Pupils, staff and parents are celebrating after Newlands primary school in Ramsgate gained a good grading from Ofsted for the first time in 21 years.
The school was rated as inadequate in June 2013 and then as requiring improvement in December 2014 but a massive amount of work by staff and the arrival of new head teacher Christian Markham in September 2016 has seen a complete turnaround.
Previous inspections at the school, under the older grading system, had rated it as satisfactory.
Ofsted carried out the latest inspection at the school last month by observing lessons, talking to pupils, staff, parents and governors and examining documents including the school improvement plan.
The result was a good grading in every area and inspectors noted:” Important aspects of the school have been strengthened. The quality of teaching and learning, pupils’ outcomes and their behaviour are now good.
“Positive attitudes, high expectations and the determination to provide the best possible learning and personal experiences for pupils have improved the school since the last inspection.
“The headteacher has the confidence of governors, staff, parents and pupils. One member of staff expressed the views of many with the comment, ‘During the past year the school has improved greatly and I believe it will only go from strength to strength.’”
The report notes the ‘well-targeted support’ for pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, adding: “These fully meet the range of the pupils’ needs, which, for a few, are specific and very complex.”
Inspectors also highlighted the good use of sport and the gold games award Newlands has received and noted: “Teachers strive to find the best ways that different pupils learn. For example, learning literacy and numeracy skills through sports activities benefits all pupils and boys in particular.
“Pupils are particularly motivated to learn through using new personal computer devices in the classroom to engage in planned online activities.”
Early years provision at the Dumpton Lane school was also praised.
Inspectors said areas for improvement include providing greater challenges for the most able pupils, and ensuring high expectations to broaden pupils’ skills.
Mr Markham, who was previously teaching at a Kemnal Academies Trust boys’ secondary in Bromley, said he knew Newlands was a great school from the moment he arrived.
He said: “From the moment I walked in I knew it was a great school, it just needed that external recognition.
“Everyone has worked so hard since the requires improvement Ofsted. There are a lot of new staff but we also have staff who have been here for years.
“Staff have worked hard and so have our pupils, I’m really pleased for them and for the community as it is so important for it to have a good school.
“All the commitment demonstrated by staff and children has brought about this outcome of a good grading for the first time in 21 years – that is a real achievement.”
Mr Markham said the school will now work towards getting an outstanding grading at its next inspection with key areas including a child-focused decision-making process, making sure pupils are happy and safe and focusing on high quality teaching and learning.
He said: “They are the three main elements but there is a lot of hard work around the periphery. The next step, over the next three years, is to take the school from good to outstanding. We will be making sure we have high expectations of all our children, from teaching and learning at the highest standard to staying on top of children’s uniforms. It is from everything, small and big and I am confident we can achieve it.”
Ofsted: what are the grades?
- Grade 1: Outstanding
- Grade 2: Good
- Grade 3: Requires improvement
- Grade 4: Inadequate