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Friday, 28 November 2014

Ofsted calls for wide-ranging improvements at north Cumbrian junior school

Children at a junior school in Wigton spend too much time “sitting on the carpet” and not enough time learning, according to the latest Ofsted report.

Doug Hardie photo
Doug Hardie

Thomlinson Junior School has fallen short in every area except for pupil behaviour which was rated “good.”

The Office for Standards in Education (Oftsed) found that teaching quality, achievement of pupils and leadership and management are all in need of improvement.

This represents a fall in standards for the High Street school which was given a “satisfactory” in its previous report.

Inspectors recommended a brisker pace in lessons and that the school adopts more “rigorous” checks on teaching quality.

“Pupils often spend too long sitting on the carpet while teachers talk to the whole class introducing work,” says the report.

“Where this happens, some pupils become restless, their concentration dips and valuable learning time is lost when pupils can work by themselves.”

The authors of the report, who visited the school in early December, also found that the teaching of reading, writing and mathematics “did not always match the individual needs of pupils with different levels of ability, particularly those of less-able pupils.”

It added: “Some teaching is good, but too much requires improvement.

“When teaching English and mathematics in Years 3 to 5, teachers do not always plan activities for the full range of ages and abilities in each class. As a result, work is sometimes too difficult for some pupils to complete on their own.

“Work set sometimes confuses less-able pupils and means that do not make as much progress as they should.”

But head teacher Doug Hardie said he did not feel that the report was representative.

“It’s a difficult one because I don’t quite agree with all of it,” he said. “There are areas I agree with and others that I don’t.

“They haven’t pointed out that our last SATs result [for reading] was significantly higher that the national average.

“We have taken on board the things they have said: we are not going to ignore it and we are certainly not complacent.

“But I believe the teaching in the school is good, and other people outside the school also believe that.”

He added that he had also received positive feedback from a “significant” number of parents.

The report itself was not entirely critical and found that adults were willing to listen to children’s concerns. It also said that the curriculum provided “an unusually rich variety of experiences for pupils to learn through adventurous activities outdoors”.

The inspectors found that vulnerable pupils and those with special educational needs received a very high quality of care which helped them to “develop confidence and feel very secure in a nurturing environment.”

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