Ofsted downgrades a Bedlington primary school's rating following inspection

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Education regulator Ofsted has downgraded its rating of a Northumberland primary school after an inspection in December.

Bedlington Whitley Memorial Church of England Primary School, on Gordon Terrace, is now rated ‘requires improvement’ overall and for four of the regulator’s five criteria.

The school had previously been rated ‘good’ after a full inspection in 2015 and a short inspection in 2018.

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In their report, inspectors said: “Standards of behaviour vary across the school. Most pupils understand and follow the school rules but staff expectations of behaviour are not consistent.

Bedlington Whitley Memorial Church of England Primary School has had its Ofsted rating downgraded. (Photo by Google)Bedlington Whitley Memorial Church of England Primary School has had its Ofsted rating downgraded. (Photo by Google)
Bedlington Whitley Memorial Church of England Primary School has had its Ofsted rating downgraded. (Photo by Google)

“There is not a shared vision of how good behaviour might be taught and encouraged.”

The report added: “The school should work with staff to set clear expectations for behaviour, and support pupils to meet these expectations.”

However, inspectors also found that children feel safe and can report concerns to teachers, and that bullying incidents are effectively handled by staff.

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Efforts by the school to improve attendance and staff’s strong relationships with parents were praised too.

Ofsted was also impressed by the school’s “range of clubs and opportunities,” particularly the Whitley parliament elections, but said other aspects of personal development could be better, such as learning about different cultures and world views as well as mental health and well-being.

Inspectors found that the school’s pupils “quickly become fluent readers,” but their report was critical of learning in other subjects including mathematics.

The school has recently introduced a new curriculum but inspectors said: “Much of the curriculum is new to staff. Weaknesses in the previous curriculum, exacerbated by the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, have resulted in gaps in pupils’ knowledge.

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They added: “The school should further enhance training on the new curriculum so that teachers adjust teaching more effectively to address previous gaps in pupils’ learning.”

Early years provision at the school was praised, however, as was the community feel.

The report said: “The school is at the heart of the community. Many of its parents attended as pupils.

“Everyone receives a warm welcome. Pupils who are new to the school settle quickly and make friends.

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“Children make a positive start to their education in the early years. They are quick to settle into routines. They play and learn happily together.

“Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities play a full part in school life.”

Ofsted noted that there has been “significant change” at the school since the pandemic, including it changing from a first school to a primary and “considerable” staff and leadership turnover.

The report said the current leadership team had identified what improvements were needed and that the people in charge had an “accurate” view of how the school was doing.

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Inspectors added: “The school is working closely with the local authority and the diocese to bring about these improvements.

“Early years and the teaching of reading have improved rapidly. These are now strengths of the school. Other improvements are at an earlier stage of development.”

Bedlington Whitley Memorial Church of England Primary School was approached for comment.