The Ofsted Report for Rye primary school, published on March 9, has proved to be extremely critical. Its opening summary of key findings states baldly: “This is an inadequate school.” It finds that “weak leadership of teaching and learning has led to a decline in the quality of teaching over time” and this has particularly affected disadvantaged pupils, who have not received the benefit of the pupil premium funding specially made available for them by government funding.
On the positive side, certain strengths are also identified, such as the finding “that children make a great start to school life in the early years provision”. Personal development, behaviour and welfare are rated “good”, and there is a strong team ethos and sense of community at the school.
The report notes that the Rye Academy trustees have already taken corrective actions, for example by putting interim leadership arrangements in place, and by commissioning an external consultant, who has helped them to strengthen their monitoring procedures. A leadership review has been carried out to improve the school’s effectiveness, and safeguarding procedures have been improved.
Observation is made in the report that two fifths of the pupils are disadvantaged, much greater than the national average. There are slightly more pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities in this school than in primary schools nationally.
However the trust has also received a financial warning notice from the Education and Skills Funding Agency and, as a result, all of the trust’s schools have been directed by the Department for Education to join another trust by September this year – which is well in hand.
One of the features of the Ofsted report is the complaint by the inspector that not enough was done in the Primary School with the Pupil Premium (PP), about £200,000 last year, that is intended directly to benefit disadvantaged students. Benefit is measured largely in results in English and Maths.
This could be an unfair criticism as Rye faces some particularly difficult challenges with PP students having special educational needs – one is that there is a wide socio/economic variation in Rye students, with some coming from relatively affluent middle-class homes, but the nationally high proportion of PP students in Rye includes many coming from very deprived communities.
It is worth noting the following remark in the Ofsted report: “Two fifths of the pupils are disadvantaged. This is much greater than the national average. There are slightly more pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities in this school than in primary schools nationally.”
It reflects the challenge faced by all three Rye Schools of having a catchment area that includes some of the most deprived communities in England. Deploying the over-stretched teaching resources to tackle this variation is difficult.
Photo: Kenneth Bird
Image Credits: Rye News Library.