Inspection Report

Unique Reference Number 113479
Local Authority Devon
Inspection number 289645
Inspection date 5 December 2006
Reporting inspector Shirley Billington

This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.

Type of school Primary
School category Voluntary aided
Age range of pupils 4—11
Gender of pupils Mixed
Number on roll (school) 208
Appropriate authority The governing body
Date of previous school inspection 18 March 2002
School address Buckland Monachorum
PL20 7NA
Telephone number 01822 853153
Fax number 01822 853343
Chair G Cotter
Headteacher W Houldsworth


The inspection was carried out by an Additional Inspector.

Description of the school

This is an average-sized primary school. Almost all pupils are of White British heritage and none speaks English as an additional language. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities is broadly average, but a very high number have statements of special educational need. The school serves an advantaged area and most children start school with a good base of skills.

The headteacher is currently on secondment for a year. The school is being led by an acting headteacher and deputy, both formerly the assistant heads.

Key for inspection grades
Grade 1 Outstanding
Grade 2 Good
Grade 3 Satisfactory
Grade 4 Inadequate

Overall effectiveness of the school

Grade: 1

The school is 'an effective learning community and welcomes all. I am proud to say that my girls go there'. This comment from one parent sums up the views of the vast majority who feel that their children are making good progress and benefiting from a rich curriculum. They are right to be confident. This is an outstanding school which makes every effort to ensure that individuals are valued and nurtured within a caring but purposeful environment.

Children in the Reception Year get off to a flying start, develop positive attitudes to learning and have a very good base of skills by the time they move into Year 1. Pupils of all abilities continue to make good progress through Years 1 to 6. Their achievement over time is excellent, resulting in exceptionally high standards by the end of Year 6. Pupils benefit from outstanding provision that includes high quality teaching, an exceptionally well-planned and rich curriculum and rigorous attention to their care, guidance and support.

Pupils' personal development and well-being is good. They are well-motivated and enthusiastic learners with the ability to work successfully independently or to collaborate in group activities. There is scope to build on these good skills by giving older pupils more opportunities to make decisions about how to organise activities or present their work. Pupils are particularly positive about the inclusive nature of the school. They appreciate the needs of those who have significant learning difficulties or disabilities and enjoy the opportunity to work alongside them, for example, in the multi-sensory room. Pupils also enjoy the very wide range of clubs and extra activities, including a variety of visits and special events such as Spanish week. These activities make a good contribution to their spiritual and cultural development. Overall, pupils are very well prepared for later life but their knowledge of the diverse nature of modern British society is limited.

Strong and determined leadership underpins the school's success. Rigorous systems for checking on the school's strengths and weaknesses pinpoint any potential improvements needed to maintain high standards. Staff at all levels make a strong contribution to school development, which ensures that the momentum for improvement is maintained. Action to be taken is carefully planned and is clearly focused on the benefits that it will bring to the pupils. Since the last inspection high standards have been maintained, issues for action have been successfully addressed and the school has very good capacity for further improvement. Forward-thinking leadership is evident in the recent focus on planning to ensure that pupils are 'world-class learners' with qualities such as good communication skills and vision and ambition.

What the school should do to improve further

  • Improve provision to prepare pupils for life in a culturally diverse society.
  • Extend the opportunities for pupils to use their good learning skills to take more responsibility for making decisions about how to organise activities and their work.

Achievement and standards

Grade: 1

Pupils achieve exceptionally well. Children in Reception make rapid progress and the majority are working at higher-than-expected levels when they move into Year 1. Children have a particularly good base of skills in reading. This good foundation is successfully built on as pupils go through the school. Pupils gain new knowledge and skills at a good rate. The older pupils have a good understanding of how to use and apply these, for example, in presenting information through written accounts and using data. Pupils meet challenging targets in relation to their capabilities and starting points. The school has a strong track record of high standards in national tests in English, mathematics and science at the end of Year 6. The most recent results show the majority of pupils attaining above-average levels in the tests.

Well-targeted support is successful in enabling pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities to make very good progress in relation to their individual targets. More-able pupils are challenged to extend their skills and they also achieve well.

Personal development and well-being

Grade: 2

Pupils thoroughly enjoy school and are particularly enthusiastic about the wide range of clubs and extra activities in which they can participate. They are well motivated and attentive in lessons and collaborate well when given the opportunity. The vast majority of pupils behave well and show sensitive awareness of the few who sometimes struggle to maintain their concentration. Pupils make a good contribution to the school community by suggesting improvements through the school council and taking on a range of responsibilities. Year 6 enjoy the 'privileges' of organising music for assemblies and setting out art activities. However, there is scope for them to do even more, for example, by organising elections and taking on offices in the school council. Pupils feel safe in school and have good awareness of safe practices. Their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good and supported well through a rich curriculum. However, their awareness of the cultural diversity of British society is limited. The vast majority of the oldest pupils are articulate and confident, have excellent skills in literacy, numeracy and information and communication technology (ICT) and are well prepared for the next stage in their learning.

Quality of provision

Teaching and learning

Grade: 1

High expectations and a clear sense of purpose in lessons ensure that pupils make outstanding progress. A variety of teaching methods are well used to engage pupils and encourage them to work productively. Pupils show real commitment to their work and are keen to succeed. They collaborate well, as was evident when a large group of Year 2 pupils worked together in the role-play area to create their own version of the Christmas story. Opportunities for pupils, particularly at the top end of the school, to plan and organise their work independently are limited, and as a result their very good learning skills are not utilised to the extent that they could be. Resources support teaching well, with interactive whiteboards used very effectively to demonstrate key learning points and to give pupils a view of what they need to do. Work is well planned to take account of the range of abilities in each class. Teaching assistants provide excellent support for pupils who need extra help and work is well modified to ensure that all can succeed.

Curriculum and other activities

Grade: 1

A rich curriculum provides pupils with an exceptional range of learning experiences in lessons and through additional activities. While there is a strong emphasis on promoting key skills in literacy and numeracy, this is not at the expense of other subjects. A particular strength of the curriculum is the way that links are made across subjects so that pupils can apply their skills in a meaningful way. This was apparent in work in geography, with the outcomes of a survey on traffic in a local town explained in clear written accounts and then presented in graphical form using ICT. There is an exceptional range of extra-curricular activities, some run by Year 6 pupils. These provide good opportunities to participate in sport, music and performances but also include firm favourites for younger pupils, particularly the 'pop idol' and cartoon clubs. Pupils in Years 4, 5 and 6 particularly enjoy residential visits to places such as Ironbridge and St Ives — not least because 'you see a different side of teachers'! Links with a secondary school and a university enhance curriculum provision through activities such as 'art week'. Gifted and talented pupils are identified and the school is in the process of further strengthening the provision made for them.

Care, guidance and support

Grade: 1

Pupils thrive in a caring environment which promotes high standards but also ensures excellent care for individuals. Arrangements for safeguarding children are robust and risk assessments are rigorous. The school works very closely with parents and other agencies to support pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities to ensure that their needs are effectively met. Parents of children with significant difficulties are very positive about their progress. Several made comments such as 'my child is fully integrated …… she is an extremely happy, popular and motivated pupil'. Systems for tracking pupils' progress are very thorough and the information is very well used to target extra support where necessary and to set targets for individuals. Marking of work in pupils' progress books that track their achievements through the school is often detailed and evaluative, recognising what pupils have learned and indicating areas for improvement. Pupils themselves are involved in this and their comments are often perceptive, for example, 'I could use more persuasive language.'

Leadership and management

Grade: 1

A real strength of the leadership is the strong focus on maintaining high standards whilst ensuring the well-being of learners. There is a shared sense of purpose amongst staff, with all involved in planning and implementing improvements through their work in 'learning teams'. Self-evaluation is effective, with senior staff making very good use of information from a range of sources to inform the next stage in development. Detailed analysis of information from tests, for example, is used very effectively to identify where the school needs to refine any aspects of provision to further boost achievement. This ensures continual improvement, as evident in the progress made since the last inspection. Governors have a good level of involvement in the school and are well informed about its performance. They recognise that there is scope to be more pro-active in its strategic planning.

Annex A

Inspection judgements

Key to judgements: grade 1 is outstanding, grade 2 good, grade 3 satisfactory, and grade 4 inadequate School Overall
Overall effectiveness
How effective, efficient and inclusive is the provision of education, integrated care and any extended services in meeting the needs of learners? 1
How well does the school work in partnership with others to promote learners' well-being? 1
The quality and standards in the Foundation Stage 1
The effectiveness of the school's self-evaluation 1
The capacity to make any necessary improvements 1
Effective steps have been taken to promote improvement since the last inspection Yes
Achievement and standards
How well do learners achieve? 1
The standards1 reached by learners 1
How well learners make progress, taking account of any significant variations between groups of learners 1
How well learners with learning difficulties and disabilities make progress 1
1 Grade 1 - Exceptionally and consistently high; Grade 2 - Generally above average with none significantly below average; Grade 3 - Broadly average to below average; Grade 4 - Exceptionally low.
Personal development and well-being
How good is the overall personal development and well-being of the learners? 2
The extent of learners' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development 2
The behaviour of learners 2
The attendance of learners 1
How well learners enjoy their education 1
The extent to which learners adopt safe practices 1
The extent to which learners adopt healthy lifestyles 1
The extent to which learners make a positive contribution to the community 2
How well learners develop workplace and other skills that will contribute to their future economic well-being 1
The quality of provision
How effective are teaching and learning in meeting the full range of the learners' needs? 1
How well do the curriculum and other activities meet the range of needs and interests of learners? 1
How well are learners cared for, guided and supported? 1
Leadership and management
How effective are leadership and management in raising achievement and supporting all learners? 1
How effectively leaders and managers at all levels set clear direction leading to improvement and promote high quality of care and education 1
How effectively performance is monitored, evaluated and improved to meet challenging targets 1
How well equality of opportunity is promoted and discrimination tackled so that all learners achieve as well as they can 1
How effectively and efficiently resources, including staff, are deployed to achieve value for money 1
The extent to which governors and other supervisory boards discharge their responsibilities 2
Do procedures for safeguarding learners meet current government requirements? Yes
Does this school require special measures? No
Does this school require a notice to improve? No

Annex B

Text from letter to pupils explaining the findings of the inspection

You may remember that I visited your school recently. Thank you to all of you who gave me so much information about what you learn and enjoy doing. I thought you might be interested in what I found out. You are getting an excellent education and there are all kinds of good things going on in the school.

Here are some of the 'highlights':

  • You make good progress in your learning so that you reach high standards in English, mathematics and science.
  • You enjoy a very good range of activities in lessons and in clubs and special events.
  • You have an excellent understanding of the importance of keeping yourselves safe and healthy.
  • The school takes very good care of you, and those of you at the top end of the school are mature and responsible.
  • Those in charge of the school work hard with your teachers to keep improving it wherever they can.

I have suggested two things that the school needs to do now:

  • Make sure you have a good understanding of the different traditions and ways of life that you will encounter as you grow up in this country.
  • Make the best use of your very good learning skills to allow you to make more decisions about how to organise your work and take on responsibility for running the school council.

As you can see, you have your part to play. Good luck for the future!

© Crown copyright 2006


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