The fortunes of an Aylsham junior school have started to be significantly turned around less than a year after a new leadership team took the helm.
Bure Valley School, which has around 250 pupils aged seven to 11 years old, has risen from a ‘requires improvement’ Ofsted rating given in November 2013 to a ‘good’ rating, announced to parents in the last few days.
The findings are particularly welcome in Aylsham because it means that all three primary providers and the high school are now described by Ofsted as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
Aylsham High and St Michael’s were both graded good in November 2014, and John of Gaunt was handed an outstanding mark in March 2014.
The latest Bure Valley Ofsted report comes after it was announced in May that under a partnership agreement, high school head Duncan Spalding would become executive headteacher and the then deputy headteacher, Kathryn Burgess, would take on a new head of school role.
The school scored good on all five headline categories – overall effectiveness; effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare; and outcomes for pupils.
It was praised for a number of aspects, including strong leadership, especially under the new partnership arrangements with the high school; consistently good teaching; rising standards in reading and maths; outstanding pupil personal development and welfare; excellent attitudes to learning; considerably improved behaviour; and effective leadership from governors.
The school was told it was not yet outstanding because there were some inconsistencies in marking and feedback, some recent improvement measures have not had time to show full benefit and some senior staff roles are not fully developed in improving provision.
A joint letter to parents from Mr Spalding, Mrs Burgess and chair of governors Samantha Dangerfield says: “This judgment totally reflects the hard work, commitment and support from everyone involved in the school over the last eighteen months – pupils, staff, parents, governors and the wider community.
“The staff and governors are totally committed to continuing the hard work that has been achieved so far, to enable Bure Valley School to become an even better learning environment for the young people of the Aylsham community.”
Mr Spalding added: “Our successful partnership has built upon the firm foundations laid by colleagues from the Aylsham Cluster Trust and the Local Authority. Our collaboration, and the strategic and administrative capacity that Aylsham High School brings, has helped us to develop leadership structures that allow our head and assistant heads of school to focus more closely on the quality of what goes on in the classroom.
We have fantastic pupils and staff who are incredibly proud of their school and want the very best for each other and their school community.
As it stands all schools in the Aylsham Cluster Trust are now judged as Good or better by Ofsted. This is a ringing endorsement of the way that we work together for all of our children and their families.”
The inspection team watched 24 lessons, heard pupils read, inspected pupils’ work, looked through documentation, met with older children and staff, and considered 75 questionnaire responses from parents and 20 questionnaire responses from staff.
The full report will be available on the Ofsted website from February 29. Red more including comments from the school in the next Just Aylsham.