School is improving says inspector

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Latest education news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A village primary school in special measures has received a positive report from Ofsted after its first monitoring inspection.

Long Melford Primary School was placed in special measures last year and its governing body replaced by an interim executive board.

A new interim headteacher, experienced in improving schools, was also appointed following the inspection last June.

However, following its first monitoring inspection since being placed in special measures which took place last month, Ofsted has told the school that its improvement plans are “fit for purpose”.

In a letter addressed to interim headteacher Janet Tringham, inspector Ian Middleton said: “I am of the opinion that at this time, leaders and managers are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.”

Mr Middleton visited all classes during his inspection on January 13 and 14.

It is one of up to five monitoring inspections which will now take place at the Cordell Road school which is attended by 249 three to 11-year-olds.

These will take place over two years to evaluate the school’s progress towards coming out of special measures.

On April 1, the school will join St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Multi-Academy Trust.

Inspector Mr Middleton said the local authority’s statement of action and the school’s plan were fit for purpose.

He added: “Since September, pupils’ work indicates that achievement is improving. However, their rates of progress still vary within and between classes. This contributes to achievement in mathematics, reading and writing that, while improved, is still below pupils nationally.

“Particularly stark is the low proportion of pupils doing better than expected or reaching the higher levels. For example, in class, insufficient challenge for the most-able pupils means that too many repeat work or finish work that is set before deepening their knowledge or refining skills.”

Mr Middleton praised parents and carers. He said: “A loyal and determined core of parents and carers through their voluntary work contribute very positively to the school’s capacity to improve.”

Turning to finances, he said: “Greater efficiency in the management of finances is helping to maximise the resources available. However, additional funding designed to support the achievement of disadvantaged pupils is still not used effectively. School leaders have commissioned a second external review of pupil premium in order to make more rapid improvements.”

Interim executive boar chair Paul Marshall said the report showed the school has made “quite a lot of progress”.

He added: “We acknowlege the school has a long way to go before it can come out of special measures.”

Last year the school was rated inadequate on leadership and management and requiring improvement on pupil behaviour and safety, quality of teaching, achievement, and early years provision.

At the time, the school’s acting chair of governors Jo Searle sent a letter to parents saying: “We recognise many of the areas for development that the Ofsted report has described, however we feel that the report has not fairly described or commented on the strengths of the school or progress made.

“The report barely mentions the changes and improvements that had been made in the previous half term.

“In conclusion, the tone of the report does not reflect the verbal feedback given at the time of the inspection.”