Inspectors demand more from school, staff and county

The standards of a north Northumberland first school have slipped in the past two years, according to its latest Ofsted report.

Otterburn First School was inspected as part of a series across the county at the end of last month and was rated as requires improvement, down from good at its last inspection at the start of 2011.

Previously known as satisfactory, the Government renamed the third of its four Ofsted ratings to emphasise that the schools need to make improvements and to encourage them to strive for good.

The report, released this week, states that pupils’ attainment in writing, especially for the most able, is not as high as it should be; pupils in Years 3 and 4 are not making the progress of which they are capable, particularly in mathematics and writing; and that not all teaching is good, because work is not always accurately matched to pupils’ abilities and they are often not provided with essential resources in order to enhance learning.

It also states that subject leaders in English and maths ‘have not been sufficiently trained to fulfil their roles and this has inhibited the drive to secure improvements’.

But others are also criticised, as ‘the quality of teaching and learning is not checked regularly enough by the headteacher’ and ‘the local authority has not been effective in challenging the school over time, nor in supporting the acting headteacher since the beginning of the current term’.

But the behaviour and safety of pupils – one of four key areas – is ranked as good, as ‘a supportive and caring staff provide a welcoming environment where pupils feel safe’.

Other positives highlighted in the report include that the provision for pupils with special educational needs supports their development well and that the ‘revitalised’ governing body is determined to check the work of the school closely.