Ofsted says village school is inadequate

Education leaders have pledged to work to improve the quality of education at Luttons Community Primary School “as a matter of urgency” after the school was rated inadequate in its recent Ofsted inspection.

Inspectors described the school in West Lutton as “unsettled” when they made a two-day inspection in February.

They found that the school had had significant changes in leadership and staffing since the last inspection in 2021 and that many parents and carers were anxious about the negative impact this has had on their child’s learning.

An interim headteacher was appointed in October 2022 and local authority officers removed the governing body and established an interim executive board (IEB) in December 2022.

The inspectors noted that the interim headteacher had realised immediately that the quality of education was poor and was leading the development of the new curriculum.

However, given the scale of the task, work had only just begun in some areas, and it was too soon to see the impact of the new curriculum plans.

While acknowledging that the findings of the inspection were disappointing, chair of the IEB at Luttons Community Primary School, Jane Pepper, said they were committed to supporting the school to improve.

She said: “We accept the findings of the Ofsted report and the outcome of the inspection, which whilst disappointing, was not unexpected.

“It is pleasing that Ofsted has acknowledged the leadership of the interim headteacher who has quickly ‘earned the trust and respect of the whole staff team’ and gained appreciation from parents for the ‘many changes she has introduced’.

“We, the IEB, are committed to providing challenge and support to school leaders to improve the quality of education as a matter of urgency.”

In their report, the Ofsted inspectors said the curriculum for early reading is “not being implemented well” and the early years curriculum “lacks ambition”.

Beyond early years, the curriculum in foundation subjects was described as “extremely weak”.

The report reads: “There are multiple gaps in pupils’ knowledge in all foundation curriculum subjects.

“Pupils do not know simple facts that the national curriculum sets out as the expected standard for pupils in each key stage.

“Pupils are achieving well below age-related expectations in all year groups and all foundation curriculum subjects.”

Inspectors said that pupils typically behave well in lessons and described the school as “inclusive” and added that the pupils have “a strong sense of justice and fairness”.

However, due to past experiences, pupils still worry about bullying and the inspectors said: “Some parents remain unconvinced that leaders will stop any bullying quickly. Leaders know that there is more work to be done to gain the trust and confidence of all parents.”

In order to improve, the inspectors noted a number of areas for leaders to focus on.

These include providing further training to improve teaching in all aspects of the early reading and phonics curriculum and finalising the curriculum design, to a high quality, as a matter of urgency. This includes improving the curriculum for personal development to ensure that pupils develop tolerance and respect for all citizens.

Inspectors said the school had not provided pupils with their statutory entitlement to swimming instruction as there were no lessons during the 2021/22 academic year and said leaders must ensure that pupils receive their full statutory curriculum entitlement, including providing swimming instruction and teaching water safety.

To improve the early years foundation stage, leaders should provide training for all staff in the early years team to improve adults’ understanding of the areas of learning they teach and the way in which young children learn.

To continue to develop relationships with parents, leaders should ensure that they engage all stakeholders, reassuring parents and pupils and fully restoring parents’ trust and confidence.

The recently appointed IEB, which appropriately prioritised safeguarding and review of school policies at their first meeting, should provide effective challenge and support to improve the quality of education as a matter of urgency.

North Yorkshire Council’s assistant director for education and skills, Amanda Newbold, added: “We recently established an interim executive board (IEB) and have supported the school to secure interim leadership.

“We have developed a plan for improvement and will work alongside the IEB to monitor and support the school as it moves forward ensuring that the necessary improvements take place with the urgency that is required.”

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