Northdown Primary in Margate has been ordered to improve following a two day visit from Ofsted inspectors.
The school, in Tenterden Way, caters for 379 pupils aged 3 to 11.
Inspectors visited the site last month and published their report today (December 19), grading the school as ‘requires improvement.’
The report says too many pupils are not being identified when they have special needs and do not receive the specialist help they need.
Inspectors said disadvantaged pupils lag behind their classmates, the quality of teaching in Years 1 and 2 is too variable, pupils’ behaviour is weak, teachers’ morale has been low prior to a change in leadership and there are shortcomings in governance.
The report also states that many parents lack confidence in the school and “Leaders’ responses to their concerns have sometimes not been good enough.”
All areas were graded as requiring improvement except for Early Years provision which was graded as good.
Inspectors says strengths include good progress in early Years, a new leadership team with experience and that care for children is good.
A change of leadership team took place in May with the new head teacher, Sheila Todd, being fully in post from this September.
Inspectors say the new team has not yet had time to “resolve the many issues faced by the school.” They noted parents were concerned about their children’s progress and that “the provision for pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities is the mot striking example of historic, ineffective management and administration.”
The report says pupil premium is not accounted for well, that staff lack direction and they have no meaningful targets.
Inspectors did recognise that these issues are now being worked on and said staff told inspectors “their working conditions have improved dramatically in recent months.”
Information for parents
Safeguarding was judged to be effective although inspectors said it needed strengthening. They also noted that information on the school website was not up to date and so: “Parents, therefore, are not sure to whom they would report safeguarding concerns.”
In terms of information sharing the inspectors said: “The school does not meet requirements on the publication, on its website, of information about the progress and attainment of pupils; the current designated safeguarding leader; how the school ensures that disabled pupils have access to all areas of the premises and the curriculum; and the contact details of the chair of the governing body.
“The school does not comply with Department for Education guidance on what academies should publish on their websites about specific arrangements for excluding pupils.”
Quality of teaching was judged as variable with inspectors saying this reflected “the legacy of instability on the staff and changes in leadership.”
Literacy levels were judged to be below expectation and inspectors said pupils were confused by “over-complicated” lesson instructions in maths.
Outside of core subjects inspectors said teachers provided “exciting and stimulating learning experiences.”
Inspectors said too many pupils lack confidence and self-esteem and did not take care with the presentation of their work but did note that children felt safe and liked “coming to school to meet their friends.”
It also highlighted good staff care for the children, noting: “Each week they identify pupils who have achieved something special or done something helpful or kind. Pupils thrive on the praise they receive as tokens of these moments. Gradually, the atmosphere in school is becoming positive and celebratory.”
The report says pupil behaviour requires improvement but new policy for this is now in place. It states attendance is improving but “on average, this group of pupils does not get to school regularly enough.”
Inspectors say the outcome for pupils is “too dependent on the individual class teacher” and that performance is often below the national average.
Early Years praise
Inspectors noted that the Early Years unit is “the strength of the school” with children being in “a bright and well-established learning environment.”
They added: “Pupils’ behaviour in the early years is better than in the rest of the school. They take turns, share toys and other resources, and quickly learn to sit still and concentrate on what they are doing. Adults rarely have to remind them to behave properly.”
They also say: “The quality of parental engagement is much better in Reception than in the rest of the school. Adults communicate more effectively with parents.”
The report says: “Governors are beginning to deal with the significant quantity of work that is required to ensure that Northdown returns to being a good school quickly,” but notes there are currently three vacancies.
The school’s last Ofsted inspection in 2014 rated it as good.
Head teacher Shelia Todd said: “I am pleased that OfSTED have recognised that there is increasingly strong practice across the school.
“The recent Inspection has strengthened the school’s focus on the areas for improvement and we are working hard to ensure the school quickly becomes ‘Good’.”
A parent’s view
One dad with a child at the school said he has been concerned about a slip in standards. He said: “”The decline in the last few months has been noticable so I’m really concerned for my daughter and her friends.
“We have noticed things like homework sheets with mistakes, and the spellings the teacher sent home spelt incorrectly. The school has stopped the regular newsletters, the new report format is incomprehensible, and we don’t see the new head at the gate or at school events as much so it’s hard to raise concerns.”
Northdown primary is part of TKAT (The Kemnal Academies Trust) which manages 29 primary and 14 secondary schools in Kent.
Thanet primary schools in the trust include Dame Janet, Drapers Mills, Newlands and Salmestone.
Northdown Primary and TKAT have been contacted for comment.