Orchid Vale Primary School rated inadequate by Ofsted
By Barrie Hudson - 1 July 2020
A North Swindon primary school isn't doing enough to ensure pupils' safety according to Ofsted.
Inspectors who visited Orchid Vale Primary School over two days in March assessed it as inadequate.
They praised much of what they found, but highlighted a number of concerns.
They reported: "Pupils enjoy school and attend regularly. However, staff are not doing enough to make sure that pupils are safe.
"The monitoring of health and safety risks and the training of staff have been sloppy."
The inspectors added: "The arrangements for safeguarding are not effective. Leaders have not ensured the health and safety of pupils, especially the younger ones. Unsafe equipment is accessible.
"Staff do not consider health and safety risks carefully enough. Staff induction is not sufficient. Too many staff do not know who to report any safeguarding concerns to. Some important policies are missing or are not read thoroughly."
Other concerns rised in the report include curriculums not following any order, weak subject knowledge among some teachers, low expectations among teachers and a lack of pride among pupils in their work.
Nursery children were found to receive a good start to their education with a well-thought-out curriculum, although some of the curriculum planning in Reception was found to lack precision.
"As a result," the report says, "children are not developing their skills effectively in readiness for Year 1. Staff do not consider how the curriculum can extend to the outside area. This limits children’s learning.
"Governors have not stemmed the decline in standards, especially in mathematics. They have not monitored curriculum plans effectively. Consequently, there has not been an improvement in pupils’ learning of the curriculum.
"Since the headteacher started, this has changed. Governors are more involved in planning. They have a greater awareness of the strengths and weaknesses in the school."
The report on the Torun Way school, which caters for pupils aged 3-11, praises several aspects of life there and the work of headteacher Ruth Lee, who was appointed late last year.
She said: "We are naturally disappointed about the overall judgement. However, we are pleased that inspectors have recognised the hard work that has gone into making important changes since I took up my post in September.
"We are now fully committed to driving the school forward to ensure that we are providing the best possible education for pupils at Orchid Vale."
The inspectors said: "The headteacher’s recent changes to expectations of behaviour mean that pupils’ conduct around the school is a strength. Pupils are polite to each other and to adults.
"Pupils say that there is very little bullying, and staff deal with it well most of the time."
The inspectors also praised the broad curriculum - but found no logical order to the teaching of several subjects, meaning pupils were unable to remember what they had learned over time.
Teachers' expectations of what pupils could achieve over time were found to be too low, and a lack of teaching about cultural awareness was also discovered.
Senior staff are praised in the report for improving work with disadvantaged pupils, and a new special educational needs coordinator is described as knowing her role thoroughly.
In a summary of the inspectors findings, the report says: "The new headteacher has a very clear understanding of what she needs to do to improve the school. She has identified the priorities, such as improving behaviour, and is making a positive difference.
"The curriculums for mathematics, science and phonics are improving. However, teachers’ subject knowledge is not secure. Curriculum leaders are not checking this effectively.
"Too often, pupils’ misconceptions are not picked up and corrected so pupils have gaps in their learning. In other subjects, the curriculums do not follow any order. As a result, pupils’ learning is superficial and flits from one thing to another without any depth of understanding.
"Pupils cannot explain why their learning is important. They are unable to make links and develop their learning further. In English and history, pupils are unclear about which aspects are important to learning English or history.
"Teachers’ expectations have been too low. Pupils lack pride in their work. There are too many incomplete and untidy pieces."
The school has been approached for comment.