Headteacher sets the school record straight

Saturday 26th January 2019 1:00 pm
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Waverley Abbey Junior School has maintained its ‘good’ Ofsted rating ()

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WAVERLEY Abbey Junior School’s headteacher has defended the school in light of a “well below average” score for progress in writing and “below average” progress score for maths, as reported in last week’s Herald.

The Tilford school did, however, exceed the Surrey average of 70 per cent, with 76 per cent of pupils meeting the expected standard.

Following the report, executive headteacher Kate Redman highlighted that “we are measured on the progress that our children make from the key stage one judgments, those are judgments made at infant school”.

She added: “So what you have is children that leave their infant schools with a judgement, but when they come to us there is a transition period into junior which doesn’t always translate into that progress.

“So we know that we need to do better, but actually when they come to us, and actually the (Ofsted) inspector acknowledged – she saw a sample of books and said ‘from where these children started with you in September, I can see great progress from their starting point’.”

Ms Redman continued: “We’re very open, we don’t try to hide anything, what we can do better.

“There were gaps where children were not being rigorous with their use of grammar and spelling and that was letting them down.

“They had a strong writer’s voice but the mechanics needed to be done.

“We’ve already put in a great deal of continuing professional development, we’ve changed practice so actually we’re helping children, we’re being far more rigorous with them.

“The same with our mathematics. We saw that their times table knowledge wasn’t as strong as it should be.

“We’ve introduced systems to be able to help children really crack that times table knowledge which is often a factor in being able to compute bigger numbers.”

She added the school wants them “to obtain well in all areas”, “not just reading, writing and maths”.

The Waverley Abbey Challenge enables Year 6 students to, for example, make a telephone appointment, make a meal for four on a budget of £10, iron their own shirts and skirt or trousers ready for school, sew on a button, complete 15 hours of community service and learn how to make a 999 call.

“So those are the sort of enrichment things that we really add in to our curriculum,” Ms Redman said.

She added: “It’s not all about getting the top mark in writing, it’s about being the best that you can be.

“Knowing your own capabilities but also striving to be the best.”

It comes just weeks after the school maintained its ‘good’ Ofsted rating following an inspection in December.

The report highlighted that “pupils currently in school make good progress in writing and mathematics”.

Joy Considine, inspector, added: “School leaders took decisive action to improve pupils’ rates of progress following the disappointing outcomes in the Year 6 national tests in 2018. Although pupils’ attainment in writing and mathematics was well above the national average, they did not all make the progress expected of them.”

However, English and maths leaders “provided training for staff on these aspects of teaching that most need to improve”, which is “already making a positive impact on pupils’ progress”.

“Pupils are happy at school,” the inspector added, “and this is reflected in their attendance.”

They are also “kind and considerate and value each other regardless of their differences”.

A strength of teaching “is the quality of feedback provided to pupils”, while “good-quality resources are used by teachers to promote the subject being taught”.

The next step for the school is ensuring “all teachers use every opportunity to extend pupils learning by providing a high enough level of challenge in all lessons”.

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