Inspector says Barton Hill Academy is improving
A PRIMARY school which was rated inadequate by Ofsted is building a "sense of momentum" as improvements are made and expectations increase.
An inspector visited Barton Hill Academy in Queen Ann Road in October to monitor progress since the education watchdog gave the school its lowest possible rating two years ago.
Inspector Nathan Kemp met school leaders and visited lessons, looking particularly at early reading, phonics and nursery.
And his report concluded that overhauls in how the school teaches writing, clear plans to guide teachers, an investment in new books, improvements in nursery and reception teaching and an increase in leaders' expertise meant the school was making progress.
The report said: "Leaders and managers are taking effective actions towards the removal of the serious weaknesses designation.
"Expectations across the school have increased. There is a sense of momentum. This is mainly because leaders and staff are pulling in the same direction. They have provided the foundations for securing further improvements. As standards creep up, behaviour improves and work in books shows increased pride. Leaders know that this trajectory must continue."
The inspector said early years provision was continuing to go from "strength to strength", adding: "Children enjoy the environment around them and engage confidently with the activities."
But he highlighted areas where the school still needed to improve, saying teachers were still not confident about how best to organise maths and writing lessons and that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities "struggle particularly", in writing.
Mr Kemp also pointed to a "vast" gulf in quality between books.
The inspection of September 2017, which judged the school to have serious weaknesses, took place the same month that the 415-pupil school was taken over by the Venturers Trust, which runs seven other schools including Colston's Girls' School.
The trust was told to improve leadership, early years provision and the quality of teaching, learning and assessment.
Since then inspectors have returned for three monitoring visits to measure progress. The previous two were in March and December of last year.
Trystan Williams, executive lead for the trust, said: “We are committed to providing the pupils of Barton Hill Academy with access to a rich and challenging learning experience, alongside opportunities that inspire ambition and pride.
"Whilst the school is only part way through its journey of considerable improvement, the Ofsted report recognises that the improvements already put in place are effective.
"Venturers Trust will continue to provide strategic support to the school’s leadership team to ensure that progress continues.”