School vows to bounce back after Ofsted disappointment

Ofsted disappointment
Ofsted disappointment

Leaders were left “very disappointed” after being told by Ofsted their school needed to improve.

Birdham Primary, which had previously been rated ‘good’, underwent a two-day inspection and the findings were published on November 29.

Headteacher Mark McCadden said: “The lead inspector indicated we were borderline between ‘good’ and ‘requiring improvement’, so naturally the whole school community was very disappointed with the overall judgment, and that we only just missed being rated ‘good’.”

In his report, inspector Mark Cole said teaching at Birdham was “inconsistent”and leaders had a “too generous and not accurate” view of the school’s effectiveness. He also highlighted a decline in maths standards at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

Mr McCadden said he and his team were already implementing improvement plans to address the issues raised by Mr Cole, particularly when it came to maths.

He added he was pleased the report had not found any problems unknown to the leadership team.

Mr Cole found much to praise about Birdham, praising the children’s behaviour and the “warm and respectful” relationship between them and the staff.

He described the work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare as “outstanding” and recognised the work done to mold them into well-rounded, confident and open-minded individuals.

Mr McCadden said: “This is well-embedded in our culture and ethos and so we can now build on these strong foundations to develop and improve the teaching and learning for everyone.”

Looking to the future, he added: “The governors and I are already working closely with local authority advisers to ensure a robust post-Ofsted action plan, complementing our existing school improvement plans, will drive the school forward. The school is determined to implement the recommendations set out in the report.

“Working with parents/carers and with the support of West Sussex County Council we are confident we can bounce back to good and better, as soon as possible.”

Mr McCadden said Ofsted was likely to return within nine to 12 months.

Regarding the issues raised by the inspectors, he explained he and his team had reallocated some curriculum time to provide an additional 30 minutes maths time in some classes, to focus on children's core skills, such as counting and calculating.

In addition, parents were able to attend a Thinking Thursday to see first-hand how their children were being taught, while the school hosted its first ever Spelling Bee competition to help raise the profile and importance of spelling.

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