September 2015 OFSTED Report

HMI Ofsted Moderation visit September 2014

June 2014 OFSTED Report

Chair of Governor's letter re OFSTED: 4th June 2014

HMI Montoring Inspection Section 8 - 18th May

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Inspection took place 9 days after we opened in new, but still unfinished, premises; with 11 new staff; one-third of our pupils newly arrived and on our Reception children’s first full day ever. In this context, we accept that, on the day they visited, our school did “require improvement”, with “good” personal development, behaviour and welfare.

Why do we require improvement?
There is no Ofsted category for ‘is improving’. By its very nature an inspection is a snapshot of where a school is at a moment in time; however the report does recognise our progress: “Inspectors’ observations of pupils in lessons, alongside scrutiny of their work completed since the start of this term, suggest that, in general, this trend of improved progress continues.”

Each recommendation the inspectors make in their report reflects an action that was already being embedded in what was our second week of the new school year; these actions have had demonstrable impact this first half term and we are already a different, more confident and more established school. We are exceptionally proud of the school team for what they continue to achieve for our children alongside the challenge, and rewards, of creating this distinctive school.

The new school year in a new school

The school had two key priorities for the first 2 weeks of term.

  • To nurture and settle all our children in our new home
  • To build a strong staff team;

These priorities did not change because we found Ofsted on our doorstep.

Many children were relocating from overseas or joining us from unhappy experiences at other schools. Our school cares passionately about the attitudes our children develop towards others, towards learning and their world.

With a large intake of new teaching staff we undertook a detailed induction programme to support them in learning rapidly how to deliver the high expectations that we ask of them and to teach in a way that celebrates childhood and the uniqueness of each and every child, inspiring a love of learning. We believe we met those priorities and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from you, our parents, to Ofsted shows this.

These were not, however, the same criteria for Ofsted’s assessment, so for instance they were unhappy that Reception children, on their first full day, were not sufficiently focused on literacy and mathematics.

Ofsted did however recognise that:

“relationships between staff and children [in Reception] are excellent. Children enjoy learning in the stimulating classrooms and outdoor areas”

and that

“Regular use of praise and encouragement by staff helps to keep pupils interested and engaged in their learning. Throughout the inspection pupils were well-behaved, courteous and friendly. Relationships between staff and pupils are exceptionally good…. When they arrive each morning, pupils are enthusiastic and eager to get started”.

The report highlights some areas of weaker outcomes last year, and puts this down in part to "variable quality of teaching" but also to the unusually high number of pupils joining mid year from very varied schooling experiences. As a school we nourish mental, emotional, physical and cognitive wellbeing in order to grow the complete child and Ofsted recognises that:

"the longer they have been in the school, the better progress they make, because staff have time to work with them".

We fully agree that all our children should progress to their full potential, and all our teaching should be consistently good. That is why we invest so much in training our teaching team; challenging and supporting them to meet their own potential and deliver outstanding outcomes; and why we also see our growth as an opportunity to attract and recruit an ever greater talent pool.

What are we doing to continue the improvement?

  • We have researched and applied new assessment tools which allow us to track starting points and progress for children in even greater detail and have used this tool to support a stringent system of pupil progress monitoring and performance management by the senior leadership. This includes a particular focus on writing and numeracy as highlighted in the report. We are confident these measures will accelerate children’s progress but we will be continuously monitoring and adjusting to maximise the impact of all teaching.
  • We have set clear and high expectations of both children and adults; meeting them is imperative.

Our ambition is for our children to be equipped to live lives which are Boundless, Brave, Curious, Playful, Responsible and Unique. These ambitions go beyond the Ofsted criteria but we welcome the report’s acknowledgement of our successes in their comments about our community:

Our children…
“pupils are happy, enjoy coming to school and feel safe; they are encouraged to be confident, to behave well and to respond positively to the expectations of staff”

Our Principal…
“the principal provides the school with clear, coherent leadership…

Our governors…
"Governors communicate their ambition for the school”

We will shortly be publishing our Strategic Development Plan that takes stock of where we are and where we want to continue to drive improvement, drawing on a range of external and internal insights, including those of the children. Our new home gives us the platform now to launch this so we can build to be a truly outstanding school that delivers consistently on all aspects of our vision for each and every one of our children.

Ofsted recognised this is a school constantly striving to give our children something better; that will truly Celebrate Children Learning and Leading; such striving necessitates change and each time we change we develop a stronger team and secure more remarkable outcomes for our children. We have developed a culture that embraces change as an opportunity to improve, a life skill for the children in itself.


Please have a look at the Ofsted Parent View website and share your views on our school.  It is a statutory requirement that we place this link on our web site to link you directly with OFSTED.

Guidance for Parents from Ofsted: Complaints about schools

'If you are concerned about your child's school, you should start by talking directly to the teachers or headteacher or, if necessary, the governing body or the local authority.   If you are not satisfied with the responses you have received Ofsted may be able to help.   This leaflet explains when and how we can help and how to contact us about a complaint.'

Leaflet from Ofsted

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Harpenden Academy

Vaughan Rd




01582 716910

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