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Head teacher defends school after ‘disappointing’ Ofsted inspection report

East Boldon Junior School, North Lane
East Boldon Junior School, North Lane

A school head has defended its teaching record, after it was told to improve by standards watchdog Ofsted.

Tim Shenton admitted to being disappointed that East Boldon Junior School had failed to make the grade during an inspection in July, which was published last week.

Inspectors say the North Lane school, which had been rated ‘good’ as recently as January, requires improvement almost across the board.

They found pupil progress in reading, writing and maths was inconsistent, and that the most able students did not make sufficient advancement in reading.

The quality of teaching, learning and assessment was varied, assessment was not consistent, and teachers did not have high enough expectations of pupils.

Ofsted also identified senior leaders as having failed to incisively check the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and governors who did not evaluate the impact of school’s improvement action plan.

This led them to be over-generous in their evaluation of the school’s overall effectiveness.

But they did praise Mr Shenton for his attempts to maintain or improve standards since his appointment a year ago.

He had ensured staff morale was high, forged working relationships with feeder infant schools and improved communication with parents, some of whom had a ‘turbulent’ relationship with the school.

Mr Shenton had also begun to address inconsistencies in the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and improved systems and procedures in relation to staff recruitment.

And Ofsted found he had thoroughly reviewed the school’s behaviour and discipline policy, with his overall efforts being ‘appreciated by an overwhelming majority of parents and carers’.

Defending his 241-pupil school, Mr Shenton said: “The latest Ofsted rating is very disappointing, especially in light of the outstanding SATS results this year.

“The levels of attainment at East Boldon have been higher than the national average for the last eight years and the school is constantly among the top performing schools in the borough.

“However, we accept that we have work to do and we are committed to making improvements.

“We remain steadfast in our ambition to continue to raise standards and give every child the best possible education at East Boldon.”

Lead inspector Belita Scott said the school’s development plan lacked measur’able targets and did not identity who is tasked with carrying out each improvement.

She found leaders had not ensured the very small number of disadvantaged pupils were making sufficient progress to catch up with their peers, and the curriculum was broad but not balanced.

The quality of teaching, learning and assessment was also found to be inconsistent across the school.

And middle-ability and most able pupils were not making rapid progress in Years 3, 4 and 5, because they were not taught specific skills well.

But she added: “Currently, the proportion of Year 6 pupils reaching the expected and higher standards in reading, in writing and in mathematics is significantly above the 2017 national averages.

“These pupils, including disadvantaged pupils, have made good progress in all three subjects from their starting points at the end of Year 2, and particularly good progress in Year 6.

“Pupils’ progress in reading and writing is inconsistent across the school. Pupils, including the most able pupils, make much better progress in Year 6 than they make in other year groups.

“Pupils’ progress in mathematics is also inconsistent. In Year 6, pupils make better progress from their starting points at the end of key stage 1 than they do in other year groups. In Years 3, 4 and 5, progress is not strong enough, particularly for the most able pupils.”

“The new leader for mathematics has a thorough knowledge of his subject area’s strengths and areas for development, because he checks on the quality of provision well and frequently. This is not the case across the curriculum.”