Ofsted inspectors critical of governors and trustees as Northumberland primary school's rating is downgraded

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Education regulator Ofsted has downgraded its rating of a primary school in Northumberland.

Cramlington Village Primary School, which has 187 pupils, was previously rated ‘good’ but is now rated ‘requires improvement’ after an inspection in February.

Inspectors’ report praised “clear lesson structures” in phonics and maths and observed that new library books and engagement with parents were “having a positive impact on pupils’ attitudes towards reading.”

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However, they found the curriculum was “less well developed” in subjects such as science and history. The report said: “Teaching does not meet pupils’ needs. This includes pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Cramlington Village Primary School has been rated 'requires improvement' by Ofsted. (Photo by Tegan Chapman)Cramlington Village Primary School has been rated 'requires improvement' by Ofsted. (Photo by Tegan Chapman)
Cramlington Village Primary School has been rated 'requires improvement' by Ofsted. (Photo by Tegan Chapman)

“The checks that teachers make on what pupils know and remember are not sufficiently rigorous in these subjects.”

It added: “The curriculum in early years does not take sufficient account of children’s starting points or previous experiences.”

The report detailed the school’s new after school clubs and local community links but said that “some aspects of the wider personal development offer need more time to embed” such as knowledge of different faiths.

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Inspectors found incidents of serious misbehaviour are reducing due to the school’s new behaviour policy but that it was not consistently applied, leading to “low-level disruption in lessons.”

Inspectors also noted that “significant changes in staff, including leaders,” since their last inspection has “hampered pupils’ achievement,” but that the current leadership has “a clear vision for the school.”

There have been three principals since the last inspection, with the current head starting in September, and a high proportion of staff are early career teachers.

Ofsted’s report said governors and trustees have “not effectively held leaders to account for the quality of education that pupils receive” and “should ensure that they seek out the training and development that they need.”

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It added: “Historically, those responsible for governance have not done enough to prevent the school’s decline.”

The report also said: “Despite having been through a difficult period, staff show commitment to the school. They are optimistic about the school’s future and fully support new leaders.”

Inspectors observed that the recent changes staff have made are appreciated by students, who “feel safe” and “enjoy coming to school.”

The school has a new family support team providing “strong support,” inspectors said, particularly to pupils with complex special educational needs. The school’s breakfast club and its impact on punctuality and attendance was also praised.

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The school’s principal Lucy Whitehead said the school was “disappointed with the overall judgement” but “pleased the report highlights many positive areas and recognises improvements that are being made.”

She said: “We are particularly pleased that pupils enjoy coming to school and feel safe. A strong focus on the teaching of phonics and mathematics is also having a positive impact on pupils’ achievement in these subjects.

“Our school community deserves the very best. We recognise that improvements need to continue, and we will continue to focus our efforts on improving standards across the school.

“The identified areas align with our own priorities and we already have plans well in progress to address these.

“A school is built by a community working together in partnership for the benefit of its pupils and we want to thank all of our parents and carers for their support.”

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