail how we are going to tackle them.

“We agree with the inspectors on the areas that require improvement and will continue to work on these.

“Early reading needs improvement. We adopted a new reading scheme this year, Little Wandle, and as the inspectors said, green shoots can be seen, but it is not yet embedded, and there are areas to work on.”

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