Sparkenhoe School Primary School

Main findings

Overall effectiveness: how good is the school?


Under the inspirational leadership of the headteacher the school has shown exceptional improvement since the previous inspection. Hence, the school's overall effectiveness has moved from satisfactory to outstanding. Pupils thrive in both their academic and personal development. Parents are almost unanimous in their positive views of the school. They recognise the exceptionally strong ethos of care and support that enables their children to become confident and successful learners who are well prepared for secondary school.

Children enter the Nursery with skills and abilities that are very low in comparison to those typically found. Due to good provision, children in both the Nursery and Reception years achieve well in all areas of learning. Teaching in these year groups is frequently outstanding, but provision is hampered by the lack of opportunity for children to learn outdoors. The space available outside the Nursery lacks cover to enable children to learn when it is very sunny or wet. Pupils make very good progress in Years 1 and 2 and this accelerates as they become more confident in their English language skills. By the time pupils leave the school, attainment is at the national average. This marks outstanding progress, not least because the very many pupils that enter the school during the school year do so with attainment that is low. Pupils make particularly strong progress in their speaking and listening skills which are at least at the national expectation when they leave the school. In pursuing their ambition to raise standards further, senior leaders have focused well on improving pupils' writing skills. This has been successful in both lifting attainment at the end of Year 2 and also in the quality of pupils' written work in other subjects. Due to the highly effective provision for pupils who enter the school at an early stage of learning English and also those that find learning hard, these pupils also make outstanding progress.

Pupils learn exceptionally well because they benefit from consistently good and frequently outstanding teaching. Teachers manage pupils with aplomb and ensure that all classrooms present as quiet and industrious learning environments. There are excellent arrangements to check and track pupils' progress and this enables pupils to be grouped according to their needs rather than their age. This means that classes for literacy and numeracy cover pupils from as many as four different age groups. The curriculum effectively promotes pupils' learning and their excellent personal development. There is a suitably strong emphasis on developing pupils' personal, social, emotional and moral development which results in Year 6 pupils being thoughtful, mature and responsible young people whose spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding is excellent. The curriculum has recently been revamped to focus more on developing learning skills and to enable pupils to apply their literacy, numeracy and information and communication skills well. This successful re-organisation is broadening opportunities and whilst it has the characteristics of an excellent curriculum it needs to bed down across the school.

Outstanding care guidance and support results in pupils feeling safe and free from discrimination and being welcomed and treated as individuals. There are excellent systems to ensure that pupils are protected and their health and safety assured.

All these things do not happen by chance! The headteacher is expertly supported by the deputy headteacher and senior leaders. Her deep and passionate vision to realise the best for each pupil is shared by all the staff and governors. Staff morale is high with all pulling in the same direction. Self evaluation is very sophisticated. It is based on rigorous reviews of all aspects of provision to find ways of improving further. Governors too play an important role in the school's success and they are outstandingly well led by a committed and knowledgeable chair. The weaknesses identified in the previous report have been tackled exceptionally well and many of these areas, such as the quality of teaching and learning, are now strengths. The school has outstanding capacity to improve even further.

What does the school need to do to improve further?

Strengthen provision for outdoor learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage by:

  • providing cover for the learning space outside the Nursery
  • finding ways to provide a suitable and easily accessible outdoor space for children in the Reception classes

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