Ofsted Joy for Hethersett Middle
The aims of the return visit of the Ofsted Inspector were to assess progress made in meeting the targets identified in the action plan and evaluating standards of achievement and the quality of education, especially in relation to areas of weakness.
The report by Colin Humphreys reads as follows:
During the visit I inspected ten lessons or part lessons and one assembly. I scrutinised a range of documentation provided by the school, held discussions with the head, the deputy headteacher, two other teachers, the chair of governors and the chair of the finance committee. I observed the pupils moving around the school and in lessons, spoke informally to many of them about their work, and looked at their books.
On the basis of the evidence gathered during the visit, I made the following observations.
National test results at the end of Key Stage 2 in 1997 were above average in English, mathematics and science, similar to those in 1996. Based on the work seen in lessons and in pupils' books, results for 1998 look set to be lower than previous years, but still sound. Standards in other classes are good, especially in Year 7 and Year 4. Pupils' achievements are greatly helped by their good skills in the key areas of numeracy and literacy. Good skills are being developed in information technology.
Pupils made at least satisfactory progress in all the lessons seen, and good progress in half. Their response to lessons was nearly always good, and sometimes it was very good. They enjoy school; they are attentive to their teachers and can concentrate for long periods of time. Relationships between pupils are good, and they work together well. They work with interest and enthusiasm.
The quality of education provided by the school is good. In their planning, teachers work hard to ensure that work is well matched to the abilities of the pupils. Teaching was at least satisfactory in all the lessons seen, and good or very good in half. The best lessons move at a brisk pace, and teachers have high expectations of the amount and quality of work the children are to do. Often teachers make good use of the first part of the lesson to test what pupils have remembered from previous lessons, and they use the last few minutes to check that pupils have made gains in knowledge and understanding. The school sets pupils by ability in key subjects, and this is proving effective in raising standards.
Curriculum planning gives clear guidance to teachers, although in some medium term plans there is a lack of distinction between learning objectives and activities. Assessment information is used well to inform planning, although the school could undertake a more rigorous analysis of test results to identify future strategies for raising standards further.
The new headteacher provides good leadership, and he is giving a clear educational direction to the work of the school. Consequently, the serious weaknesses in leadership and management identified in the original report, no longer apply. There is now proper consultation with staff and governors over school developments. Their views are actively sought and valued. Staff are working as an effective team and there is a commonly shared sense of purpose in the school. For example, where whole school approaches have been adopted, there is consistency in their implementation.
The efficiency of the governing body has greatly improved since the original inspection and they have a clear grasp of their responsibilities to both support and monitor the work of the school.
The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the pupils is good. Standards of behaviour in the school are excellent. Pupils are polite, courteous and responsible. They have well established routines and the school is an orderly and caring community.
ACTION TAKEN TO ADDRESS THE KEY ISSUES
1: Address the health and safety issues identified in the report.
The school has made good progress with the key issue. All health and safety issues identified in the report have been successfully addressed, except those which need local education authority funding.
2: Review with all staff their job descriptions and clarify their roles and responsibilities to ensure the needs of the school are met fully.
The school has made good progress with this key issue. New job descriptions have been written and agreed by staff. Roles and responsibilities are clear, form the basis of the day to day work of the school, and meet the needs of the school effectively.
3: Improve the quality of school management planning to establish a clear educational direction for the school.
The school has made very good progress with this key issue. The new headteacher has achieved a great deal in a relatively short space of time and is giving the school clear educational direction. He has the support of the staff, who appreciate that their views are sought and valued. The action plan has been an effective document in determining the priorities of the school, and following proper consultation, a new management plan is being completed for the next few years.
4: Extend the role of the governing body in monitoring the effectiveness of the school's management and its financial control.
The school has made good progress with this key issue. Changes to the governing body have strengthened their work, and governors are much more actively involved in the life of the school. There is now a coherent set of committees and these are now effectively monitoring the work of the school. The finance committee in particular, has a good grasp of the issues facing the school.
5: Strengthen the role of co-ordinators and create opportunities for them to monitor their areas of responsibility.
The school is making satisfactory progress with this key issue. The previously mentioned new job descriptions now form the basis of the work of subject co-ordinators. Co-ordinators do monitor planning, and a programme to allow them to monitor teaching and learning through working alongside other colleagues has been started, although this has some way still to go.
6: Ensure the National Curriculum programmes of study for design and technology and art are met fully.
The school has made good progress with this key issue, and the points raised in the original report have been addressed.
7: Improve the quality and frequency of information to parents about what pupils will be taught.
The school is making good progress with this key issue. Information to parents is regular, helpful and written in a friendly tone. Information about the overall curriculum has been sent to all parents, and a series of detailed leaflets is being devised about each subject of the curriculum.
8: Ensure systems for recording the reasons for pupils' absence provide accurate information.
The school has addressed this key issue successfully.
9: Continue to develop assessment procedures and practices to inform strategic curriculum planning and to monitor pupils' long-term attainment and progress.
The school is making good progress with this key issue. Teachers are generally making effective use of assessment information to inform their planning and they have a secure knowledge of the progress their pupils are making. Recording systems are good. However, there is still more scope to use the analysis of assessment data and test results at whole school level, to set targets for further improvements.