Ofsted informs Ford School it needs to improve

A north Northumberland school rocked by the death of its much-loved head teacher last summer has been told it requires improvement.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 10:00
View of Ford First School Picture by Jane Coltman

However, Ofsted inspector Belita Scott acknowledged it had been a difficult year for Ford First School with Sally Wood’s untimely death from cancer.

With support from staff, parents and other adults, Ms Scott said the children had “responded maturely and with great sensitivity” to Mrs Wood’s illness and subsequent death.

In her report Ofsted inspector Ms Belita Scott noted how much good work was being done and that steps were already being taken by new headteacher Jacqueline Dalrymple to make the necessary improvements.

She said pupils felt safe and protected in school and were happy to attend. Children were ready to learn on entry to reception year because of a seamless transition from the on-site pre-school and that they made rapid and sustained progress in years 3 and 4. Teaching was closely tailored to their needs and adults’ expectations were high.

Ms Scott commented that phonics teaching was a strength of the school, as was the development of early reading skills. The children responded well to the challenging work set for them and made good progress in high quality intervention measures after they were identified as needing extra help.

Ms Scott particularly praised the school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare, while their emotional wellbeing was paramount.

Pupils made good progress in years 3 and 4 and all achieved age-related expectations in English and maths at the end of first school. Pupils were happy in the reception class, were kind to each other and played co-operatively.

Ms Scott said the quality of teaching and learning needed to improve so that it was consistently good or better by increasing the expectations of the most able pupils and providing challenging work for them, particularly for boys. The school needed to ensure new systems and procedures to track attainment and progress were in place, that governors had regular updates on children’s progress. Staff needed dedicated time and opportunity to assess measures for helping children with special educational needs.

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But the 60-pupil Hugh Joicey Church of England Voluntary Aided School has been graded good in a separate review by an inspector from the Newcastle Diocese.

The Church inspector added: “The enthusiasm and determination of the newly appointed headteacher is driving the school forward to secure high quality education and in strengthening the distinctly Christian ethos. She is an excellent role model and ensures that the school ethos statement to provide happy, healthy, aspirational learners in a Christian community becomes a reality.”

She said the new headteacher, Mrs Jacqueline Dalrymple, “is inspirational in terms of expressing a desire for all to flourish and has an inner strength attributed to personal resilience and creativity”

The school was also building on the legacy and traditions developed over time by Mrs Wood such as the forest school and the excellent relationship with the local church.

Parents were supportive of and involved in school life, said the inspector, and spoke very positively of the care and support given to their children and valued the school’s emphasis on teaching love and mutual respect.

In a letter to parents Mrs Dalrymple thanked the whole school team, governors and parents for their hard work, dedication and commitment to school life and to the ‘exemplary’ children.

“I feel very proud to be the headteacher of Hugh Joicey C of E First School and I look forward to building upon our strengths into the future,” she said.