School that was not ‘ambitious enough’ for its pupils told to improve by watchdog

A school that was not ‘ambitious enough’ for its pupils has been told it must improve by the education watchdog. Vale View Primary School, in North Reddish, Stockport, had previously been rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted – a grading that had remained in place for the last seven years.

However, officials raised concerns that standards were slipping following a visit in 2019. The Mill Lane school has now been told it ‘requires improvement’ across areas after a full inspection was carried out in February.

A new report says that pupils at the ‘supportive school’ are happy, have positive attitudes to learning and work hard in their lessons. But it notes too many do not attend school regularly enough, ‘preventing them from achieving as well as they should’.

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The school is also now reviewing its curriculum to ensure it is ‘suitably broad and sufficiently ambitious for all pupils’ – including those with special education needs and disabilities (SEND).

The report adds: “Until recently, leaders have not ensured that the curriculum has been ambitious enough. This has prevented pupils from achieving as well as they should.”

But officials say children are starting to benefit from an improved curriculum as well as higher expectations of what they can achieve. Despite this, however, some pupils who fall behind with reading ‘do not receive the support that they need to catch up’.

Inspectors also found the school to be stronger in some subject areas than others. In mathematics, for example, school leaders were said to be clear about the knowledge that pupils need and the order in which they should learn it. This helped teachers to ‘design learning that builds on pupils’ earlier knowledge.

But this was not the case in all areas – including early years.

“This hinders teachers from presenting subject content in a logical order to help pupils gain key knowledge,” the report adds. “It also prevents leaders from checking that pupils know and remember their earlier learning.”

Officials found some teachers had not received the support they needed – hampering their efforts and resulting in pupils not achieving as well as they should. And, while pupils showed respect to each other and staff, they lacked ‘opportunities to learn about the wider world – ‘including developing their understanding of different cultures and important concepts such as democracy’.

However, there was praise for the school in the report, despite the lower rating. Pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), were found to develop positive relationships with caring staff – helping to make them feel safe.

Youngsters understood bullying was wrong and told officials staff did their best to stop it. Children also appreciate the wide range of extra school activities on offer, including dance, knitting, science club and football. They are proud of their work to raise funds for charities.

Tim Bowman, director of education at Stockport council, said the school would continue to strive to improve and follow Ofsted’s recommendations. He said: “The school has been recently inspected and the report highlights many good features of the school and leaves the school with some areas to improve. The school will continue to work, as always, on making improvements following the recommendations.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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