Bolton primary school lauded for ‘robust’, ‘passionate’ and ‘successful’ improvements

A remarkable turnaround in the last two years has seen Bolton’s Castle Hill Primary School’s Ofsted report jump to an overall good rating from requiring improvement in all areas at the last inspection.

Inspectors from Ofsted visited the school in November and found the standards to have grown substantially since their last review in October 2013.

They highlighted the growing standard of teaching, attendance and the help the school is giving to vulnerable children as key reasons for the development.

Lead Inspector Sheila Iwaskow said: “Working together they have successfully addressed the areas for improvement identified at the last inspection.

“Based on accurate self-analysis, their plans for future improvements are robust and accurate.”

The report particularly emphasised the impressiveness of the English and Mathematics department.

“English and mathematics leaders are passionate about the subjects they lead,” Ms Iwaskow continued.

“They carefully monitor and track pupils’ progress as they move through the school.”

Since the last inspection, the governing body has completely changed and Ofsted emphasised they have ‘contributed strongly’ to the school’s improvement by holding teachers to account.

This improvement is made more impressive by the difficulties the school faces.

A large number of its pupils join the school part way through the year but these children still manage to achieve good results. 

Castle Hill has a ‘significantly’ higher percentage than average of disabled students and those with special educational needs.

In addition, the percentage of ‘disadvantaged’ children, which are those eligible for free school meals, is well above the national average.

These pupils receive additional support from pupil premium funding which the report says teachers are acutely aware of spending wisely.

Statistics show that both at key stage one and key stage two the gap is narrowing between disadvantaged pupils at the school and non-disadvantaged pupils nationally.

Ms Iwaskow said: “Children come into early years with skills and knowledge that are significantly below those typical for their age.

“In addition, for many children, this is the first time they have attended an educational setting. Children make good progress and achieve well in relation to their very low starting points.

“The number of children achieving a good level of development is increasing year on year.”

The school is also reported to have used sports funding well, allowing pupils to now take part in sports such as rugby and netball which they could not before due to lack of equipment.

In order to improve further, the report states that the school should set educational trackers for other subjects than English and Mathematics.

The report also said that whilst achievement was consistently impressive over Key Stage 1, improvement was still needed to progress in Key Stage 2.

Ms Iwastow highlighted the need to work on ‘developing consistently high-quality marking in all classes at Key Stage 2 so that pupils are given more detailed information on how to improve their work’.

She continued: “All classes at Key Stage 2 should challenge the most able pupils to stretch them further in line with the school’s assessment and marking policy.”

Overall however, the inspection highlights the great steps being made at the school, and more is promised with staff aiming to reach the outstanding level in years to come.

Image courtesy of Castle Hill Primary School, with thanks

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