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St Michael and All Angels School, Rearsby

Date of inspection: 19th-21st June 2000

The school was inspected by three inspectors, led by Tony Taylor. This is a summary of the full inspection report, which is available from the school.

Information about the school
St. Michael's and All Angels Church of England Aided Primary School is situated in the village of Rearsby, near Melton Mowbray. It is a small rural school that serves Rearsby and adjacent villages. At the time of the inspection, there were eighty boys and girls on roll. Their main ethnicity is white. Of the sixteen pupils with special needs, more than two per cent have statements of special educational need, which is broadly in line with the average. Nevertheless, the total number of pupils who are listed on the school's register of special educational need is above the average. The number of pupils taking free school meals is small, and well below the average. However, the total number of children actually entitled to free meals is difficult to gauge because packed lunches only are provided. The pupils' attainment when they start school is average overall. No pupils have English as an additional language.

How good the school is
St. Michael's has been subject to a turbulent period in its development. In 1995, inspectors found the school to be in need of special measures to ensure improvement. By 1997, the school was judged by Her Majesty' s Inspectors to have made significant improvement. However, since the summer of 1999, the school has had severe problems related to staffing, and this has upset the rate of development. There are indications that the school entered into a period of decline in both the standards, and the general progress made by the pupils. In January 2000, anew headteacher was appointed. In the short time since then, the quality of education and standards have been considerably improved. They continue to improve rapidly, due to the excellent leadership now being given to the school. The current inspection findings show that standards are satisfactory in all subjects of the curriculum. The overall quality of the education being provided, and in particular the teaching, is now good. The ethos of the school is very good, and it is well placed to ensure further good development. The picture is very positive. The school provides satisfactory value for money.

What the school does well Standards match national expectations in all subjects
The overall quality of the teaching is good
Much of the teaching is very good
The provision for the pupils with special educational needs is very good.
The leadership provided by the recently appointed headteacher is excellent
The staff is working very well as a team
The ethos of the school is very positive
What could be improved The assessment systems for the non-core subjects of the National Curriculum
The quality of the marking of the pupils' work in some subjects
The information given to parents about their child's progress
The areas for improvement will form the basis of the governors' action plan

How the school has improved since its last inspection
The severe staffing problems have been overcome, and the school has made determined and wide-reaching improvements since January 2000. The teaching has been improved significantly. The curriculum has been improved substantially, with the development and use of new schemes of work and better planning. The underachievement found in the first inspection has been reversed.

Standards, and the quality of education are improving rapidly. Standards Published national test data for St. Michael' s Primary does not provide a reliable guide to the overall attainment of the pupils. This is due to the small size of the groups of pupils taking the tests in anyone year, and the influence of pupils who have special educational needs on test results. Similarly, the data does not reflect reliably, the comparisons with schools of similar size and type. Inspection evidence indicates that standards are satisfactory in all subjects of the curriculum. It also shows that, as the school is currently developing all the aspects of its work, standards are rising firmly and steadily. The school is now well placed to meet the exacting targets that have been set for its improvement.

Pupils' attitudes and values

Aspect Comment
Attitudes to the school The pupils' attitudes towards school and their work are very good
Behaviour in and out of classrooms The behaviour of the pupils is very good
Personal development and relationships The pupils develop well personally, and the relationships are generally very good
Attendance Attendance is good

The pupils like school and generally work hard. This was confirmed by all the parents who responded to the inspection questionnaire. The pupils behave very responsibly and maturely, in classrooms, in assemblies, and outside. Their personal development is good, and they maintain very positive relationships with both the staff and each other. Attendance is better than the national average.

Teaching and learning

Teaching of pupils: aged up to 5 years aged 5-7 years aged 7-11 years
23 lessons seen overall Good Good Good overall, with much very good teaching

Inspectors make judgements about teaching in the range: excellent; very good; good; satisfactory; unsatisfactory; poor; very poor. 'Satisfactory' means that the teaching is adequate and strengths outweigh weaknesses.

The overall quality of the teaching is good. There is much very good teaching, particularly at the later part of Key Stage 2. No unsatisfactory teaching was seen during the inspection. Of the twenty-three lessons or parts of lessons seen, over 40% were satisfactory, more than 36% were good, and more than 22 % were very good. The combination of good planning by the teachers, based on new schemes of work, and the growing sense of teamwork, have improved the quality of the teaching significantly. The teaching of both English and mathematics is generally good. Literacy skills and numeracy skills are taught effectively, despite the delay until January 2000 in implementing the National Numeracy Strategy. The school is meeting the needs of all its pupils very effectively, despite the large classes. Additional support for the teaching in the larger classes is being used very well, and is increasing significantly the pupils' opportunities for learning.

Other aspects of the school

Aspect Comment
The quality and range of the curriculum The curriculum is satisfactorily broad and balanced, and the appropriate statutory curriculum is firmly in place
Provision for pupils with special educational needs The provision for the pupils with special educational needs is very good. They make good progress
Provision for pupils' personal, including spiritual, moral, social and cultural. development The provision for the pupils' spiritual development in lessons and other activities is satisfactory*. The provision for their moral and social development is very good. For their cultural development, provision is good
How well the school cares for its pupils The school cares for its pupils well. Good systems are in place to oversee the health and safety and protection of the pupils

*The school is subject to a Section 23 inspection that looks in more detail at the pupils' spiritual development through learning in religious education and worship.

The school is rapidly developing its partnership with parents. There has, in the past, been something of a hiatus in the amount of information the school has provided about what it is doing, and about what progress the pupils are making in their learning. This lack is being firmly tackled by the school, and improved systems of communication are being developed. The curriculum is being developed positively, and is now being shaped effectively in order to raise standards. It meets statutory requirements fully. The school has reviewed, and continues to keep under review the way it cares for its pupils. The attitude of all the staff is very caring and conscientious.

How well the school is led and managed

Aspect Comment
Leadership and management by the headteacher and other key staff The leadership provided by the recently appointed headteacher is excellent. She has very clear aims for the development of the school, and is supported Very well by aIl the staff
How well the governors fulfil their responsibilities The governors fulfil their responsibilities well. They are interested, informed, and involved, and provide very good support for the school
The school' s evaluation of its performance The school has carried out a comprehensive review and has put into place a variety of systems for the evaluation of its performance. It has made significant strides in improvement, based on this comprehensive analysis, but is not yet satisfied that standards are high enough. It is working hard to get even better
The strategic use of resources. The resources, which are adequate, are used very effectively. The school has appropriate plans for the further development of its resources, notably for information technology

The staffing level is good. The large classes, questioned by some parents as an impediment to learning, are now very well organised and receive good levels of additional trained, support. The accommodation is used efficiently, and is being further developed. The learning resources are adequate. They are of good quality, and are very efficiently and effectively used, due to the excellent leadership and management of the school. The principle of gaining the best value from purchases is firmly embedded in the school's culture.

Parents' and carers' views of the school

What pleases parents most That their children like the school
That the behaviour of the children is good
That the schools is approachable with questions or a problem
That the school is helping the children to become mature and responsible
What parents would like to see improved The amount of homework the children are given
The information they receive about their child's progress
The school's working with parents
The range of activities outside lessons

While all parents who replied to the questionnaire hold the view that their children like school, a substantial minority considered that the amount of homework provided was not enough. A further substantial minority hold the view that the school does not work closely enough with parents, and that they do not feel well informed about their children' s progress. A minority feel that the school does not provide an interesting range of activities outside lessons. A striking feature of the information gained from the questionnaire returns is also the number of parents who simply 'don't know'.

The school is emerging from a very turbulent period, where the discontinuity in staffing has been a major issue. It is now successfully past that period, and all aspects of the school are improving rapidly. The parents at the pre-inspection meeting acknowledged this fact. The inspection findings indicate that the homework policy of the school is satisfactory. The annual progress reports are about to be issued, the first under the auspices of the new leadership. The inspection team found the previous reports to be satisfactory overall. The school is currently reviewing this aspect to see what improvements can be made in the information provided. It is also seeking much closer links with parents, who will need to play their part in this development. Given the voluntary nature of the provision of extra-curricular activities and the small number of staff at the school, the inspection evidence clearly shows that it provides a good range of activities. These include games, music, trips to places of interest, and involvement in local activities.

Other information
The governing body is responsible for drawing up an action plan within 40 days of receiving the inspection report, showing how the school will tackle the improvements needed. This action plan will be circulated to all parents at the school.

The contractor appointed by OFSTED for this inspection was St Mary's College, Waldegrave Road, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, TW 1 4SX.

Any comments, concerns or complaints about the inspection or the report should be made to the inspection contractor. Complaints which are not satisfactorily resolved by the contractor should be raised with OFSTED by writing to: The Registrar, The Office for Standards in Education, Alexandra House, 33 Kingsway, London WC2B 6SE.


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